Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Goldman Says It Will Pay $5.1 Billion in U.S. Mortgage Probe – Bloomberg Business
Some lawmakers and public-interest advocates have criticized the government’s approach to holding mortgage lenders accountable. Without individual prosecutions, the settlements allow banks to pay money to atone for bad behavior, making financial penalties a cost of doing business.
⇧ Goldman Sachs agrees to tentative $5.1B mortgage settlement
Goldman cautioned, however, that its agreement in principle is subject to negotiation of definitive documentation. There’s no assurance that the bank and government authorities will reach final agreement, Goldman said.
I don’t believe that’s the case. There’s no way Lloyd Blankfein would wait for the government to take Goldman through a trial.
⇧ Goldman Sachs settlement on mortgage-backed bonds to hit earnings | Reuters
The settlement underscores how Wall Street has yet to shake off the legacy of the U.S. subprime crisis, when mortgages were sold to people who could not afford them and then repackaged for investors without an adequate explanation of how risky they were.
Who caused the Great Recession? Did the government twist the Wall Street bankers’ arms to engage in fraud? Did Wall Street clamor for deregulation first or did the government just deregulate? Who funded the political campaigns of the main politicians who rammed through the deregulations?
⇧ Goldman to Pay Up to $5 Billion to Settle Claims of Faulty Mortgages – The New York Times
In the early days of the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs received an outsize share of criticism from politicians and the media as its trading desk made money by betting against the housing market in the run-up to the crisis.
Goldman Sachs bet against the very securities it was pushing at its investors, those who were relying upon Goldman Sachs to give them solid investment advice.
⇧ Global Risks 2016 – Reports – World Economic Forum
From the refugee crisis to economic slowdowns in emerging markets, from ever-rising numbers of terrorist and cyberattacks to water shortages, global risks have been in the headlines in the last year. … The Global Risks Report exists to raise awareness about global risks and their potential interconnections, and to provide a platform for discussion and action to mitigate, adapt and strengthen resilience.
⇧ Why climate change adaptation is key to managing global risks | World Economic Forum
In 2015, the global concentration of carbon dioxide — a key driver of climate change — exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in recorded history, while global temperatures appear to have risen by 1 degree Celsius from the pre-Industrial era. The changes are already posing grave challenges for businesses and humanity, including an increase in coastal flooding, falling agricultural production, declining biodiversity, eco-system collapse (accompanied by declines in fish stocks, etc.), and higher costs for cooling and irrigation.
Those risks also have geopolitical consequences.
⇧ Why clean energy is now expanding even when fossil fuels are cheap – The Washington Post
In a new analysis, Bloomberg New Energy Finance finds that 2015 was a record year for global investment in the clean energy space, with $ 329 billion invested in wind, solar panels, biomass plants and more around the world. (The number does not include investments in large hydroelectric facilities).
That’s 3 percent higher than the prior 2011 global investment record of $ 318 billion — and most striking is that it happened in a year in which key fossil fuels — oil, coal and natural gas — were quite cheap.
When it comes to fossil fuels, “prices have been low, continue to stay low, and yet we continue to see strong growth of wind and solar, and it speaks to the fact that again, these technologies are becoming more cost competitive,” says Ethan Zindler, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
⇧ Hitting Home: How Healthy Is Your Real Estate Market? – Bloomberg Business
Americans are now spending an average of just 15.4 years in their houses, 2014 census data show, down from a nationwide average of 17.1 years in 2012, according to a study by New York financial technology company SmartAsset. The study shows that residents in Nevada stay in their homes the shortest span of time, for an average of just 12.21 years. Washington, D.C., a city recreated with each election cycle, has the second shortest home ownership rate, at 12.22 years. At the other end of the scale are West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where residents tend to hunker down for nearly 18 years on average after paying closing costs.
⇧ Six Global Trends in Commercial Real Estate to Watch for in 2016 – Urban Land Magazine
Apartments. Increased disposable income means that households will have more to spend on housing, including upgrading to higher-quality apartments. Also, apartments further out in the suburbs will benefit with the lower cost of commuting.
Don’t forget. There’re plenty of people still living in relatives’ basements and such. They’ll need affordable rentals before being able to move.
⇧ 5 Signs Your Real Estate ‘Guru’ Might Be a Rip-Off – Real Estate News and Advice – realtor.com
… how do you separate the helpful from the hype? Keep an eye out for these red flags that a self-professed real estate “guru” may not be all that.
⇧ Martin Wolf on China upheaval | FT World – YouTube
Martin Wolf, the FT’s chief economics commentator, provides his assessment of China’s market turmoil this year, the policy response to it and his outlook for the country’s economy.
I agree concerning which aspects are more important to watch but disagree with the assessment that such a shift is basically not controllable.
China continues making two huge errors. First, they refuse to democratize. Second, they rely on the usury system (interest, borrowing).
⇧ The dark side of New York’s building boom | FT Business – YouTube
Construction accidents have doubled as developers seize on the Big Apple’s trillion-dollar property market. Anna Nicolaou and Gary Silverman, the FT’s US national editor, discuss the dangers of a building frenzy.
Safety first! Accidents and deaths are costly not just emotionally but in dollar terms too. Safety pays in every way. Can it be overdone? We have a long, long way to go before running into that in general. Err on the side of safety is my motto.
⇧ How affordable housing mandates make housing more expensive – LA Times
If you think affordable housing mandates can’t do much harm in regions where home prices are already among the highest in the nation, think again. In a Reason Public Policy Institute study that investigated the impact of housing set-asides in the San Francisco Bay Area from 2003 to 2007, economists Benjamin Powell and Edward Stringham found that the volume of new home construction dropped on average 30% in the first year after such a law passed, and prices rose 8%.
Exactly how does one jump to causation from this alleged correlation from a period ending some 10 years ago?
Gary M. Galles goes on to apparently equate food stamps with housing subsidies as being more fair to the developers in addition to being more effective in general. Perhaps he’s right to some degree.
The problem remains though with commute times and costs for low-paid workers whose jobs are in wealthier areas. Solve that.
⇧ Essential–and very recent–Reading on Basic Income – Public Banking Institute
Two or more years ago, only a few libertarians and some innovative left thinkers were talking about guaranteed income. Last year, more proposals and opinions began to trickle in. Now, governments are experimenting with it, political parties and think tanks are endorsing it, and opposition is surprisingly mild.
I’ve been writing about this for many years now. It’s very gratifying to see it become a household idea. I know where the extra money would go with me: business growth, which would mean more jobs.
