News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 7, 2018

Linking ≠ endorsement. News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 7, 2018

Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) AXA Insurance Chief Warns of 'Uninsurable Basements' from New York to Mumbai

2) 27 Heartbreaking Facts About the Student Loan Crisis

3) Rental population decreases for first time since 2004

4) Group of mayors, CEOs launch housing investment coalition | Smart Cities Dive

5) Hurricane Harvey Was Second Most Expensive Storm in US History - Bloomberg

6) Peter Turchin Demographic Structural Theory Comes of Age - Peter Turchin

7) Reckoning with climate change will demand ugly tradeoffs from environmentalists — and everyone else - Vox

8) Self-Healing Infrastructure: Eco-Friendly Fungus Grows to Fill Concrete Cracks | Urbanist

9) In 2017, the oceans were by far the hottest ever recorded | John Abraham | Environment | The Guardian

10) How a 1031 Exchange Can Make You Millions

11) FEMA criticized for plan to end storm aid in Puerto Rico | The Seattle Times

12) Are Corporate Tax Cuts Raising Pay? Yes, for Bosses - The New York Times

13) FEMA: No cutoff of food, water to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

14) Dollar's Decline Laid Bare in Real Rates - Bloomberg

15) US factory activity cools; job market remains strong | Reuters

16) Nonresidential Construction Maintains Momentum in December, ABC Says

17) Employment Situation Summary

18) Why isn't homelessness seen as a national crisis? - Curbed

19) How to Set the Economy on Fire: Trump's Financial Arsonists | By Nomi Prins | Common Dreams

20) Earthquakes from the oil and gas industry are plaguing Oklahoma — here's a way to reduce them

21) China's 2015 GDP Was Exaggerated By Fake Data, Analysis Shows - Bloomberg

22) California says LA isn't building enough housing - Curbed LA

23) Are Wheels Coming Off Bitcoin's Bandwagon & Meteoric Rise Crunched By Reg Concerns?

24) LSE Business Review — Is the era of central bank independence drawing to a close?

25) Hunters Point Shipyard: Almost half of toxic cleanup questionable or faked - Curbed SF

26) Free markets & the decline of democracy — Prime Economics

27) Mortgage rates rise after positive jobs report

28) Forget BRRRR: Introducing the BARRRR Strategy for Investors

29) Neighbors Need Not Waive all Legal Claims Linked to Duke Energy Coal Ash Pits

30) California Wildfire Insurance Claims Near $12B

31) Investigators Say Burning Candles Sparked Deadly New Jersey Apartment Fire

32) NFPA report - Candles

33) Trump's Consumer Protection Bureau Pulls Back on Equifax Data Breach Probe: Reuters

34) Oregon City Tightening Demolition Rules over Lead, Asbestos

35) Moving Pieces | Tim Duy's Fed Watch

36) AG Ferguson threatens to sue federal government over oil drilling off Washington's coast | The Seattle Times

37) Miami's new mosquitoes carry sterility bug - NBC News

38) The Seattle minimum-wage study liberals hated got a powerful answer - The Washington Post

39) Sea ice tracking low in both hemispheres | Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis

40) Stephen Williamson: New Monetarist Economics: Panic Over Inflation?

41) 10 Legal Disclosures I Include in My Rental Applications

42) North America's Permafrost Is a Ticking Time Bomb of Mercury

43) Economists optimistic about five key sectors in commercial real estate - News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, FL

44) How to front-run market reaction to the US government's 2018 $1 trillion bond issuance

45) The Fair Price of a Bitcoin is Zero - New Economic PerspectivesNew Economic Perspectives

46) Fake Insurance Agent Sentenced to 3.5 Years in Prison | Arizona Attorney General

47) Why did the US stock market crash on Monday? Blame the central banks — RT Op-ed

48) Survey finds only 11.3% of Washington homes have earthquake insurance | The Seattle Times

49) The size and composition of fiscal adjustment matter for inequality | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

50) Research Confirms Disaster Resilient Building Investment Pays Off

51) Which emits more carbon dioxide: volcanoes or human activities? | NOAA Climate[.]gov

52) State rent control ban won't be lifted this year - Curbed Seattle

53) Justice Department shuts down Infraud, a massive cybercrime network - CNET

  1.    AXA Insurance Chief Warns of 'Uninsurable Basements' from New York to Mumbai

    Fact:

    Global warming and the subsequent rise of extreme weather events are expected to increase insurance companies' claims, possibly to the point where certain assets are too risky to underwrite new policies in some places.

