Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Clearing houses — too big to fail? – YouTube
Clearing houses have been likened to nuclear power stations — necessary, but you would not want them to fail. Philip Stafford, FT Trading Room editor, looks at how regulators are tackling systemic risk and the problems arising from this.
“…nuclear power stations — necessary…”? Actually, we don’t think so. We don’t see the new clearing-houses system as being particularly well-thought out either. Frankly, as our readers know, we don’t agree with the banking system in general and especially the way governments are funded. Why borrow when it isn’t necessary, when more can be achieved without creating government debts?
⇧ The Plot Against Trains [The Plot Against the Commons] – The New Yorker
…there are considerable numbers of Americans for whom these things are simply symbols of a feared central government, and who would, when they travel, rather sweat in squalor than surrender the money to build a better terminal.
On top of that, surrendering the money wouldn’t have to mean spending tax money either. It could simply mean creating the money without borrowing it from anyone and without having taxed any money away from anyone. That’s the tragedy. There is such a thing as a free lunch. We can have our cake and eat it too.
⇧ Multifamily Market Update from Axiometrics – YouTube
Stephanie McCleskey, Director of Research with Axiometrics shares an update on the performance of the multifamily market in the U.S. Stephanie and Michael also take a look into the show’s crystal ball to see where the market is headed for the remainder of 2015 and beyond.
⇧ Multifamily Sector Performance: Urban vs Suburban – YouTube
Joseph Wilber, SVP of investments with Gables Residential joins Michael Bull in Studio One to break down urban vs. suburban multifamily sector performance.
⇧ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Multifamily & Mixed Use – YouTube
Mixed use developments have proven to be very popular in urban and suburban markets. Though they are convenient and desirable destinations for retailers and consumers, the development, zoning and management aspects of these developments can be very complicating. This is exceptionally true when single and multifamily housing are included. Joseph Wilber, SVP of Investments for Gables Residential shares the good the bad and the ugly side of multifamily and mixed use developments.
Since standalone is easier but mixed-use has its advantages, this speaks to locating your standalones near enough to retail and mass transit, etc.
⇧ Multifamily Investing Strategies in Tertiary Markets – YouTube
Brian Murray, Founder and CEO of Washington Street Properties joins the show via Skype. Brian and Michael take a look at strategies for investing in multifamily properties in tertiary markets.
⇧ CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST: China and India Overtake Mexico for Inflow of Foreign-Born US Residents
During my adult life, the main source of immigration to the U.S. has always been Mexico. Thus, I was surprised to see that for 2013, immigration from China and India exceeded that from Mexico.
It would be interesting to see buy v. rent stats superimposed over this.
⇧ mainly macro: Why are some central banks so coy about the impact of fiscal policy?
This is not about monetary policy makers trying to avoid treading on the toes of fiscal policy makers. It is about monetary policy makers supporting a political position which chooses to be economical with the truth about the impact of fiscal policy. The Bank being coy is the Bank colluding with those who are being economical with the truth.
⇧ Don’t Be So Sure the Economy Will Return to Normal – NYTimes.com
Once unsustainable economic structures begin to fail, it takes a significant improvement to make them viable again. Yet because of the difficulty of making major changes under our current political alignment, most new government policies today are no more than changes at the margin.
The problems are 100% that we don’t focus on what proper fiscal spending of new debt-free money could accomplish.
The reason the leadership doesn’t focus on it is because the vast majority at the top are opposed to the public sector providing goods and services since their isn’t any special, private advantage in it for the privateers. It’s that simple.
Most importantly, the central figures in that private world are the bankers making their money off usury (interest). They want governments to borrow and to borrow from them, the bankers. They want the entire economy ultimately beholden to borrowing from them.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We could fund everything we need and want and without any inflation or deflation. We could completely eliminate poverty while vastly improving productivity and cleaning up the environment, etc.
⇧ Investors Bid High for Student Housing | Student Housing content from National Real Estate Investor
The average cap rate of 6.1 percent recorded for student housing properties in the first quarter is just 20 basis points higher than the 5.9 percent average cap rate that investors paid for multifamily properties overall, according to RCA.
… Developers are on track to open new student housing communities at a rate of 40,000 to 50,000 new beds a year over the next two years—about in line with the demand for new student housing.