⇧ Jeremy Corbyn interview: Labour leader on churches, cats and a nuclear-free world [plus …]
Asked what would be his first priority in Downing Street, he says the “scandal” of homelessness. “Let’s address the fundamental need of everybody to have a roof over their head. And I mean everybody.”
⇧ California considers easing some water conservation mandates – San Jose Mercury News
This year, the San Diego region completed a $1 billion seawater desalination plant, the largest in the Americas.
They need about 10 more just for starters.
⇧ Pet deaths, illnesses evoke concern amid Porter Ranch gas leak
Pet problems are normal, but how much increase in the area has there been? All the vets and governmental agencies would have to contribute stats and in my view, should be required to. If I were a vet there, I’d want to know anyway. Wouldn’t you?
⇧ Plan to capture, burn off gas at Porter Ranch halted pending further review – MyNewsLA.com
Some Porter Ranch residents are calling for the U.S. government to declare the site of the leak a federal disaster area, which would make more funds available to help residents relocate.
⇧ Claims in Porter Ranch gas leak could cost utility billions of dollars – LA Times
“We are working with families who want to move to temporary accommodations until the leak is stopped, and we’ve also established a claims process for anyone who feels they’ve suffered harm or injury as a result of this incident,” said Trisha Muse, a utility spokeswoman.
The gas company’s $1 billion in insurance may end up looking more like a floor than a ceiling, Panish and Greene said.
“This would be promising because it looks like there’s a lot of insurance,” Greene said. “But there’s a deeper pocket … the gas company behind it.”
⇧ Efforts to plug Porter Ranch-area gas leak worsened blowout risk, regulators say – LA Times
This is a rather detailed description of what’s going on with the effort to stop the leak.
It’s a huge mess that probably could have been avoided by the proper use of shutoff valves in the first place.
⇧ What the U.S. Treasury Gets Wrong About Shady Real Estate Deals – Fortune
The notion that the federal government’s efforts are somehow unconstitutional is more than a stretch in my view.
Does the author, Seth M. Kaplowitz, believe that the millions of property owners with their real-estate ownership recorded in counties across the nation are all having their constitutional rights violated thereby?
Owners pay property taxes don’t they? Is it asking too much for the government to know who’s ultimately responsible? When purchasing a driver’s license, one can’t claim a violation of privacy. Yet, if one meets all the requirements, one has as much right as anyone else to such a license. The same holds for real-estate ownership, doesn’t it?
⇧ Town of Lake George targets unkempt properties with ordinance
This sure seems to be a strong trend in the US.
The town of Lake George is working on a property maintenance ordinance that would impose penalties for unkempt properties.
⇧ Construction Employment Surges at Year’s End
“Many contractors continue to report strong backlog, indicating that nonresidential construction spending will remain a key economic driver in 2016,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Given the mounting level of concern regarding the U.S. economic outlook in the face of emerging global deflationary forces and unstable geopolitics, today’s employment report is a positive sign. Consumer spending will be the primary economic driver in 2016 and the U.S. economy would fail to achieve even 2 percent growth should the labor market begin to sputter.”
⇧ Construction Material Prices Continue Free Fall in December
“Construction input prices continued to sink to the end of 2015, due in large measure to global deflationary forces that have become increasingly apparent,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. …
“In addition, the U.S. dollar remains strong,” said Basu. “With only a couple of exceptions, the U.S. is the only major nation to increase interest rates. If interest rates rise as anticipated, the dollar will strengthen further in 2016, placing additional downward pressure on input prices.”
It means foreign materials are cheaper, generally not US made or processed. It’s a double-edged sword. Where are the US jobs and rising incomes for regular workers? That’s what matters most for Americans and our economy until we completely reform our economic system by granting a guaranteed living income allowing everyone to have a decent quality of life, as far as a money-income can allow.
⇧ Committing insurance fraud is funny, no big deal: That’s the message of crude TV programs | Insurance FraudBlog
… a plot involving insurance fraud. The three main characters got caught burning down their friend’s financially troubled pharmacy.
They pleaded with the arresting officer to let them go. “Insurance agencies are all scumbags. They deserve to get hurt,” one character says. After thinking about how his health insurer had screwed him, the cop destroys the evidence and lets the trio go on their merry way.
“Insurance agencies are all scumbags.” So, just because I’m in insurance with an agency as a broker, I’m a scumbag?
Insurance spreads the risk of loss. A huge problem consists of those who defraud the system, which drives up premiums for everyone else. Is everyone in the insurance industry perfect? Of course they aren’t, but simply denouncing the entire industry is not only spreading a lie, it’s harming society in general. It is not part of the solution at all.
⇧ Woman pleads guilty to burning O.C. homes, cars for insurance money – The Orange County Register
SANTA ANA — A 41-year-old woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to setting her Orange County homes and car on fire to reap hefty insurance payments.
Okay, so above, I called this behavior scummy. That’s not to say that I don’t hope this woman is rehabilitated. I’m a firm believer in rehabilitation. After due process, it should be the prime focus of the justice system.
⇧ Landlord sentenced in arson-for-profit scheme | WJAR
A Providence landlord was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in federal prison for setting fire to a building he owned ….
⇧ Former Pa. Firefighter Charged with Arson in Florida | Firehouse
A former volunteer firefighter from Pennsylvania was arrested and charged with setting two fires at the empty clubhouse of a closed golf course in Altamonte Springs.
No motive is given.
⇧ Mount Carmel Man Arrested On Arson, Fraud Charges Law Enforcement Agencies Work Together | WTVC
58-year-old Kenneth Rader was arrested and charged with multiple criminal counts including arson, reckless endangerment, a false report and insurance fraud related to a Jan. 11, 2015 fire at 920 Bailey St. in Baileyton.
“…reckless endangerment….” People are injured and die in arson fires.
⇧ EPA Science Advisors Balk at Fracking Study – Bloomberg Business
When the agency took a broader look at the entire water cycle around fracking — from getting water supplies to disposing of fluid waste — it documented instances where failed wells and above-ground spills may have affected drinking water resources.
Young, the University of California professor who suggested rewriting the top-line conclusion, faulted the document for trying “to draw a global and permanent conclusion about the safety or impacts of hydraulic fracturing at the national level” given the “uncertainties and data limitations described in the report.”
⇧ Oklahoma Residents Sue 12 Energy Companies Following Earthquakes
A group of Edmond residents has filed a lawsuit against 12 energy companies, claiming that their saltwater disposal wells were partly to blame for earthquakes in central Oklahoma in recent weeks.
⇧ Landlords, Tenants to Share L.A.’s Quake Retrofit Costs
Los Angeles landlords and tenants must equally share the costs of earthquake retrofitting, under a deal approved by the City Council.
