Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Sheriff: Two Dead, One Wounded In Marin City Shooting – CBS San Francisco
Authorities said they got several calls around 10 a.m. reporting a fight going on in a green space between two 5-story apartment complexes.
ICAO is due to finalize a market-based mechanism for all airlines later this year. Environmental groups say that measure will result in much deeper emission cuts.
Let’s hope so.
⇧ Crews close to stopping leak, but now’s the ‘demanding’ part
Once the bottom of SS-25 is located, the relief well will drill into it and pump in cement to stop the flow of gas, the company has said.
“We believe we are close to being able to attempt to stop the leak using the relief well, company spokesperson Chris Gilbride said in an email. “However, there are still several significant steps ahead, including pumping fluids into the well to control the gas, then pumping cement to seal the leaking well. Once the leak is sealed, we will work with(the Department of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources), and they will conduct tests to confirm that the leak is stopped.” .
It’s not a panacea, though, and it may not come quickly.
⇧ San Francisco home prices climb to unsustainable levels, Fitch Ratings says – San Francisco Business Times
Housing prices in the San Francisco Bay Area, already at a record high, are reaching the bubble stage, Fitch Ratings said in a report out Monday.
“The last time the Bay Area experienced this kind of home price growth was during the dot-com era from 1997-2000,” Fitch Managing Director Grant Bailey said. Current home prices are roughly 16 percent overvalued relative to economic fundamentals, he said in his report.
“Rapid home price growth in parts of California, Florida and Texas appears to be exceeding supporting fundamentals,” the rating agency said. “Fitch estimates home prices in most major metropolitan areas in those states are currently overpriced.”
The rating agency said with the latest increases D-FW homes have become even more overvalued than when the rating firm first raised concerns in late 2014. Back then, Fitch said D-FW homes were 5 to 10 percent overheated.
The highest overvalued markets in Fitch’s report are the San Francisco area and Riverside, Calif. (15 to 20 percent overvalued). The Phoenix market is also overvalued by as much as 20 percent, according to the ratings firm.
⇧ Manhattan real estate: What’s next – AEI
… many wealthy buyers were attracted by Manhattan real estate because they did not have to reveal their identities. According to The New York Times, over half of Manhattan properties priced over $5 million were sold to limited liability corporations, thus offering anonymity to the individuals actually buying the properties.
On the downside, Mayor de Blasio and the U.S. Treasury Department dealt a blow to the real estate market for the super-wealthy by implementing new rules to end real estate buyer anonymity. High-end condos have started to take longer to sell, and may indicate that supply may be beginning to exceed demand — at least in this segment of the market.
The reaction of Manhattan real estate investors is most difficult to predict. Based on historical precedent, highly visible news events could trigger the worst fears and put an end to investor excitement about entire categories of investments (be it the dot-com stocks or stocks and bonds issued in various emerging markets). Any possible future event, be it environmental or political in nature, could negatively influence the current sentiment that Manhattan is a safe and exciting place to live. It would deal a blow to buyer demand and to the trajectory of land prices.
Downside? The object is to stop money laundering by illegal-drug lords and others. That’s hardly a downside.
For one, it will make the area more affordable for the locals.
⇧ Miami housing market is overvalued, Fitch Ratings says – South Florida Business Journal
Fitch Ratings produces reports on price sustainability in major U.S. metros for investors in residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). Fitch Ratings associate analyst Marc Gilbert said it measures 389 data points in each market to determine whether housing prices reflect the economic and population trends. In addition to wage income, they look at capital gains, population growth, the supply of new houses, and many other areas.
⇧ Goldman Sachs sees near-zero risk of UK recession despite market tantrum – Telegraph
… economic expansions do not die of old age. Goldman Sachs argues that what matters is whether the “output gap” has been closed and whether economic slack has been used up, not how many years the cycle has been running.
⇧ Economic Research | Will the Economic Recovery Die of Old Age?
… the historical record since World War II does not support the view that the probability of recession increases with the length of the recovery. The earliest statistical investigation of the issue by Diebold and Rudebusch (1990) found that postwar expansions were not more likely to end as they endured. This Economic Letter updates that analysis. The results concur with Yellen’s view that, all else equal, longer expansions are no more likely to end than shorter ones.
