Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Provoking Nuclear War by Media
I’m including this because war is the worst and nuclear war would be the worst of that worst. There is no larger risk-management issue in the world right now. I’m also including it because John Pilger is banned from the mainstream media.
When I was a young man, I watched John’s documentaries delivered on mainstream TV at the time. He was nothing short of amazing. When I grew older and the World Wide Web came along, I was able to search him out and find him again.
If you take all your news from the mainstream or from social circles that simply regurgitate it, you are highly misinformed and need to stop relying solely on the MSM but rather start searching out alternative media.
Don’t buy everything you read, hear, or see on alternative media either. Both the alternative and mainstream are used by false propagandists.
⇧ Tornadoes leave paths of destruction through Kokomo, Howard County | Indianakokomo | kokomotribune.com
Nobody died. That’s the good news.
… the damage likely displaced between 300 to 700 people from their residences.
⇧ Here are the easiest cities to get a mortgage
“The trend toward easing of credit standards appears to be tapering off, as the vast majority of lenders, around 90 percent, reported plans to keep their credit standards about the same,” said Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan.
While lending standards nationwide may remain steady this year, there’s a wide range from one metro area to another, according to an analysis of mortgage data by the Urban Institute.
Borrowers in Detroit, for example, can qualify for a home mortgage with an average FICO credit score of 728. That’s still well above the lending requirements during the housing boom, but it’s lower than the 770 score for the average borrower in San Francisco.
⇧ Multifamily Still 1st for Development | Bull Realty, Inc. | #CRE Blog
Apartment construction was “the only property sector with robust new completions during this recovery.” Q2 beat the Q1 2016 record for new completions with 49,132 units completed in the quarter. For the remainder of 2016, another 150,000 units are projected to come online, which would make for a 2016 total of approximately 240,000 units, “a level not observed since the late 1980s.”
⇧ Comradely capitalism | The Economist
Taxpayers were on the hook when the privatizers went belly up. So, this article tries to say that the privatizers are under draconian rules now that would probably prevent a repeat crash and that the GSE’s are not under such rules and will probably face a massive downturn during the next 25 years and should, therefore, be privatized.
What’s really going on with this article though? Privatizers want to make more money and don’t care whether the GSE’s are better or not.
Are looser lending standards at the GSE’s a good idea? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean there will be another Great Recession real-estate collapse.
⇧ The real casualty of Brexit: reputations of economists who predicted doom – MarketWatch
Okay, as my readers know, I read many economists.
In the lead-up to Brexit, I didn’t read one economist predicting immediate gloom and doom or even gloom and doom over the long run, just less growth over the long run than otherwise. I did read some saying a possible recession but not a deep one but mild and that might take a while to show up.
Anyway, I’m not defending Remain economists. I think the lack of democracy in the EU is worse than some slower growth.
Fix the Union and rejoin.
⇧ Runaway bosses fleeing debts a symptom of China’s economic slowdown
Wanted posters for fugitive debtors, not commercials, are the main images that flash up on a big electronic screen in downtown Yixing, in the heart of the faltering Chinese industrial powerhouse that is the Yangtze River Delta.
⇧ Real World Shows Economics Has a Deflation Problem – Bloomberg View
… the economic evidence in Spain makes you wonder whether concern about deflation — and the unprecedented global scramble to avoid that price phenomenon — will turn out to have been much ado about not much.
My view is that it’s the length of the Great Recession that’s caused Spaniards to assume that prices aren’t going to dramatically fall and that they, the Spanish, must buy things. They can’t simply wait forever.
I don’t see deflation as not still being the problem it was. It’s just that swings haven’t been wild or recent.
⇧ French support for the EU project is crumbling on the Left and Right
The party leadership was warned repeatedly and emphatically that contractionary policies would inevitably lead to another million jobless but the economic was swept aside.
“They never budged from their Catechism and their false certitudes,” he said.
The Socialists have paid a high price for this blind arrogance. …
There is no realistic possibility of genuine fiscal reflation in the eurozone, let alone a Keynesian New Deal. Mr Montebourg is right in concluding that France will remain paralyzed until it takes back its sovereign instruments.