… allows building owners to pass half the retrofit costs to tenants through rent increases over a 10-year period, with a maximum increase of $38 per month.
Wow, that could be $4,560 additional per month to the tenant if the total cost of the retrofit is twice $4,560. Market forces will remain in play though.
Time to get into the retrofitting business there or maybe invest in businesses already doing it? Do your due diligence.
⇧ Apartment vacancies rise for first time in six years: Here’s why
“The low vacancy rate, improving economy, tightening labor market and gradually rising income growth is providing all of the fodder for continued rent growth, even in the face of rising construction,” added Severino.
Rising construction, however, is largely on the high end. That is where vacancies are starting to show up. New York City, which commands the highest rent in the nation at an average monthly payment of $3,400, is seeing rising vacancies. …
“Every new building we built is so expensive — the land, construction, labor — that the rents we have to charge to make a feasible return are high. So to what degree are we creating a tranche of housing just for the elite, and at what point does housing become unaffordable? At what point does it become not sustainable to rent? I fear we may end up like that.”
Developers are starting to look at so-called B markets, where demand is very high and supply is at a minimum, but costs often stand in the way. The return on investment, after land and labor, is often not worth it. A much bigger crack in the luxury rental market may be needed to push developers out to where construction is most needed.
The developers of affordable housing need to be subsidized. The tenants need to be subsidized. Squeezing people paying 50%+ for rent is unconscionable. Nobody should have to pay more than 30%.
⇧ 8 Real Estate Calculations Every Investor Should Memorize
Despite what many of us math-allergic folk would prefer, real estate does involve some math. Luckily, most of the formulas are simple and straight-forward. In fact, if you can master the calculations below, you should be just fine.
I like the cap rate and IRR, with qualifications. IRR isn’t mentioned in the article.
⇧ 4 Tips to Turn a Negatively Cash-Flowing Property Around
Are you just throwing things to the wall to see what sticks? Negative cash flow is a result of paying more in expenses for a property than you’re receiving in rental income. How did this happen? Go back. Look at the last time that property had positive cash flow and look to see what’s changed since then. Have you had high tenant turnover? Have you adjusted for demand? Did you possibly lease the property well below market rent out of fear of vacancy? You can’t fix something when you don’t know why it broke in the first place. Maybe in the end you paid too much for the property and it turned out to be a dud. Wrong location, wrong timing, wrong neighborhood, wrong something.
You may experience negative cash flow one month and not the next, depending on the source. Did you have to pay for more repairs in one month thanks to a streak of bad luck? Spending on renovations? Have trouble finding tenants? There are a lot of things that can contribute to negative cash flow that aren’t necessarily something you can control or fix. In many cases, these are anomalies that may disappear.
⇧ 10 Rental Features That Attract Cream of the Crop Tenants
The checklist you are receiving today contains the top 10 factors that excellent tenants look for in a great rental property in order of importance.
⇧ How to Maximize Deductions & Avoid Overstating Income
We all know the importance of reporting the correct income and expenses for our businesses on our tax returns. You of course do not want to exaggerate deductions, as that would be unethical, but you also do not want to understate them either and miss out on deductions that you are entitled to. To save money during tax time, you need to make sure that you haven’t overstated your income or understated your deductions. While it may seem silly to do either, it is a common mistake that many investors make, and many don’t even realize it. Here are some of the important things to note as we head into tax season.
⇧ Britain abandons onshore wind just as new technology makes it cheap – Telegraph
The Brits shooting themselves in the feet:
At this level wind competes toe-to-toe with coal or gas, even without a carbon tax ….
What seems likely is that the era of onshore wind growth in Britain is coming to an end for political reasons just as the technology comes of age and finally makes sense on a commercial basis.
⇧ RBS cries ‘sell everything’ as deflationary crisis nears – Telegraph
RBS first issued its grim warnings for the global economy in November but events have moved even faster than feared. It estimates that the US economy slowed to a growth rate of 0.5pc in the fourth quarter, and accuses the US Federal Reserve of “playing with fire” by raising rates into the teeth of the storm. “There has already been severe monetary tightening in the US from the rising dollar,” it said.
It is unusual for the Fed to tighten when the ISM manufacturing index is below the boom-bust line of 50. It is even more surprising to do so after nominal GDP growth has fallen to 3pc and has been trending down since early 2014.
The Fed could be another China: not knowing what it’s doing.
⇧ It is wrong to blame China for the global economy’s woes — Prime Economics
Governments continue to leave the management of the private debt overhang to “the market”. This has meant that the private debt crisis remains unresolved because market players and in particular bankers in what the BIS describes (p.26) as “the broken banking system” fear losses from defaults. As a result precious little is done to re-structure or write off unpayable private debts. Instead bankers “extend and pretend” and offer debtors more credit with which to pay down existing debts, thus inflating private debt bubbles across the world.
I agree with that but not that China isn’t also culpable right along with the US, et al.
⇧ The dollar’s international role: An “exorbitant privilege”? | Brookings Institution
The good news is that the dollar has appreciated considerably in the last eighteen months or so and no major financial problems have apparently resulted.
Ben surprises me by his continuing insensitivity. I keep expecting him to have learned from the causes of the Great Recession to heighten his feelers. The global economic news is replete with negatives associated with the Fed’s hike. I suppose Ben would argue that those concerns are confused. I don’t think they are.
Whether Ben wants to admit it or not, there are currency wars and the US engages in them.
⇧ “Audit the Fed” is not about auditing the Fed | Brookings Institution
Effective Congressional oversight of the Fed is essential, of course, but it involves some complex tradeoffs. On the one hand, Congress has the ultimate responsibility of assuring itself and the public that monetary policy is being conducted reasonably and in the national interest. On the other hand, institutionally, Congress is not well-suited to make monetary policy decisions itself, because of the technical and time-sensitive nature of those decisions. Moreover, both historical experience and formal studies (for example, here, here, and here) have shown that monetary policy achieves better results when central bankers are allowed to focus on the longer-term interests of the economy, free of short-term political considerations.
… Monetary policy is complex and must be conducted under tremendous uncertainty about both the economic outlook and how the economy works. Nevertheless, I know from first-hand experience that the FOMC sets monetary policy with the best technical information available and without any consideration of politics or partisanship. I am also confident that political interventions in monetary policy decisions would not lead to better results. But increasing the likelihood of such interventions is precisely the risk presented by “Audit the Fed.”
Well, I’m for getting rid of the Federal Reserve System all together, not just auditing it (regardless of what the term means to those who are calling for auditing the Fed).
Congress isn’t suited as is, but the Fed uses interest rates that stem from needless and wasteful governmental borrowings, which system robs the working poor and others via misdirection of growth in incomes and wealth accumulation.
