Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ A.G. Schneiderman Files Suit To Stop Illegal Rollback Of Net Neutrality | New York State Attorney General
Fast lanes for the rich along with rich telecoms being able to censor, or slow, competition from the middle- and lower-economic classes would be a disaster for our overall economy as well as the vast majority of individuals, households, and firms.
AG Schneiderman Leads Coalition of 22 Attorneys General in Filing Petition for Review, Formally Commencing Lawsuit
The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers — allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online. This would be a disaster for New York consumers and businesses ….
⇧ Why economics is too important to be left to the (academic) economists — RT Op-Edge
Good old Steve …
⇧ The Problems with State Workarounds to the Federal SALT Deduction Limitations
I agree (if we’re not going to be able to rebalance the mixed economy sufficiently, which we won’t untill the laissez-faire crowd is replaced):
… the most logical response by state governments is to shore up education and other public investments by increasing state taxes on high-income households and corporations that received massive tax breaks.
⇧ $1 Trillion in Bonds Have Left the Negative-Yield Zone This Year – Bloomberg
Buying bonds with negative yields made sense when investors anticipated deflation and the potential to make capital gains as QE drove rates lower. But with the world economy set to enjoy its strongest year since 2011, factories struggling to keep up with demand, and inflation expectations steadily rising, central banks have the room to withdraw support and normalize rates.
And when we get a recession instead, all of this will be forgotten?
⇧ How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Will Affect Homeowners | Money
Here’s a decent, short, re-update on the tax changes.
⇧ 9 Ways the New Tax Law Affects Millennials
This one is helpful too but does not simply apply to Millennials. Read it.
⇧ 2017 Takes Second Place for Hottest Year – YouTube
What global warming? This global warming:
Earth’s surface temperatures in 2017 were the second warmest since since 1880, when global estimates first became feasible, NASA scientists found.
And that was without El Nino.
Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.
⇧ How Tenants Use Digital Mapping to Track Bad Landlords and Gentrification
How do those of us who are part of the housing industry see to it that nobody is left behind (left without a decent place to live, left living in squalor) while we still make decent livings providing housing to all?
There’s way to much us-versus-them in the industry. There’s way too much “how do I make more and more money regardless of those who end up left out in the cold.”
⇧ In bizarre reversal under Trump, consumer agency reveals moves to protect payday lenders – LA Times
How will these actions help your struggling tenants pay their rent? They won’t.
Frankly, what Mulvaney has been doing is, in my view, illegal. It’s as if a state’s Commissioner of the Department of Insurance could come in and simply stop enforcing the statutes and start making up the whole point of the Commissioner’s office, even turning its duty on its head.
⇧ 2017 Tax Act’s Effect on the Residential Rental Property Owner – Rentalutions | Rentalutions
⇧ Calculated Risk: Update: Predicting the Next Recession
I sure was impressed by Bill calling the bottom in 2009. He was probably not more than a week off.
Since then, I think he has been a bit rosy and still is but not by much.
It will take a while for the negative aspects of Trump’s tax cuts to filter throughout the economy. Many people who only get the headlines will be wondering why their tax refund this year isn’t bigger or why they still have to pay about the same. In 2018, they’ll mostly be glad for the lower estimated payments and lower withholding, etc. However, we know that the positives are planned to diminish. Plus, the trickle-down won’t work. That’s due to the rich having a much lower propensity to spend.
The savvy poor will only spend on necessities and will either pay down debt or save.
Then there will be the impact of automation taking more and more and more jobs away.
Of course, I know legislation won’t remain stagnant the whole time.
The big question is whether the Republicans will hold both houses and if not, and if the Democrats take both, will Trump change course and become an economic progressive, as his policies won’t have worked and the Democrats will want to roll them back and reverse a number of them.
So, is a recession inevitable? If so, how deep will it be? I believe it is highly likely that we have one in the next two years or three at the outside. I also think it won’t be deep or long and won’t crush the real estate industry the way the Great Recession did, and that’s because we aren’t in a bubble and won’t be.