⇧ U.S. Lags Badly in Employment of Prime-Age Workers | CEPR Blog | Blogs | Publications | The Center for Economic and Policy Research
This indicates either that prime-age workers lost interest in working over the last eight years for reasons that were not present elsewhere, or alternatively, that we have a serious problem of inadequate demand in the United States.
⇧ Livability Index | AARP Public Policy Institute, PPI – AARP
The data and results will improve over time, but it’s helpful even now.
The Livability Index scores neighborhoods and communities across the U.S. for the services and amenities that impact your life the most.
⇧ The Power of Inaction: Bank Bailouts in Comparison | Foreign Affairs
…France and Denmark, have kept the costs of bailouts low and have distributed the costs fairly between the public and the private sector, thereby shortening and softening the economic effects of the crisis. Others, such as Germany, the United Kingdom, and most notably Ireland, have let bailout costs balloon and have imposed them on the public sector alone, with disastrous consequences. The United States is somewhere in the middle.
“…distributed the costs fairly between the public and the private sector…”?
There should have been no costs to the public sector whatsoever anywhere. Insolvent banks deem too big to allow to fail should have been nationalized. The shareholders should have taken the entire hit. They should then have been caught by the public safety-net, just the way those in poverty are kept from falling indefinitely. They should not have been given any special treatment.
⇧ Greek Finance Minister Lashes Out at E.C.B. Chief – NYTimes.com
This New York Times article reads like neoliberal propaganda.
The goal is to continue the hate campaign against Yanis Varoufakis because any success on Yanis’s part will be seen by the world as a vindication for anti-austerity forces, anti-self-centered forces.
You will note the complete absence of any compassion for the average Greek citizen who is struggling every bit as much as the average American struggled during the depths of the Great Depression.
Yanis Varoufakis has consistently called for restructuring the Greek debt to make it manageable for Greece. For that, he’s been vilified by a neoliberal-compliant press, what Simon Wren-Lewis has deemed MediaMacro.
To mollify irritated eurozone leaders, Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has scaled back Mr. Varoufakis’s participation in negotiating sessions. But he has not muzzled Mr. Varoufakis.
Of course he hasn’t “muzzled” Yanis. Why should he? He agrees with him.
No matter how hard the neoliberals work to spin this, it won’t change the fact that neoliberal policies and practices have been flat-out wrong.
Yanis is right, and he’s done everything he can think of to get the neoliberals to understand that his plan is what’s best for Europe, given the ugly alternatives that he envisions based upon European history.
We aren’t nearly as pessimistic for Europe if Greece defaults within or outside the EU and Eurozone, but it really is in Germany’s interest to restructure the debt along the lines Yanis Varoufakis has suggested (or better).
⇧ Greek Prime Minister Rejects Further Austerity or Labor Changes – NYTimes.com
Mr. Tsipras said Greece wanted a “unified agreement” that would restructure its huge debt, a thorny issue not on the agenda of the current talks.
“I want to reassure the Greek people that there is no possibility or chance that the Greek government will back down on pension and labor issues,” he said, adding that additional pension cuts “cannot be accepted.”
He set out four conditions for what a “single and unified agreement” would be. Such a deal should include a budget in the black before debt is repaid, no further cuts to salaries and pensions, a restructuring of the debt and “strong public investments.”
“We invite the other side, after five years of nonrealistic targets and constant failures, to give in to reality,” he said, calling for “not just an agreement but a solution.”
There’s no daylight between Alexis Tsipras and Yanis Varoufakis. All attempts by the neoliberals to drive a wedge were always futile.
It’s time for the Greek people to stand up behind their Prime Minister and tell Germany that if Angela Merkel won’t properly restructure the debt, Greece will default, period.
The Greeks have no choice but to face the reality that Tsipras and Varoufakis have been rightly asking Germany to face.
⇧ mainly macro: Mediamacro myth makers fight back
We’re afraid Simon Wren-Lewis is allowing himself to be sucked into a game of semantics here concerning the term “abandoned.” We suggest he look at it in relative terms rather than in the absolute manner he seems to have.
