Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Experts: Rent Control Causes More Problems Than It Solves | Zillow Blog
… whopping 63 percent of experts surveyed for the Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey (ZHPE) said rent control ordinances are “government intrusions into the marketplace that, however well-intentioned, always create more problems than they solve.”
Well, a whopping percentage of “experts” didn’t realize a housing-market crash was coming even the year it happened: 2008. Anyway, also check out this article and our brief commentary on it: “It’s time to regulate rents in Seattle | The Seattle Times”: https://propertypak.com/2015/08/12/news-real-estate-risk-economics-aug-12-2015/#08121541
⇧ Worst El Nino in 30 Years Hits South American Crops, Polls – Bloomberg Business
I mentioned El Nino last week by saying this concerning the drought in the Western US: “Let’s hope El Nino kicks in the right amount. Too much, and there will be many landslides.” (https://propertypak.com/2015/08/12/news-real-estate-risk-economics-aug-12-2015/#08121547) Here’s why.
The El Nino climatic phenomenon has hit South America’s southern cone with a vengeance in the past week, causing flooding and landslides that have damaged crops, cut off roads, disrupted copper mining and might even influence Argentina’s presidential elections.
Granted, El Nino usually hit South America harder, but this is big (as I had been expecting for years; however, the delay in its coming actually started to get me wondering only a couple of months ago whether climate change had broken the mechanism).
⇧ CoreLogic: More Than 900 Homes at Risk From California Rocky Wildfire
According to CoreLogic hazard risk analysis, a total of 927 homes, or 23 percent, with a total reconstruction cost of more than $221 million are at “Maximum Risk” or “Moderately High Risk” from the Rocky Wildfire occurring in the following Northern California zip codes: …
⇧ Nevada Hit by More Than 5,000 Earthquakes in Past Year
Seismologists say a year-long swarm of earthquakes in northwest Nevada could be linked to volcanic activity.
The University of Nevada’s Reno Nevada Seismological Laboratory announced this week that there have been 5,610 earthquakes in the swarm that started in July 2014 in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge ….
⇧ China explosion leaves dozens dead at busy port – CNN.com
Slightly under 90,000 people live within a 5 kilometer radius of the blast site, according to China’s Earthquake Administration.
The explosions have raised questions about the storage of hazardous materials at Tianjin’s port.
⇧ Greek Parliament Passes Bailout Deal, but Support for Alexis Tsipras Is Slipping – The New York Times
… the terms, which also include raising the retirement age and opening various parts of the Greek economy to greater competition, have proved unacceptable to a growing number of lawmakers in Mr. Tsipras’s government.
While the measure received the support of some members of the opposition, it had the backing of only 118 lawmakers in the government coalition — fewer than the 120 lawmakers that Mr. Tsipras needs to survive politically.
… before the vote, the former energy minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis, who heads Syriza’s radical Left Platform, took the first step toward breaking away. In a statement signed by a dozen other leftist lawmakers, he said that his group would form a new anti-bailout movement, one opposed to the memorandum specifying the details of the new loan program.
“The struggle against the new memorandum starts now,” Mr. Lafazanis said, “by mobilizing people in every corner of the country.”
That will be interesting to watch develop. Is that all many people have been waiting for: an alternative with concrete proposals? Will a new party come of it?
⇧ Greece paves way for third debt deal as Syriza split laid bare: live – Telegraph
Definitely a lost generation:
The European Commission, European Central Bank and European Stability Mechanism – or the eurozone’s bail-out fund – published a stark debt analysis that showed greece’s debt would only fall to 120pc of GDP in 2030, even if Greece implements all the terms of its €85bn (£61bn) rescue package and raises €13.9bn from a privatisation drive.
⇧ CMHC says Toronto housing market at ‘high risk,’ as economists fear Tories ‘throwing fuel on fire’ | Financial Post
Overvalued prices in the real estate markets of Toronto, Winnipeg and Regina are now at “high risk,” according to the latest assessment from Canada’s federal housing agency.
“They seem to be just throwing fuel on the fire,” said David Madani, Canada economist for Capital Economics.
Canada had seemed financially conservative enough to avoid the US crash; but with the tar-sands oil bust, are they playing politics with housing finance now and that will come back to haunt them?
⇧ The Future of Work: Why Wages Aren’t Keeping Up – Pacific Standard
… one important reason for the failure of real wages to keep up with productivity is that the division of rent in industry has been shifting against the labor side for several decades. … the decay of unions and collective bargaining, the explicit hardening of business attitudes, the popularity of right-to-work laws, and the fact that the wage lag seems to have begun at about the same time as the Reagan presidency all point in the same direction: the share of wages in national value added may have fallen because the social bargaining power of labor has diminished. This is not to say that international competition and the biased nature of new technology have no role to play, only that they are not the whole story. Internal social change and the division of rent matter too.
⇧ China’s Long Minsky Moment – The New Yorker
… Until pretty recently, the consensus among economists and investors was that this policy was generally working. G.D.P. growth was falling, but not cratering. The Chinese shadow-banking system, which issued a lot of the dodgy credit, was shaky, but it hadn’t collapsed. And China’s stock market was soaring.
The events of the past months have prompted a reassessment of the true state of China’s economy, and of the competence of its policy makers. In the aftermath of the effort to prop up the stock market, the Times’ Paul Krugman said Chinese officials were demonstrating that they “have no idea what they are doing.” This week’s devaluation prompted more critical comments from Krugman, while, over at Bloomberg View, Justin Fox suggested that China might not have a master plan.
My readers know that I’ve been writing for weeks that the Chinese leadership doesn’t know what it’s doing. They’ve been masking reality and kicking the can while constantly sending out mixed signals.
They have no choice because they refuse to choose democracy.