⇧ Demand Driving the Multifamily Market
Specifically, since mortgage interest deductions are now capped at $750,000, the standard deduction for joint filers has been doubled and the property tax deduction is going to be capped at $10,000, some say that the tax incentives of buying a home aren’t there anymore.
They have been lessened.
⇧ There’s a $27 Trillion Pot of Money to Tap for Affordable Housing — Next City
I found this interesting. It got me to thinking about smaller projects wherever they are needed. Why couldn’t this same approach be used to build or rehab 1-4 unit properties even in suburbs, exurbs, or towns?
So, the budding landlord investor asks where’s the money in it? Well, the people running solid nonprofits earn a decent salary while doing good works.
It could be done to scale. It could be a syndication of a number of retirement funds, none of which need to be gigantic.
A new nonprofit could partner with a larger established one with experience to get a pilot project going for small-scale properties but en masse the way single-family properties were bought up en masse by institutional investors to fix, rent out, hold, and securitize.
⇧ Good-bye, GDP. Hello, six-part balance sheet? | World Economic Forum
This is an interesting paper, but I don’t see any problem now in using total quality of life as the unified-field law (not theory) of economics. What I’m suggesting is that measuring everything is the only solution, as the variables are infinite. This further means that there is no such thing as an externality: that all negatives are part of the unified outcome.
This position is not macro only but micro-macro at the same time. By that, I mean that there is the whole and then there are all the parts, as in there is humanity and then there are the individual members of that collective whole. The unified application would take the parts as an aggregate, but the reduction in aggregate wellbeing would certainly indicate individuals being worse off.
Naturally, part of the definition of this sort of quality of life measurement would preclude the acceptance of inequalities for the sake of benefiting some individuals over others. It would mean reprioritizing our collective approach to each other and to humanity as a whole. Cooperative-democracy and transparency would supplant selfishness/private capital-accumulation.
Human advancement would greatly accelerate without the negatives.
⇧ A Few Words on China’s Holdings of U.S. Bonds | Council on Foreign Relations
I’ve had a tendancy to mentally conflate $3.5 trillion with China’s holding of US Treasuries. I’m glad Brad published this. I need to burn it into my head. I know it’s a bit like trivial pursuit, but nevertheless.
⇧ How Economics Survived the Economic Crisis by Robert Skidelsky – Project Syndicate
Without acknowledgement of uncertainty, saltwater economics is bound to collapse into its freshwater counterpart. New Keynesian “tweaking” will create limited political space for intervention, but not nearly enough to do a proper job. So Krugman’s argument, while provocative, is certainly not conclusive. Macroeconomics still needs to come up with a big new idea.
No, it needs to stop ignoring the big idea (solution) already right there. It needs to stop pretending that one must have a doctorate in mainstream macroeconomics to supply that big idea. It needs to stop being a room full of snobs bought off/owned by the commercial banking/usury establishment. It needs to stop pretending it isn’t.
⇧ The Best Home Inspection Guide
As a savvy investor knowing that speed is often required, one can make an offer contingent upon the outcome of an inspection. There are many variations on that theme, so check those out, as one-size does not fit every situation (seller, location, etc.).
Something not mentioned is to watch out for what will or won’t pass insurance requirements and what will or won’t reduce insurance premiums.
Lastly, it’s not always a good idea to have the seller do the work but rather to buy the property and have the work done. That is especially true where the fix is more than cosmetic and the fix can’t be seen without ruining the finish, etc.
⇧ More States Turning To Toll Roads To Raise Cash For Infrastructure : NPR
I have always opposed tollways. Here’s why:
… likely means a heavier reliance on tolls.
“Which is unfortunate because they really are the worst funding mechanism available,” says Stephanie Kane, spokesperson for the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates. “No other road funding mechanisms come with half as long a list of drawbacks and disruptions for the communities where they’re located.”
Kane says when you turn a freeway into a tollway, drivers will go out of their way to avoid the tolls.
“So you have this awful traffic diversion. Cars end up on secondary roads that were not built to have that volume of traffic, the roads that are surrounding the toll get torn up more quickly, the local communities see a lot more congestion,” she says.