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  2.    27 Heartbreaking Facts About the Student Loan Crisis

    The lack of a free college-education is one of the dumbest things about the USA. We have gone exactly backwards. We've raised the cost to go to college while we've open the door for lenders to rape students.

    I can't state just how stupid I've always thought it is. There isn't a word to describe that depth of stupidity.

    We need to make getting a Ph.D. free while we forgive 100% of all student debts.

    Then we'd see the magic. We'd see our students shine with new and better ideas than we've ever imagined.

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  3.    Rental population decreases for first time since 2004

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  4.    Group of mayors, CEOs launch housing investment coalition | Smart Cities Dive

    The group recommends four policy changes to help stabilize the current housing outlook: maximize funding for existing federal programs such as Section 8 Housing Vouchers and Community Development Block Grants; issue new, competitive HUD-HIIRO grants; build on the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing model through HUD-PASS (Partnerships Accelerating Supportive Services); and create a housing stabilization fund to provide short-term emergency housing assistance.

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  5.    Hurricane Harvey Was Second Most Expensive Storm in U.S. History - Bloomberg

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  6.    Peter Turchin Demographic Structural Theory Comes of Age - Peter Turchin

    Relative wages reached a peak during the late 1960s, and have been declining ever since. Why is this important?

    "A high relative wage thus promotes social stability in multiple ways: workers feel they are getting a fair share of economic growth, while growth of inequality due to rising elite incomes is averted. In addition, if elites cannot grow their incomes at the expense of workers, but only by increasing output as a whole, they are motivated to raise and reward worker productivity and invest in public goods that raise overall output."

    May I say, Duh! That's no put-down of the statement. It's more a statement on my part about the sad state of affairs where the Koch brothers' ideology is actually listened to, let alone taken seriously. But the Koch brothers have been sowing the seeds of the destruction of their own private empire. That's the point of the article, though you have to read between the lines to get that. To me, it screams it.

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  7.    Reckoning with climate change will demand ugly tradeoffs from environmentalists — and everyone else - Vox

    I like this article not because I agree with all of it. I actually find a great deal of fault with it. Why I like it (on balance) is because it gives a damn and its author, David Roberts, has obviously tried to comprehend what's going on and what it will take.

    Let me be blunt. We aren't going to solve anthropogenic global warming without facing head on other issues, such as where money actually comes from. After all, where the money is going to come from is one of the things rolled out against taking the right steps to stop AGW. David Roberts' own article here brings up what people will and won't be willing to pay for, as if there's some limit on where money comes from.

    There is zero limit. The one and only issue is matching the supply of money and its velocity in the real economy to real productivity. That's because that's the way inflation and deflation should be controlled, not by the Fed's interest rates.

    So, do we need to keep old nuclear plants open or dam up more and more rivers? Absolutely not. We can have more renewable non-hydro power than we know what to do with sent all over the planet if we simply decide to do that and the people who want to put their profits over the health and wellbeing of everyone and everything else be damned, as the saying goes. They'd actually be better off too. They're just too busy being self-centered to realize it.

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  8.    Self-Healing Infrastructure: Eco-Friendly Fungus Grows to Fill Concrete Cracks | Urbanist

    Interesting.

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  9.    In 2017, the oceans were by far the hottest ever recorded | John Abraham | Environment | The Guardian

    The consequences of this year-after-year-after-year warming have real impacts on humans. Fortunately, we know why the oceans are warming (because of human greenhouse gases), and we can do something about it. We can take action to reduce the heating of our planet by using energy more wisely and increasing the use of clean and renewable energy (like wind and solar power).

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  10.    How a 1031 Exchange Can Make You Millions

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  11.    FEMA criticized for plan to end storm aid in Puerto Rico | The Seattle Times

    FEMA says it is ending the food and water shipments because private supplies are available.

    Begs many questions.

    Are they adequate? Do people still without the basic necessities have the money to pay for "private supplies"? I don't know the answers. I'm asking.

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  12.    Are Corporate Tax Cuts Raising Pay? Yes, for Bosses - The New York Times

    I agree. There are better ways of fixing things than the NYT Editorial Board suggests here, but they are right about it that the Trump tax-changes won't work as advertised. They will only be used as an excuse to cut government, to privatize it for Trump administration crony capitalists, unless Trump wakes up and sees that he's been suckered to move too far to the crony-capitalists' position.

