Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Political uprising in Spain shatters illusion of eurozone recovery – Telegraph
If a Socialist-Podemos coalition takes charge at the head of a Left alliance, it will not be singing the IMF tune.
It would also be foreign policy disaster for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has already lost Italy, Greece, and Portugal to the Left, and faces the growing risk of anti-austerity ‘Latin bloc’ led by the Socialists in France.
A swing to the Left in Spain would change the balance of power in the European Council and spell the end of Mrs Merkel’s control over the EMU policy machinery.
Mr Iglesias has toned down his hard-line views, trying to strike a tone of authority in foreign affairs and economics. “When you want to be leader of your country, you have to be credible,” he said.
The party has dropped its call for the seizure of telecommunications, transport, the banks, energy companies, and the commanding heights of the economy, limiting nationalisation to “exceptional” circumstances.
It no longer demands restructuring of the country’s €1.1 trillion public debt, opting instead for an audit to determine which parts of the bank bail-out debt is odious and should be repudiated. It still wants a 35-hour week, but now accepts that the retirement age must rise to 65. Plans to leave NATO have been shelved.
⇧ Spain elections: Madrid goes wild for Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias but has the party started too soon? | Europe | News | The Independent
The leftist party had been written off just a few weeks ago as opinion polls showed it lagging in fourth place. In the end, it was the established parties that lost scores of seats as Podemos emerged as the night’s biggest success story.
… Its success, along with the election of Syriza in Greece, and now the establishment of an anti-austerity government in Portugal, shows the EU’s assumption that governments can pass extreme austerity measures is surely a thing of the past.
Good. Austerity is not only completely unnecessary to solid recovery, growth, and stability, it’s downright harmful.
⇧ Woman dies when landslide hits home on central Oregon coast – Spokesman.com
A 70-year-old woman died and her husband suffered injuries when a landslide struck their vacation home on the Central Oregon coast.
⇧ Why Mortgage Rates Dropped After the Fed Rate Hike | Zillow Porchlight
In response to the financial crisis, the Fed started buying MBS in January 2009 in order to push up MBS prices and keep mortgage rates down. In recent years, they slowed their highly aggressive MBS buying, but still buy enough MBS to influence mortgage rates.
The December 16 Fed statement reaffirmed they’d continue this MBS buying as they move through their Fed Funds Rate hiking cycle. This eased MBS market concerns, and should prevent a sharp spike in mortgage rates.
That’s useful info. I hadn’t been factoring that into my thinking enough. I’ve probably been a bit too focused on US Treasurys and the entire economy rather than MBS’s and the real-estate industry, which is very substantial percentage of that overall economy.
⇧ Private Real Estate Lenders Move into Mainstream
Private lenders that used to float on the fringes of the commercial real estate financing sector are stepping out of the shadows and becoming a more accepted financing alternative.
One of the primary drivers behind the shift is the abundance of capital. There is a lot of new money flowing into private lender shops from a variety of sources, including hedge funds, private equity and even sovereign wealth funds who are trying to capture higher yields.
⇧ Demystifing EB-5 Investors – Daily News Article – GlobeSt.com
In this Episode III, we will focus on the third group of Chinese investors: Chinese individuals. Although some Chinese individuals may invest in the United States for diversification purposes, most are seeking an EB-5 visa.
According to the US Department of State’s full “Report of the Visa Office 2014,” China mainland-born investors constituted 85.4% of all of the EB-5 category visas, which is a 32.4% increase from 2013. Many US developers see the EB-5 program as a great opportunity to obtain funds for their developments. However, it is important for developers to understand the complexity and potential issues of the EB-5 program.
⇧ Children today are suffering a severe deficit of pla…
Where wil the children play? That’s a start, but there’s a great deal more to it.
Very long and a more than a bit redundant but a worthwhile read for sure:
… I’ve studied how children learn at a radically alternative school, the Sudbury Valley School, not far from my home in Massachusetts. It’s called a school, but is as different from what we normally think of as ‘school’ as you can imagine. The students — who range in age from four to about 19 — are free all day to do whatever they want, as long as they don’t break any of the school rules. The rules have nothing to do with learning; they have to do with keeping peace and order.