We appreciate his concern for the most accurate choice of terms, but we remember reading Anatole Kaletsky on the subject and finding his take and choice of words quite supportable (though we deferred to him concerning the budgetary numbers): “Even Britain has now abandoned austerity” (https://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/03/21/even-britain-has-now-abandoned-austerity/).
⇧ Real estate recovery stronger near city – DailyHerald.com
“Generally speaking, the closer you get to the city, the faster the homes are selling and the higher the prices are going,” Wisdom said. “In the further-out suburbs, prices are rising more gradually and the homes are selling more slowly.”
The first-time buyer market is driving hard, however, in places where homes can be purchased for $200,000 or less. Wisdom is seeing that in Elgin, for example, where you can buy two- and three-bedroom homes in that price range that were built in the 1980s or earlier.
Investors have also been active in this lower end of the market. But those seeking to buy and rent out homes for profit, or to fix up a home quickly and resell it for a profit, are having more of a challenge now that home prices are rising and inventory is falling.
Here’s what the Big “I” (Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America) says about it.
The Big “I” believes it is ill-advised for insurers to have to “bail out” a bank with assets that are marked for the interests of its policyholders and strongly supports this important consumer safety provision in the draft.
We think people and organizations covered by insurance should support the concept (https://www.iamagazine.com/news/read/2015/05/14/senate-considers-financial-services-regulatory-relief-bill).
⇧ Housing by the numbers: Something is weird
Mortgage rates are rising, up pretty significantly in just the past two weeks from an average 3.6 percent on the 30-year fixed to just over 4 percent.
That’s not at all justified by the economic fundamentals. They should fall again.
⇧ Homelessness up 12% in L.A. city and county – LA Times
The homeless population jumped 12% in the last two years in both the city and county of Los Angeles, driven by soaring rents, low wages and stubbornly high unemployment….
In one of the most striking findings, the number of tents, makeshift encampments and vehicles occupied by homeless people soared 85%, to 9,535, according to biennial figures from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
The rise was fueled by gentrification downtown and in Venice, where cheap hotel rooms, motels and single-room apartments — once the last refuge of the poor — are being eliminated.
After decades of squabbling and inaction, the city and county resolved old differences over homeless service tactics and began pursuing nationally recognized solutions. Those include rapidly re-housing newly homeless people and creating so-called permanent supportive housing, with mental health and addiction counseling, for the chronically homeless.
But the campaign has so far proved no match for the region’s high cost of housing and lack of new money for low-income housing or rent subsidies for the destitute….
The city’s affordable housing fund, which in 2008 totaled $108 million, plunged to $26 million in 2014.
Do you think gentrification should come with the price of creating new, high-quality, permanently affordable housing within the same area?
⇧ Is Shelby’s Reg Relief Proposal a Gift to Big Banks? | Bank Think
Within Shelby’s comprehensive draft legislation, I am particularly concerned about his desire to move the $50 billion asset threshold at which banks are considered systemically [important] to $500 billion. This could severely impede the ability of the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to impose enhanced prudential standards on large banks in order to keep them from failing. Remember that the largest bank failure in the U.S. was that of Washington Mutual — which had about $300 billion assets at the time. Although JPMorgan Chase bought the bank, the outcome can hardly be seen as a success story.
We’d like to see the amount changed to a percentage of GNP still representing $50 billion in 2010 terms. The amount could increase annually so the institutions wouldn’t have to change constantly, just plan ahead to fund their reserves properly and on time.
⇧ South Dakota Tornado Damaged 84 Structures
Officials have confirmed damage to 84 structures from the tornado that ripped through the southeastern South Dakota town of Delmont on May 10.
State Public Safety spokesman Tony Mangan says six of the structures were in rural areas in Douglas and Charles Mix counties, and 78 were in Delmont.
⇧ No Plan in Place Yet as Rising Sea Levels Threaten Florida Coast
Republican Gov. Rick Scott is skeptical of man-made climate change and has put aside the task of preparing for sea level rise, an Associated Press review of thousands of emails and documents pertaining to the state’s preparations for rising seas found.
Despite warnings from water experts and climate scientists, skepticism over sea level projections and climate change science has hampered planning efforts at all levels of government, the records showed. Florida’s environmental agencies under Scott have been downsized, making them less effective at coordinating sea level rise planning in the state….