They can’t have laissez-faire under a Communist government. They can’t have socialism with a nearly market-driven economy. They can’t have a relatively stable mixed economy without vastly greater democracy.
They aren’t willing to allow the people to vote for what they want in leadership.
Consequently, they will fail and already are.
⇧ Is Financial Success a Product of Inherited Genes? | Institute for New Economic Thinking
… the relationship between the wealth ranking of adopted children and with the ranking of their biological parents is much weaker with a coefficient of .11. In other words, a child’s wealth is more strongly correlated with the wealth of their adoptive parents than to the wealth of their biological parents. Nurture, when it comes to wealth, is far more important than nature.
It distroys the myth that people are poor because they are stupid. They are poor primarily because they didn’t have the training or resources or because they were shoved down or had the rug pulled out from under them (usually over and over and over). Give them what they need, and they will not remain poor.
⇧ Bungling Beijing’s Stock Markets – The New York Times
… sustained intervention and political dictation of prices China seems to imagine it can pull off. Do the country’s leaders really not understand why that won’t work?
If they really don’t, that’s a big concern. China is an economic superpower — not quite as super as the United States or the European Union, yet, but big enough to matter a lot. And it’s facing tough times. So if its leadership is really as clueless as it has been looking lately, that bodes ill, not just for China, but for the world as a whole.
Well, Paul Krugman hasn’t mention democracy yet. He has seemed to be one step behind me on this issue, so there’s hope he’ll make the connection and state it openly. He has a megaphone I lack.
Frankly, China has to fail so the regime will fall and be replaced by democracy. I don’t mean an American-style democracy but the real thing: economic democracy, which we definitely don’t have here in the US.
⇧ Chinese Buyers Dominating Vancouver’s Luxury Home Market
Real estate experts point out that even though it’s clear Chinese buyers are having an effect on real estate prices, it’s only really affecting the luxury market, not real estate prices for other sectors. …
The impact on the upper end of the market seems pretty clear, but for the rest of the market Chinese buyers only account for 11% of transactions. The affordability crisis for entry-level homes is a completely different matter….
Regardless, unless the Chinese leadership allows huge offshoring of Chinese money to continue, the recent downturn in China that’s caused a weakening of the Chinese currency will slow down Chinese investing around the world outside China.
Now, if Canada has a similar slowdown in scope and experiences the same or greater rate of inflation, that will further complicate things.
⇧ Chinese buyers making mark on Vancouver’s luxury housing – The Globe and Mail
Mr. Scarrow says one reason for the current high prices is that the supply of single family houses in Vancouver — a city that is also hemmed in by the sea and mountains — has been unchanged for at least 20 years. He says Chinese buyers have simply helped push house prices in formerly middle- and upper-middle class areas — such as most of Vancouver’s west side — firmly into luxury territory on par with traditionally tony neighbourhoods such as Shaughnessy.
⇧ Home Remodeling Market Remains Strong – US News
Having a hard time finding and keeping qualified construction contractors to do your property repairs and upgrades?
Positive signs continue to point toward growth for the home improvement sector. While multifamily apartment development has led the housing recovery since the Great Recession, and single-family residential construction shows potential for accelerated growth into the future, current market conditions are supporting a solid remodeling sector, creating jobs and sustaining small businesses.
… Like other elements of the construction industry, headwinds such as access to labor exist and may act to slow growth and increase production costs in some markets. And Congress could provide a boost to the market by not waiting until the end of the year to extend residential energy-related tax credits as part of the recurring tax extenders process. But demographics, a healthy existing sales market, and an aging housing stock point to growth for the remodeling sector.
⇧ Greece is about to be completely dismantled and fed to profit-hungry corporations – Comment – Voices – The Independent
The latest bailout has nothing to do with debt, but an experiment in capitalism so extreme that no other EU state would even dare try it.
Greece is heading towards its third “bailout”. This time €86 billion is on the table, which will be packaged up by international lenders with a bundle of austerity and sent off to Greece, only to return to those same lenders in the very near future.
We all know the spiralling debt cannot and will not be repaid. We all know the austerity to which it is tied will make Greece’s depression worse. Yet it continues.
If we look deeper, however, we find that Europe is not led by the terminally confused. By taking those leaders at their word, we’re missing what’s really going on in Europe. In a nutshell, Greece is up for sale, and its workers, farmers and small businesses will have to be cleared out of the way.
… Truly a free market experiment is being put into place.
… what is being imposed by the lending institutions is not a series of sensible “reforms”, but the establishment and micromanagement of radical ‘free market’ economics.
⇧ Fitch: U.S. housing demand pendulum swinging back to city centers | HousingWire
This article runs more than a bit contrary to a link we provided two weeks ago: “Exurbia Returning to Prominence as Single-Family Housing Regains Traction | Auction.com”: https://propertypak.com/2015/08/05/news-real-estate-risk-economics-aug-5-2015/#08051528
Amid stabilizing U.S. home price growth lies a demographic shift that is underway across much of the country, according to Fitch Ratings in its latest quarterly U.S. RMBS Sustainable Home Price Report.
Significant demand is returning to city centers following decades of suburban and exurban growth. Since 2000, home prices have grown 50% faster in urban centers than in the broader MSA areas, with population growth trends beginning to favor city centers as well.
Look at this: https://www.housingwire.com/ext/resources/images/editorial/Trey-7/Screen-Shot-2015-08-12-at-30753-PM.png
⇧ How government policy created ghettos, according to one historian | Deseret News National
In 1968, when Richard Nixon was president, he appointed George Romney Secretary of Housing. Romney began a program called Open Communities to force the suburbs to desegregate. Romney announced that housing policies had created a “white noose” around black ghettos that should be “untied.”
There were protests in the white suburbs against Romney’s program, and Nixon was trying to lure whites away from the Democratic Party, so he thought Romney’s program was interfering with political strategy. Open Communities was abolished and forced out, and then we forgot all this history, and there’s been no further activity since.