That’s a great idea. The school facilitates the children’s imaginations and creativity by letting them learn naturally and by providing a good environment to do it. Kids need to be able to explore what interests them.
I would have loved going to such a school. My best education came when it was self-directed, though I did well in structured courses I chose (that interested me). How about you?
⇧ Freakishly mild weather is headed for U.S. and Canada this Christmas
The unusually mild December weather is not confined to eastern North America. Similar conditions are also affecting the UK, parts of Eastern Europe and Russia.
The record warmth is fitting, since it comes at the tail-end of the planet’s warmest year on record.
Remember the record snow last year? With global warming, which was tipped into existence primarily, if not entirely, by human carbon-burning, everything has been more and more extreme, just as predicted by the top climate-scientists and all along agreed to by this author.
If you like ever-greater weather and climate instability (and more severe property damage and dramatically rising insurance premiums followed by a total loss of such insurance coverage), you’ll want the AGW deniers to prevail.
⇧ Oracle settles with FTC over Java’s “deceptive” security patching | Ars Technica
I’ve been manually deleting older versions of Java for years, but I’ve included this info for those who’ve not known to do that.
Of course, this isn’t a “tech” blog, and it would be irresponsible to suggest that by including a tech-security issue, I’ve agreed to take on that responsibility. Complete tech-security coverage (news) is way beyond the scope of this blog. I recommend you routinely read tech-security articles, though I know of nobody who can read them all (yet).
⇧ X-ray vision? New technology making it a reality for $300 | The Seattle Times
As a landlord or manager, your tenants’ privacy should be important to you and probably is.
The technology raises questions about privacy rights and intrusion, and Adib said the team gave serious thought to those implications.
“The user interface will be friendly for setting it up and using it at home, but it will be very hard to use it to track someone just by pointing it at their wall,” he said.
“Think of it this way: Your cellphone already has wireless signals that can traverse walls, but how many people can use these signals to actually see through walls? The reason people can’t do that is that the user interface does not expose this information.”
Computer hacking often occurs where the hackers don’t care what the software or hardware creators want concerning privacy and security.
⇧ 3 Important Ways the Stock Market Impacts the Real Estate Industry – TheStreet
The performance of the stock market has a significant impact on the real estate industry.
Wall Street’s swings can determine lending rates, home sales and other industry trends. The stock market’s reach can even be felt in major metropolitan areas and smaller regional corners of the world.
⇧ Finland Should Never Have Joined Euro, Foreign Minister Says – Bloomberg Business
The fact is that if the EU and eurozone member states don’t move to create a United States of Europe, the EU and eurozone will likely fall apart. The fact that they didn’t create a United States of Europe going in was a huge, huge error, and I said so at the time.
⇧ The Argument for Universal Basic Income – Evonomics
Okay, I cannot recommend this article enough. It takes everything I (and others) have been saying and writing for years and does a wonderful job of putting it together in a very clear and concise way.
Excellent job, Tom Streithorst!
Here’s the most important bit in the entire article.
… we need to recognise that defining ourselves by our jobs is very 20th century.
You need to read that in context, so visit and read Tom’s post.
Personally, I see the BIG as inevitable and I more than welcome it. The sooner we do it, the better. When coupled with true grassroots democracy, not the global plutocracy we are suffering under, we will transform human existence for the better and to an extent that we can’t even begin to imagine.
⇧ Bernie Sanders: To Rein In Wall Street, Fix the Fed – The New York Times
This isn’t exactly what I’d do, but it certainly is headed in the right general direction.
The difference between the Fed and other “regulatory agencies” is striking. It is, as Senator Sanders states, highly undemocratic.
Now, the big push back against Sanders’ idea will be by those parroting “Fed independence.” Well, many people think lots of other regulatory agencies have been way too captured rather than that they aren’t independent enough of government and politicians.
The truth is that independence really should be viewed as far from being captured by moneyed interest as possible. The focus of the regulators should be one thing only and that’s what’s best for the whole people and not the few, who have been falsely claiming that there is such a thing as trickle-down economics and that they, the superrich, are the job creators, etc.