    Something tells me that he hasn't been suckered but has only gathered IOU's from those cronies (he's gather ammunition to make them end up giving in). I think he'll switch to being a welfare-state advocate before losing a shot at a second term.

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  13.    FEMA: No cutoff of food, water to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

    Somebody thought the better of it. Good!

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  14.    Dollar's Decline Laid Bare in Real Rates - Bloomberg

    19 indicators simply isn't going to cut it. The Fed doesn't know what it's doing because it is stuck, on purpose, pre-Great Recession, even lead-up to the Great Recession.

    How much longer is the US Dollar (Federal Reserve Notes) going to be viewed enough as a safe haven?

    How much longer are the People going to put up with the entire commercial-banking industry's near monopoly on credit issuance and resulting anti-democratic money creation?

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  15.    U.S. factory activity cools; job market remains strong | Reuters

    Smartest paragraph in the article:

    Skilled worker shortages and weak productivity could put pressure on companies seeking to expand their businesses, economists say. That could spur corporate investments in automation to increase efficiency and output, according to Plante Moran Financial Advisors' Baird.

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  16.    Nonresidential Construction Maintains Momentum in December, ABC Says

    ... industry insiders are scratching their collective heads regarding how to amass enough human capital to actually deliver construction services on time and on budget," said Basu. "Frankly, that's a mystery. The implication is that any infrastructure package must be accompanied by action that helps expand apprenticeship programs, steps up investment in two-year colleges, encourages high schools to offer career and technical education, and encourages more people to leap into the U.S. labor force.

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  17.    Employment Situation Summary

    Slight pick-up:

    In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents to $26.74, following an 11-cent gain in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 75 cents, or 2.9 percent.

    I believe we've now seen the real bottom (before Trump's tax-plan really kicks in).

    It will take at least 5 years or so to know what the Trump tax plan will have done in terms of the rich spending and investing in real-economy investments versus mere financial capitalism that translates only to more wealth on paper but not real wealth throughout the economy. How long will it take to see what the poorer side will have done: save, pay down debts, buy only bare-bones necessities that have been put off? How long will it take for them to realize that the cuts will disappear on them? Will government leave the Trump plan untouched once it will have become clear that in the longer term, it won't have been a wise economic move?

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  18.    Why isn't homelessness seen as a national crisis? - Curbed

    Many cities are grappling with the fact that too much market-rate housing is being built, and due to low supply, most residents still can't afford it. The federal government could require cities to collect data on how its housing is being used, information that could be used to fill vacant housing units with renters through subsides or heavily taxing property owners who leave their units unoccupied. Denver is trying a pilot program where it is subsidizing rent on empty luxury units so unhoused residents can move in right away.

    High rates of homelessness are not good for landlords. The whole economy and quality of life generally in society goes down.

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  19.    How to Set the Economy on Fire: Trump's Financial Arsonists | By Nomi Prins | Common Dreams

    Nomi Prins:

    There's a pattern to this: first, there's a crash; then comes a period of remorse and talk of reform; and eventually comes the great forgetting. As time passes, markets rise, greed becomes good, and Wall Street begins to champion more deregulation. The government attracts deregulatory enthusiasts and then, of course, there's another crash, millions suffer, and remorse returns.

    Ominously, we're now in the deregulation stage following the bull run. We know what comes next, just not when. Count on one thing: it won't be pretty.

    So, do things turn dramatically south before or after the next Presidential election? If it's before, Trump may be a one-termer. If it's after and Trump wins, it will be as bad as Nomi says. However, there won't be a housing bubble to pop, which means that as bad as it would be, the common homeowner won't be hit in that same way.

    My personal feeling is that this is the last hurrah of the deregulators. Having another fairly deep recession/depression within the memory of the youth who came of age during the Great Recession will spell the death knell of that capitalist/deregulator class. Global Warming problems, brought on by that class, will only hasten that too.

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  20.    Earthquakes from the oil and gas industry are plaguing Oklahoma — here's a way to reduce them

    This is a terrible idea: making the choice between earthquakes and contaminating groundwater used for drinking.