I remember the redlining issue well. I remember George Romney as governor of Michigan when I lived there and that he came to our pretty well-off suburb of Grosse Pointe Park to talk about this very issue. I thought he was a great man, still do (for that and other reasons).
⇧ Record low wages growth in Australia – YouTube
This segment was broadcast on the ABC 730 Program on August 13, 2015. It discusses the record low wages growth in Australia.
Demographic trends and employment growth fuel demand for U.S. rental apartments
In spite of the recent report of the highest share of first-time buyers making home purchases since September 2012, the U.S. homeownership rate has declined to 63.7%. This decrease continues a long-term structural movement away from homeownership. And, partially as a result of this, national rental apartment unit demand continues to outpace deliveries, maintaining a trend dating back to 2011.
The speed of development has accelerated in 2015 and is projected to carry on at a brisk pace. While vacancy rates have inched up in certain markets, such as Boston and Houston, these gains haven’t dented the national rental vacancy rate of 4.2%. Even as numerous markets are preparing to receive several thousand units delivered throughout 2015 and into 2016, strong demand persists from renters. No markets have yet seen systemic overbuilding.
⇧ Multifamily Demand Continues to Rise, But How Will We Keep Up? | Multifamily content from National Real Estate Investor
While the pace of new construction has picked up in recent years, it’s not yet at a level to meet new household demand. Also, it’s important to consider the simultaneous loss of inventory occurring. The national rental vacancy rate dipped to 7.6 percent in 2014, its lowest point in nearly 20 years, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University’s “State of the Nation’s Housing 2015” study (JCHS study). And each year, a large number of affordable rental units are lost from the housing supply due to demolition, deterioration of aging properties, expiring federal contracts and affordability controls and conversion to condos.
While there won’t be a silver-bullet solution to solve the rental housing shortage around the country, there are initial actions we can, and should, take in the multifamily space to enable us to adapt effectively to the landscape ahead and ensure that we are meeting the needs and desires of residents in regard to the availability and affordability of units.
⇧ Need Big-Box Space? Good luck, Industrial Experts Say | Industrial content from National Real Estate Investor
Net industrial absorption has outweighed new space completions for five straight years following the recession, particularly in the big-box segment, resulting in a significant drought of available space in many major markets at mid-year 2015.
Part of the challenge for developers, he says, is how quickly properties become obsolete today, particularly when it comes to technology tenants. E-commerce tenants want much higher ceilings, such as 42-foot clear, more room for employee parking, space for racks, electricity for robotics, etc., that many older buildings just don’t have. “It used to be that industrial needs changed over a long period of time, such as with manufacturing,” Tolliver says. “Now, as a developer, you have to think not only about what the tenant needs today, but what they’ll need tomorrow.”
⇧ Montana May Require Drilling Buffer Zones Near Homes
… Wyoming tackled the same setback issue in April, voting to increase the minimum allowable distance between oil and gas wells and occupied structures from 350 to 500 feet. The move followed a surge in oil development … that has brought noise, air pollution and truck traffic closer to homes.
⇧ Oregon City Factors Tsunami Threat Into Expansion Plans
With the help of a tsunami modeling graphic, commissioners found Southeast Hills is relatively safe except in the event of an extremely large event. A large or medium event is considered probably in the future. As a result, they plan to encourage population growth further uphill ….
⇧ Social Security Still Going Strong on 80th Anniversary – US News
Many tenants use Social Security to pay for rent. Do you really want people messing with that so Wall Street can make fees on investment transactions in a privatized, weaker system?
Alarmists who claim that there is a looming Social Security Disability Insurance funding crisis or that Social Security won’t be around when today’s younger workers retire don’t have their facts straight.
Cutting through the arcane details about Social Security trust funds, there is no real disability funding crisis. Policymakers have an easy — and in the past non-controversial — way to redirect payroll tax revenues between trust funds that would allow Social Security to pay full old age, survivors and disability benefits until 2034. After that, even if policymakers took no further action, Social Security could still pay three-quarters of scheduled benefits out of payroll tax revenues.
While Social Security faces no imminent crisis, there is a long-term gap between its projected income and promised benefits of just under 1 percent of gross domestic product over the next 75 years. Closing that gap is a manageable task.
Most of any savings should come from higher revenues, achieved through measures like a higher limit on earnings subject to payroll taxes. Don’t believe alarmist claims that we need big benefit cuts in a program whose benefits are modest and essential.
⇧ Strong El Nino Likely to Peak Late Fall-Early Winter, NOAA Forecasters Say – weather.com
I had said that I hope El Nino kicks in the right amount to avoid landslides. Well, for the Northwestern US, El Nino typically means a drier than average late fall and winter. I spent the last strong El Nino in Arizona, where it rained cats and dogs and had forgotten that the wet band was in the Southern US.
Well, maybe El Nino will be different this time and spread out the rain more. The Northwest sure could use it too.
El Nino is expected to peak in strength late fall into early winter, according to the latest update from NOAA.
⇧ 5% of Americans live in the red counties & 5% of Americans live in the orange counties
Click on the link title, and you’ll be taken to the full-sized image. Via: Conrad Hackett: https://mobile.twitter.com/conradhackett/status/632776302487998465
This fall, an enrollment boom that created a housing crisis has prompted Southern Utah University in Cedar City to urge neighbors and employees alike to house the dormless. Many have done so, creating an unusual if not quirky housing situation.
There are plenty of liability issues that aren’t mentioned in the article. People should double check their insurance coverage concerning such roomers/renters…. There may be state laws that go against some house “rules” too. What else would you advise?