Kane also contends that tolls are a regressive double tax on top of fuel taxes and often disproportionately hurt lower income drivers.
And she says tollways are an inefficient way to collect revenue, as 8 to 11 cents of every dollar collected goes to administrative overhead, collecting the tolls and construction of electronic tolling apparatus on the roads.
Tollways are a privatizing scam. We used to have a system where tollways were rare and the roads were well kept. The only thing that changed was that society foolishly bought into the notion that governments can’t do as well as the private sector at handling the system, so funding was slashed (ultimately costing us all more, not less).
⇧ A beginner’s guide to how modern economies work
This is not the end-all, be-all of economics, but it is at least a good starting place to bring people along, to bring them back to what people knew even before the Great Depression but were forced to “unlearn” by selfish forces.
A nation’s currency is a public tool that should be used to serve the people.
That’s a fact.
⇧ Will workers get a pay rise in 2018? — Prime Economics
One should look at the US labor market and unemployment and low wages this way too.
Globalization was a scam to reduce the power of workers versus those who control capital, keeping those wage earners hungry and afraid enough to be willing to do what they are told and to not make waves.
It has not been good for the US or international economy. It has only been “good” for the shortsighted greedy, who actually would also be better off were they not in charge, in charge via taking rather than deserving.
⇧ Fed Pays Banks $30 Billion for 2017 | Wolf Street
The Fed has done this to mask the damage done by neoliberal (that’s libertarian) deregulation that caused the Great Recession.
It was a way to buy the illiquid and insolvent US banking industry time while the economy healed the hard way via utterly stupid austerity when fiscal stimulus (Keynesianism on steroids) would have ended the recession and caused complete recovery in months, not years.
Of course, that banking industry would have taken a hit instead of the People, and the Fed is there to first and foremost protect that banking industry. Its “dual mandate” only comes into play after the banks are bailed out from their own deliberately reckless gambling.
We the People are kept down, which is the plan.
⇧ Bond Bears Still Wrong After All These Years — 01-12-18 | RIA
Here’s a sharp, big-picture guy’s take. Lance Roberts:
… inflation ticked-up in December, unfortunately, it came from rising prices in all the WRONG places as shown below.
Read the whole thing at least to where he says, “Have a great weekend.”
⇧ Iceland supermarket vows to eliminate plastic on all own-branded products | Business | The Guardian
As it was technologically and practically possible to create less environmentally harmful alternatives, “there really is no excuse any more for excessive packaging that creates needless waste and damages our environment”, Walker added.
⇧ Hackers Have Walked Off With About 14% of Big Digital Currencies – Bloomberg
This makes FDIC look pretty good, doesn’t it.
⇧ Congress can easily avoid shutdowns. Here’s why it doesn’t. – SFGate
What’s wrong with this article?
It misses the point. Those who take hard ideological/issue stances using the debt ceiling may get reelected, but they trash the People’s overall opinion of the legislative branch. The legislators play to their most active base, but in the process, they burn themselves, the institution, and the process of good law-making.
Also notice that the solution offered in the article is not the real solution (the real solution being getting rid of governmental borrowing completely).
⇧ As Fannie and Freddie reform talk heats up, their regulator speaks up – MarketWatch
I couldn’t disagree more. Fannie and Freddie have been paying profits to the US government. They have not been a net drain even including the Great Recession. Neither was responsible for the crash. Both came to the securitization scheme late and were actually dragged into it. Both had private institutions submitting false documents to secure backing.
That said, I’m not saying Fannie and Freddie are the right way to go but simply saying that the proposal suggested via the article is also not the right path.
As far as I’m concerned, the “private entities backed up by federal guarantees” concept should be done away with completely. Somethings either private and capitalistic or public and socialistic.
If any entity is private and deemed “too big to fail” (too big to be allowed to fail, be liquidated, because that would be too harmful to the overall economy), then don’t let them get to be that size or nationalize them when they fail and don’t then turn around and sell them back into the private sector but treat that industry as a publicly owned utility.