Marine Le Pen is ahead of him [Sarkozy] in the polls, drawing steady support near 30pc with a heady brew of Leftwing economics and Rightwing nationalism – straight out of the 1930s. She promised to “end the nightmare of the European Union” and this too tells as much about the populist calculus.
When the EU was being formed, I was totally opposed to the lack of US-style integration. I didn’t think it would work, and it hasn’t. I was for union but not the kind they formed. It’s a shame what they did. They thought technocracy was the wave of the future rather than democracy.
⇧ The Unassuming Economist | Global and Local Housing Markets: The View From Experts at the Dallas FED
Exuberant or explosive price behavior may occur when house prices are not based on housing market fundamentals, so these exuberance measures provide useful information for the detection of emerging misalignments and are powerful tools for monitoring housing. Detecting such periods is important due to the fact that, historically, rapid price increases have been followed by large corrections, which have severe consequences for the real economy—the most notable example being the boom-bust episode of the 2000s.
The exuberance statistics based on real house prices do show areas of emerging risk, meaning that several countries show multiple quarters where the indicator is above conventional critical values for detecting explosive behavior—among them most notably Switzerland and Canada. However, we would caution not to over-interpret those signs of risk. We still don’t see any major signs of a boom in the price-to-income ratios where we control for changes in the affordability of housing—so as not to treat house price movements in isolation.
Interestingly, at the MSA level, we find that differences across regional housing markets in Texas result in varying patterns of exuberant behavior across the 25 MSAs in the state. Ripple effects from oil boom-bust periods, especially during the 1980s, and from national and global forces—like the widespread decline in long-term interest rates since the 1990s—underpin the experiences of most MSAs. However, regional and local factors also appear to play a role in the likelihood that a period of exuberance will occur. We also report that by our metric, neither Texas nor any of its 25 MSAs are currently experiencing a risk of explosive behavior in house prices.
… We interpret the oil shocks as exogenous shifts in the disposable income of households and analyze its effects on Texas, exploiting the cros s-sectional variation of its housing and land markets across MSAs. We also control explicitly for the effect of long-term interest rates in our model. Although our results are preliminary at this stage, we identify statistically significant short-run and long-run relationships between real house prices, real land prices and real oil prices that differ across more oil-income-dependent and less oil-income-dependent regions of the state. Stay tuned for more results coming soon….
⇧ Washington Governor Declares Emergency in 20 Counties in Wake of Wildfires
… a state of emergency for 20 Eastern Washington counties in response to multiple wildfires that threaten homes and natural resources.
⇧ West Virginia Begins Demolition of Flood-Ravaged Homes, Plans Town Recoveries
… West Virginia Army National Guard over the weekend began tearing down homes ruined by floods in June.
⇧ Rhode Island Fire Marshal Offers $5K Reward for Information on July Arson Fires
… $5,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of whoever was responsible for two arson fires ….
⇧ Many New Orleans Residents to See Lower Flood Insurance Rates
… more than 53 percent of New Orleans properties were removed from Special Flood Hazard Areas ….
⇧ Landlord pleads guilty to setting fire in Rochester rental
… an Alford plea agreement, a proceeding that allows a defendant to plead guilty without admitting the underlying allegations.
What a strange thing that is. Personally, it doesn’t make sense.
⇧ The Housing Market Is Finally Starting to Look Healthy – The New York Times
The question now is how far this housing expansion has to run, given the pent-up demand. Residential investment is currently 3.8 percent of G.D.P., compared with a 4.6 percent average since 1947. That implies there is further room for gains, even assuming that there is no repeat of the bubble experience from the last decade.
It’s not bad news, of course; but I’m not sure there is that much pent-up demand.
Land prices, commodities, skilled labor, and a slowing demand for higher-end properties are just some of the issues. Personal debt is still hanging over many young people. They also remember the crash and don’t want to be caught up in another bubble economy.