    The only true solution right now is to shutdown the fracking industry, which would massively help curb global warming and would boost the clean-energy sector (exactly what we need).

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  21.    China's 2015 GDP Was Exaggerated By Fake Data, Analysis Shows - Bloomberg

    May we say that we told you so?

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  22.    California says LA isn't building enough housing - Curbed LA

    Under the new law, if cities fail to meet targets for market rate housing geared toward residents making more than a moderate income, they'll have to streamline review of developments that include 10 percent affordable units.

    Cities that meet their market rate goals but fail to make thresholds for new housing affordable to low-income residents will have to streamline projects in which at least half the units are affordable.

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  23.    Are Wheels Coming Off Bitcoin's Bandwagon & Meteoric Rise Crunched By Reg Concerns?

    As my readers know only too well, its' my view that it never should have gotten this far and that governments and regulators are still pussyfooting around about it when they should have shut it down before it started. The entire thing was and remains an anarcho-capitalist endeavor of the worst kind. Absolutely nothing good on balance has come of it and never would or could. There's nothing more anti-democratic than this whole cryptocurrency nonsense.

    Can governments employ cybercurrency? They already do. Can that currency be hardened against hacking via some form of distributed ledger that, unlike the insane Bitcoin, won't use more energy than multiple nations together? Yes.

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  24.    LSE Business Review — Is the era of central bank independence drawing to a close?

    What a useless article this is. Is that harsh, unfair? It appears to hold high the idea of technocracy over more populist direct-democracy and accompanying necessary transparency. The article discusses politics only in terms of highly indirect representative-democracy at best. Everything the Central Banks do now can be done better, much better, by genuine, highly direct democracy.

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  25.    Hunters Point Shipyard: Almost half of toxic cleanup questionable or faked - Curbed SF

    This is a rather long article, but it goes to the heart of just how important it is to do due diligence when investing, which diligence includes checking potential environmental issues. Standards vary by locale, so do your homework on how to check former land use and industrial activities and other things in the area that could have negatively impacted the real estate in question. You don't want to be held even partly liable for harming the health of your tenants. Doing a thorough and documented job of checking the property is a good start to preventing problems. Plus, the property's value and rent rate would sink dramatically were environmental issues to surface.

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  26.    Free markets & the decline of democracy — Prime Economics

    I'm not including this because I agree with everything that John Weeks says here. I'm including it because it describes social democracy (often incorrectly conflated with democratic socialism).

    It glosses over the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and the consequent pressures placed upon Russia by the very neoliberalism John clearly hates. This is a common thing among social democrats (not social democrats by name or party but ideological social democrats). It's understandable in light of the social democrats' position that it is at all times necessary to take the social democratic stand. That's noble to a degree but naive in the mundane in the face of military-capitalism.

    Anyway, it's a good read and worthy on balance. It is absolutely right that democratic-capitalism is an oxymoron. John doesn't say it that way (its mine), but that is the gist of his position.

    Please note that the term capitalism doesn't mean all the workers within the system or every owner but rather the ideology of private ownership to the exclusion of government, state, public ownership, and the like. An owner of a small business may well be for social democracy or the welfare-state system and all for industrial capitalism rather than total domination by finance capitalism (described so well by John).

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  27.    Mortgage rates rise after positive jobs report

    A strong employment report sent bond yields even higher, and mortgage rates loosely follow the yield of the 10-year Treasury.

    Yes, but ten years is a long time in the face of the Trump tax cuts and automation's pressure on workforce participation and wage rates, hence downward pressure longer term on price inflation, as lower demand can't sustain a booming supply economy.

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  28.    Forget BRRRR: Introducing the BARRRR Strategy for Investors

    Why Advertising is Critically Important

    What most real estate investors don't fully understand is that the date you place your property "in service" matters immensely from a tax perspective. It's the difference between writing off the majority of your rehab costs and being forced to capitalize and depreciate those costs. More on that in a minute.

    The IRS says that when a property is ready and available for rent, it's considered to be "in service." And once the property is "in service," the costs incurred are considered operating costs—rather than what I like to call "get ready" costs.

    To repeat, there are two key components to placing your property into service: it must be ready and available. The key part that many investors miss is the "available" part. You'd be surprised as to what properties will qualify as "ready" in the eyes of the IRS. But if you never advertise the property for rent, you never make it available for its intended use. As a result, the property is not placed in service.