⇧ Larry Summers’ Warnings and the Robots Taking Our Jobs | Beat the Press | Blogs | Publications | The Center for Economic and Policy Research
Are you familiar with Dean Baker? He covers labor economics better than anyone I’ve read. He’s a leftist but stops short. This article is a case in point. He nails it right until the end. Then he simply deliberately avoids the subject of the government issuing money without borrowing it first, without adding a dime to the deficit or national debt, without saddling the People with working to pay taxes that are collected and funneled to US-bond holders as interest payments. Why? It’s not because he doesn’t know that the government has the full legal/constitutional power to issue money without borrowing. So, what gives?
Democracy is under attack from within and has been for many decades, even centuries in the US and around the world.
Democracy, Buchanan explained, allowed the have-nots to prey on the rich and live off them. The parasites were led the usual conglomerate of traitors, benevolent corporations and politicians falling over themselves, ever promising more and more. In short, “politicians were wrecking American capitalism.” Democracy, therefore, had to give way. That is the conservative counterrevolution.
… A change in ‘work ethic’ took place in Sweden — people just got tired of working, the over-protective welfare state had made them too lazy, too sick or too stupid. Suspiciously, it happened at the precise same moment that the Swedish economy got into crisis because of financial mismanagement (see here). The contrary of what Lindbeck argues is true: ‘generosity’ in social welfare correlates positively and significantly with shorter periods of unemployment and with higher productivity. But this didn’t play a role. It never does. This was a war and truth itself had nothing to do with it.
Everyone who isn’t rich is not a parasite. The real question is whether the playing field is deliberately tilted to favor those who are more sociopathic, is tilted by those who are more sociopathic, is tilted by those who are the legacy of violent takers who swooped in on the commons and ruined everything because of their selfish greed and lack of proper emotions, lack of moral compasses, etc.
⇧ The 5 Primary Risks of BRRRR Investing and Flipping Houses
Watching the progress and problems investors face has told me that the rehab is the biggest stumbling block. It appears that knowing how to deal with contractors is the thing investors know the least about going in. Investors seem shocked by contractors and don’t know what to do: how to prevent most shocks from happening in the first place and what to have in place to deal with them if and when they do occur.
⇧ For years, disaster seemed to follow him. It was really an arson-for-profit scheme. – The Washington Post
… antitrust laws restrict how much information competing insurance companies can pool. When a company suspects a claim is fraudulent, it can ask the National Insurance Crime Bureau to look into the customer’s history. He said there is a private company that keeps an industry-wide claims database, but it is not comprehensive. And investigations can be expensive, making them not cost-effective.
This must, and will, change.
⇧ California Town Will Most Likely Consider Future Floods When it Rebuilds
Before build or buy:
“In places I stood, the debris flow was 15 feet over your head. It was not water. It was a slurry, with rocks that are over your head and trees. This is not a drainage system issue. This is a debris flow of the likes we have never seen.”
⇧ Washington Town Evacuates Due to Slow-Moving Landslide
Some residents have suggested using explosives to trigger the landslide, but Inslee said that is not an option.
“The state does not have enough confidence that that wouldn’t create a larger problem,” the governor said.
⇧ Trump Pulls His Punches in First Foray Into Long-Pledged Tariffs – Bloomberg
Many people take the approach that if it’s Trump, it must be bad. That’s childish. Yes, Trump is an anthropogenic-global-warming denier, which is ignorance on his part. However, allowing Xi, the highly anti-democratic, totalitarian dictator of mainland China to dump solar panels on the US below the Chinese cost to produce them only causes us (the US) to lose our knowledge, skills, and abilities to make our own under our mixed economy and then let Xi jack up the prices after he’s gained a complete monopoly on manufacturing the panels.
Being automatically anti-tariff is for political-economy illiterates and libertarians. It is not for knowledgeable, thinking Americans with good principles.
I’m all for Chinese laborers having a great life but not such that my fellow Americans end up having a worse one than the Chinese workers.
I’m certainly not for “letting the capitalistic markets” work it out. They never do and never will because they can’t. It is not in the nature of capitalism to do that. Milton Friedman was selling everyone a bill of goods.