Therefore, I’ll need to see more of a pattern before jumping on the bandwagon. Even then, I’ll only stay on as long as a bubble doesn’t form.
⇧ Top 10 H-1B employers are all IT offshore outsourcing firms, costing U.S. workers tens of thousands of jobs | Economic Policy Institute
1. Employers hire H-1B workers and use them to directly replace American workers. In many cases the H-1B worker literally takes over the American’s work and sits at his desk. Employers prefer to hire H-1B workers because H-1B workers are much cheaper and compliant because of their visa status. ….
2. The H-1B worker acts as a liaison to the offshore team. Language and cultural commonalities help with the transfer of work to the offshore team, and the maintenance of that coordination.
3. The H-1B visa enables the foreign worker to come to the U.S. to learn the job. This is cheaper and easier than sending the U.S. worker to India to conduct the knowledge transfer.
4. Then the H-1B workers return to their country of origin, taking the knowledge and jobs and tasks with them.
The upshot is that the government substantially lowers the costs of offshoring through the H-1B program. In essence, the government is heavily subsidizing offshoring through its lack H-1B policies.
It makes perfect sense that company executives would send jobs offshore, since it can increase their profits. But it makes no sense for the government to facilitate this offshoring. …
Shutting off the H-1B offshoring fire hose should be a no-brainer for everyone: President Obama, both presidential candidates, and all members of Congress. The purpose of the H-1B program has been completely subverted. The good news is that we know how to fix the H-1B visa, and there’s already a vehicle to do it. Senators Grassley and Durbin have introduced legislation in the Senate that would fix the program: S.2266, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2015. And Representatives Pascrell and Rohrbacher have introduced companion legislation in the House: H.R.5657, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2016.
⇧ Eco-friendly Ways to Make Your Asphalt Repaving Green | Sustainable Cities Collective
If you are considering changing the asphalt pavement at your home, neighborhood, or are in the process of laying new pavement then you should definitely be looking at eco-friendly and green options.
⇧ This is how the second wave of Chinese real estate buyers are making more money | HousingWire
Some savvy investors are even exploring SFRs in tertiary metros like Cleveland; Columbia, South Carolina; Birmingham, Alabama, Pittsburgh; and Milwaukee, where yields ranged between 8% and 11% annually as of mid-year 2016. Comparatively, yields for SFRs in New York City, San Francisco and Seattle, ranged between 2% and 3% during that same time period.
That’s the standard pattern of a real-estate cycle. People buy core real estate until it’s bid up too high. They then continually move out from the core until the whole country is either in a bubble or areas just can’t even support that. Hopefully, this time will be different due to information on the Internet.
⇧ Brexit: apocalypse, no | Lex – YouTube
The FT’s economics reporter Emily Cadman and Lex writer Giles Wilkes take the temperature of the post-Brexit referendum economy.
Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.
⇧ Louisiana Flood 2016
Some regions received as much as 15-30″ over a two-day period. For example, in Livingston Parish, the town of Watson received 31.39″ of rainfall. …
In the U.S., residential flood insurance is typically offered to homeowners only through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA estimates that 42% of homes in high-risk areas of Louisiana have flood insurance, but that in low- and moderate-risk zones only 12.5% or so of homes do. Across Baton Rouge as a whole, no more than 15% of all homes have flood insurance, and in the other hard-hit location, Lafayette, the rate is 14%. In some areas, penetration is much lower.
⇧ ‘X’ Marks the Spot Where Inequality Took Root: Dig Here | Economic Opportunity Institute
In the mid-70’s, we traded in our post-World War II social contract for a new one, where “greed is good.” In the new moral narrative I can succeed at your expense. I will take a bigger piece of a smaller pie. Our new heroes are billionaires, hedge fund managers, and CEO’s.
In this narrative, they deserve more wealth so they can create more jobs, even as they lay off workers, close factories and invest new capital in low-wage countries. Their values and their interests come first in education, retirement security, and certainly in labor law.
We express these same distorted moral, social and political priorities in our trade policies. As bad as these priorities are for our domestic policies, they are worse if they define the way we manage globalization.