… the mortality rates for postwar expansions don’t really depend on the length of the expansion. Indeed, a statistical test cannot reject the hypothesis that the dark line really is flat and that the probability of a recession in any month is independent of the age of the recovery. Accordingly, based only on age, an 80-month-old expansion has effectively the same chance of ending as a 40-month-old expansion. Therefore, the current recovery is no more likely to end simply because it’s approaching its seventh birthday.
In contrast, the same statistical technique yields very different results when applied to prewar expansions from 1854 to 1938. As shown by the red line in Figure 3, mortality rates for expansions before World War II increased with the length of the expansion. This positive duration dependence means that prewar expansions were more likely to end as they grew older. The evidence that duration dependence disappeared from the prewar to postwar periods has been supported by further work in Diebold and Rudebusch (1999) and the more recent studies listed in Castro (2013).
Several postwar changes in the economy contributed to more robust and longer-lived expansions. One such change is the increased share of services instead of tangible goods in the economy’s output; this would tend to diminish the importance of inventory fluctuations and moderate the business cycle. Even more importantly, the postwar shift to less fragile recoveries reflects the new influence of a large federal government actively focused on stabilizing the economy. For example, a new postwar full-employment mandate, the Employment Act of 1946, applied broadly to the federal government, including to the Federal Reserve and in the conduct of monetary policy (Judd and Rudebusch 1999). The postwar change in macroeconomic management away from a laissez-faire hands-off attitude toward a forceful countercyclical policy helped prolong business expansions and alter the pattern of business cycle age dependence. Furthermore, the federal commitment to macroeconomic stabilization also included attempts to curtail recessions. This is consistent with additional evidence in Diebold and Rudebusch (1990) that postwar economic recessions show more duration dependence than prewar ones. In other words, as postwar recessions age, they become more likely to end as policymakers take action to revive growth.
⇧ Of Morality Plays and Technocratic Assessments | Econbrowser
In other words, the vote in favor of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 was a bigger error (one shared by many) — I think almost all informed observers would now agree — than Glass-Steagall repeal.
Oh, absolutely. I always thought so. However, it’s the mindset against Glass-Steagall that was and remains the problem. It’s still with us. In addition, reinstating Glass-Steagall would only be good.
⇧ Sanders Is Late to the Wall Street Revolution – Bloomberg View
… Sanders’ concrete proposals give the impression that he hasn’t carefully evaluated the policy landscape.
Some of the things Sanders is suggesting have largely been done. For example, he recently declared that in its first 100 days, his administration would “create a list of too-big-to-fail banks and insurance companies.” Such a list already exists.
Just because there is a list doesn’t mean it fulfills Sanders’ needs. It would be advisable to ask him first before assuming he’s ignorant that there’s a SIFIs list.
Sanders is talking about re-implementing the Glass-Steagall Act — a Depression-era rule that separated investment banking from commercial banking ….
The problem is, there is no indication that Sanders really understands what Glass-Steagall does. All aspects of banking involve risk-taking. Investment banks underwrite and sell securities for corporations, which entails the risk that these companies will not be able to repay their obligations. Commercial banks take deposits and make loans, thereby incurring the risk that the loans will not pay off. Separating these two activities will do very little, if anything, to make banks less risky.
In particular, Glass-Steagall would have done almost nothing to prevent the 2008 financial crisis. The costly mistakes made by the big banks that led to their insolvency weren’t in the area of investment banking. Banks got into trouble by buying toxic mortgage-backed securities and using too much leverage, not by underwriting failing companies.
First of all, commercial banks that received bailouts had purchased shares in purely investment banks. That’s what repealing Glass-Steagall allowed. Secondly, what would make anyone think that Bernie Sanders wasn’t, and isn’t, opposed to the securitization of mortgages by commercial banks? In addition, a commercial bank buying such securities is engaged in investing rather than purely traditional commercial banking: fractional-reserve-lending against depositor-account balances.
Other financial reform proposals of Bernie’s seem either bizarre or inadvisable. For example, Sanders has declared that he wants to fund free college tuition with a tax on financial transactions. However, Italy’s experience shows that while this sort of tax — called a Tobin tax, after the economist James Tobin — is effective at reducing trading volumes, it isn’t very good at raising money. In that country, taxing financial transactions yielded only a fifth of the expected revenue, and this number will probably drop even more in the long term.