⇧ Washington Renters’ Protections May Be On the Way | Seattle Weekly
In Washington, tenants who are late on their payment can only retain their apartment if they’re on an unexpired lease and pay the full rent and legal fees within five days of an eviction notice.
⇧ Maine Landlord’s Appeal in Fatal Fire Cites Vague Fire Codes
Regulate: damned if the government doesn’t, damned if it does?
Nisbet argues that the code does not put “an ordinary person” on notice that his actions aren’t legal.
Well, erring on the side of overly regulating saves lives. As the old saying goes, better safe than sorry. That said, there is a limit concerning transferring the onus to the government. A landlord must try very hard to be up to speed. I’m not saying one way or the other whether Nisbet’s contention is solid enough. I don’t know enough of the details to take one side or the other on it. I will watch the space, so to speak, and report if there is anything that pops up for me that’s newsworthy.
⇧ Behind the Money Curtain: A Left Take on Taxes, Spending and Modern Monetary Theory
My readers will recognize me in at least 98% of this article. Where I disagree concerns certain accounting errors in semantics. Taxes do not zero out the general revenue from tax collection. The money is recirculated. It’s not a simple as that, but the idea that every dollar collected in taxes is not recirculated but recreated via new borrowing is patently false. It’s not an operative condition, meaning the whole MMT notion does not rise or fall on that issue. In fact, that issue was, is, and remains a distraction.
The article is quite good though, and you will notice my contention within it that the UBI is a bad idea. I’ve been writing for quite a while now that the “Basic” in that UBI is exactly a libertarian scam designed to do exactly what Jim Kavanagh has written.
As for the extreme emphasis upon democracy versus the mixed economy we have now, I started arguing with MMTers many years ago in exactly the same way Jim has argued here only to be shunned, literally. I said the exact same things and was highly ridiculed for it.
Well, frankly, in the end, getting credit for things isn’t the end-all, be-all. It’s getting the thing done that matters. After all, the whole point of real democracy is a leveling and the creation of a society where those who can, serve those who can’t. That’s the measure that counts: no one left behind, absolutely no one.
⇧ Downtown L.A. Is Starting to Mirror Manhattan’s Glut of Apartments – Bloomberg
The steep cost of construction in California’s biggest cities, which often have little available land and lots of restrictions on high-density development, means most of the building going on is for apartments at the upper end of the market. That leaves few new units for the majority of renters.
Building more apartments that are too expensive for average earners to rent is not sound, economically speaking. If the private sector can’t swing the cost of land and materials, etc., then the government must subsidize the industry so affordable rentals can be provided. What other choice is there. What are we, China, where they’ve built nearly endless ghost cities while people still live in abject poverty?
⇧ The case for more housing assistance – Curbed
The nation’s affordable housing crisis has many causes: wages aren’t keeping up with inflation or housing costs, so a larger portion of each paycheck goes towards keeping a roof over one’s head. But another factor at play is the shrinking role of government housing assistance, a significant share of which goes to working families, according to Doug Rice, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
“The breadth of political commitment hasn’t been provided to tackle the problem,” he says. “This has been a problem for quite some time.”
As many recent studies demonstrate, money spent on housing assistance is often money well spent, according to research collected in the report The Case for More, Not Less, by the Urban Institute. In addition to addressing the idea that it’s morally important for a wealthy nation to guarantee housing for its citizens, housing assistance has been shown to save public money; renters in dire straits turn to other programs to cover budget gaps left after increasingly high monthly payments and provide better long-term health and wellness outcomes.
HUD recently released the results of a long-term research project, The Family Options Study, examining options for helping homeless families with kids. The report, unsurprisingly, found that spending money on assistance led to lower rates of not just homelessness, but also domestic violence in the household, food insecurity, and family separation.
⇧ mainly macro: The fatal inconsistency within neoliberalism
Simon Wren-Lewis is too technocratic versus democratic, but he can be quite educational. That’s because he’s desirous of demystifying academics and politics despite his technocratic bent.