⇧ Climate Prediction Center: ENSO Diagnostic Discussion
There is an approximately 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere summer 2015, and a greater than 80% chance it will last through 2015.
⇧ Why Syriza Will Blink by Anatole Kaletsky – Project Syndicate
The legal and political mechanisms for treating Greece like a municipal bankruptcy are clear. The European treaties state unequivocally that euro membership is irreversible unless a country decides to exit not just from the single currency but from the entire EU.
If true, we just learned something there.
We had been seeing articles that made it sound as if Greece could leave the euro while remaining in the EU.
Now, maybe those articles were only referring to Greece defaulting while remaining in the EU. That, however, would make zero sense if Anatole has stated things correctly; and we have no reason to doubt him.
If Greece defaults, the rest of the Eurozone and EU truly wouldn’t have to fund Greece that we know of. Greece would have to issue its own currency. That would mean leaving the EU, which is where we were in our thinking before articles and shows, suggested defaulting while remaining in the EU, threw us a curve.
Greece yesterday [May 13, 2015] met its EUR 745 mn payment due to the IMF by drawing on its own Special Drawing Rights (SDR) account. Reportedly, Greece’s SDR holdings were standing at EUR 700 mn at the end of March, and EUR 650 mn have been used to make this payment.
What Greece did is effectively akin to taking a loan from the Fund to repay the Fund itself. While clever in the short-term, it has consequences. Whenever a member’s SDR holdings are below its allocation, the member incurs a net interest obligation. This interest rate has to be paid quarterly and it is determined weekly based on a weighted average of representative interest rates on 3-month debt in the money markets of the four SDR basket currencies (i.e., the U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, euro, and pound sterling).
Well, if they’re forced to default due to German-neoliberal stubbornness, they won’t pay it back.
⇧ Why Greece is Different by Daniel Gros – Project Syndicate
…austerity worked in Europe’s other crisis-hit countries. Indeed, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and even Cyprus are showing clear signs of recovery, with unemployment finally falling (albeit slowly and from high levels) and access to capital markets restored.
We find it amazing that anyone would call that working. The tiny recoveries have been in spite of austerity and not a sign that austerity has done any good whatsoever.
The recoveries could have been rapid and robust had Keynesianism been fully and properly employed. There are better alternatives to Keynesianism too.
Why wasn’t fiscal spending employed sufficiently? If it had been, it would have worked. That would have been proof positive that government spending is vastly superior to austerity.
Neoliberals tend to hate the state (government). They don’t want it to succeed. They want everyone falsely believing that the private sector is all that matters. That’s because the neoliberals then pay themselves obscene amounts and sit back feeling superior relative to those they’ve deliberately kept down.
⇧ Unless You Are Spock, Irrelevant Things Matter in Economic Behavior – NYTimes.com
The field of behavioral economics has been around for more than three decades, but the application of its findings to societal problems has only recently been catching on. Fortunately, economists open to new ways of thinking are finding novel ways to use supposedly irrelevant factors to make the world a better place.
⇧ Brownstone Preservation | Brownstones Economy
…bulldoze a city’s historic housing stock to make way for high-rise apartment towers….
Some things are priceless.
Alexis Tsipras wrote to Ms Lagarde, warning that the IMF repayment would be missed unless the European Central Bank immediately raised its curbs on Greece’s ability to issue short-term debt.
… In addition to payments due to the IMF next month totalling €1.5bn, the Greek government has struggled to meet its wage and pension bills, which must be paid at the end of the month.
According to two officials briefed on the talks, at least one board member raised the possibility of presenting a “take it or leave it proposal” to Greece.
A similar tactic was used in March 2013, when the Cypriot government was presented with a severe bailout plan and told it must agree or lose ECB support for its failing banking sector.
The official noted that the recent public backing by Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, for a Greek referendum fits into such a scheme. Under this scenario, Mr Tsipras would take the bailout ultimatum to a nationwide vote for approval.
A referendum would take the onus off Tsipras.
Would the Greeks vote the math, default, and exit the EU? If they were to do that, Greece ought not to issue bonds when issuing its new currency replacing the euro.
Issuing bonds to issue currency would be a really bad move.