⇧ The U.S. Foreclosure Crisis Was Not Just a Subprime Event
The authors’ findings imply that large numbers of prime borrowers who did not start out with extremely high LTVs still lost their homes to foreclosure. They conclude that the economic cycle was more important than initial buyer, housing and mortgage conditions in explaining the foreclosure crisis. These findings suggest that effective regulation is not just a matter of restricting certain exotic subprime contracts associated with extremely high default rates.
The problem I have with this article is that it doesn’t address whether the crash would have occurred had it not been for the subprime lending in the first place.
⇧ Donald Trump Consults with Jeff Sessions on Immigration
Shocker: I’m posting something most people would consider impossibly outside the acceptable limits of this commercial, professional blog.
Well, let me be clear. I want to address why this issue when handled the way the linked article does, cuts across nearly the entire political spectrum from right to left.
Here’s why. The finer points are missing, whether deliberately or not.
Liberals were against NAFTA because they knew that it would lead to a race to the bottom by lacking the necessary labor, health, safety, and environmental rights and standards we had in the US at the time. Nothing’s changed on that.
The Tea Party isn’t on board with the leftist thinking along those lines.
Here’s a further clarification. Some on what’s called the far-left want a borderless world, as do many anarcho-capitalists (libertarians).
So, the lines are blurry. That’s why polling results turn out the way the linking article represents. The survey questions aren’t designed to get at the root differences but rather simply show vaguer overlapping of positions.
Immigration is an extremely important economic issue. The libertarians and more than a handful of Marxist economists can show real data that suggests that open immigration does not rob those already here of jobs.
My issue is with the superrich keeping way too much for themselves rather than spreading the wealth out and pushing for higher standards everywhere rather than seeking out the most weakly and poorly regulated places on earth to pay vastly less than living wages and all to make greater profits going into the executives’ private estates while the middle and lower classes in the developed nations are more than hollowed out (and thereby weakened politically — short of revolution).
⇧ Germany’s hypocrisy over Greece water privatisation | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian
“It’s not any more a democracy or equality in the European Union. It’s a kind of business,” he said, adding that austerity measures that require water privatisation smacked of a “do as I say, but not as I do” approach from Germany.
“We know that in Berlin, just two years ago they remunicipalised the water there, although they paid just under €600m to Veolia [to buy back its stake]. It’s clear that the model of privatisation of water has failed all around the world,” he said.
Manuel Schiffler, a former project manager for the World Bank and author of the book Water, Politics and Money, said privatisation only made sense where there was a need to improve efficiency. In the case of Thessaloniki in particular, he said, the water system was already quite well run.
“It’s a financial colonisation,” said Argovtopoulos. “It’s an attempt for companies in the north of Europe, the rich countries, to own monopolies like water systems, electricity and gas, in the poor southern countries in Europe. It’s a game of power and money.”
A 2014 report by the Transnational Institute’s Satoko Kishimoto found that across the world 180 cities had bought back (or remunicipalised) their water supply. She said this was a response to almost universally higher water prices and the loss of control over a fundamental resource.
In 2014, the pro-austerity Samaras government’s attempt to sell off the Athenian water supply was stymied when the country’s highest court ruled the sale was unconstitutional. Argovtopoulos said any move by Tsipras to proceed against the will of the public and the ruling of the judiciary would be very poorly received in the frustrated community.
“We expect this government to respect this decision [from the court]. This is a check point for this government. If it passes this red line, it’s going to b e like the former government,” said Argovtopoulos.
Personally, I strongly oppose water privatization.
Smart and expected move:
“Bail-in of depositors will be explicitly excluded” from European Union rules to make private investors share the cost of fixing troubled banks, Eurogroup President and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters after the six-hour meeting in Brussels.
By shielding all depositors, the euro area will protect small and medium-sized enterprises who have more than 100,000 euros in their accounts and aren’t covered by government deposit insurance, Dijsselbloem said.
⇧ Oil’s New Normal by Mohamed A. El-Erian – Project Syndicate
Five things I want to mention Mohamed A. El-Erian did not mention in his article:
1. Russia and Iran
3. earthquakes and groundwater contamination
4. global warming, and
5. economic stimulus of cheaper fuel
⇧ Do 401(k)s Make Sense, or Should I Invest Elsewhere?
…the answer to the “should I invest in my 401(k) or not” question comes in the form of another question: Will your money earn at least 7.72% annually in your 401(k), and if not, will you invest your post-tax foregone contribution, and will that money earn 9.84% annually?
⇧ Multifamily Myths: Why Economy of Scale Doesn’t Mean What You Think it Does
Moving to 100 units and up, here is where you start to see economy of scale. It’s not without a headwind, however, as when your unit count goes up, your employee count will go up as well. At this size non-recourse loans are common and those require a sole-purpose entity so you’ll most likely have entity-related expenses such as franchise taxes and tax return preparation costs.
I see the most advantage to economy of scale in the 150-unit and up space. Once you get here, your costs, expressed in dollars per unit, will improve slightly as you scale.
As for the duplex analysis, an issue that’s missing there is owner occupancy. That applies to 3 and 4-unit and up properties too. It’s not really an “economy of scale” point though, so Brian’s points stand. It’s just something to consider when also considering economies of scale.
Also, with a portfolio of properties, there are price breaks with buying goods and services. So, the economy-of-scale issue isn’t just comparing small properties to larger ones but small portfolios to larger ones. Again, Brian’s subject matter is strictly limited by him and on purpose. Portfolio size is just another additional thing to keep in mind as you plan and grow, as Brian no doubt knows full well, given his hands-on experience and obviously analytical mind.
⇧ One man killed, another injured in Van Nuys fire – LA Times
One man was killed and another injured after fire engulfed a converted garage in Van Nuys early Sunday, authorities said.
A neighbor reported the fire in the 14000 block of Victory Boulevard about 4:35 a.m., according to a statement from the Los Angeles Fire Department. The fire was in a garage that had been converted into an apartment behind a one-story home.