    So if you don't advertise the property for rent, the property is not deemed "in service," and all costs incurred prior to the "in service" date are therefor considered "get ready" costs.

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  29.    Neighbors Need Not Waive all Legal Claims Linked to Duke Energy Coal Ash Pits

    Coal ash — the remains after coal is burned for electricity — contains arsenic, lead, mercury and other heavy metals.

    Clean coal?

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  30.    California Wildfire Insurance Claims Near $12B

    Insurance claims from last year's deadly California wildfires have reached $11.8 billion, making it the most expensive series of wildfires in state history....

    Those are insurance claims, not damage costs. Damage costs are much higher.

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  31.    Investigators Say Burning Candles Sparked Deadly New Jersey Apartment Fire

    Investigators say some burning candles apparently sparked a deadly fire at an apartment complex in Princeton ....

    I haven't checked the stats on it, but have candles overtaken smoking in bed in causing fires?

    Smoking is still bad, but the stats I quickly found didn't break it down as to whether the smoker fell to sleep in bed. How about space heaters and kitchen fires?

    The page is not granular enough: https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/F ire-statistics-and-reports/Fire-statisti cs/Fires-by-property-type/Residential/Ho me-Structure-Fires

    We could read and report on the whole report if you're interested.

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  32.    NFPA report - Candles

    Good info ...

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  33.    Trump's Consumer Protection Bureau Pulls Back on Equifax Data Breach Probe: Reuters

    Mick Mulvaney, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has pulled back from a full-scale probe of how Equifax Inc. failed to protect the personal data of millions of consumers ....

    That's actually a very anti-business move, as there are so many businesses that also rely on safe and accurate data.

    It is my understanding Equifax failed to install a standard update to standard software, which update would have prevented the breach.

    Mick Mulvaney's actions so far appear to be an attempt to render the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a de facto anti-Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    I can't see anything good coming from it. I hope I'm proved mistaken in my opensource assessment here.

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  34.    Oregon City Tightening Demolition Rules over Lead, Asbestos

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  35.    Moving Pieces | Tim Duy's Fed Watch

    Annualized wage growth in four of the last five months exceeded 3 percent. In two of those months the gain was more than 5 percent. The three-month moving average is a 4.1 percent gain. That marks the fastest three-month gain since 2008. This solid pace over the last several months suggests that the January number is more than just higher minimum wages. ...
    ...
    ... long term yields will likely reach more resistance soon while short term yields will continue to be pressured by Fed rate hikes this year and beyond. If the Fed turns hawkish here they will likely accelerate the inversion of the yield curve and the end of the expansion (this could be the ultimate impact of the tax cuts — a short run boost to a mature cycle that moves forward the recession). If a more secular realignment is underway, long (and short) rates have more room to rise.

    The question remains whether the Fed will be too hawkish or see the light in time to not cause a recession on top of the slowdown Trump's tax cuts will cause over the next few years. Obviously, I'm thinking a bit longer term here, not much, than Tim's analysis is about.

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  36.    AG Ferguson threatens to sue federal government over oil drilling off Washington's coast | The Seattle Times

    ... the Trump administration is sloppy on how it rolls out its proposals, and that will aid the state in any lawsuit.
    "The bottom line is, if they go forward, they will see us in court," Ferguson said.

    We oppose any such drilling anywhere. It is long since beyond the time to have completely phased out all carbon-based fuels. It just isn't necessary anymore and hasn't been for a long time. We didn't plow enough effort into non-carbon alternatives is all.

    This remains a huge risk-management issue, and those opposed to alternative energy taking over all energy sources are mistaken about the risks, potential mitigation, and carbon-based solutions when compared to non-carbon alternatives.

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  37.    Miami's new mosquitoes carry sterility bug - NBC News

    Is this a gamble worth taking? I hope it is. They do seem to have exercised an abundance of caution. Have they thought of everything? Time will tell. It would be great were this tactic ultimately less harmful than the real disease it's meant to greatly reduce.

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  38.    The Seattle minimum-wage study liberals hated got a powerful answer - The Washington Post

    Bluntly, this article strikes me as a whole lot of hedging and pre-saving face.

    The fact not mentioned in the article or the studies is that distribution of income was once greatly skewed to labor versus management and shareholders relative to today and even after raising the minimum wage to $15. It would really need to be at about $20 to be the same distribution as back in the 1950s-60s, when things were much better for the workers relative to management (think executive bonuses) and shareholders (though worker pensions do invest in stocks).