⇧ Battle between Obama, Elizabeth Warren on trade deal leaves Hillary Clinton navigating difficult middle ground | Farmer | NJ.com
If you really want to generate jobs for the middle class, she contends, shore up the highway trust fund and enact a much-needed multibillion dollar infrastructure program — which surely makes sense. But Republicans oppose the spending.
TPP is a whole-owned creation of Corporate America, Warren says, claiming not a single labor representative can be found among the 20-odd groups working behind closed doors on the trade legislation.
Secrecy is required, the argument goes, to prevent interest groups from shredding the pact before it’s completed. Probably true. But it’s secret only from labor (and ordinary Americans), Warren says, not from the boys in the board room.
Warren wants the American people to see the entire text of the deal with plenty of time before anyone votes on it. She wants us to know one way or the other whether the standards are high enough and whether national sovereignty is sold out to corporate-arbitration panels. We agree with her.
⇧ Bricks fall from Upper West Side building, strike toddler – NY Daily News
Bricks rained down on a woman and her toddler granddaughter from a crumbling building on the Upper West side Sunday afternoon, leaving the baby in critical condition, officials and witnesses said.
⇧ Heavy Rains Wash Away Worst of Years-Old Texas Drought
Recent heavy rains have helped Texas emerge from the worst of the years-long drought.
The U.S. Drought Monitor indicated Texas, for the first time since mid-2012, is no longer in the “exceptional drought” category. That’s the most dire of five drought designations on the weekly map by federal agencies.
⇧ Van, Texas, Tornado Blamed for $40M in Damage
An emergency official says a deadly tornado that blasted an East Texas town left behind about $40 million in damage.
⇧ Duke Energy Settles North Carolina Coal Ash Criminal Case for $102M
Environmental groups hailed the resolution of the criminal charges a vindication for their years of efforts to get regulators to hold Duke accountable for the pollution leaking from 32 coal ash dumps at 14 power plants scattered across the state.
⇧ Bankruptcy Judge Rejects Freedom Industries’ Chemical Spill Settlement
A judge has rejected a $6.7 million bankruptcy plan by the company behind a January 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia.
The spill contaminated 300,000 residents’ tap water for days. Businesses that couldn’t operate without water, including restaurants, and individuals are seeking compensation.
⇧ Conn. Bill Requires Home Improvement Contractors to Have Insurance
…Connecticut House…voted 140-2 in favor of legislation that would require state-registered contractors with a gross annual income of $30,000 or more to purchase general commercial liability…worth at least $500,000.
…those…contractors who earn less than $30,000 from their services, they’d be required to obtain coverage worth at least $100,000.
⇧ Omaha Man Sentenced to 16 Years Imprisonment for Arson and Insurance Fraud | USAO-NE | Department of Justice
United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced that on May 14, 2015, Thomas Schropp, 53, of Omaha, Nebraska, was sentenced for arson and insurance fraud. Senior United States District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon sentenced Schropp to a 16-year term of imprisonment. After his release from prison, Schropp will begin a term of supervised release of 3 years. Additionally, he was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $7.6 million to various victims of his crimes, including Sentry Insurance, various banks and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In November of 2008, Schropp, the owner of PK Manufacturing in Nashville, Nebraska, hired an individual to burn down his business and then after the burning of the building submitted a false insurance claim for approximately $4.3 million.
This case was the result of an investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
⇧ Progress Toward TPP Comments by C. Fred Bergsten – YouTube
We have openly come down on the Senator-Warren side of the trade deals. In fact, we were well out in front of her. Our position hasn’t changed. We hate the lack of transparency. We see it as a direct assault on even representative democracy, as reps who work for secrecy in legislation are actually then working against the transparency needed by their constituents for those constituents to make informed-democratic choices.
In our view, “representation” without information is no better than taxation without representation. In fact, it can be no representation at all.
That said, the issue of currency manipulation is not a small one or inconsequential. In fact, we advocated long ago the addition of proportional duties on goods and services imported into the US by nation-states subsidizing their exports via such manipulations.
It’s not a panacea, far from it; but doing nothing is bad for all concerned.
Sometimes currency protection (capital control) is necessary, especially for small nations. The two should not be confused.
