Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ People who are not in the labor force: why aren’t they working? : Beyond the Numbers: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
For nearly seven decades, the aging of the large “baby-boom” generation—people born between 1946 and 1964—has had a profound effect on the population’s size and composition. In recent years, the baby-boom generation has moved into the 55-years-and-older age group, which historically has had a large proportion of individuals who were not in the labor force. The oldest baby boomers—those born in 1946—reached age 58 in 2004, and in that year people 55 years and older made up 28 percent of the total population. By 2014, people 55 years and older accounted for 34 percent of the total population. The aging of the population has put upward pressure on the percentage of the overall population that is not in the labor force.
⇧ Missouri Floods 2015 | ALERT™ :: Event Summary
Relentless precipitation in the Midwestern region of the United States has resulted in historic flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries.
⇧ Is Inequality Killing Our Children? – Evonomics
Eric Michael Johnson:
“When humans invented poverty,” Sapolsky wrote, “they came up with a way of subjugating the low-ranking like nothing ever before seen in the primate world.”
Even in the face of this, there are still those who will say that survival of the fittest is at play when mothers off their offspring. Well, if one believes that those without working consciences at the economic top are the fittest, then what sort of world is this?
“When humans invented poverty.” Think about it.
⇧ 2015’s Most Valuable Housing Markets | Zillow Porchlight
… renters spent $535 billion on housing in 2015 – nearly as much as the total budget of the Department of Defense ($575 billion). That’s almost $20 billion more than in 2014, due to 1.8 million new renter households and rental prices rising at record pace.
⇧ China’s Unprecedented Real Estate Bubble Is a Ticking Time Bomb
Harry Dent is no optimist on China.
China is going down. The China Beige Book (which is much more accurate) recently showed that, across the board, economic conditions are unraveling.
There will be no soft landing in China. It will bring down the entire world’s unprecedented debt and real estate bubble. And it’s only a matter of time, and likely only a month away at this point.
If Harry turns out to be right, he’ll make many huge corporations, such as JLL for one, look like fools.
I’ve always thought that a hard landing was much more likely than not, but the term “hard landing” has a different meaning to different people.
Does the Chinese leadership know what it’s doing yet?
They’ve improved in some areas, but I still don’t see them doing what it will take to avoid a hard landing.
⇧ China suspends forex business for some foreign banks: sources | Reuters
The spread between the onshore and offshore markets for the yuan, or renminbi, has been growing since the devaluation, making it increasingly difficult for the central bank to manage its currency and stem an outflow of capital from an economy that is facing its slowest growth in 25 years.
⇧ Oil-Producing States Battered as Tax-Gushing Wells Are Shut Down – Bloomberg Business
As the price of crude falls for a second year, marking the steepest decline since the recession, the impact is cascading through the finances of states, cities and counties, in ways big and small. Once flush when production boomed, some governments in major energy producing regions are facing a new era of unwelcome austerity as wells are shut — along with the tax-revenue gushers they spouted.
The pressure contrasts with what’s happening in most of the country, where states and cities are enjoying a break from the fiscal strains that lingered for years after the recession ended in 2009. In the three months through June 30, a period when income-tax payments are due, states’ collections jumped by 6.8 percent from a year earlier, the biggest increase in two years, according to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany.
⇧ Oil price rout will bring end to era of Saudi Arabian largesse, warns Bank of America – Telegraph
The country’s leadership, painfully reliant on oil, have failed to diversify the Saudi economy.
That sums it up.
Years ago, I had said that they need to spend on solar development. Had they done that, they’d be selling electricity to neighboring states right now while leading the way into a green future. But no.
⇧ For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions – The New York Times
The hedge fund magnates Daniel S. Loeb, Louis Moore Bacon and Steven A. Cohen have much in common. They have managed billions of dollars in capital, earning vast fortunes. They have invested large sums in art — and millions more in political candidates.
Moreover, each has exploited an esoteric tax loophole that saved them millions in taxes. The trick? Route the money to Bermuda and back.
“We do have two different tax systems, one for normal wage-earners and another for those who can afford sophisticated tax advice,” said Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of San Diego who studies the intersection of tax policy and inequality. “At the very top of the income distribution, the effective rate of tax goes down, contrary to the principles of a progressive income tax system.”
In other words, the rich pay less as a percentage of income than do those who make less than the rich. Do you think that’s fair? Do you think that’s good for the US economy?
Those with a greater propensity to spend, thereby increasing demand and generating more economic growth, are taxed more, which harms the economy.