The key to the treasure buried in Figure 1 is power relationships. To understand what happened, ask, “Who has the power to take 93% of all new wealth and how did they get that power? The new moral and social values give legitimacy to policies that favor those at the top of our economy.
We give more bargaining power and influence to the wealthy, who already have plenty of both ….
⇧ Chinese Takeovers Trigger Global Backlash Ahead of G-20 Summit – Bloomberg
The overt gist of this is that China must open up or be shut out. The covert gist is that China needs to be shut out until it capitulates and not just opens up. What I mean is that Western plutocrats seek to rein in China’s government (the Chinese Communist Party) under the new world order.
⇧ FRB: Speech–Yellen, The Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy Toolkit: Past, Present, and Future–August 26, 2016
First, they don’t fully know what they’re doing.
Second, they are interested in protecting the banking industry (interest/usury) rather than enhancing democracy and the whole economy regardless of the bankers.
… current expectations for a low future federal funds rate reflect the FOMC’s success in stabilizing inflation at around 2 percent–a rate much lower than rates that prevailed during the 1970s and 1980s. Another key factor is the marked decline over the past decade, both here and abroad, in the long-run neutral real rate of interest–that is, the inflation-adjusted short-term interest rate consistent with keeping output at its potential on average over time.16 Several developments could have contributed to this apparent decline, including slower growth in the working-age populations of many countries, smaller productivity gains in the advanced economies, a decreased propensity to spend in the wake of the financial crises around the world since the late 1990s, and perhaps a paucity of attractive capital projects worldwide.17 Although these factors may help explain why bond yields have fallen to such low levels here and abroad, our understanding of the forces driving long-run trends in interest rates is nevertheless limited, and thus all predictions in this area are highly uncertain.
On the monetary policy side, future policymakers might choose to consider some additional tools that have been employed by other central banks, though adding them to our toolkit would require a very careful weighing of costs and benefits and, in some cases, could require legislation. For example, future policymakers may wish to explore the possibility of purchasing a broader range of assets. Beyond that, some observers have suggested raising the FOMC’s 2 percent inflation objective or implementing policy through alternative monetary policy frameworks, such as price-level or nominal GDP targeting. I should stress, however, that the FO MC is not actively considering these additional tools and policy frameworks, although they are important subjects for research.
Beyond monetary policy, fiscal policy has traditionally played an important role in dealing with severe economic downturns. A wide range of possible fiscal policy tools and approaches could enhance the cyclical stability of the economy.25 For example, steps could be taken to increase the effectiveness of the automatic stabilizers, and some economists have proposed that greater fiscal support could be usefully provided to state and local governments during recessions. As always, it would be important to ensure that any fiscal policy changes did not compromise long-run fiscal sustainability.
Finally, and most ambitiously, as a society we should explore ways to raise productivity growth. Stronger productivity growth would tend to raise the average level of interest rates and therefore would provide the Federal Reserve with greater scope to ease monetary policy in the event of a recession. But more importantly, stronger productivity growth would enhance Americans’ living standards. Though outside the narrow field of monetary policy, many possibilities in this arena are worth considering, including improving our educational system and investing more in worker training; promoting capital investment and research spending, both private and public; and looking for ways to reduce regulatory burdens while protecting important economic, financial, and social goals.
Although fiscal policies and structural reforms can play an important role in strengthening the U.S. economy, my primary message today is that I expect monetary policy will continue to play a vital part in promoting a stable and healthy economy. New policy tools, which helped the Federal Reserve respond to the financial crisis and Great Recession, are likely to remain useful in dealing with future downturns. Additional tools may be needed and will be the subject of research and debate. But even if averag e interest rates remain lower than in the past, I believe that monetary policy will, under most conditions, be able to respond effectively.
⇧ Douglas Elmendorf on progressive policy and economics | Harvard Magazine
If helicopter money doesn’t come up in a discussion such as this, I know it has been intentionally ignored.