The Senate’s move toward passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), while approving separate legislation that would seek to deter currency manipulation by trading partners, offers the best route to eventual approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), according to C. Fred Bergsten. Bergsten, a longtime champion of an Asia-Pacific trade accord, and also a longtime critic of currency manipulation practices by China and other countries, analyzes the current state of play on the TPP in Congress in this video recorded on May 15. Prospects for eventual approval of the TPP have improved considerably because of the Senate’s actions, he explains. The outcome is far from clear in the House of Representatives, however.
⇧ Four Safety Concerns in the Home – YouTube
This is a very informative episode.
Home safety test: You need smoke detectors, but which one alerts you to a fire quickest? Ilyce has the answer and other tips to protect your property. She’ll talk with Dan Goldstein, the real estate reporter for MarketWatch who also happens to be a former firefighter and EMT. He’s back on this edition of Big Money Real Estate to discuss four hazards in the home that homeowners need to know about. Tune in for some useful tips when it comes to protecting yourself from potentially hidden dangers in your house. Click here for a link to Dan Goldstein’s original MarketWatch article, Four Hidden Hazards in the Home. And check out Ilyce’s Intentional Investor Series to learn everything you need to know to become a successful investor in real estate.
Here’s some additional info:
For best protection, it is recommended both (ionization and photoelectric) technologies be used in homes. In addition to individual ionization and photoelectric alarms, combination alarms that include both technologies in a single device are available. [https://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/fire-and-safety-equipment/smoke-alarms/ionization-vs-photoelectric]
Do watch the video.
For Gavyn Davies, this is a nearly hysterical piece, though he still ends with his typical optimism concerning China.
Amid further signs of a weakening economy, there is no longer any doubt that a major policy easing is clicking into gear in China. For the first time since 2008, the government has accepted that the economy has hit a patch of serious trouble, and the most recent policy statement by the politburo adopts a much more urgent tone than anything that has preceded it under President Xi Jinping.
But deflationary economic forces remain powerful and it is still far from clear whether the policy adjustment has been large enough to rescue the deteriorating situation.
The causes of this cyclical downturn are very familiar. The property bubble in the economy has burst, and half a decade of excessive credit growth has gone into reverse.
Like the ECB’s LTRO programme, which it strongly resembles, the PBOC can argue that this is not, strictly, “quantitative easing”. It does not, for example, remove the ultimate LG credit risk from the commercial banks’ balance sheets. But it does clearly use central bank liquidity to smooth a public debt problem. In the case of the eurozone, the LTRO programme led inexorably to large scale QE, and it might also do so in the case of China.
The battle to defeat deflationary forces in China has now been well and truly joined. The world will watch with bated breath as the authorities struggle to overcome the threat. They have sufficient ammunition to succeed.
Do they? We think the ammunition they’re using isn’t enough.
⇧ The Overall Benefit Cap — a little time bomb under UK buy-to-let housing — Bull Market — Medium
One thing we do know about the British economy is that rents are sticky. I would guess that the frictions in the housing market would be significant enough to mean that we saw plenty of evictions (which destroy the cost-effectiveness of the scheme, as the evicted families have to be housed in expensive temporary accomodation), plenty of arrears, downward pressure on house prices and real danger of a meltdown in the social housing sector. I’m not sure this one has been brilliantly thought through.
It sounds to us that the author thinks it definitely has not been thought through at all.
Of course, the real Tory plan is to destroy the public sector as much and as quickly as stealthily possible. In that sense, it has been brilliantly thought through if you believe doing that is brilliant rather than shortsightedly selfish.
⇧ Fed’s Evans: Overshooting Fed’s 2% Price Target May Be a Good Idea – Real Time Economics – WSJ
…the weak first-quarter data do give me pause, and I would like to see confirmation that they are indeed a transitory aberration,” he said, explaining “it likely will not be appropriate to begin raising the fed funds rate until sometime in early 2016.”
It has made zero sense to us that anyone should be even hinting at when raising the rate may be appropriate other than to say once price inflation has hit and remained above a certain level and unemployment (including the high non-participation rate) has fallen below a certain level. To us, everything else should be heard as just less-thoughtful noise.
⇧ Greece’s Turn to Resist a Referendum – Bloomberg View
The Greek government’s hope is to retain control as it secures time to compel creditors to agree to an easing of austerity measures, a reorientation of some structural reforms, greater debt relief and a large injection of immediate funding beyond what is being provided by the ECB.