The Tobin tax raising less than expected in Italy is irrelevant. The tax could have been higher, and Italy’s equity market isn’t “Wall Street.” What Bernie hasn’t discussed is fiscally financing college tuitions via debt-free-currency issuances.
A final example is Sanders’ proposal to audit the Federal Reserve. Sanders has been working with Senator Rand Paul on this initiative. But as former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has explained, the Fed is already audited. What Sanders and Paul and his father before him, former Congressman Ron Paul, want to do is to give Congress close oversight of the daily operation of monetary policy, compromising the Fed’s independence. That would dramatically decrease the central bank’s ability to respond to crises and recessions like the one the U.S. recently experienced.
That statement assumes that Sanders agrees with monetarism. I don’t agree with it. I would imagine that if pressed on it, Bernie would say he isn’t really in favor of the Federal Reserve System either. I could be wrong about that though.
If Sanders really wants to improve the financial system, there are almost certainly better ways to do it. One solution that economists across the political spectr um have been converging on is the idea of higher capital requirements for banks. This would prevent banks from borrowing large amounts of money relative to the value of their businesses. Not only would higher capital requirements make the banks better able to absorb losses, but the financial system would be safer because lower leverage equals lower risk.
For example, higher capital requirements for globally important financial institutions have been in place in the U.S. since 2014. These requirements, and higher capital requirements in general, are slowly reducing leverage in the financial sector. Along with closer regulatory supervision of SIFIs and the restrictions created by the Volcker rule, capital requirements are slowly chipping away at the big-bank model that defined Wall Street before the crisis.
We can do both: reinstate Glass-Steagall updated to meet current requirements while also requiring a higher reserve-ratio.
⇧ Why Economists Don’t Know How to Think About Growth – Evonomics
EJ: In your latest book, The Systems View of Life, you emphasize the need to shift from the concept of “quantitative growth,” as economists use it, to that of “qualitative growth” that you say is more akin to evaluating the health of ecological systems. How do ecologists measure this qualitative growth and how would it be translated to economics?
On these pages you can find a non-technical introduction to basic information and graphical examples on a number of indicators, including the traditional GDP, social and environmental indicators, as well as more comprehensive indicators.
All indicators have been grouped into themes. Since most of the indicators depict progress in more than of the themes, they will be listed in multiple places.
Four persons have been arrested on charges they set building fires and staged vandalism, personal injury accidents and car wrecks in order to collect claims from insurance companies.
State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk said the string of allegedly fraudulent incidents had been taking place for at least 15 years, and the four suspects had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance claims ….
Scientists suspect recent earthquakes in Kansas are being caused by injections of wastewater by oil fracking companies.
It’s way beyond “suspect.” They know fracking is causing the quakes. Everybody knows it.
⇧ Earthquakes May Be the ‘800-Pound Gorilla’ in Oklahoma Legislature
The power and frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma have been increasing, but the Legislature has done little to try to curb the temblors that scientists have linked to the underground disposal of oil and gas drilling wastewater.
⇧ Capital Requirements: Another Odd Attempt to Declare Victory on Dodd-Frank | naked capitalism
… it’s important to make clear that a decent leverage ratio is not enough to declare victory in financial reform. If you prevented banks from lending entirely they’d have a leverage ratio of 100%. What we want is a system where productive lending activities are privileged and de facto gambling is wiped out. We want a resilient system where market discipline can allow institutions that make bad decisions to fail, without risking a cascade of other failures. Capital can make all this easier but cannot be seen as a substitute for system design.
And that’s especially true if the capital and leverage standards come in too low, which is currently the case, even if they are working in a modest fashion today.
No, if you prevented banks from lending entirely they’d have no leverage ratio. If you required banks to use only full-reserve lending, they’d have a leverage ratio of 1:1. For every dollar of deposit, they could create a dollar of credit rather than the current $9 (in the US). In effect, they’d be lending out the deposits. They’d have to be time deposits rather than demand deposits though, or you’d run right back into liquidity problems.