⇧ Man injured in apartment fire in Burlington Sunday morning
The occupants of the unit were cooking when an unattended pot on the stove caught on fire causing significant damage to the unit. …
… Stay in the kitchen when cooking — especially if using oil or high temperatures.
… a new US study, which found that air pollution causes the deaths of up to four thousand Chinese citizens per day. That accounts for one in every six cases of premature death in China.
The central culprit? Coal burning, which the researchers say gets particularly bad in China during the winter months. Rohde says that should China begin “limiting coal use”, it would also have the added effect of reducing the nation’s CO2 emissions.
China is about 40 years behind the times concerning such air pollution. They are making headway though. Theirs isn’t even the worst in the world either.
⇧ Masked city: The people who breathe Beijing’s deadly air
This is a good follow-up article on the link immediately above.
There are underlying factors that led to this — rapid economic growth built on a foundation of an abundant supply of cheap, dirty fossil fuels, poorly regulated and heavily polluting factories and widespread urbanization.
⇧ Immigrants’ impact on labour markets: New evidence | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal
This one is a good follow-up on “Donald Trump Consults with Jeff Sessions on Immigration,” linked to above.
Andreas Beerli and Giovanni Peri:
In spite of high sounding statement about the need of ‘pulling up the draw-bridge’ to avoid a flood of immigrants who can take away jobs, there is little direct evidence in the economic literature on how more open immigration policies affect immigration flows and, in turn, native labour market outcomes. …
Having established that relaxing the restrictions on EU immigrants induced a significant growth, although certainly not a flood of immigrants, the next question we tackle is whether and how this influx affected natives’ labour markets. We exploit the same differential policy treatment between border and the non-border regions and find that average wages and hours worked by natives were not affected by it.
However, when analysing the effects separately by education group, we find that natives with a college degree benefited from the liberalisation policy in terms of higher wages;
Middle-educated workers (with upper secondary education but no college degree) suffered some decline in employment.
Low-educated native workers were not affected.
… by directly tackling immigration policies, we see that fully opening the border to neighbour countries increased immigrants only by 4 percentage points of the labour force over eight years.
… Dustmann et al. (2015), using an episode that allowed cross-border Czech workers into Germany, showed that in the short-run a substantial influx of unskilled workers reduced wages of unskilled young natives while unskilled older workers suffer employment declines. They explain this finding with the fact that old workers might either have larger labour supply elasticity (due to attractive outside options) or face larger wage rigidity than young workers. Our analysis shows that employment responses might also depend on the degree of occupation and task adjustment by native workers with different education levels. Such adjustment affects wage and employment effects.
⇧ How do we move beyond the “austerity” debates? – YouTube
Thomas Fazi nails the fiscal-stimulus issue and more in this interview at the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
… Italian author Thomas Fazi, focusing on Europe but searching for answers to the most divisive economic debates of our era, touching on government, entrenched interest, spending cuts, structural reforms, and social justice.
EU and eurozone economic, financial, and political architecture is exactly the issue. They need radical reforming.
⇧ The Battle for Europe: How an Elite Hijacked a Continent – and How We Can Take It Back – YouTube
After watching the video above, I went looking for something else to help all to better know Thomas Fazi.
“The Battle for Europe” brings into sharp focus the historical importance of the current political, economic and social turmoil in Europe. Thomas Fazi explains what has happened in Europe following the financial crash of 2008 as a classic case of economic shock doctrine – and the first instance in history where such “therapy” has been applied to an entire continent.
Fazi argues that the EU’s insistence on pursuing austerity – despite the fact that it has proven to be a colossal failure of economic policy, not to mention a cause of immense human suffering – shouldn’t be viewed simply as a case of political and ideological short-sightedness, but as an attempt by the wealthy elite to do away with the last remnants of the welfare state and complete the neoliberal project.
But what can we do? “The Battle for Europe” shows how the citizens of Europe can work together to urgently change the direction that has been taken. It is still possible to radically overhaul EU institutions. Providing a clear critique of the EU and monetary union as they currently stand, this is an engaging, radical and readable account of what progressive reform would look like – and how we could implement it.
⇧ The Greek Debt Deal’s Missing Piece – The New York Times
Excellent summation and analysis here by Landon Thomas, Jr.:
The bailout, which was approved by Greece’s Parliament on Friday, included familiar details: In return for an infusion of 86 billion euros, or $95 billion, Greece has promised to increase taxes, cut spending and enact measures to make its economy function more efficiently.
But there was one glaring omission. As it stands, none of that new money flowing into Greece will come from the agency that has, until now, played a crucial role in virtually every bailout, in Greece and elsewhere around the world: the International Monetary Fund.
As an emergency creditor — the world’s subprime lender, if you will — the I.M.F. has some failures. Before Greece, the fund’s biggest debacle had been Argentina. The fund lent billions of dollars to the country just before it defaulted in 2001, leading to an economic tailspin. It took years for Argentina to come out of it.
To guard against falling into a similar money pit, the fund put in place a “no more Argentinas” rule ….
The rule decreed that the fund would hand out money only if there was a “high probability” that the applicant could make good on the loan.
The fund, nonetheless, produced optimistic reports about the outlook for Greece. (Since 2010, the fund’s growth estimates missed the mark by a cumulative 25 percent, a forecasting error of such a magnitude that the fund’s chief economist was forced to acknowledge in 2013 that the I.M.F. had underestimated the extent to which austerity policies could sink an economy.)
If the I.M.F. wants to be seen as an international, as opposed to a European, monetary fund, it must prove that it can speak with an independent voice. And if that means arguing that Europe, its senior partner in these talks, needs to take a loss on its loans — well, so be it .