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  39.    Sea ice tracking low in both hemispheres | Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis

    January of 2018 began and ended with satellite-era record lows in Arctic sea ice extent, resulting in a new record low for the month. Combined with low ice extent in the Antarctic, global sea ice extent is also at a record low.

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  40.    Stephen Williamson: New Monetarist Economics: Panic Over Inflation?

    Inflation has been coming up recently, as nominal interest rates have gone up (that's the 3-month T-bill rate in the chart). That's consistent with Neo-Fisherian logic - increase the nominal interest rate if you want more inflation. Of course, inflation was low in 2014-2015 in part because of a fall in the price of crude oil. Nevertheless, some people were arguing that inflation would go down as a result of the Fed's interest rate hikes, and that certainly hasn't happened. The problem is that the Fed could continue to increase interest rates when this is not warranted, overshoot inflation, and continue to hike, thus overshooting even more. Fortunately, that's a politically difficult route to take, so I doubt it happens.

    "...some people were arguing that inflation would go down as a result of the Fed's interest rate hikes...." It would have had it not been for people being psyched up by Trump's more laissez-faire approach, which won't pan out. Therefore, it's all in delayed-reaction mode for a good long while, unless people catch onto the fact that the Trump plan is a facade. The tax cuts for the rich (corporations) were crafty (because the personal cuts for those at the bottom will dry up) but not wise (for the same reason).

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  41.    10 Legal Disclosures I Include in My Rental Applications News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 7, 2018

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  42.    North America's Permafrost Is a Ticking Time Bomb of Mercury

    Previous studies have attempted to account for the billions of tons of carbon dioxide, methane and even "zombie pathogens" that could be loosed into the air and the oceans by melting permafrost. The environmental impact of a large-scale mercury leak, however, remains an unpredictable problem.

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  43.    Economists optimistic about five key sectors in commercial real estate - News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, FL

    After analyzing reams of fresh data covering the fourth quarter of 2017, economists at Reis Inc. wrote white papers with largely positive projections for this year across the apartment, office, retail and industrial sectors as well as for commercial construction activity.

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  44.    How to front-run market reaction to the US government's 2018 $1 trillion bond issuance

    ... we will find out whether deficits really drive rates higher or cause inflation to rise and remain high. I don't think either of those things is true.

    It depends upon a number of factors not mentioned. Mostly, it depends upon where the money (deficit) is going and how much money we're talking about. We have some idea about the amount of money, and we know where most of the tax cuts are going to end up. In the short term, it could be somewhat inflationary if those in the lower economic classes drive demand beyond capacity to supply and meet that demand. I don't think that will last long if it happens. In the longer term and if the cuts to the rich aren't reversed quickly enough, it's deflationary and recessionary.

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  45.    The Fair Price of a Bitcoin is Zero - New Economic PerspectivesNew Economic Perspectives

    Please note the date of the article. It's not as if people weren't warned.

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  46.    Fake Insurance Agent Sentenced to 3.5 Years in Prison | Arizona Attorney General

    This is why I put our licensing information right on this site with links to the applicable governmental agency/departments, which isn't easy to keep up with, as those agencies and departments have shown a tendency to change the Internet locations/addresses to the licensing info without notifying us (the impacted agency(s) and/or agents/brokers). If you see a broken link, please let us know.

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  47.    Why did the US stock market crash on Monday? Blame the central banks — RT Op-ed

    Exactly! Steve Keen:

    The smooth rise in stock market prices which led to the levels that preceded Monday's crash began when central banks decided to rescue the economy by "Quantitative Easing (QE)." They promised to do "whatever it takes" to drive shares up from the entirely reasonable values they reached in late 2009, and did so by buying huge amounts of government bonds back from private banks and other financial institutions (pension funds, insurance companies, etc.). In the USA's case, this amounted to $1 trillion per year—equal to about seven percent of America's annual output of goods and services (GDP or "gross domestic product"). The Bank of England brought about £200 billion worth, which was an even larger percentage of GDP.

    With central banks buying that volume of bonds, private financial institutions found themselves awash with money, and spent it buying other assets to get yields—which meant that QE drove up share prices as banks, pension funds and the like bought them with money created by QE.