⇧ CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST: Response to Krugman: More on Secular Stagnation
So, I posted a link to Paul Krugman’s article going after Timothy Taylor. I also posted Krugman’s second post on the subject. Therefore, in all fairness, even though I disagree with Timothy, here’s Tim’s response to Paul.
… I believe that using fiscal and monetary policy to boost aggregate demand during the recession and in the years immediately after made sense. On fiscal policy, Krugman’s view on fiscal stimulus from 2009-2012 is apparently “too small, but worked great,” while my own view is “about the right size, and worked OK.” While I do not obsess over cutting budget deficits in the short-run, I am skeptical that much larger and sustained deficits are the answer to the long-run secular stagnation issue. On monetary policy, I apparently agree with Krugman that monetary policy in general has a hard time during a liquidity trap, and that it may have trouble addressing secular stagnation, too.
Krugman was, and is right, in this debate.
Fiscal stimulus was underwhelming, hugely underwhelming.
Paul discussed the multiplier. Timothy didn’t mention it other than indirectly dismissing it. Therein lies the reason Paul can’t simply agree to disagree but must make a very firm statement calling a spade a spade.
If Paul’s language choices offends Timothy, I think Timothy should concern himself with the multiplier and why he, Timothy, has ignored it or hasn’t gotten it. Paul is offended by those who ignore it or don’t get it while holding themselves out to be economists and who write to influence others. Paul is offended for the sake of the poor and others who have been crushed by the Great Recession and the very poor way in which the “recovery” has been managed (that is actually grossly mismanaged).
I’m with Paul even while I’m sure Timothy is a nice person in the common parlance.
⇧ Soaking The Rich, Slightly – The New York Times
… my point that the economy’s pretty good job growth despite this tax hike — raising taxes on job creators! — refutes right-wing doctrine continues to stand.
⇧ In 2015, We Missed an Opportunity to Invest | Al Jazeera America
David Cay Johnston:
If you are not aware of these basic economic facts, it’s not surprising. Our national political leaders give only cursory mention of the role of taxpayer-funded investment in prosperity. The editorial pages of our leading business publications, especially Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, champion current consumption over greater investment by government, a smart marketing tactic to draw money-focused readers that does terrible damage to popular understanding of economics.
⇧ Landlords Face Slowing Price Gains After U.S. Records Shattered – Bloomberg Business
We want the Chinese to invest in the US even as the Chinese government has taken steps to dramatically slow money flowing out of China.
Who will win?
Rising interest rates won’t necessarily translate into lower property values, said Spencer Levy, an executive managing director at CBRE Group Inc., the world’s largest commercial-property brokerage. Climbing rents and an improving economy can justify higher prices even if borrowing costs increase, he said.
Foreign and domestic buyers are still sitting on piles of cash that need to be invested, Levy said. A new law eases taxes imposed on overseas investment in U.S. real estate, making it less costly for foreign institutions to acquire properties.
⇧ Here’s why it matters that China is admitting that its statistics are ‘unreliable’ – The Washington Post
After you read something like this, what do you think about the US and other corporations that echo China’s “official” GDP and other numbers as if those numbers are accurate and should be relied upon when making investment decisions?
⇧ Xi tells leaders to ‘supervise family’, Asia News & Top Stories – The Straits Times
Chinese officials are not required to disclose their wealth or that of their close relatives, in what critics say is a barrier to Mr Xi’s anti-graft campaign.
Mr Xi has relied on internal party agencies to oversee the crackdown, while more than a dozen activists have been jailed for taking out protests demanding that officials be made to declare their assets.
Bloomberg News in a 2012 report cited records showing that Mr Xi’s family owned assets worth several hundred million dollars. China responded by blocking the company’s website.
⇧ EU’s trillion-euro bank bail-outs are over – Telegraph
Senior bondholders and depositors over €100,000 will be in line to be “bailed-in” if a bank goes bust, a departure from the mass government-funded rescues seen in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece in the wake of the financial crisis.
Just how inviolable is the €100,000? It’s the EU equivalent of the FDIC covering $250,000 in the US. Will the government/central bank backstop the system? I think they will, but there’s no guarantee beyond one’s faith in the government honoring both the spirit and letter of the plan/law.
⇧ Economic sweet spot of 2016 before the reflation storm – Telegraph
The positive oil shock will hit just as austerity ends in the US ….
… The world is not prepared for the inevitable pivot when the Fed suddenly finds itself behind the curve and switches to rapid fire rate rises, sending 10-year US Treasuries screaming back towards 4pc ….
“The positive oil shock” is going to do that? I don’t see it. And to think Ambrose didn’t mention Iran.
More importantly, he didn’t mention the hit the oil and gas industries are taking in the US. Then there’s the coming wave of strong regulations due to fracking earthquakes.
Auto sales are a product of poor lending-standards, which Ambrose is putting off until 2017+ I should think.
We are also being shocked by AGW (global warming) that will wreak havoc if not dealt with sufficiently and could even bring on an ice age. Nobody knows for sure. All we really know is that we’re causing greater and greater weather and climate instability, as if things weren’t wild enough before we started burning so much carbon.
That shock is leading to electric vehicles and other greening, which are headwinds for carbon fuels of all types.
It’s true that humanity in general is quite slow to leave short-term, self-centered financial and economic choices behind and switch to what’s best for the future. Ironically, the damaging impact of bad choices is rushing toward us much faster than the vast majority appear to realize. They’ve been making their bad choices based upon the idea that the worst won’t happen until they are long since dead, but lifespans are increasing on top of miscalculations concerning how soon catastrophes will hit with greater and greater regularity.
Last but not least, China is slowing and will continue to slow. The US is now exporting oil. Will demand go up while supply really goes down enough to do what Ambrose suggests? We’ll just have to wait to see how things unfold.
If oil prices rise, US frackers will jump back into action (depending upon environmental regulations), which will cause prices to stay relatively low.
OPEC would have to reconstitute itself while bringing Russia, Canada, and the US on board. That’s beyond extremely unlikely.
⇧ Fed awards $277.45 billion in one-day reverse repos | Reuters
… banks and other qualified financial institutions park their cash with the Fed overnight, receiving Treasury securities as collateral and 0.25 percent in interest.
⇧ Why Job Growth Could Get Even Worse for Men Without College Degrees – Real Time Economics – WSJ
Bill Galston, writing earlier this month in The Wall Street Journal, notes that these changes carry important implications for Republicans and Democrats alike: Failing to respond to the concerns of voters will only accelerate voters’ recent turn toward populism.
There’s nothing wrong with populism, per se. It just depends upon which type of populism. The original US Populists were pretty much correct. It’s still spun this way and that. The rich generally really, really hate it; therefore, they do everything they can to run them down. Consider the source. Above all, the bankers hate them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People's_P arty_(United_States)#Debate_by_historian s_over_Populism
⇧ Wall Street Journal op-ed ethers ‘toxic twins’ Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac | HousingWire
… the Beltway geniuses who brought us the housing crisis ….
If they mean the politicians who did Wall Street’s deregulation bidding, then I’m in. However, we all know that the Wall Street Journal isn’t about to blame Wall Street and the deregulators for the crisis they caused. The WSJ will simply leave out the details so it can appear that “government” rather than cronyism and the revolving door to Wall Street caused the problem. The only mistake “government” made was in listening to Wall Street rather than having Main Street always front and center.
It would be interesting to require the WSJ to name the “Beltway geniuses” and to state whether those geniuses had Wall Street sentiments, let alone many of them having come from Wall Street firms.
Who opposed the deregulation? Those are the people who didn’t cause the crisis.
Here’s the real deal, the WSJ knows this all perfectly well but believes that it should simply continue pointing fingers at the people who didn’t cause the problem rather than looking in the mirror.
Here’s a good reminder: “Wealthy Selfies: How Being Rich Increases Narcissism” https://healthland.time.com/2013/08/20/w ealthy-selfies-how-being-rich-increases- narcissism/ Thanks to Paul Krugman for linking to that in a recent post of his.
If you, have or are making, lots of money, guard yourself against becoming your own worst enemy.
Don’t imagine that just giving it away will do the trick. It will greatly depend upon what the money will be used for. If your “cause” just perpetuates the broken system, well ….
Why the moralizing? It’s a risk-management issue. Proper application of the best psychology will render the best outcome for all concerned. Greed is not good. Greed is an illness that spreads harm. Those who support it only speak of those aspects where they can avoid mentioning the overwhelming negatives. It takes a sociopathic mind to do that.
⇧ Easy Money Hard to Find in ’15 With Markets Cooled by China, Fed – Bloomberg Business
A measure of 20 developing-nation exchange rates depreciated 15 percent in 2015, the steepest slide since 1997, and analysts are forecasting further losses in 2016 due to China’s slowdown and rising U.S. interest rates.
⇧ Microsoft Warns Windows 7 Has Serious Problems – Forbes
Is your company running mostly Windows 7?
Windows 7 is no less secure than Windows 10 (it will be supported until 2020) and no less compatible with new hardware and software.
If you haven’t done much customizing of Windows, if you’ve simply plugged it in and started using it without installing much software or customizing many settings for the operating system or installed software, then updating to a newer OS may be no big deal.
However, if you’ve done really extensive customization and if you’ve been through updating OS’s with heavy customization on the one you’re moving from, you know that updating is no simple matter.
⇧ 2015: A year in taxation — Prime Economics
Richard Murphy on the UK Tories:
Demands in the EU Parliament for action on tax abuse in December 2015 are a direct challenge to the Commission that seems likely, along with the UK government, to implement as few as possible of the OECD’s recommended measures to tackle international tax abuse.
It is said that tax need not be taxing but the reality is that tax does, in very many ways, provide any government with the best opportunity to shape the society for which it is responsible and to which it is accountable. If that is true, then I believe that this government is saying it is on the side of the wealthiest and big business and it has little care for the rest.
⇧ 6 Reasons Commercial Property Investing Might Be a Bad Idea
I can already sense the upset commercial mortgage brokers, investors and real estate agents ready to unleash a mouthful of comments below. Now before you take the gloves off, please keep in mind that I’m a big believer in commercial real estate investing and see it as a MUST end game for any investor starting of with single family or multifamily properties.
So don’t take your gloves off just yet and read on.
⇧ Slowdown in Chinese manufacturing deepens fears for economy | World news | The Guardian
After a global rout in 2015, many analysts expect prices for commodities such as oil and metals to remain volatile this year, increasing uncertainty for China as a big producer and consumer of raw materials.
China is also grappling with a slowdown in neighbouring emerging economies that are important trading partners. Those countries in turn are under pressure after the recent move by the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for the first time in almost a decade caused knock-on effects in currency, bond and stock markets.
⇧ Opinion is divided on state of Chinese economy, but not on its importance | World news | The Guardian
…… with many of the country’s powerful state-owned enterprises loaded up with debt, property bubbles deflating and the knock-on effects of the share price crash still being felt, domestic demand has so far failed to pick up the slack.
The challenge of maintaining politically acceptable rates of economic growth may become tougher in 2016, particularly if the US Federal Reserve presses ahead ….
⇧ The Federal Reserve’s Brave New Interest Rate World – Forbes
Overnight reverse repos allow certain non-bank financial institutions to place funds at the Fed overnight in return for USTs (yes, the ones bought in the Fed’s QE programs) and 25bps interest. The interest rate is no accident: it is the floor of the target Fed Funds rate range. These reverse repos provide competition for banks in the funding markets, forcing banks to offer higher interest rates on funds they lend to non-banks. The Fed said in December that it would make $2tn worth of USTs available as collateral for reverse repo transactions: it is actually needing to use considerably less to maintain the Fed Funds rate well above its floor.
But reverse repos are only half the story. The Fed also set the interest rate it pays on excess reserves (IOER) to the top of the Fed Funds target range. This pulls the funding rate upwards, since banks will not lend reserves to each other at less than the IOER rate.
So far, it appears that the combination of IOER and overnight reverse repos is an effective new way of controlling the Fed Funds rate and, by extension, the general level of commercial interest rates.
⇧ Money from the Sky – The Awl
… if the government was willing to hand out cash, and the Fed was willing to print money, why didn’t it do a helicopter drop? The Fed doesn’t have a clear mandate to give out cash to citizens, which is considered fiscal policy, and that is the job of the elected government, not appointed officials. Yet it’s not a problem that couldn’t be overcome with an aggressive interpretation of the Fed’s role, some clever accounting schemes, and politicians willing to support it. (There is little hope of getting politicians to support it, though. Neither of the current political parties are crazy about cash handouts, albeit for different reasons. The Republicans hate the idea of expanding the role of the Fed or the government, especially when it is to give a certain class of people something for nothing—even if giving out printed cash is really just another form of a tax cut. Democrats, on the other hand, would rather give out targeted cash through complex programs to encourage this or discourage that.)
Helicopter money would be better than nothing, but democratically targeting spending on what would lift the lowest class would be the best approach.
⇧ Angry Bear – Ireland still isn’t back
Ireland remains, in some circles, a poster child for austerity’s success: It paid off its bailout loan early! It regained its 2007 Gross Nation Income per capita in 2014! Unemployment is only 8.9%! Don’t believe the hype.