Anyway, the 10% ratio wasn’t bad from a risk perspective. It was the securitizations, bad rating jobs, and mixture of commercial banking with investment banking (40:1 leverage and worse) that caused the problems.
That said, the economy still shouldn’t be run by commercial banking as we know it. We need a radical reformation of the entire economic system.
The idea that oil wealth can be a curse is an old one — and it should need no explaining. Every few decades, energy prices rise to the heavens, kicking off a scramble for new sources of oil. Then supply eventually outpaces demand, and prices suddenly crash to Earth. The harder and more abrupt the fall, the greater the social and geopolitical impact.
⇧ 0104 Baltimore John Hopkins Gut Rehab Day 1Affordable Real Estate Investing: A Property Investment Guide to Create Real Estate Income From Properties Under 30k | Affordable Real Estate Investing: A Property Investment Guide to Create Real Estate Income From Properties Under 30k
Interesting project to watch to see how it all turns out:
I purchased this home in September 2011 for 11k. …
So, 4 years later, This new 50 million dollar charter school has been open for a year, rents are now consistently $1250-$1400 (about $500-$700 higher per month for renovated properties), and was crime still low on this block. …
I raised about 55k two weeks ago, and I got a general contractor for the renovation. …
… This is projected to cost a total of 59k and 8 weeks.
⇧ The EU’s banking union: a recipe for disaster | openDemocracy
What a way to run an economic/financial system:
… the banking union, in its current form at least, to simply be the latest step in the EU’s post-crisis creditor-led path of austerity and asymmetric adjustment; one that could potentially put the final nail in the Economic Monetary Union’s (EMU) coffin.
Viewed through the lens of the unresolved inter-capitalist struggle between core-based and periphery-based capital, as argued most notably by Emiliano Brancaccio, we can posit that this will almost certainly lead to an increased ‘centralisation’ of capital. This will be characterised by a gradual concentration of capital in Germany and the other core countries of the monetary union, through mergers, acquisitions and liquidations, and to the relative ‘mezzogiornification’ — otherwise known as ‘southification’ or ‘Chinesification’ — of the weaker countries of the union. In this sense, the banking union is likely to exacerbate, rather than reduce, the core-periphery imbalances.
⇧ If we want to solve the housing crisis, we must answer these three questions | Paul Mason | Opinion | The Guardian
Maybe we need to start with principles: that everyone has a right to a home; that every person has a right to a minimum amount of space in that home; and that those who claim the right to own houses nobody lives in should pay a hefty, disincentivising penalty.
Yes, that’s an infringement of the market — but housing in Britain has never been a free market: it is being created and re-created through regulation and deregulation — on benefits, on affordability, on building standards, on right to buy. The point is to shape the market towards smart outcomes.
⇧ Tax Deduction for Rental Homes | Rental Homes Tax Deductions
Although being a landlord certainly has its cons, tops among its pros are the tax deductions rental homeowners enjoy.
⇧ Developers of toppled Taiwan building detained – The Washington Post [cached]
The district prosecutor’s office in the city of Tainan said Wednesday that Lin Ming-hui and architects Chang Kui-an and Cheng Chin-kui were suspected of having overseen shoddy construction of the 17-story Weiguan Golden Dragon building, which crashed onto its side during the earthquake Saturday.
And just imagine, there are people who think construction codes are nothing but governmental interference with “free market” enterprise.
⇧ Windows 10 Worst Secret Spins Out Of Control – Forbes
These are risk-management issues: 1) telemetry that even quite expert people haven’t been able to block and 2) a nearly complete lack of transparency.
For the record, I’m still running Windows 7 with all Windows 10 updates blocked and for the reasons cited in the article.
Green deals mostly with home rentals, and he’s telling his clients to move a property quickly, they’ve got to drop their prices.
“This house that we’re in right now, it rented for $5,000 about 18 months ago,” Green said. “It’s being advertised for lease for $3,800 a month right now.”
⇧ Atlanta’s Blighted Properties Are Costing City Millions — Next City
… Immergluck suggests Atlanta demolish abandoned homes, but with a mindful approach to the vacant lots they become. As other cities have discovered, just removing blighted houses will not increase property values or neighborhood safety. Poorly maintained vacant lots present challenges of their own, often becoming sites for illegal dumping.