    This article is exactly why fiscal policy, not the monetary policy of the quasi-governmental entity known as the Federal Reserve, should be how the economy is balanced: prices to productivity, not bank-to-bank borrowing rates or any of the other "tools" of the "Fed." It's exactly why democracy that's as direct as we can effectively make it should be the method for deciding all economic decisions. Steve doesn't go that far, but there's hope. He has democratic leanings versus billionaire-class/plutocrat ones.

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  48.    Survey finds only 11.3% of Washington homes have earthquake insurance | The Seattle Times News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 7, 2018

    The more people who hold earthquake insurance, the lower the financial hit from a major quake and the quicker the region will be able to bounce back.

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  49.    The size and composition of fiscal adjustment matter for inequality | VOX, CEPR's Policy Portal

    The recent fiscal adjustment experience in Ireland shares many of these features, although it is difficult to disentangle the distributional impact of fiscal adjustment itself from that of the financial crisis and ensuing recession. Inequality initially fell as upper income groups suffered major income losses while taxes increased and redistributive social transfers expanded. However, the impact of the deepening crisis and recession quickly spilled over to broader income groups via rising unemployment. Against this backdrop, the government had to embark on a large fiscal adjustment in 2010 due to adverse market reactions to the soaring sovereign debt. The adjustment package was sizable and mainly expenditure-based. Public sector wage cuts mainly affected the middle-upper class, which might have mitigated the rising inequality, whereas social benefit cuts (family allowances, old-age benefits) heavily weighed on the lower income group, contributing to higher inequality. Despite some offsetting tax measures that were progressive in nature, the largely spending-based adjustment in 2010 amid deepening crisis and recession appears to start worsening inequality.
    Conclusion

    The above findings have important policy implications for countries with high debt levels, which are expected to pursue fiscal adjustments in the future. Our results argue for a better targeting of both spending and revenue adjustment measures to limit their negative social effects and improve their sustainability. As fiscal adjustments that are viewed as being unfair are unlikely to be sustainable, it is critical that the costs associated with fiscal adjustments are shared equitably going forward.

    That sounds progressive versus deficit-hawkish, but it's actually not progressive. It deliberately avoids the elephant in the room: governmental borrowing.

    "...the government had to embark on a large fiscal adjustment in 2010 due to adverse market reactions to the soaring sovereign debt." No, it didn't have to. It's a falsehood, actually a lie, intentional, by omission, intentional. The people who authored the report knew/know that governments do not have to borrow in order to fund social benefits.

    Now, within the narrow context that is the EU and euro zone and the like, individual member states can't do whatever they want in this regard without leaving the group. Leaving was and remains an option.

    My personal position is that the EU should be reformed so that governmental borrowing is outlawed.

    Naturally, the bankers don't want that, which is why the authors didn't discuss it.

    The authors are advocating for a welfare state approach but not a progressive approach. They are arguing for a technocratic approach within the confines of the status quo, not democracy fundamentally transforming that status quo.

    After as many years as I've been at this, the pattern of avoidance sticks out like a sore thumb. Keep it in mind when reading publications from what's termed the mainstream: neoclassical to welfare state. They control the spectrum of debate so that nothing outside the commercial-banking sphere is allowed as a topic for long. Those who violate that rule are exiled for being for the People over banking executive and shareholder profits.

    Will Simon Wren-Lewis ever see it, say so, and take up for the correct side?

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  50.    Research Confirms Disaster Resilient Building Investment Pays Off

    With the $27.4 billion the government invested in the past quarter-century, it will save $157.9 billion, the study found. Going forward, if private builders invested an additional $3.6 billion for just one year to exceed code, society would save $15.5 billion.

    Excellent work, bravo!

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  51.    Which emits more carbon dioxide: volcanoes or human activities? | NOAA Climate.gov

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  52.    State rent control ban won't be lifted this year - Curbed Seattle

    The city's 2017 legislative agenda, which was approved by the City Council earlier this week, also calls for "repeal or modification" of the law "to allow local governments to protect tenants from rent increases, without causing a negative impact on the quality or quantity of housing supply."

    My personal view is that investors, owner/operators, and managers should seek to work with locales and authorities to bring enough affordable housing to market. It would be akin to socially responsible investing: making money while doing the right thing: somewhat like giving back before actually taking.

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  53.    Justice Department shuts down Infraud, a massive cybercrime network - CNET

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