… Ireland is 80% of the way to a lost decade, and isn’t out of the woods yet.
⇧ Obama Dollar Rally Is Forecast to Join Clinton, Reagan Upturns – Bloomberg Business
The current rally kicked off in 2013 when the Fed began winding down the extraordinary monetary stimulus it had in place since the 2007-2009 recession, stoking speculation higher interest rates would follow. That causes the currency to strengthen because it means investors would be paid more to keep money in dollars compared with others.
Last month, those higher rates finally came as the Fed bumped up borrowing costs a quarter of a percentage point for the first time in almost a decade….
It’s anti-inflationary before inflation has kicked in. Will it prove to have been premature? Well, if you want higher rates and can make more money via higher rates, you’ll likely be in favor of them regardless of whether higher rates overly slow the recovery. Such is banking.
⇧ Final Title III Crowdfunding Rules: Five Major Developments – Crowdfund Insider
While I understand Ryan’s enthusiasm, the rules scream out: “Swim at your own risk!” They say, do your due diligence concerning any platform you go with. Understand that track records are not built in a day, week, month, or even year, that management and policies and practices can change, and that you won’t have full transparency in this budding industry.
Am I opposed to the JOBS Act? No. I’m simply advocating investor vigilance. That will be all the harder for the inexperienced, those the JOBS Act allows to invest this way for the first time. Fortunately for many, the Act limits the amount one may gamble; and make no mistake about it, all investing in this system is gambling to one degree or another.
⇧ ‘The Big Short,’ the Great Depression and the Evolution of Crisis Narratives – Real Time Economics – WSJ
This is just another in a long list of articles that (deliberately?) completely ignore the deregulation frenzy pushed by Wall Street and that most certainly did cause the Great Recession.
… most economists blame the latest crisis not on Wall Street malfeasance but larger economic forces.
Malfeasance includes criminal deregulation, and that is what happened.
⇧ Make a reliable evaluation of insurance carriers
Good question by Mark Scott and solid answers by Dawn M. Jaffray, Senior Vice President and CFO, United Fire Group (UFG Insurance):
There are a number of financial measures you can use to make an accurate assessment as to the carrier’s financial strength:
• Third-party rating agencies, such as A.M. Best Company — These agencies provide an independent opinion on the financial strength of an insurance company.
• Risk-based capital — This figure shows the minimum amount of capital that an insurance company is required to have to support its overall business operations.
• Policyholder surplus — This figure shows the difference between a company’s assets and liabilities.
• Claims reserves — A figure that shows the funds set aside for the future payment of claims that have been incurred, but not settled.
What other factors are important in the evaluation of an insurance carrier?
Stability, longevity, reputation and industry expertise are all factors that can provide you with confidence that the carrier is up to the challenge of helping your company through a loss or a catastrophe.
⇧ Seattle Natural Hazard Explorer
Seattle is a beautiful place to live, work and play but it’s not immune to major disasters. On the contrary, our region ranks number one in the country in terms of the number of hazards we face, which includes winter storms, landslides, flooding and earthquakes.
⇧ ‘Spare The Air Alert’ issued for Bay Area for 24 hours | Northern Californian
If you don’t have to burn wood to heat your home, if you have other ways to heat your house, then don’t burn wood for heat or just because you like wood fires.
Homes with fireplaces or wood stoves as the only source of heat are exempt from the alert until November 1 next year when the wood-burning device must be certified by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and registered with the air district.
⇧ 2015: Private Debt and the UK Housing Market — Prime Economics
The majority of new mortgage lending since 2008 has been to buy-to-let landlords. These speculative buyers now face the prospect of rising interest rates and tax changes that will take a large chunk out of their property income.
That’s what I wrote too. The buy-to-let (buy-to-rent in Americanese) landlords are mostly middle class people too. The Tories work for the upper financial-class. There’s no doubt about it.
⇧ 2015: Growth on shaky foundations without wage recovery — Prime Economics
Our research shows that in Britain a lower share of wages in national income leads to both a lower GDP and lower private private investment.
⇧ 9 Home Improvements That Offer the Best Value for Investors
You want a good-looking rental that attracts tenants and rents out easily — or maybe you’re flipping properties and are looking to add upgrades that make for a quick sale. What amenities are worth adding and which items give you the best bang for your buck? Let’s take a look at some smart additions that offer the highest value, starting with curb appeal.
⇧ Homeowners count the cost as floods force prices to plummet | Environment | The Guardian
… buy another home further up the hill.
If we don’t do what’s required about global warming, ….