Keep in mind the architectural overhaul that’s required. That’s the ball in the game. Germans keep falling back on the “rules.” Well, the “rules” need to be change/clarified/interpreted (yesterday). There are higher laws at play as well, such as various international human-rights laws that really don’t allowed that the Greek people be made to suffer so needlessly. Such law really ought to be seen as trumping the ostensible prohibition on member states bailing out each other via debt forgiveness for truly humanitarian reasons. Moral-hazard concerns have their place but not when innocent children are starving due especially to the corrupt practices of leaders who aren’t even any longer in power.
See: “Odious debt”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odious_debt
The terms of the agreement reached Friday in Brussels represent “enormous progress,” and the International Monetary Fund has “made it remarkably clear” that it will join in a third bailout in the fall, Spahn said.
Has the IMF stated that Greece will be solvent with the bailout?
The commercial real estate market is shifting to an overpriced market, especially for core properties in the top markets, said real estate research firm Situs RERC, in a second-quarter report issued Tuesday.
We’re being given mixed signals.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told the ministers by telephone that she could not commit until her board reviewed the situation in the autumn. She renewed a call for “significant debt relief” for Greece, a step Merkel’s government has repeatedly pushed back against.
⇧ Business Insider: Want a secure job? Bet on insurance
A college freshman who majors in insurance will graduate into a wide open job market.
⇧ S.F. landlord evicting seniors who helped her ailing aunt – San Francisco Chronicle
First, if you’re not already familiar enough with the Act, you may want to read the Wiki article on California’s “Ellis Act”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellis_Act
They may be the three most dreaded words in San Francisco these days, striking fear into the hearts and bank accounts of the two-thirds of city residents who rent.
Ellis Act eviction. You shuddered a little bit, right?
“She studies seniors and what makes them live a long time. Having stable relationships, being part of a community and having stable housing are all pieces of that,” Sherburn-Zimmer continued. “To go ahead and evict a whole building of mostly seniors who’ve lived there for years is heartbreaking.”
That last paragraph is something the whole of society and every landlord should think deeply about. Not every senior is a great tenant, but seniors who’ve lived for many years in unit while being a good tenant really should be treated better than to be simply asked to move out.
What are we going to do about this as a people? A landlord may have very good reasons for wanting to convert a property; however, fragile seniors, especially those of more modest means, should get extra-special public help with whatever adjustments may be required.
⇧ World shipping slump deepens as China retreats – Telegraph
The great worry is that companies in emerging markets will struggle to service $4.5 trillion of US dollar debt taken out in the boom years when quantitative easing by the Fed flooded the world with cheap money, much of it at irresistible real rates of 1pc. This is up from $1 trillion in 2002.
A recent study by the International Monetary Fund said the expansion of global supply chains driven by the US and China in the early 2000s is “exhausted”.
Both credit and key measures of the money supply are rising briskly in Europe, the US, and latterly in China as well, pointing to a recovery later this year.
Money supply only matters if the money moves at the right pace through the right circles.
⇧ Regulator: Missouri Now Has $100B in Property Uninsured for Quakes
Consider where you invest and the risks you can afford.
On average, premiums in the six counties that comprise the New Madrid area increased by more than 500 percent between 2000-2014, and in one county by nearly 700 percent.
The typical first-timer now rents for six years before buying a home, up from 2.6 years in the early 1970s, according to a new analysis by the real estate data firm Zillow. The median first-time buyer is age 33—in the upper range of the millennial generation, which roughly spans ages 18 to 34. A generation ago, the median first-timer was about three years younger.
⇧ Canton landlord gets 59 days in jail for problem properties – News – The Repository – Canton, OH
A landlord was ordered Monday to spend 59 days in jail for misdemeanor criminal charges and zoning violations related to several problem properties.
⇧ Problem Properties – Memphis Daily News
Memphis has a crippling issue with blight, and one nonprofit is front and center with changing the culture that led to the city’s inundation of abandoned properties and lots.
Neighborhood Preservation Inc. was founded in 2012 as a court-appointed receiver of properties taken away from neglectful owners. Over the years, it has evolved to become a robust advocate for stronger legislation and development tools to deal with problem properties.
… The best figure is 10,000 abandoned single-family homes and 3,000 multifamily units based on long-term vacancy filings with Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division. This figure is several years old and doesn’t encompass the commercial or industrial side.
⇧ Corbyn and the political economy of nostalgia | British Politics and Policy at LSE
John Van Reenen:
New Labour’s sheepishness in defending its record had allowed the Corbynistas to make all the running. The Corbyn economic plan doesn’t want any commitments to eliminating the current deficit. The hard won successes of the post 1997 period are to be reversed with increases in union power and public ownership. “Tax justice” is the answer to most problems — soaking the rich.
So far, the only person of note I’ve seen anywhere discussing “money-financed fiscal spending” is Simon Wren-Lewis.
Where’s the discussion on issuing money without issuing debt/bonds? Where’s the discussion of “where the money is coming from if you want to pay for increased spending” without increasing taxes or government debt? Where’s the discussion on greater direct democracy versus central bank independence?
⇧ What the Falling Yuan Will Mean for U.S. CRE | Finance & Investment content from National Real Estate Investor
As it relates specifically to Chinese capital flows, if the PBOC allows its currency to decline precipitously, we don’t know whether Chinese investors will be priced out of the U.S. real estate market or if it will actually lead to an increase in Chinese capital flows as they seek refuge from a free-falling currency.
Will the Chinese one-party dictatorship allow such capital flows? Will the suddenly much poorer Chinese people need to repatriate as much money as they can just to pay their debts at home? Are private debts enough to really matter?
⇧ Cost of weaker yuan may outweigh benefits for China | South China Morning Post
To Beijing, a capital flight driven by yuan depreciation may be a far bigger threat than slumping exports, Credit Suisse analyst said. Money has been leaving China for five-straight quarters, reaching some US$520 billion. That has erased all previous capital inflows back to 2011, when China’s downshift began, according to estimates by JPMorgan.
