News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

Linking ≠ endorsement. News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) mainly macro: Decreasing the size of the state is very unpopular

2) Trump Applies Obama-Era Flood Aid Rules He Axed Six Months Ago - Bloomberg

3) How the "Second Wave of Suburbanization" Will Change Housing Markets as We Know Them

4) Grand minimum predicted for 2050s sun cycle will cool Earth

5) Financialising the State: Recent developments in fiscal and monetary policy

6) Corporate America's Spending Roars On, and These Charts Show Why - Bloomberg

7) Cryptocurrencies Are Like Ponzi Schemes, World Bank Chief Says - Bloomberg

8) January brought largest drought footprint in nearly 4 years to US | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

9) The Last Time US Wage Growth Spurred Inflation Was in 1980s - Bloomberg

10) Detroit just banned Airbnb without anyone knowing it [updated] - Curbed Detroit

11) An Intro to House Hacking: Here's How I Get Paid to Live for Free

12) Fracking Earthquakes Pop Up in Unexpected Corner of Oklahoma's Shale Patch

13) Study Finds Houston's Apartment Safety Programs Are Flawed

14) Texas flood: Researchers compare pollution levels before and after Hurricane Harvey

15) With spotlight on Seattle's hostile architecture, Mike O'Brien seeks clarity - Curbed Seattle

16) Report: Smart surfaces save cities billions through increased resilience | Smart Cities Dive

17) College Was Once Free and For the Public Good—What Happened? by Thomas Adam — YES! Magazine

18) UK ICO, USCourts[.]gov... Thousands of websites hijacked by hidden crypto-mining code after popular plugin pwned • The Register

19) After Just a Year, Trump's Balanced Budget Promises Ring Hollow | Economy | US News

20) Trump Privatizes America - YouTube

21) mainly macro: Labour, the polls and the Customs Union

22) Stick To The Forecast | Tim Duy's Fed Watch

23) Bond-Stock Clash Has Just Begun as Inflation Looms - Bloomberg

24) Here's what a 5 percent mortgage rate would mean to buyers

25) Germany overtakes China as world's richest exporter - The Local

26) My professional opinion as a blockchain researcher: I don't see the point (yet) | The unpublished notebooks of J. M. Korhonen

27) What is pro-cyclical fiscal policy [and why is it such a terrible and divious idea]?

28) China rental housing: trickle to torrent | JLL

29) It's a 'bizarre time' for a big infrastructure plan, economists say - POLITICO

30) Another Cryptocurrency Target for US Regulators: Tether - Lawfare

31) Bitcoin Price and Crypto Markets Rise After Regulators Dial Back Rhetoric | Investopedia

32) Trump's infrastructure plan: Small federal investment, more state and local control - Curbed

33) Trump's Budget and Infrastructure Plans Threaten Environment - YouTube

34) 7 Common Myths About Rental Property Taxation—Dispelled

35) Are Carbon Monoxide Detectors a Landlord's Responsibility?

36) The Elevation of Corporate Executives in the Age of Problematic Presidencies | Best Countries | US News

37) Climate Change Costs Insurance Companies Billions, And Price is Rising - YouTube

38) Global Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating - Study | UNFCCC

39) Those scented products you love? NOAA study finds they can cause air pollution | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

40) Spokane Hopes Tiny Homes and Cottages Will Spur Infill Density — Next City

41) The White House Is Very Optimistic on Growth. It Shouldn't Be. - The New York Times

42) How Monopolies Gamed the System | The Nation

43) Major apartment developer: 'There is an acute crisis headed our way'

44) What's Hiding in the Budget Bill? Sneak Attacks on Wolves, Trees and Water | Earthjustice

45) Is Bitcoin a Waste of Resources? | St. Louis Fed

46) Elmwood Park woman pleads guilty to insurance fraud

47) What Happens When You Fill A House With 'Smart' Technology : NPR

48) Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers - Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

49) Special Investigation: The Dirty Secret Behind Warren Buffett's Billions | The Nation

50) Here's How New Fed Chief Powell Is Changing Things Up - Bloomberg

51) California drought could last more than a decade - Curbed SF

52) Boyle Heights mariachis, landlord cut deal ending rent strike - Curbed LA

53) Tenant groups collect signatures to repeal Costa Hawkins - Curbed LA

  1.    mainly macro: Decreasing the size of the state is very unpopular

    Does this survey suggest that half the population want a larger state, and hardly anyone wants a smaller state? That depends on what you mean by the state. The question actually asks about spending on "health, education and social benefits", so it seems reasonable that this is what people are responding to. They are taking as given that the government in the UK provides these things, and are simply expressing their view about whether they want more of these goods and are prepared to pay for them. The question does not ask about whether these goods should be produced by the state or by private contractors working for the state.