The Federal Reserve System is part of the plutocratic structure designed to let those who’ve gamed the system to reap the spoils at the expense of those who work for a living rather than engage in such wholly selfish gaming.
It’s too bad Ben doesn’t admit it and then work for the betterment of those at the bottom.
⇧ Bankruptcy, Divorce, and Long Commutes. More Evidence That Income Inequality Sucks – Evonomics
David Sloan Wilson:
The states and counties that experienced the largest increases in income inequality between 1990-2000 also experienced the largest increases in bankruptcies, divorces, and long commutes.
There you go, Ben. That’s what I’m talking about. Your Federal Reserve System facilitates that gross inequality, that immorality, all the damage it does while the sociopathic rich get more sociopathic and richer.
⇧ Economics Is Really Psychology on Steroids – Evonomics
What is called “economics” is really psychology on steroids. It starts with a model of human nature and extrapolates an entire scenario for how the world works from that. The model is homo economicus,the myopic protoganist of the economics texts. This hypothetical person has no social affinities, no lapses of judgment or hang-ups, no capacity even for thinking about anyone besides him or herself. He goes through life with an unfailing and relentless calculus of personal loss and gain.
As I explained in The Tragedy of Economics this portrayal of our basic nature did not arise from actual inquiry. Homo economicus was from the beginning a polemical construct, devised to serve political ends. At first this was to help undermine the secular authority of the Roman Church, and then the divine right of kings. More recently it has served to justify a fundamentalism of what is called “the market.” Along the way, it has provided economists with the semblance of a predictable atom of economic activity. This has enabled them to declaim under the banner of “science,” and has given them a hook on which to hang their arcane math.
Today, psychologists can only roll their eyes at this naïve portrayal. People who have to deal with actual humans in market settings — such as advertisers and corporate managers — find it borderline irrelevant. A new field called “behavioral economics” (which ought to be redundant but revealingly is not) is picking apart homo economicus within the temple of the profession itself.
The only people who still take the model seriously are economists themselves. There is an element of projection in this; studies have shown that economists tend to resemble homo economicus more than the rest of us do.
⇧ Sober Look: 6 reasons why markets discount the FOMC’s rate forecasts for 2016
Is the long-awaited jump in inflation about to make itself visible? Market participants remain skeptical. Here are some key reasons.
1. Most analysts have been forecasting – for some time now – a significant increase in US wages as the labor markets tighten. However thus far we have seen little evidence for this “acceleration”, with wages persistently growing below 2.5% per year.
2. With US crude oil prices below $33/bbl, many believe the energy impact on inflation is yet to be fully reflected in the official figures. Moreover, some think that weak energy prices will even partially bleed into the core PCE inflation measure (on a delayed basis).
3. China’s ongoing devaluation will continue putting pressure on prices as well.
As an example, the December jump in iron ore prices has been nearly fully reversed as China-related worries returned. In addition to China’s impact on commodities, most expect US import prices to fall further, also igniting disinflationary concerns.
⇧ Sober Look: Bets against the dot plot go into overdrive
Bets against the FOMC’s forecast gained momentum after significantly worse-than-expected US industrial production and NY manufacturing reports. In fact the NY Fed manufacturing figure was so bad, many initially thought it was an error. Welcome to the world of strong US dollar …
That’s part of the world the Fed rate-rise has created.
⇧ The Citadel Is Breached: Congress Taps the Fed for Infrastructure Funding | WEB OF DEBT BLOG
In the 1860s, Abraham Lincoln issued debt-free US Notes or “greenbacks” to finance much of the Civil War, as well as the transcontinental railroad and the land-grant college system. … In the Great Depression, Congress authorized the issuance of several billion dollars of US Notes in the Thomas Amendment to the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act. …
The invariable objection to exercising the government’s sovereign money-creating power is that it would lead to hyperinflation, but these figures belie that assumption. If adding €100 billion for infrastructure increases GDP by €232 billion, prices should actually go down rather than up, since the supply of goods and services (GDP) would have increased more than twice as fast as demand (money). Conventional theory says that prices go up when too much money is chasing too few goods, and in this case the reverse would be true.
That’s exactly right. That’s why I’ve said that the money supply should be pegged to real productivity, resulting in no inflation or deflation and pretty much only economic growth, barring natural disasters amounting to temporary setbacks but also growth opportunities.
We can have our cake and eat it too! There is a free lunch. They’ve been lying to us for centuries.
⇧ Sober Look: Canadians Start the New Year with Some Trepidation
Canada is in economic trouble.
Excellent overview by Norman Mogil:
There are many ways to measure the vulnerability of housing prices to household leverage. For American readers this topic also resonates, having endured one of the largest housing collapses in modern history starting in 2007. In a recent study by the staff of the Bank of Canada, summarized in Table 3, debt ratios are compared between Canada in 2012/4 with those in the U.S. in 2007. Canadians are not nearly indebted today as the Americans were in 2007. For example, Canadian households with debt service ratios of 40% plus (a major threshold level) comprise only 36% of all household, compared to 71% of US households in 2007.
Given the limitations on monetary policy, we have to look to fiscal policy to improve the economic climate. The Federal Government will introduce a budget in February which is expected to feature infrastructure spending across the nation. The remaining hope is for a stimulus package. Meanwhile, Canadians continue to feel a degree of vulnerability. We start the new year with considerable unease.
I remember thinking Canada (and Australia) would sink with the US in the Great Recession. It took a bit of time before I learned about China and Australia and Australian commodities and Chinese investors in Australia. It took even longer to wrap my head around the differences in the way Canadians buy housing. Canada remains vaguer to me, but article such as this one do help drill in the underlying factors for why Canada has held out so long.
The oil bust is something I understand, and have understood, rather clearly, though there’s always much to continue learning and that industry has been in such flux, including such dramatic and rapid technological (fracking) transformation.
If it lasts long enough, the oil bust in Canada could certainly negatively offset a large portion of the debt-to-income-ratio cushion generally.
It would be interesting to see someone with access to all the data and the skills to interpret it tell us where things stand and are heading and might yet head in that regard.
⇧ Bully for Neurotoxins – The New York Times
… the editorial sneers that we’re “still waiting for all those new green jobs Mr. Obama has been promising since he arrived in Washington.” Um:
Credit BLS, Solar Foundation
Yes, that number is from the Solar Foundation, a private group; so is the Journal’s number on mining jobs. And while you might want to quibble with specific numbers, the boom in renewable energy is very real, as are the surging number of jobs in things like solar panel installation. I can’t imagine any calculation under which the number of green jobs added doesn’t exceed the loss in coal mining ….