It doesn’t have that luxury if Germany maintains its course.
Look, some nation-state needs to go first in the EU. Some nation must be the first to stand up to the neoliberal economics running the EU. Iceland didn’t go along, but it wasn’t in that system. Iceland is definitely better off not having gone along.
If Greece does hold a referendum and the people do opt to stay in and to pay the price via more draconian austerity, Syriza will be in a position later to tell them that they, the Greek people made the then obvious mistake.
On the other hand, if Syriza says that Syriza has done everything humanly and humanely possible to remain in the EU while providing the tiniest of safety nets for the abject poor and if the Greek people choose to leave the EU, Syriza should remain in power and see it through, coming out well on the other end, as Greece will end up prospering as never before.
Germany will then regret Germany’s error and eventually ask Greece to return after Germany has sufficiently correctly changed away from the utterly discredited neoliberalism it is now under.
⇧ Germany’s Golden Opportunity by Marcel Fratzscher , Jürgen Fitschen and Reiner Hoffmann – Project Syndicate
…today’s rosy macroeconomic data tell only part of the story. Since the euro was established in 1999, Germany’s productivity growth has been no more than average among European countries, real wages have declined for half the workforce, and annual GDP growth has averaged a disappointing 1.2%.
A key reason for this lackluster performance is Germany’s notoriously paltry investment rate….
Their solution is private investment, wherein the whole people won’t be the primary beneficiary.
⇧ Retiring on Real Estate — Perfect Passive Income or Pipe Dream? – TheStreet
Word to the wise: to invest in real estate, you don’t have to have a tool box and plumbing supplies. In fact, in some cases, you’re not allowed to manage or perform maintenance on such investments. For example, property can be purchased and placed in a self-directed IRA, but financial and maintenance matters should be handled by a property manager. Performing work related to the IRA asset yourself is regarded as a “prohibited transaction” by the IRS.
⇧ Banks, lenders to help inspect ‘zombie’ properties: Cuomo – NY Daily News
ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo has struck a deal with nearly a dozen major banks and lenders to provide regular inspections and maintenance of so-called zombie properties.
⇧ Real-estate agents: Proposed pipeline already affecting sales – Work It, Lynchburg: News
“If the land crosses pasture, it can still be used to grow crops and raise livestock and would not be noticed,” he said. “It can be used for recreational purposes, such as hunting or four-wheeling. Yes, there would be a 75-foot wide ROW through a forested area that might be more noticeable, but that’s true for other ROWs such as for highways, roads, power lines, etc.”
In September 2008, the Transco pipeline in Appomattox exploded due to external corrosion. Though there were no deaths, five people were injured, two homes were completely leveled and more than 100 homes were damaged in the blast.
⇧ Tour of Detroit Housing: The Good, the Bad and the Hopeful | Zillow Blog
It’s nice to see Detroit making progress.
The gawking and hand-wringing worsened with the last recession, when Detroit lost hundreds of thousands more jobs and tipped into such dire territory that it began to resemble a developing country: Many streetlights and fire hydrants stopped working, police responses were slow, and trash pick-up was spotty.
Large swaths of housing, some of it long neglected, began to noticeably rot.
Even Detroit’s finest neighborhoods held scores of empty homes with lawns mowed by neighbors hoping for a better day.
People haven’t given up though. Check out the full article.
⇧ Derailing Amtrak: Tracking the Latest Disaster in the Infrastructure Crisis | WEB OF DEBT BLOG
The following by Ellen Brown is exactly right:
While transportation infrastructure is short of funds across the board, Amtrak has been pinched more than most. Congress holds the agency to a unique standard by demanding that it turn a profit per passenger. This is not true for highways and airports, which receive about 45 times the subsidies that Amtrak does.
Why the difference in treatment? Perhaps because of Amtrak’s large and growing profit potential. Trains charge by the rider; roads do not. Republicans have long called for the privatization of the Northeast Corridor — this despite the abject failure of the privatization of the British Rail System.