⇧ ‘It’s a catastrophe’: low-income workers get priced out of California beach city | US news | The Guardian
… the top five occupations in the area are low-wage jobs in retail, food service and cleaning, paying between $9.06 and $11.30 an hour, according to 2015 research. As a result, 63% of renters live in unaffordable housing, meaning their rent is more than 30% of their income.
Simon, the nonprofit director, argued that if the area had 2,500 new units, median rent would drop 20% across the board. “We could absolutely significantly alter the dynamics by building supply.”
Why haven’t the tech companies gotten into the business of providing housing to the service and other essential workers that the communities they are in require? They take care of their direct employees but look the other way when it comes to others. It’s not good business and will come back to haunt them.
As my readers know, I’m far from a libertarian-capitalist on economic issues; but their foreign policy is vastly superior to that of the neocons and so-called liberal interventionists.
How do we know that the US was behind the 2014 coup? For one, we have the intercepted telephone call between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. In the recording, the two US officials are plotting to remove the elected government and discussing which US puppet they will put in place.
Victoria Nuland is as neocon/interventionist as it gets.
⇧ Italy’s Tragic Failure on Earthquake Preparedness – The New York Times
… the cost of strengthening the country’s historic structures at about 93 billion euros ($105 billion). Besides the money issue, the country’s corruption, illegal construction and a cumbersome bureaucracy all work to prevent obvious steps from being taken, like reinforcing existing buildings and ensuring that new buildings meet earthquake standards.
What is earthquake preparedness? This article says, “Besides the money issue….” Is there a “besides the money issue”? Aren’t all the things mentioned as being “besides the money issue” actually money issues?
Corruption is due to money not being democratically controlled. Illegal construction and a cumbersome bureaucracy are also.
So, the money issue is the lax of real democracy.
⇧ ‘How could our country lie so completely?’: meet the North Korean defectors | Global | The Guardian
There’s no telling where the truth leaves off and the falsehoods begin. There’s no doubt that North Korea is a strange nation-state. In the West, we read pretty much only about how horrible it all is. It certainly isn’t open. Of course, the leader of North Korea would say that it’s not open because the West is corrupting. So, we’re left to buy the Western propaganda (which can be true and false) or to guess as to how things really are. Can we judge from this article? What’s missing?
Well, this article paints all things Western as rosy. Where’s the poverty, the inequality, the racism, and, yes, the decadence? We have the Western story of a young girl held as a sex slave for years who says pornography made her life a bigger living hell than it would have been otherwise. Is pornography addiction liberating? No.
North Korea is closed, but the West’s propaganda is all one-sided.
If we were to truly clean our own house, perhaps opening North Korea would be a piece of cake. We should start with gross income and wealth inequality.
We don’t live in an economic meritocracy. We live in a plutocracy. Democracy would solve that. Let’s make the West safe for democracy by first becoming democracies.
⇧ Mugabe: The Dictator?
I’ve always had mixed emotions about Mugabe. However, he never caved in. I’ll give him that.
Britain deployed troops to fight against the African people, and the U.S. formally recognized and backed the Rhodesian apartheid regime. International media and Western politicians generally referred to the uprisings of impoverished African people as “terrorism” and supported the white settler government in the name of opposing “communism.”
Mugabe emerged as the charismatic leader of the armed uprising. With Mugabe as their commander and representative, guerrilla fighters carved out what the white settlers called “no-go areas,” liberated territories which were controlled by the African revolutionaries and served as bases for the uprising. ZANU-PF described itself as a socialist party. Interviewed during the war, Mugabe said:
“It is absolutely wrong to allow a set of individuals to acquire control and ownership of those resources that are God-given. They are not man-made, the land, the water, the forest, the animals, the fish in the river, the minerals. These are given to us by nature, and it is in principle wrong for any one man to claim ownership of such resources that should belong to the people as a whole.”
… The process of transitioning farms from the large plantations owned by white settlers, to small individual plots owned by African families, was difficult on its own. But it was also compounded by the fact that Africans who had never owned their own farms did not have easy, immediate access to many types of modern agricultural technology previously employed by white farmers. The U.S. made the economic situation far worse by imposing economic sanctions on Zimbabwe starting in 2001, heavily restricting its ability to export agricultural goods. The sanctions also limited Zimbabwe’s access to key agricultural imports needed to make ferti lizer.