Here, he does a very nice job of shedding light on Germany’s reservations versus total laissez-faire.
BTW, Simon is not an ordoliberal. He’s a New Keynesian who shows more interest than most such New Keynesians in heterodox (so-called) economics.
It’s why I keep reading him even though I disagree with his confidence in the degree of capitalism (less-regulated markets) in even the New Keynesian mixed-economy.
⇧ The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem – The New York Times
Yes, and pulling out what little rug lies beneath the poorest of the poor (stripping them of welfare-state benefits) is not even remotely a general way to enhance their dignity or employment potential. That entire “dignity” argument comes from flat-out liars out to help themselves by helping the super-rich libertarians (who pay them via donations and revolving-door jobs) to ultimately help those super-rich get more even if it means crushing to death the already downtrodden.
⇧ The Fed Can’t Drive Right Without Brakes – Bloomberg
When asked why they’re gradually removing monetary stimulus even though inflation remains too low, Federal Reserve officials tend to offer the same refrain: If they don’t start moving now, they could eventually be forced to raise rates more sharply when the economy overheats. This fear of raising rates rapidly is a relatively recent phenomenon — and it’s a key drag on the overall U.S. economy.
Definitely! Thank you, Narayana.
⇧ Greeks Work Longest Hours in Europe | GreekReporter.com
In Europe, Greeks work the longest hours, averaging 2,035 hours per year. Germans, on the other hand, work the least in Europe and the world, averaging only 1,363 hours per year.
Guess who called whom lazy. In case you don’t know, the Germans called the Greeks lazy as an excuse to fail to support the Greeks in their hour of need (owing greedy Germans). The Germans heaped Austerianism upon the Greeks rather than being good Samaritans.
⇧ Family of Boy Killed by Carbon Monoxide at North Carolina Hotel Settles for $12M
This is why it’s the law in many places to have at least one CO alarm in each unit. Check your state and local requirements, but don’t hesitate to install such alarms even if not required by law.
⇧ California Sues Trump Administration Fracking Rule Repeal
I don’t mind saying that I like it that California doesn’t simply roll over and play dead.
While I feel for the frontline workers who feed their families via the carbon-burning industry, I’d rather we, as a whole nation, support them via other means while we do completely away with that carbon-burning industry. It’s only the tip of the pollution iceberg, but we must take it head-on. Unless or until tech can undo our huge error, it’s an existential threat. It’s nothing to gamble about.
⇧ Rain Gutters Blamed for Many Home Drainage Problems
“Fortunately, gutter problems are also the easiest to fix with a downspout extender.”
⇧ January 2018 NBER Digest
Middle-class households tend to be heavily leveraged, with their homes as primary assets, while the rich tend to have more diverse investments.
⇧ Plastic Pollution Is Killing Coral Reefs, 4-Year Study Finds : The Two-Way : NPR
“Massive amounts of plastic are being thrown into the oceans from land,” Harvell says, in countries that don’t have much recycling and with dumps that are often adjacent to the ocean or waterways that run into the ocean.
Coral reefs already are susceptible to bleaching due to unusually warm water, either from seasonal shifts in water temperature or from human-caused global warming. “Bleached coral is more susceptible to disease,” Harvell says. “The bleached coral is stressed. Plastic would make things that much worse.”
Plastic comes from the oil industry. It’s amazing how humanity has done this to the planet. We’ve known for many, many decades that we’re damaging the environment and ecosystem.
⇧ The neoliberal ideologues lost their fig leaf and so now turn to shoot the messengers — Politics and Insights
Let’s not forget that the main factors behind the global economic crisis were ill-conceived and ideologically motivated fiscal and monetary policies, which were aided and abetted by inadequate regulation and a variety of other neoliberal policy ‘mistakes’. We subsequently learned that squeezing the oligarchs — those whose behaviours were responsible for the Great Recession — is seldom the strategy of choice among free market governments. Instead, they look to the less powerful — ordinary citizens — to carry the consequences and burdens of the greed and reckless risk-taking of the financiers. Government’s can’t stay tough on erstwhile cronies, after all.
The oligarchs use their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed.