Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Chicago area sees greatest population loss of any major U.S. city, region in 2015 – Chicago Tribune
The Chicago area lost an estimated 6,263 residents in 2015 — the greatest loss of any metropolitan area in the country. That puts the region’s population at 9.5 million.
⇧ Cantwell urges more federal resources for affordable housing – Washington Times
The Washington state Democrat said a 50 percent increase in the federal low-income housing tax credit is needed to address the critical shortage of affordable housing across the country.
… Since it was created 30 years ago, the program has helped build nearly 3 million housing units nationwide.
RealtyTrac is out with a report … saying that home prices are rising faster than wages in nearly 2/3 of the nations housing markets so far this year. That is the bad news….
The not so bad news is they go on to say that home prices in 9% of the US housing market are now less affordable than there historic norms. That compares to 99% at the peak in 2006. They also add that prices are still far more affordable than during the peak in 2006. As a guide, the average homeowner needs to spend 1/3 of their income on their mortgage payment now. That compared to the average homeowner needed to spend more than 50% in 2006 ….
⇧ The Mess at Nest Echoes the Mess in the Smart Home – Fortune
Fadell, whose vision of the smart home was all about how intuitive such automation should be, doesn’t seem to have accepted the fact that any kind of intuitive home would require open standards or sharing data among participants.
For those trying to build a real smart home, the story underscores how far the industry has to go if it ever wants to achieve the dream it has been peddling to investors and consumers.
Cooperate or fail. Landlords need to be careful about the technology they build into their properties.
⇧ Welcome to Shenzhen, home to the planet’s fastest rising house prices | Business | The Guardian
A new survey puts two Chinese cities — Shenzhen and Shanghai — in the top five fastest-growing property markets despite the Chinese stock market tumbling in 2015.
A very high percentage of Chinese (85% or so) never invested in the stock market. They have limited places to park their money. That’s why real estate is still booming (on paper) in some areas. It’s a bubble that China will be very hard pressed to keep from popping before the housing stock is absorb by people actually living in it as opposed to it just deteriorating sitting vacant.
⇧ Real estate agent jailed, accused of taking money but not closing deals | MLivecom
FENTON, MI — A Grand Blanc real estate agent faces felony charges in two cases after police say he accepted payments for properties but used the money for his own living expenses rather than closing the sales.
⇧ Dayton housing market ranked healthiest in nation | www.daytondailynewscom
The Dayton metro area housing market was ranked by Nationwide as the healthiest and most sustainable in the country over the next year.
⇧ Officials: Mississippi Flood Damage Most Widespread Since Hurricane Katrina
Mississippi officials say the damage from floods this month is the most widespread the state has had since Hurricane Katrina.
With the EU countries under austerity regimes and the US operating with a relatively non-expansionary Federal budget, Canada now embarks upon a program of deficit financing to counter its problems of slow growth. It will be of interest to many other nations to see if this strategy is what is needed to pull out of the current weak economic environment.
It certainly won’t hurt.
⇧ Global Warming’s Terrifying New Chemistry | The Nation
Between 2002 and 2014, the data showed that US methane emissions increased by more than 30 percent, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of an enormous spike in methane in the entire planet’s atmosphere.
The EPA insisted this wasn’t happening, that methane was on the decline just like CO2. But it turns out, as some scientists have been insisting for years, the EPA was wrong. Really wrong. …
… in early March, the United States reached an agreement with Canada to begin the arduous task of stanching some of the leaks from all that new gas infrastructure. But none of this gets to the core problem, which is the rapid spread of fracking. Carbon dioxide is driving the great warming of the planet, but CO2 isn’t doing it alone. It’s time to take methane seriously.
⇧ What Reagan Didn’t Do – The New York Times
… if you start from the depths of the recession, yes, there was growth that benefited everyone. But that had nothing to do with Reaganomics, which promised long-term growth.
If, instead, you look from business cycle peak to business cycle peak, you see this:
⇧ How Record-Breaking Home Values Impact Potential Home Buyers | Zillow Porchlight
The record-breaking home values have some experts worried about a new housing bubble, particularly in hot markets like San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and Los Angeles. San Francisco and San Jose have been appreciating at a double-digit pace for several months, and Denver has been appreciating at this pace since the end of 2013. Many view this as an unsustainable pace of appreciation.
Supply is the issue, not speculation, of which there is thankfully very little right now.
⇧ China corporate-bond bubble to pop – Business Insider
It is painfully obvious that the Chinese leadership still doesn’t know what it’s doing.
⇧ China ‘detained 20 over Xi resignation letter’ – BBC News
This is one of our Most Favored Trading Nations? Unfortunately, it is. Why in the world did we “open China”? Obviously, the answer is money. It certainly isn’t liberty or democracy.
Let’s hope that we are opening Cuba for democracy rather than to allow huge multinational corporations to rape it and bankers to drive it into debt peonage.
In most countries, the contents of the letter would be run-of-the-mill political polemic.
⇧ Mass extinctions and climate change: why the speed of rising greenhouse gases matters
We now know that greenhouse gases are rising faster than at any time since the demise of dinosaurs, and possibly even earlier. According to research published in Nature Geoscience this week, carbon dioxide (CO2) is being added to the atmosphere at least ten times faster than during a major warming event about 50 million years ago.
Coral reefs, our canary in the coal mine, suggest that the present rate of climate change is too fast for many species to adapt: the next widespread extinction event might have already started.
To find an analogue for present-day climate change, we therefore have to look further back, to a time when ice sheets were small or did not exist at all. Several abrupt warming events occurred between 56 million and 52 million years ago. These events were characterised by a rapid increase in temperature and ocean acidification.
The most prominent of these events was the Palaeocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). This event resulted in one of the largest known extinctions of life forms in the deep ocean. Atmospheric temperatures increased by 5-8C within a few thousand years.
Although climate archives become less certain the further we look back, the authors found that the carbon release must have been below 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon per year. That is about one-tenth of the rate of today’s carbon emissions from human activities such as burning fossil fuels.
Some examples of feedbacks include the melting of permafrost, the release of methane hydrates from ocean sediments, changes in the ocean carbon cycle, and changes in peatlands and wetlands. All of these processes have the potential to quickly add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
⇧ ‘Helicopter Money’ Won’t Provide Much Extra Lift – Bloomberg View
To understand helicopter money, consider two ways that the government can raise $100 billion to fund new spending (or a tax cut).
- The Treasury can sell $100 billion in bonds to investors.
- The Treasury can issue $100 billion in bonds to the Fed, which pays for them by creating new money.
The second form of financing looks like it should be cheaper and potentially more stimulative. After all, the government has raised $100 billion without increasing its debt burden, because payments on the bonds will simply go from one government pocket (the Treasury) to another (the Fed, which remits its profits to the Treasury).
That’s true up to a point. The Fed retains overhead which is around 5% if memory serves. Plus the bonds do carry interest, so the government must generate the revenue from somewhere. It doesn’t just create more money to pay the interest. It taxes.
So, if the government were not to go through the Fed but rather issue the money directly, which it has the legal right to do under the US Constitution, then the Fed wouldn’t take a cut and neither would the people be additionally taxed to cover interest (regardless of how much of it ends up back in the US Treasury).
In other words, it would be vastly less complicated and would cut out the middlemen (or persons). We’d not have the Fed tinkering with commercial-bank interest rates and such. We’d simply have the government issuing all the money directly and then “taxing” it as needs might be to control inflation.
I’ve advocated for one bank: The US Treasury, which would raise and lower account amounts uniformly as a “taxing”/funding mechanism. Billy Mitchell has also floated this idea. I don’t know who thought of it first. I certainly didn’t get it from him.
The whole thing would be driven not by politics but equations and more direct, decentralized democracy where ideas would flow up and across and down to other locales.
Would it be democratic socialism? It would be democratic to the extent the people voted for it. It would be socialism in that the people via their government would own the money-system through-and-through. Capitalism wouldn’t be precluded in other aspects of the economy simply by these moves except by further democratic decisions taken by the whole people.
I think capitalism, per se, would be (and will be) phased out; however, phasing it out isn’t for me to dictate, obviously, but rather the entire people to decide, each having an equal voice and decision-making power via one vote each over such matters. The obstacle to a free, open, democratic, global society is the power of consolidated-and-undemocratically-controlled money.
⇧ Homes Damaged by Severe Storms in Northwest Arkansas
Three homes were damaged and another was destroyed in northwest Arkansas when severe weather swept through the area.
⇧ Grady County Residents Sentenced For Burning Houses For Insurance | USAO-MDGA | Department of Justice
Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, G.F. Peterman, III, … announced the sentencing on March 24, 2016 of two individuals in an insurance fraud scheme. The sentences were handed by Senior District Court Judge W. Louis Sands in federal court in Albany, Georgia.
Elbert Walker, Jr. a/k/a “Shula”, aged 67, of Cairo, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 121 months in Federal prison for conspiracy to commit arson and mail, wire, bank and bankruptcy fraud and false declarations to a court as well as several firearms offenses and Shirley Burk, aged 48, of Cairo, Georgia, was sentenced to 60 months for conspiracy to commit arson, mail fraud and false declarations to a court.
The two defendants, along with Darryl Burk, were convicted in November 2015 of the charges following a three and a half week jury trial.
⇧ Move Over, Homeowners—Renters Could Get Tax Breaks, Too – Real Estate News and Advice – realtor com
It’s a great idea, but:
… the likelihood of the bill being signed into law is slim, says Linda Couch, senior vice president for policy at the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Proposed laws tend not to get passed the first time they are introduced and this one was proposed by a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Congress, she says.
⇧ There’s No Sign of a China Rebound Yet – Bloomberg Business
This sure runs contrary to all the rah-rah I’m hearing about real-estate values skyrocketing. This rings truer to me:
A purchasing manager’s index focused on small businesses, a gauge of corporate confidence and a new reading of the economy derived from satellite imagery all remained at levels signaling deterioration, though the pace of declines moderated. Sales manager sentiment was unchanged.
⇧ The two big failures of George Osborne’s budget
David Spencer, Professor of Economics and Political Economy, University of Leeds:
Osborne has set himself the target of achieving a budget surplus by 2019-20. This target, in truth, has no basis whatsoever in economic theory. It is a fiction invented by the chancellor that, along with connected rhetoric of “living within our means”, is part of a naked attempt to reduce the size of the state. It constitutes an attack on the principles of collective interest and mutual support that have underpinned the welfare state in the UK from 1945 onwards.
… and as David Spencer rightly points out, will only make things worse.
⇧ Why Michael Hudson is the World’s Best Economist
Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury [in the Reagan administration] and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.
He gives a rightly deserved, glowing assessment of economist Michael Hudson.
Even left-wing and Marxist economists think of exploitation in terms of wages and are unaware that the main instrument of exploitation is the financial system’s extraction of value into interest payments.
I must admit that I have learned more political economy by reading and listening to Michael Hudson than from any other source save one.
Paul Craig Roberts was a supply-sider (and may still be). I read him extensively in the lead up to the crash of the Great Recession, which he completely predicted but is hardly ever mentioned for having done so.
Paul Craig Roberts appears to me to be a blending of libertarianism and progressivism, which is no easy feat in today’s world. He knows full well that Michael Hudson is a strong progressive.
I think Roberts is right that Hudson is currently the best. There are a number of very fine economists right up there though who agree with Michael Hudson.
We could easily solve the world’s economic problems were it not for governmental capture by sociopathic plutocrats.
By the way, the problem of interest discussed in Paul’s article on Michael is exactly why I disagree with Narayana Kocherlakota above about helicopter money and the Fed.
The whole Federal Reserve System is conducive to exactly what Michael Hudson describes as being so malignant.
⇧ Maricopa County draws most new residents from elsewhere in U.S.
Maricopa [Metro Phoenix] … gained the most residents in the nation from other U.S. locations, 148,000. That easily outpaced the 81,000 for Harris County, Texas, which was second in the nation.
⇧ Amazon’s Alexa controls Nest thermostats
… Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa can control Nest thermostats.
Do you put Nest in rentals?
⇧ Required Minimum Distributions and real estate are a tricky combination – MarketWatch
Tricky is right.