⇧ Yes He Did – The New York Times
Paul Krugman again:
Unemployment is, of course, more or less back to pre-crisis levels, but that’s in part due to falling labor force participation. So what’s happening to family incomes? Unfortunately, the Census data on those incomes come with a long lag, but Sentier Research now produces much more timely estimates (using the CPS data), which are shown above. What they say is that after a severe drop, median real household income is also roughly back to pre-crisis levels.
That’s not a great result; once upon a time we expected median income to be markedly higher at each business cycle peak than it was at the preceding peak. But that wasn’t true under Bush, who also only more or less presided over a return to the previous peak on the eve of the Great Recession — and the Bush-era economy only got there thanks to a disastrous housing bubble. (As an aside: median income didn’t rise much under Reagan either.)
⇧ Mind-Altering Economics – The New York Times
Self-deprecation is good for the soul, especially when it’s to make a valid point and not simply to appear humble.
Niall Ferguson, take note of when to take Krugman seriously.
More Paul Krugman:
Personal experiences: my mind was strongly changed by the empirical work on minimum wages that started with Card and Krueger; a summary and further evidence is here. I used to be a very conventional, Econ 101 person on this subject, figuring that the labor market would work like any market with a price floor. But the accumulation of evidence when some states raised minimum wages while neighbors didn’t — a classic natural experiment — made it clear that at least for the US, at current minimums, there is little or no negative effect on employment.
⇧ Oil Goes Nonlinear – The New York Times
On the Paul Krugman roll:
… we used to believe that oil price declines were expansionary. Part of the answer was that they reduced inflation, freeing central banks to loosen monetary policy — not a relevant issue at a time when inflation is below target almost everywhere.
Beyond that, however, the usual view was that falling oil prices tended to redistribute income away from agents with low marginal propensities to spend toward agents with high marginal propensities to spend.
We also thought that lower fuel costs for commercial transportation, including shipping via trucks, would make everything less expensive for the manufacturers and construction industry. However, manufacturing in the US is only a shell of its former self and construction of housing is stuck waiting for wages to rise.
Plus, when we used to think the things Paul mentions, oil in the US was going down rather than up via fracking. When the fracking industry got hit, and continues getting hit, the impact is more significant in the downward economic direction for the whole US economy.
All of that is why I didn’t agree with the Fed’s Vice Chair, Stanley Fischer, about the impact and still don’t agree with him on 4 rate rises this year.
Paul needs to speak with him.
⇧ A no-strings basic income? If it works for the royal family, it can work for us all | John O’Farrell | Opinion | The Guardian
… it is the current situation that prevents initiative and holds back entrepreneurs. Anyone who ever invented or created anything did so with a modicum of financial security behind them. That’s why so many of our statues are to upper-class white men; that’s why Virginia Woolf needed “a room of her own and £500 a year” (slashed to £27.85 after that spare room fell under the bedroom tax). For centuries we have tapped the potential of only a small proportion of the British people; the rest have been powerless to initiate or discover where their true talents lay. With the UBI, innovators would be given the room to experiment knowing they would still have something to fall back on; it would see more small businesses and less grovelling on Dragons’ Den.
What’s the takeaway from this? The more the idea is discussed, the less it is censored, the more likely it is to catch on and get implemented. That’s how it got going: people hammering on it.
⇧ Note To Joe Stiglitz: Banks Originate, Not Intermediate, And That’s Why Aggregate Demand Is Stuffed – Forbes
I’m the last one to defend banks, but here Joe is quite wrong: the banks have very good reasons not to “fulfil their purpose” today, because that purpose is not what Joe thinks it is. Banks don’t “intermediate loans”, they “originate loans”, and they have every reason not to originate right now.
In effect, Joe is complaining that banks aren’t doing what economics textbooks say they should do. But those textbooks are profoundly wrong about the actual functioning of banks, and until the economics profession gets its head around this and why it matters, then the economy will be stuck in the Great Malaise that Joe is hoping to lift us out of.
The argument that banks merely intermediate between savers and investors leads the mainstream to a manifestly false conclusion: that the level of private debt today is too low, because too little private debt is being created right now. In reality, the level of private debt is way too high, and that’s why so little lending is occurring.
… The only way to get out of the “Great Malaise” is to bring this level of private debt down—without reducing aggregate demand in the process (and without anything as catastrophic as WWII either).
For decades now, a handful of rebel economists have been disputing this [the mainstream view] —including me of course, but going back to Irving Fisher and even earlier, and including modern non-mainstream economists like Stephanie Kelton (who now advises Bernie Sanders), and University of Southampton Professor Richard Werner. Oh, and a guy named Hyman Minsky too, whom the mainstream ignored until the 2008 crisis. But the mainstream ignored us before the crisis, and continues to ignore us after it, because their “banks as intermediaries” model tells them that we are just spouting nonsense.
We’re not, of course: the ordinary public tends to get that, and even The Bank of England has come out and said that it’s the mainstream that is spouting nonsense, not the rebels. But the mainstream rejects our analysis out of hand, because their model tells them that it’s OK to do so.
This wouldn’t matter if we could ignore the mainstream of the economics profession, but we can’t, because they are the key individuals who influence the economic policies that are actually put in place by politicians. …
So Joe, can you please ditch the mainstream on “Banks as intermediaries” as you once ditched the mainstream on the Washington Consensus? Then help us develop the only real solution to the Great Malaise: a Modern Debt Jubilee as I call it, or People’s Quantitative Easing as others call it, to reduce the private debt burden without causing a Depression? Because if we don’t, no amount of exhorting banks to “Intermediate” will end the drought in credit growth that is the real cause of The Great Malaise.
Okay, Steve is making this harder to understand than necessary, though he does make clear that many non-economists get it.
First, banks do intermediate. They just don’t only intermediate but mostly originate (create money). Steve does say, “merely intermediate”; but I wanted to be absolutely clear on the matter so people won’t just pooh-pooh Steve.
Secondly, I will add that elsewhere, Steve has made perfectly clear that the Great Recession meant that the private sector will need to deleverage. However, he also made clear that if that sector does that while the government pulls in its spending, there won’t be enough spending in the economy to keep the economy from falling into an extremely deep depression. That’s why PQE (People’s QE or Quantitative Easing) is so, so vitally important. Also, while interest rates are really, really low, it’s a good time for the government to borrow (not that the government can’t just create the money without borrowing).
I’ve explained elsewhere myself why inflation does not have to materialize on account of it. See Ellen Brown’s article above.
As Steve likes Joe Stiglitz, I like both of them; but, Steve can beat the hell out people while he’s trying to enlighten them. Far be it from me not to admit that I’ve done the same thing in my time. I think Steve and I are both learning better how to negotiate very needed change in the worldly system.
⇧ FRA Predicts Massive Tax Grab Coming in 2016 at All Levels of Government
This article paints a nightmare coming to life.
Unlike the Federal government, city and local government cannot “print money” but must cover their costs ….
The solution is simply for the federal government to fund all needs.
“Monetary-and-Banking-Reform Platform for The United States”: https://propertypak.com/introduction-hom e/articles/monetary-and-banking-reform-p latform-for-the-united-states/
⇧ One Map That Explains the Dangerous Saudi-Iranian Conflict
This is a too geopolitically important risk-management issue to ignore simply because it’s so religiously charged. We must look beyond the religious issues to not only oil but also ethnic bigotry.
… much of the conflict can be explained by a fascinating map created by M.R. Izady, a cartographer and adjunct master professor at the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School/Joint Special Operations University in Florida.
What the map shows is that … almost all the Persian Gulf’s fossil fuels are located underneath Shiites. This is true even in Sunni Saudi Arabia, where the major oil fields are in the Eastern Province, which has a majority Shiite population.
This is all the more reason for the world to embark upon a massive clean-energy program of primarily solar and wind.
⇧ Slowing Productivity Fast Becoming A Global Problem | See It Market
Assuming that demographics are already “baked” and debt has been over-used to produce non-productive growth since well before the crisis, good old-fashioned productivity gains are what the global economy requires to produce durable organic growth in the developed world.
And proper PQE is the way to do it without inflation.
⇧ China market regulators, PBOC scorned for muddled handling of market, yuan
“The problem is when you try to slow things down and don’t articulate a clear strategy and especially when all of this is happening at a time when there is a great deal of concern about the underlying state of the Chinese economy, that adds to panic of investors who start trying to take capital out of the country, foreign investors who are less interested in investing in the country and that feeds into even more panic and volatility, which is what we’ve been seeing in both the currency and the equity markets.”
“We are 21,000 people in DBS. I don’t make all the decisions in DBS. How can Xi make decisions for 1.2 billion people,” he asked. “There are a lot of different people in China: the central party in Beijing. The PBOC has a different agenda. The CSRC has an agenda. The CBRC has an agenda. And different people march to different tunes. They’re broadly orchestrated but it doesn’t mean everything done is carefully calibrated each time.”
Now that’s one hell of an understatement.
They are broadly orchestrated, but the conductor can’t read music.
Get full, real (bottom-up) democracy. It will begin the process of saving China. Ditch neoliberal economics. Reforming in the direction of neoliberalism is a recipe for further disaster.
Democracy (in the workplace) and public enterprise is your way forward.
⇧ Human impact has pushed Earth into the Anthropocene, scientists say | Environment | The Guardian
We need to act and to do it quickly. Otherwise, …
… the scale and rate of change on measures such as CO2 and methane concentrations in the atmosphere were much larger and faster than the changes that defined the start of the holocene.
Humans have introduced entirely novel changes, geologically speaking, such as the roughly 300m metric tonnes of plastic produced annually. Concrete has become so prevalent in construction that more than half of all the concrete ever used was produced in the past 20 years.
Wildlife, meanwhile, is being pushed into an ever smaller area of the Earth, with just 25% of ice-free land considered wild now compared to 50% three centuries ago. As a result, rates of extinction of species are far above long-term averages.
Evidence we’ve started an ‘Anthropocene’
- We’ve pushed extinction rates of flora and fauna far above the long-term average. The Earth is now on course for a sixth mass extinction which would see 75% of species extinct in the next few centuries if current trends continue
- Increased the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere by about 120 parts per million since the industrial revolution because of fossil fuel-burning, leaving concentrations today at around 400ppm and rising
- Nuclear weapon tests in the 1950s and 60s left traces of an isotope common in nature, 14C, and a naturally rare isotope, 293Pu, through the Earth’s mid-latitudes
- Put so much plastic in our waterways and oceans that microplastic particles are now virtually ubiquitous, and plastics will likely leave identifiable fossil records for future generations to discover
- Doubled the nitrogen and phosphorous in our soils in the past century with our fertili ser use. According to some research, we’ve had the largest impact on the nitrogen cycle in 2.5bn years
- Left a permanent marker in sediment and glacial ice with airborne particulates such as black carbon from fossil fuel-burning
⇧ Mining’s $1.4 Trillion Plunge Like Losing Apple, Google, Exxon – Bloomberg Business
This is why Australia should see its real-estate sector hit, provided China really can clamp shut the flow of money out of China into Australian real estate.
The $1.4 trillion lost in global mining stocks since 2011 exceeds the total market value of Apple Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Google’s parent Alphabet Inc.
Australia’s economy is about more than supplying China with raw materials, but still.
⇧ More Than 500,000 Adults Will Lose SNAP Benefits in 2016 as Waivers Expire | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
This is why a national living-income guarantee makes so much sense.
More than 500,000 of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP over the course of 2016, due to the return in many areas of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for certain individuals.
“Work requirements in public assistance programs typically require people to look for work and accept any job or employment program slot that is offered but do not cut off people who are willing to work and looking for a job simply because they can’t find one,” it adds.
If you as a landlord supply rentals to people on the SNAP, be prepared to possibly have a higher tenant turnover rate when this kicks in.
⇧ Australia bet the house on never-ending Chinese growth. It might not end well | Business | The Guardian
Over the last couple of decades, China has undergone profound change and is often cited as an economic growth miracle. Day by day, however, the evidence becomes increasingly clear the probability of a severe economic and financial downturn in China is on the cards. This is not good news at all for Australia. The country is heavily exposed, as China comprises Australia’s top export market, at 33%, more than double the second (Japan at 15%).
… It is becoming obvious both domestically and internationally that the country is beset with a massive housing bubble, driven by debt-financed speculation. Without Australia’s lenders importing an ever increasing sum of credit, the overleveraged and overvalued housing market will run into trouble.
With the Chinese economy beginning to falter, the fear is Australians must now figure out where their economic future lies for the next generation who have been brainwashed into believing that digging up rocks and flipping houses by accumulating a gargantuan mountain of private debt is how a modern western country builds its future. The results will not be pretty.
⇧ Weak U.S. data deluge points to sharply slower growth | Reuters
Signs the economy has hit a soft patch – together with weak inflation, a stock market sell-off and faltering global growth – raises doubts on whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again in March. The Fed lifted its benchmark overnight interest rate from near zero last month, the first rate hike in nearly a decade.
⇧ Market meltdown rattles investors | Calgary Herald
A record losing streak in the loonie, plunging bond yields and about $150 billion wiped out in the stock market have left Canadian investors hanging by a thread. Panic is starting to set in.
“The word fear is finally starting to come up,” said Martin Pelletier, managing director and portfolio manager at TriVest Wealth Counsel in Calgary. “Clients and people are starting to panic. It’s sinking in, but no one knows what to do.”
⇧ Republican Candidates Grapple With a Touchy Topic: Poverty – The New York Times
The votes simply aren’t there.
They shouldn’t have to be. What is wrong with a people where generally speaking, to care about the poor, one must be poor?
I said generally speaking because Eduardo Porter, the author of the linked article, is not poor but obviously cares.
Does that mean he’s weak?
⇧ The Peter Meter: Assessing Schiff’s predictions
In the run-up to the 2008 crash, Peter Schiff made plenty of sense, with the exception of his goldbugism. Since then, however, he’s made no sense at all.
⇧ You can’t fix poverty by breaking the safety net | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy
As CBPP’s Arloc Sherman noted yesterday (and Ben Spielberg and I have explained in detail), a large and growing body of high-quality research, like that described in the graph below, shows that the impact of income support and safety net programs like SNAP and Medicaid do not just occur upon receipt and immediately fade away. They have important, positive long-term benefits for children.
… An inclusive poverty measure shows that the safety net’s effectiveness at reducing poverty has grown nearly ten-fold since 1967, as Chad Stone explained today.
… when you block grant these federal programs, meaning you give states fixed funding to administer them, you tear out one of their most important functions: their counter-cyclicality, i.e., their ability to expand with need. That’s the veritable definition of a safety net program: to catch people when the market fails.
Bob Greenstein documents why such a proposal will likely cause a reduction in food assistance, deprive SNAP of its important countercyclical properties, and increase poverty. The figure below tells a compelling part of that story. It shows how two anti-poverty programs responded in the last recession: SNAP—not a block grant—and TANF, which was block granted in the mid-90s. SNAP worked as it was designed to, expanding to catch those knocked out of work in the downturn. TANF hardly budged.
The question that bugs me is, “Where’s the money going to come from?” Where does any money come from? If money is created for one thing, it can be created for another, especially if that second thing is feeding the children!
Even progressives such as Bernie Sanders don’t answer the question correctly. When asked where the money for fiscal spending is going to come from, he answers from taxing Wall Street transactions, as if the government can’ t simply create the money without bringing it in via taxes.
⇧ Why the Fed needs to prepare for the worst right now – The Washington Post
Traditionally, international developments have had only a limited impact on the U.S. and European economies because their impact could be offset by monetary policy actions. Thus, the U.S. economy grew robustly through the Asian financial crisis as the Fed brought interest rates down. With rates essentially at zero in the industrial countries, however, this option is no longer available, and foreign economic problems are likely to have much more direct effects on economic performance.
That’s true if monetarism is the only tool available. The fiscal tool is right there though. Unfortunately, we have a boatload of politicians financed by those who wouldn’t want the government to create enough currency and to circulated to solve the problem. Why?
The privatizers never want a solution if they can’t own it outwardly. They can only buy the government covertly. Even then, they can’t make the kind of riches they want.
Enough is never enough.
⇧ Are stocks and housing off on another bubble? | Econbrowser
… useful series that Shiller developed is an index of the real value of U.S. homes going back to 1890. For about a century, house prices in Shiller’s estimates rose on average at about the same rate as other prices, leaving the real value of the index in 1975 about where it had been in 1890. The house price bubble of 2000-2005 is a pretty dramatic outlier from that historical stability, and was followed by a spectacular crash that returned the index in the neighborhood of the historical norm by 2012. But since then U.S. house prices have once again been significantly outpacing inflation, with the index now back up to 157.
⇧ Antonio Fatas on the Global Economy: BIS redefines inflation (again)
… central banks are evil. Their only goal is to control inflation but they cannot really control it and because of their superpowers to distort all interest rates they only end up causing volatility and crises. And this is coming from an organization whose members are central banks and its mission is “to serve central banks”. Surreal.
It would be surreal if their plan were not discernible from it.
The central bank of central banks wants to own the trend to control it. It is the first move in co-opting the movement to, again, control it.
Anyone in their system who gets too truly progressive or worse still, populist, will be removed in a haze.
⇧ Here’s why creating single-payer health care in America is so hard – Vox
Imagine what would happen were President Bernie Sanders swept into office backed by a Democratic congressional majority similar to what President Obama enjoyed in 2008. Imagine further that President Sanders were sufficiently fortunate and skilled after that victory to enact a single-payer system. I wonder how different our policy dilemmas would really be from what we now face in implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Harold is decidedly overly complicating the issue. Medicare for everyone would be an expansion of a system that already exists. the ACA did not already exist. In addition, Medicare for all wouldn’t be optional for states.
Honestly, Harold gave the best argument for it. It would cost 8% but replace what costs 17% now.
There are hidden costs of having so many people not covered now who would automatically be covered too.
⇧ The oil-price slump: crisis symptom or fuel for growth? | Bruegel
Nice, short overview by Georg Zachmann:
Here’s a snippet:
The amount of oil necessary to produce one dollar of GDP has decreased globally thanks to renewables and more efficient energy use. In addition, more GDP is now generated in the service sector, which is less energy intensive.
Energy intensity has fallen globally by 1.4% each year on average since 2000. In addition all countries agreed to move away from fossil fuels, including oil, over the course of the century at the Paris climate summit. So expect a further decoupling of oil consumption and growth. Again, reduced demand for oil causes downward pressure on prices.
⇧ Stagnant Homeownership Rate Likely Means Decades of Strong Demand for Apartments
The homeownership rate and how low it will remain going forward is one of the biggest questions hanging over the apartment market. As the rate continues to drop, more households move into rental housing, keeping apartment rent growth high and vacancy rates low. Experts disagree on whether the homeownership rate will continue to fall as it has since the housing boom, or stabilize and even modestly recover. Any of these potential outcomes, however, should still be enough to produce strong demand for rental apartment units not just in the next few years, but through the next decade and beyond.
From 2010 to 2030, new households will choose rental housing over homeownership by a wide margin, according to the Urban Institute, a policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. “From 2010 to 2030, we’ll see five new renters for every three new homeowners,” according to Laurie Goodman, Rolf Pendall and Jun Zhu, writing for the Urban Institute.