… Mugabe announced that the country’s diamond mines will be nationalized.
Western media and the CIA have learned to manipulate humanity’s basic feelings of compassion and solidarity for the purpose of conducting “regime change.” Media campaigns routinely highlight atrocities — both real and invented — and build up public opinion for “humanitarian intervention.”
This is the case in Zimbabwe, where Western media selectively report on corruption, violence and suffering in line with biases for regime change held by Washington and its Western allies.
It also happened in Libya, where NATO bombing and a coordinated campaign to topple the government of Moammar Gadhafi were carried out with the stated objective of saving the lives of innocent people. However, the result has been widespread chaos and poverty in what was once Africa’s most prosperous country. The previously stable country stands divided today, as rival factions battle for power, while militant groups like Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group known in the West as ISIS or ISIL) have set up shop.
Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria have all suffered the effects of U.S.-backed regime change waged in the name of human rights. The populations that were championed as oppressed victims in the Western media broadcasts that built the case for intervention, are far worse off than before.
American media’s talk about human rights is selective. Governments that reject economic domination by American-based banks and corporations, and those which compete with them on the global market, become targets of demonization. Meanwhile, atrocities perpetrated by repressive regimes that cooperate with the U.S. are generally overlooked, or, as in the case of Saudi Arabia, supported.
A movement like the one unfolding in Zimbabwe right now — a movement championed in Western media and led by someone who has since fled to the U.S. — is unlikely to improve the situation of Zimbabwe’s people. U.S. efforts to cripple Zimbabwe’s c urrent leader and party by funding the opposition isn’t evidence of U.S. concern for human rights; it’s evidence that Mugabe and the ZANU-PF aren’t adhering to the rules of U.S. hegemony and Western dominance.
While Zimbabwe certainly faces social and economic challenges, the Pentagon will not solve them. Western destabilization and intervention will make matters worse. Only the African people — people who have defeated an oppressive regime and rolled back the horrors of white minority rule — only they can lead the country forward.
Mugabe is not a dictator, but he did make some fundamental errors when land was redistributed. I don’t believe white racists should have been rewarded, but there was more room for using the farming knowledge and experience of many of the whites. That said, I still sided with the black people taking over and implementing democracy. It was the right thing to happen. They were mistreated as, at best, chattel and definitely subhuman.
The reason he is still being demonized is because he is insufficiently compliant with the global plutocracy being orchestrated out of Washington. Thou shalt not be for the People (commoners) over the corporate owners (self-styled aristocracy). That’s the problem.
⇧ Why No One Trusts China’s Markets – Bloomberg View
Transparency? Ha! The Communist Chinese Party becoming transparent? Oh, you mean transparency only in financial matters of profit-seeking enterprises, not government. Well, I don’t think the two can really be separated. That’s why I don’t hold out any hope for any governments run “transparently” when it comes to for-profit finance but anti-transparently when it comes to running the government or state. The secret state will always make the “transparency” suspect if not a joke.
⇧ Twenty-One of The Best Real Estate Books for Your Investing Business
⇧ Brexit and other harbingers of a return to the dangers of the 1930s | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal
The lasting solution is to use fiscal policy to compensate the losers through aggressive efforts to upskill displaced workers and build them affordable homes to rent in places where the new jobs are. This costs money, the neoliberals exclaim, but the cost of not doing so is many times greater.
⇧ Out-of-state contractors converge on Baton Rouge, but don’t get taken for a ride | Louisiana Flood 2016 | theadvocate.com
The licensing board recommends getting at least three bids for a repair job. The contractor should show proof of general liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
After you choose a contractor, make sure that you have a written contract that details the estimated start and completion dates for the work, a description of what will be done and the agreed to cost of the work.
Homeowners are encouraged to never provide a down payment that’s more than 10 percent of the cost of the work. You should never pay for work that hasn’t been completed.