Instead, Atlanta might consider Detroit’s approach, and allow homeowners to inexpensively purchase the lot next door.
⇧ Case Study: Why $30k Real Estate CAN Be Profitable [With Pictures & Numbers!]
The seller’s asking price for the property was $25,000, and I immediately knew that I was looking to start much lower. … I base my offers on the amount of renovations we would have to put into the property, which was approximately $15,000 to $18,000. …
The seller explained to me that he was firm on his asking price, although understanding his situation, I knew there would be room for negotiation. I determined that the most I would pay for the property was $18,000, so I decided to offer him $12,000 on the spot while we were together. The seller didn’t counter my offer at the time and instead explained he’d call me if he thought we could work something out.
… His motivation to sell and detachment to the property showed in full force when he called me a couple of days later to inform me that he would accept my offer of $12,000.
⇧ The Market Isn’t Buying That Deutsche Bank Is ‘Rock Solid’ – Forbes
There are already rumors that Deutsche Bank will need a bail-in, which is no doubt why stock and subordinated debt prices have collapsed and CDS prices have soared. Bail-out is an alternative, given Deutsche Bank’s systemic importance, though it would probably break EU state aid rules. But if the alternative were meltdown in the financial system due to the threat of bail-in for other systemically-important banks, those rules would no doubt quickly be ditched. Deutsche Bank is by no means the only European bank on a knife edge, and the Bank of Portugal’s recent decision to use the BRRD to justify wiping some senior creditors in a solvent bank has fatally undermined the BRRD. The threat of invoking BRRD now would be likely to spark wholesale bank runs all over Europe.
⇧ China’s Exchange-Rate Trap by Barry Eichengreen – Project Syndicate
By process of elimination, the only option that remains is tightening capital controls. Strict controls can prevent residents and foreigners from selling renminbi for foreign currency on onshore markets and transferring the proceeds abroad.
Protected by this financial Great Wall, the authorities could let the exchange rate fluctuate more freely and allow it to depreciate gradually without provoking capital flight. They would gain the time needed to implement confidence-building reforms. They could curtail the provision of liquidity to loss-making enterprises, forcing firms to eliminate excess capacity. They could restructure problematic debts. They could recapitalize banks that suffered inadvertent balance-sheets damage as a result of these reforms. They could repair their damaged credibility.
A few observers, like Bank of Japan head Haruhiko Kuroda, have suggested that China might consider tightening controls.
But, … they don’t know what they’re doing.
⇧ Why the Working Class Is Choosing Trump and Sanders | The Fiscal Times
Too many people have been misled into believing that their problems are the result of a non-existent “moocher class.” Those at the top, those who have benefitted the most from our economic system, have pushed this myth in a successful attempt to reduce their tax burden. They are the job creators they tell us, and cutting their taxes instead of using the revenue to fund “abused” social insurance programs will somehow cause income to trickle down and help the working class.
We tried that, and it didn’t work ….
… the very rich have gotten richer and the political system has become even more unresponsive to their needs.
The health of an economy is not fully reflected in the unemployment rate, the inflation rate, or even GDP per capita. It also depends upon the economic security people feel and the perception that the economic and political systems treat them fairly. The rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is a clear sign that people are frustrated with the opportunities and rewards this economy offers them, and they are tired of a political system captured by wealthy special interests.
The two sets of voters — those for Sanders and those for Trump — see different causes and different solutions to the struggles they face, but the goal in both cases is the same. They want an economy that works for them and a political system that responds to their needs.
… the winds of change are blowing away from establishment politicians and the wealthy donors who support them, and as far as I’m concerned any change that helps the working class feel more secure and confident about the future — change that is based upon reality rather than the myths that have been sold to the public in support of wealthy interests — can’t come fast enough.
Amen to that!
⇧ Europe’s ‘doom-loop’ returns as credit markets seize up – Telegraph
“The root cause of this debacle is the way the eurozone is designed. We don’t have a mutualisation of the risks. That is why this is escalating,” said Mr Guglielmi.
And Germans are their own worst enemy (so far).