Just how long is the Party going to sit by watching that continue? How many top Party members have offshored the family fortune?
⇧ Billionaire Dan Gilbert Looks To Increase His Real Estate Holdings In Detroit – CBS Detroit
Wayne State University development law professor John Mogk said worries about concentrated control come in if Gilbert isn’t serving the public with his investments. So far, Mogk said, “that does not appear to be the case.”
⇧ Metro Phoenix is No. 5 … or 13 or 17 or 31 on real estate lists
Metro Phoenix dropped off a Top 10 list of areas with the most homeowners underwater on their mortgages. The region ranks about average for rent increases and is in the Top 15 for home flipping.
The Valley didn’t make a recent list of the healthiest or least healthiest housing markets. Arizona is one of the priciest states for mortgage fees. And the Phoenix-area isn’t ranked among the Top 20 hottest housing markets in the U.S. now.
Each of the three sectors (private, public and foreign trade) of the UK economy run deficits at some times and surpluses at others. The conviction that the public sector should have a special status such that a deficit is a problem that needs solving is based on ideology not analysis. It is not an ideology that a Labour Party leader should adopt in any form or variation.
It is self-defeating to pay lip service to the ideology because the Tories have convinced a large portion of the public to believe it. This belief is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating from 2010 at the earliest. Attempting to dispel it is more likely to bring to success than further indulging it.
True, but you don’t need a deficit. You don’t need to borrow and really shouldn’t do it.
⇧ 3 reasons the housing market is going to outpace the economy – Business Insider
…over 30% of 18- to 34-year-olds are living at home. What does this mean? A lot of pent-up demand, and if it picks up, as we expect, housing starts will likely rise toward 1.5 million units (or higher) in the next two to three years.
The vast, vast majority will rent first if they ever move out or buy.
⇧ Flames Not the Only Risk From Wildfires
…remediate burned areas—by laying down mulch or planting quick-growing seeds—protecting the area from further damage caused by runoff and erosion.
⇧ Where apartment construction is hottest
…multifamily construction and demand are leading the recovery. After a decade of underbuilding apartments, cranes are scattering city skylines, and the numbers are truly staggering.
Multifamily construction activity is above historical averages in more than one-quarter of the nation’s largest metropolitan housing markets, according to a new report from Trulia, a real estate listing and analytics company.
Apartment construction is showing big numbers now, but only relative to the very small numbers during the housing boom and the recession that followed. Multifamily construction ground to a halt, and much of the activity now is making up for that lost productivity as well as answering the increasing demand. Demand that is coming not just from millennials, but from downsizing baby boomers.
⇧ Trumping the Federal Debt Without Playing the Default Card | WEB OF DEBT BLOG
You see, Ellen Brown gets it:
Money can be added to the point of full productive capacity (full use of workers, supplies and machines) before adding more will drive up prices. And as Richard Duncan observes, we are a long way from full productive capacity now.
Whether full productive capacity would exhaust the earth’s resources is another question, but there are many ways to put people to work that either don’t use physical resources (e.g. education, art, social service, environmental cleanup) or that actually make resource use more efficient (investment in improved infrastructure, sustainable energy, research and development).
⇧ EconoSpeak: What Is The Chinese Economic System?
One of the larger parts of the Chinese economy, which used to get lots of publicity but has not received much lately, is what was called the Town and Village Enterprise (TVE) sector. This is the sector that lies between the remaining state-owned sector (from the center) and the fully privatized corporate capitalist sector of the Chinese economy. There are at least four different property forms in this mostly rural part of the Chinese economy, with them varying from being somewhat more publicly (if locally) owned to being more privately, although in some cases cooperatively so, owned. Much of this sector, which as more than a third of the whole economy, is very hard to characterize as being either socialist or capitalist, although clearly the Chinese like to consider it more socialist.
…the Chinese system is not like either the old Yugoslav or the current German system, even though it has a lot of state or collective ownership, and certainly is heavily a market system. Clunky and not precisely accurate and vaguely propagandistic as it is, “socialist market economy” may be the best we can do.
⇧ Why I’m Optimistic About CRE For the Next Few Years | Commentary content from National Real Estate Investor
Keep “Commercial real estate market getting overpriced — report – Pensions & Investments” (above) in mind when reading this linked article.
David J. Lynn:
Real estate has been a star performer over the last five years, delivering high returns on the back of strong and improving fundamentals and a gradually recovering economy. Real estate fundamentals continue to improve. Balance sheets of most firms have been steadily strengthening, with increasing margins, profitability and top line growth. Most households have recovered their lost wealth and are attaining new highs. Unemployment dropped to a new low. Commercial real estate supply still remains quite low by historical standards with only a few pockets of oversupply in the multifamily sector. So let’s look at some of the factors comprising my optimistic viewpoint.
⇧ Foreign Investment in U.S. Real Estate Assets to Hit Record High | Finance & Investment content from National Real Estate Investor
There are a number of factors that are fueling foreign investor interest. Chief among them are the strength of the U.S. economy, attractive spreads, the low interest rate environment and the liquidity and transparency that the U.S. offers relative to other global markets. …
Traditionally, it has not been easy for Chinese national companies to invest overseas due to the regulatory restrictions from the Chinese government, says Chin. Two years ago, the Chinese government lifted the ban and relaxed the law regarding overseas investment. That opened the door for institutional investors to buy real estate globally.
Again, however, we’ve seen how quickly the Chinese leadership can flip its positions and immediately take reversing actions.
⇧ China’s August scare is a false alarm as fiscal crunch fades – Telegraph
It is no mystery why property is picking up. The government has abandoned its assault on speculation. It slashed the minimum downpayment from 60pc to 40pc in March for second homes. Interest rates have been cut four times.