Over those two decades, the number of rental households will increase by 13 million, or 650,000 households a year, split between rental single-family homes and apartments. The number of homeowner households will grow by just 9 million. That would be a huge change compared to the last 20 years, when the number of rental households increased by just 8.8 million, while the number of homeowner households increased by nearly twice that: 16.1 million.
The Urban Institute bases this projection on its assumption that the economy will grow modestly in the coming years and the homeownership rate will keep falling, reaching 62.7 percent in 2020 and 61.3 percent in 2030. If the homeownership recovers instead, steadily rising instead of falling, all bets will be off.
⇧ Caputalism: Will Capitalism Die?
Even if Robert Gordon’s thesis about a declining dynamics in innovation is not entirely right it might well be the case that today’s innovations no longer serve the prosperous nature of capitalism as a whole but have rather ambivalent effects. Above all, one of their effects is that jobs are destroyed without new ones replacing them. The new digital technologies mainly serve the purpose of reducing costs and winning new markets at the cost of older firms. Here the current period is distinct from earlier phases of innovation: whereas, in earlier times, ‘creative destruction’ in the process of innovation got rid of old and often poor jobs (as in agriculture) but huge amounts of new and often better ones arose (as in the car industry), so now innovations bring higher joblessness for one part and, worse, more precarious jobs for the other part of the labour force. The cumulative income of the man on the street thereby comes under increasing pressure and heads irredeemably downwards.
Now, obviously, it’s not at all certain that capitalism will, therefore, die. History is full of crash theories that never came to pass. But, at the same time, we shouldn’t be that confident about its survivability. Given these symptoms that are all indicators of the system’s chronic collapse, a collapse that cannot simply be staved off through “cleverer” economic policies, we would do well to ask how tomorrow’s society will be shaped if the prophets of gloom turn out to be right. Or, in the words of Galbraith: “How to cope with a situation in which the problems are substantially greater than we’ve ever experienced in the past 80 years. We’ll have to pay far greater attention to the needs of the most vulnerable in our society.”
… I had a conversation with Ioannis Margaris, the CEO of the Greek state energy producer, a technician and economic theorist who is investing a lot of his own energy in transforming Greek electricity production into peer-to-peer production. Before he joined the energy firm’s senior executive team Margaris was a researcher at the Technical University where, with the Syriza economist Elena Papadoulou, he wrote an important briefing on the “transformation of production.” The idea behind it was: How can one slowly change the economy so that more and more decentralized, self-managed firms, co-operatives and initiatives play a gradually more important role — so that, in the end, a mixed economy emerges composed of private companies, state enterprises and co-operatives and alternative economic bodies.
You’ve only go to look around the world with open eyes and, straight away, you can see at every turn that there are all kinds of initiatives, NGOs, companies and coops that are altogether building a kind of network, the nucleus of a new type of socialism. A socialism or a form of sharing economy, of communal economy, founded on the initiative of small groups and wholly decentralized — a socialism that has nothing in common with the bureaucratic beast of earlier state-run economies nor with those we know from communism and not with state capitalist societies as they existed close to home 30 years ago. And, of course, these are so far just small islands, around a new hundred initiatives, but their weight and value cannot be estimated highly enough — we could barely survive this crisis without them. “I believe,” writes the British economic author Paul Mason in his book Postcapitalism about projects like these, that they offer “an escape route — but only if these micro-level projects are nurtured, promoted and protected by a fundamental change in what governments do.”
Well, it doesn’t need to be, nor should it be, “wholly decentralized.” It should be a mixture of bottom-up and top-across-and-down, which means that the central part would be for the sake of sharing best practices and for centralizing data and transactions in cyberspace.
⇧ Sydney Apartment Rents Follow Prices Lower on Overbuilding – Bloomberg Business
Sydney apartment rents have dropped for the first time in 3 1/2 years as a construction boom leads to an oversupply, according to a report by online real estate listing firm Domain.
The article doesn’t eliminate other possible factors, such as increased vacancies due to the global slowdown.
⇧ Global risks: many of them are already here | World Economic Forum
… there is little political will to tackle the five risks that are already being experienced by working people and the prognosis for the coming year is an alarming escalation.
… may create an uninsurable world ….
⇧ Swanepoel Names the Most Powerful People in Real Estate | Realtor Magazine
Who has the most power and influence to impact the residential real estate market? The Swanepoel Power 200 list identifies the biggest influencers in the country.
Richard Smith, chairman and CEO of real estate giant Realogy Holdings Corp., tops the list for the third consecutive year.
⇧ Why are we looking on helplessly as markets crash all over the world? | Will Hutton | Opinion | The Guardian
The world that Will envisions is never going to happen. It can’t work. His ideology is mixing the unmixable. In the end, there is no such thing as democratic-capitalism. The only thing he can do is buy some time. The final system though will be where the people own all production capacity equally and run it democratically with each person having an equal vote. This will not remind anyone of Stalinism or anything like it.
⇧ Charleston Volunteers Building Tiny House for the Homeless
Charleston volunteers are now building a tiny house for the homeless, and are hoping that if this first prototype is successful, the initiative will then be launched on a larger scale.
For one, I wonder about utilities. It’s good though.
⇧ 2 dead, several injured after severe weather in Florida – Business Insider
Severe weather sparked a pair of tornadoes that ripped through central Florida before dawn Sunday, officials said. A couple was killed and their son and four grandchildren were injured when one of the twisters destroyed their mobile home.
⇧ Richest 62 people own same as half world’s population – Oxfam | Reuters
The wealthiest 62 people now own as much as half the world’s population, some 3.5 billion people, as the super-rich have grown richer and the poor poorer, an international charity said on Monday.
The wealth of the richest 62 people has risen by 44 percent since 2010, while the wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion fell 41 percent ….
“We cannot continue to allow hundreds of millions of people to go hungry while resources that could be used to help them are sucked up by those at the top,” Byanima added.
As I’ve explained often and elsewhere, we don’t have to wait to tax the superrich before we raise the bottom.
⇧ RPT-Rate rise calls evaporate as markets plunge, murmurs of Fed reversal | Reuters
… U.S. interest rate futures markets show barely two rate hikes priced in for this year, while the 10-year Treasury yield has slumped below 2 percent. It was 2.30 percent when the Fed raised rates last month.
Well, I don’t think they’ll raise at the next meeting (if they are being at all realistic), but I don’t see them cutting back in the next two either. Things would have to turn negative extremely quickly and dramatically for them to cut within two meetings.
⇧ Why all of your millennial employees are quitting – Business Insider
Young workers’ latest gripe? Insufficient opportunities to develop their leadership skills.
⇧ Getting Money out of China
… China banks seem to be doing whatever they can to avoid paying anyone in dollars. We are hearing the following:
I’m not surprised at all.