⇧ No smoke alarms in more than half of fatal Miss. fires | Fire Chief
“Fortunately, the landlord of this house had been proactive … and had had the home hard-wired with interconnected smoke alarms. It was a very smart thing to do,” said City of Starkville Fire Marshal Mark McCurdy.
It also likely lowered the insurance premium, but what price can one put on even just one life?
Giant earthmoving machines beep and grind as they drop 17-ton scoops of coal ash and dirt into dozens of railroad cars lined up for two-thirds of a mile at a site along the Virginia-North Carolina border, where the country’s largest electricity company was responsible for one of the worst spills of the toxic, liquefied waste in U.S. history.
“Industry will complain that it’s going to cost millions and millions more dollars to comply with a particular regulation than you actually see once the regulation is in place and the wheels start turning and there’s competition and innovation,” Evans said.
George Magnus isn’t as optimistic as he used to be, though he’s still trying.
… it is not clear whether central banks know what they are nurturing here, or whether what they are doing reflects the absence of judicious government fiscal policies.
They know what they’re trying to do, and what they are doing definitely “reflects the absence of judicious government fiscal policies.”
⇧ LES Development | Essex Crossing | One Manhattan Square
The Lower East Side, a neighborhood long associated with counterculture, after-hours bars and rusty tenements, is getting a glossy makeover. “The most surprising aspect of the Lower East Side’s transformation is simply how fast it’s changing,” said Joshua Caspi, the owner of Caspi Development. The change has been ushered in by high demand for new housing stock, both affordable and market-rate, as well as major developments like the $1.1 billion mixed-use Essex Crossing project and Extell’s One Manhattan Square, a luxury condo plan that has a projected sell-out of $2.1 billion and is being exclusively marketed to overseas Asian buyers. It helps that the neighborhood is attractive to millenials eyeing art galleries, hip restaurants, nightlife and other cultural amenities. “It’s probably the most ‘affordable’ cool neighborhood in the city,” said Deborah Gutoff, a senior director at Eastern Consolidated. “Brooklyn has gotten so expensive that the Lower East Side looks good by comparison, and it is that much closer to the city’s employment centers.” Rents in the neighborhood managed to stay low for years as those in nearby neighborhoods like Soho and Nolita skyrocketed. But that’s changing fast as demand far exceeds supply. …
Managing Director Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group
How do you see the demographic changing over the next 10 years?
The diversity of residents living on the Lower East Side is one of its greatest assets and has been for generations. Our Essex Crossing project seeks to preserve this unique mix of communities, and the key way we’re doing this is by building affordable housing. Essex Crossing will contain more than 1,000 residential units, half of which will be affordable for low-, moderate- and middle-income families and seniors. This development, coupled with the significant housing stock that is already owner-occupied (including new condo development as well as co-op buildings), will ensure that the Lower East Side neighborhood continues to be composed of a diverse mix of communities.
Even in countries where weak, vacillating and demoralised centre-left governments are in still office — notably in France and Italy — there are growing pressures for a break with EU austerity orthodoxy. This is now starting to be reflected within the political debate in the German SPD where the so-called economic export ‘miracle’ is seriously threatened by flagging economic growth in China and other emerging economies.
⇧ Tax chief promises legal action to crack down on multinational tax avoidance | Australia news | The Guardian
Someone is upset and rightly so.
In his statement to the estimates committee, Jordan said 26 companies had been warned over “operate here and bill overseas” business models, and the tax office has now approved letters to another 60 companies to issue more such warnings.
“There will be more put on notice in the coming months, as we work our way through the pool of taxpayers who have an ‘operate here and bill overseas’ business model,” he said.
“My message to companies operating in Australia is clear — you must pay your fair share of tax on the profits you earn here. There is no getting around it, there are no exceptions to be made, and there is no weakness in our resolve to administer the tax system.”
“Where these companies do not voluntarily comply with the new law, we will be commencing immediate reviews and audits — these are non-negotiable. We will not be rolling over and giving further extensions of time. We are ruling the line under these protracted negotiations and proceeding immediately to raise assessments and create liabilities on these cases — potentially taking them all the way to court if necessary,” he said.
Dastyari — who has presided over a separate Senate inquiry into tax avoidance by multinationals — said Jordan’s comments showed the Tax Office was “getting the message” about how angry people were about the issue.