… Credit still rising by seven percentage points of GDP each year, pushing the debt ratio ever further into the danger zone. It will be 270pc by next year. This will end badly.
But China is not in immediate crisis. The Reserve Requirement Ratio (RRR) for banks is still 18.5pc. The PBOC can slash this to 6pc – as did in the late 1990s – flooding the system with $3 trillion of liquidity. It can even go to zero in extremis.
The time to worry is when China has exhausted this last buffer. This August scare of 2015 is a false alarm.
“…China is not in immediate crisis.” However, “This will end badly” renders the term “immediate” most useful to market timers, not society builders. We have been critiquing the Chinese leadership’s overall direction, not its individual chest moves in its, so far, losing strategy.
See also: “China cannot risk the global chaos of currency devaluation – Telegraph”: https://propertypak.com/2015/08/12/news-real-estate-risk-economics-aug-12-2015/#08121569
⇧ Marking 10 Years Since Katrina, Consumer Agency Calls for Stiffer Building Codes
“An uncompromising system of strong, continuously updated building codes with consistent enforcement is essential to our country’s pursuit of disaster resilience. … We must use codes to innovate the way we build, and win against the mounting human and financial cost of disasters.”
⇧ Oregon Crews Continue Fight With Home-Destroying Fire
Fires are all up and down the coastal states in the Western US.
Crews fighting a wildfire near John Day, Ore., spent Tuesday trying to strengthen control lines to protect further damage to homes.
The lightning-sparked blaze on the Malheur National Forest has grown to 63 square miles and ruined at least 26 houses.
⇧ New York Comptroller Says State’s Home Foreclosure Crisis Persists
… after dropping to 16,655 in 2011, they climbed sharply again, reaching 46,696 in 2013. New filings were 43,868 last year.
“The foreclosure crisis is far from resolved,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.
⇧ Economist’s View: ‘Reform and Revolution in Macroeconomics’
‘Reform and Revolution in Macroeconomics’
This is something I’ve stressed with respect to the failure of macroeconomic models, the failure to ask the right questions prior to the crisis. There was no shortage of tools, though some — like the restrictions imposed by representative agent modeling needed to be improved to better handle heterogeneous agents — needed further development. The problem was that we had been told by the eminent thought leader(s) within the profession that the problem of deep recessions had been solved (if not by policy, then by the improvement in the operation of the economy brought about by modern technology — markets were thought to function sufficiently well so as to avoid such problems, especially financial markets with their digital technology and physics brains). Thus, theoretical questions about deep recessions induced by financial panics were ignored or shunted off to the side (they seemed to lack empirical relevance at that time) and the profession focused on how to conduct policy in a “Great Moderation”. So to answer why important questions were left largely unaddressed by mainstream models and thinking, it was a combination of the belief that the questions were unimportant combined with sociology within the profession that placed a lower value on pursuits that might have allowed us to be better prepared when the recession hit.
⇧ The Renminbi Rumba | FT Markets – YouTube
Soft landing for China?
China’s devaluation of its renminbi currency has shocked markets. Robin Wigglesworth asks the FT’s Henny Sender what the unexpected move means.
Very long: Michael Pettis: [the gist:]
… it seems fairly clear, at least to me, that the current account surplus indicates that the RMB is undervalued on a fundamental basis, and that the balance of payments deficit is caused primarily by speculative outflows, or other kinds of outflows that are not sensitive to economic valuation issues.
If so, then to protect the RMB from more losses, China must reduce or stop such “speculative” outflows. Will China do that?
⇧ Is it possible to set monetary policy in real time? – Agenda – The World Economic Forum
In the wake of the global financial crisis, monetary and fiscal policies were used aggressively to counteract the effects of the crisis on economic activity. Policymakers look at a number of indicators to guide them in assessing an economy’s level of activity relative to its productive capacity. But trying to figure out the position of the economy in real time is often quite challenging, with consequences for setting policy.
“Is it possible to set monetary policy in real time?” Of course it is. The issue isn’t whether or not but how well. To do it well, it must be done constantly and in just the right amounts. Current practices by central banks are not even close to doing it well.
See: “Monetary-and-Banking-Reform Platform for The United States”: Here
⇧ Is China on its knees | London Business School
“… it is worth bearing in mind that the slowdown is also part of the structural transformation of the economy into one being driven by its own middle class and not exports which offers huge opportunities for foreign investors over the longer-term.”
“It’ll take some time before China adjusts to a more stable growth path, which is to be expected of an economy that has just become middle class,” she says.
“So, this sort of volatility will be with us for a while and perhaps worse. On the other hand, China has been known to surprise with a quick adjustment and rapidly assimilated market reforms.”
“…China has been known to surprise with a quick adjustment and rapidly assimilated market reforms.” That’s what I’ve been saying; however, China often works at cross-purposes and in ways that strongly suggest that it isn’t in good control of itself nor does it know what it is doing enough.
⇧ How Capitalism Is Undermining the Indian Caste System | Cato @ Liberty
Please, there’s feudalism and then there’s feudalism. There are feudal lords in capitalism — pure capitalism. Capitalism, per se, is not leveling, not even close. It takes a decidedly mixed economy to begin to restrain the inherent feudalism of laissez-faire capitalism.
Under pure capitalism, yesterday’s untouchable becomes tomorrow’s plutocrat (feudal lord).
⇧ Property Owners and Investors: 3 Ways to Plan for the Unexpected
The management of real estate is a gratifying and challenging venture. For renters not accountable for major repairs, this responsibility lies solely on the investor. Without tools in place, it can be a daunting task. When a situation arises, here are three ways to plan for the unexpected.
… before you meet with a real estate agent, consider these five costs homeowners pay that renters don’t. They could make you question whether you’re really ready for homeownership.
To be fair, many rent-v.-own calculators have these factors built in.