In an editorial titled “How Two Billionaires Are Destroying High Speed Rail in America,” Mike Vainisi observes that the push against public mass transit is being led by a think tank called the Reason Foundation, which is funded by the notorious Koch brothers.The Koch brothers’ $44 billion fortune comes largely from Koch Industries, an oil and gas conglomerate.That means they have a vested interest in those gas-guzzling single-rider vehicles that are mass transit’s competitors, the cars and trucks that use the roads that are heavily subsidized by the federal government.
…the Chinese government just decides to do the work, issues Chinese currency to finance it, and pays Chinese workers to get it done.
The US could fund its infrastructure in the same way. As financial author Richard Duncan observes, under current market conditions, direct money issuance can be done without causing price inflation. Prices go up when demand (money) exceeds supply (goods and services); and with mechanization and the availability of cheap labor in vast global markets today, supply can keep up with demand for decades to come. Duncan writes:
… But Congress seems bent instead on creating an artificial debt crisis to justify the privatization of the nation’s choicest public assets, opening the m to exploitation by wealthy investors.
⇧ US housing starts total 1.135 million in April vs. 1.020 million estimate
U.S. housing starts jumped to their highest level in nearly 7-1/2 years in April and permits soared, hopeful signs for an economy that is struggling to regain strong momentum after a dismal first quarter.
What we aren’t informed about from this article is the size of the houses planned. If they are mostly large houses, then they will do much less to help the middle and lower classes.
We need the construction jobs but need houses the construction workers can afford to buy, which means millions of smaller houses rather than the McMansions that have been going up.
⇧ Election Shows Tribal Divisions Are U.K.’s Biggest Challenge – Investors.com
Alvaro Vargas Llosa:
After five years of austerity, the United Kingdom is growing at twice the rate of the European Union….
Oh dear, there it is, the echo of bad information.
The UK did not have what may properly be termed 5 years of austerity.
As we wrote above:
Anatole Kaletsky on the subject and finding his take and choice of words quite supportable (though we deferred to him concerning the budgetary numbers): “Even Britain has now abandoned austerity” (https://blogs.reuters.com/anatole-kaletsky/2013/03/21/even-britain-has-now-abandoned-austerity/).
In addition, the EU has had plenty of austerity, so what’s being compared here anyway?
Plus, let’s not forget that individual EU/eurozone nations don’t create their own national currencies (unlike the UK).
Finally, how much better off would the UK be now had it not had any austerity but had rather used fiscal spending to kill the recession/depression? We say much, much, much better off.
⇧ Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt
OKLAHOMA CITY — Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced Monday charges filed in Muskogee County against an Oklahoma roofing contractor.
⇧ Dog Bite Claims Costs Soar, Account for 1/3 of All Homeowner Liability Claims
Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2014, costing in excess of $530 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm.
⇧ In-Depth Study Reveals How Drones Can Help in All Phases of a Disaster
Currently, FAA policy doesn’t allow private sector companies to use drones for disaster recovery purposes. FAA policy also currently restricts drones from flying over populated areas and limits operation to remote locations, conditions that the report finds “will greatly reduce the benefit of operating drones for disaster relief efforts.”
At least 58 people were killed in Salgar, Colombia, on Monday night when a mudslide triggered by heavy rains swept away dozens of ramshackle homes, regional disaster response officials said.
⇧ Megaquake could hit central New Zealand | Stuff.co.nz
Scientists finally have proof that central New Zealand could be ticking down to a highly damaging “megathrust” earthquake.
Earlier research has suggested the seabed between the Wairarapa and Marlborough is capable of generating magnitude 7-plus quakes.
⇧ 2012 WFCM Webinar 2: Wind Load Distribution on Buildings – Load Paths (STD311) – YouTube
This webinar will be a continuation of the Loads webinar and use the loads developed previously to illustrate the importance of load path continuity in buildings. Vertical and lateral load paths will be described including the role of shear walls in buildings. The 2012 Wood Frame Construction Manual (WFCM) will be used as the basis for loads and load paths that must be determined in design of low-rise wood frame construction.
1. Be able to describe how loads are distributed to buildings both vertically and horizontally
2. Be able to describe several different load paths that are critical to improved building performance during high winds
3. Be able to recognize structural configurations or significant loading in building framing that might present construction challenges to framing continuous load paths
4. Be able to recognize construction defects that could potentially fail under high wind loads