They didn’t create the majority of jobs during the New Deal. The New Deal did: government, via contracts and direct public-employment. That’s what ended the Great Depression, not austerity, not lower taxes on the rich, not deregulation, not any of the things advocated at the time by the superrich.
Financial reforms must not stop with the central bank. We must reinstate Glass-Steagall and break up the too-big-to-fail financial institutions that threaten our economy. But we need to start with fundamental change. The sad reality is that the Federal Reserve doesn’t regulate Wall Street; Wall Street regulates the Fed. It’s time to make banking work for the productive economy and for all Americans, not just a handful of wealthy speculators. And it begins by making the Federal Reserve a more democratic institution, one that is responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans rather than the billionaires on Wall Street.
There’s a great deal of truth in that.
He’d need a Congress that would make the reforms though. The current Congress would not. Are the people ready for such a major change? Are they hearing the message, the ideas, the possibilities?
Also, how open to other ideas is Senator Sanders?
⇧ US final Q3 GDP up 2.0% vs 1.9% rise expected
Gross domestic product grew at a 2.0 percent annual pace, instead of the 2.1 percent rate reported last month, the Commerce Department said in its third estimate on Tuesday.
… that was a sharp deceleration from the brisk 3.9 percent pace logged in the April-June period ….
… Estimates for fourth-quarter growth are currently around a 2 percent rate.
… nothing to write home about and no reason to have raised the Fed rate, etc.
⇧ OPEC faces a mortal threat from electric cars – Telegraph
Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the former Saudi oil minister, warned in an interview with the Telegraph fifteen years ago that this moment of reckoning was coming and he specifically cited fuel-cell technologies.
“Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil – and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones.”
They did not listen to him then, and they are not listening now.
⇧ Behind the Numbers: PCE Inflation Update, November 2015 – Dallas Fed
The headline, or all-items, PCE price index was close to unchanged in November, rising just 0.3 percent at an annualized rate (or just 0.03 percent at a monthly rate). Weighing on the headline rate were price declines for food and for energy goods and services—gasoline in particular.
See also: “… how does the Federal Reserve evaluate changes in the rate of inflation?” https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/econ omy_14419.htm
⇧ Man Who Called China’s Boom and Bust Now Warns of Crisis Risks – Bloomberg Business
One of the few forecasters to predict both the start and peak of China’s equity boom is now warning the nation will be buffeted by the same forces that caused financial crises around the world over the past four decades.
Hao Hong, chief China strategist at Bocom International Holdings Co. in Hong Kong, says a shortage of dollars was the common feature in the oil rout in the 1970s, Latin American debt turmoil in the 1980s, the Asian currencies collapse in 1997 and the global crisis in 2008. Next year will see Federal Reserve interest-rate increases, an improving U.S. current-account balance and a stronger greenback, putting strains on the most-leveraged parts of the world’s second-largest economy, he says.
⇧ Mr. Schäuble’s ultimate weapon: The restructuring of European public debts | Brookings Institution
This article shows why Germany not only doesn’t lead Europe but is scared of its own shadow.
Just when Germany could use a really, really strong New-Deal-type leader, it has Angela Merkel with perfectly counter-productive Wolfgang Schauble as the shadow-boss.
Honestly, if the German people don’t stop being extremely myopic, how can the EU and euro even survive?
If Germany thinks it will be better off with the EU having fallen apart, they’ll end up ruing the day.
A German plan for revamping the euro-area proposes an automatic mechanism for sovereign debt-restructuring. This mechanism, designed by Berlin’s Ministry of Finance, is designed to prevent any form of risk-sharing between euro-area countries and to confine the costs of fiscal and financial instability primarily within the more fragile countries. From the perspective of debt defaults, the plan could enforce more discipline, but it also risks dramatizing any future episode of financial instability.
⇧ Oregon needs insurance-fraud law: Would court rule against an insurer if Oregon had fraud law?
This costs Oregonians in higher premiums.
It’s high time Oregon joins the rest of the nation by making insurance fraud a specific crime.