    When the public are asked about who should own and run various activities, there is clear support for more rather than less public involvement.

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  2.    Trump Applies Obama-Era Flood Aid Rules He Axed Six Months Ago - Bloomberg

    React to AGW the way those who call it AGW do but don't call it AGW? Hmmm ...

    On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development told states how to spend the $7.4 billion in disaster-recovery money Congress approved after Hurricane Harvey. Tucked into the document's 101 pages is the requirement that any new structures in a floodplain be built well above projected flood levels — virtually the same requirements as those that Trump revoked last August.

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  3.    How the "Second Wave of Suburbanization" Will Change Housing Markets as We Know Them

    This is an interesting and informative piece, even though I don't see it as black and white as Brian does.

    There is the issue of urban sprawl that isn't simply going to go away. I also don't see anything positive in what appears to me to be a sort of bashing of progressives advocating for the poor in cities.

    Those progressives aren't against fixing places up, lower crime rates, etc. They were and are against moving the poor out of the way regardless of circumstances.

    In other words, the thrust of the progressive idea is to go ahead and improve everything but do it in a way that doesn't throw poor people around like inconvenient garbage. Create mixed construction that takes care of those who are already living in the area while making it all "nice" for those who would move in because of the improvements, restorations, etc.

    As for the Millennials, they are not creating their grandparents' life styles quite yet and may never. Cities priced many of them out. It wasn't and isn't all simply about having children. Builders still haven't been designing and building cities to be child friendly. That too could change.

    Where are the safe parks and playgrounds? Where are the new and replaced schools? City governments and city managers and planners need to revisit everything.

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  4.    Grand minimum predicted for 2050s sun cycle will cool Earth

    A future grand solar minimum could slow down but not stop global warming ....

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  5.    Financialising the State: Recent developments in fiscal and monetary policy

    ... much of the research on financialisation ... simplistically assumes that the 'rentier', representing global financial elites, undermines production, dominates distribution and captures the state.

    Simple does not necessarily mean wrong. In fact, financialization of the state is most definitely for the benefit first and foremost of the elites. Were it for the People in general, the state would not even be constructed in a way where the elites could buy even a bit of it for their private benefit over the general welfare of the citizenry collectively. But they can, therefore they do.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  6.    Corporate America's Spending Roars On, and These Charts Show Why - Bloomberg

    Rose-colored glasses are apparently hot.

    We will face greater weather hazards and more damage as a result. We will continue to face ever-greater pollution issues leading to direct, negative health impacts for everyone (costly). Then there is the complete transitory nature of the tax cuts for the poor and the highly likely deficit-hawk calls to slash welfare-state benefits, which if followed, will slash demand because it will dry up money to the poorer classes to spend on all the supposed new goods and services planned in the face of the recently announced tax cuts: the exact opposite of what is called a virtuous cycle.

    Of course, a welfare-state government could be the result, in which case, there would be hope.

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  7.    Cryptocurrencies Are Like Ponzi Schemes, World Bank Chief Says - Bloomberg

    I said it was a Ponzi scheme when it was at 25¢.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  8.    January brought largest drought footprint in nearly 4 years to U.S. | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

    The U.S. drought continued to expand and intensify to its largest area in nearly four years (May 2014). As of January 30, 38.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up from 27.7 percent at the beginning of January.

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  9.    The Last Time U.S. Wage Growth Spurred Inflation Was in 1980s - Bloomberg

    Hourly earnings have grown 2.2 percent on average in this expansion. The average increase in the consumer price gauge that the Fed likes to monitor is 1.5 percent, still short of policy makers' goal of 2 percent. In the previous two expansions, a surge in wages -- sometimes topping 4 percent -- failed to deliver or even coincide with a spurt in inflation, according to Joseph LaVorgna, Natixis chief Americas economist.

    To find that link, one would have to go back to 1985, he said, adding that the correlation coefficient between wages and inflation since that time is "very low."

    That's true; however, there are many new variables in the mix now that weren't even considered back in 1985, none of which point to inflationary pressures even remotely as strong as back then or even just prior to the Great Recession. The rich have been focused upon themselves as much or more than ever and automation and globalization are still factors. Automation will only continue doing what it has been doing: doubling in capacity and capability over and over and over until a singularity is reached (if that's even possible).

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  10.    Detroit just banned Airbnb without anyone knowing it [updated] - Curbed Detroit News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

    People aren't sure yet where the lines are drawn between longer-term rentals and renting out space like a hotel.

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  11.    An Intro to House Hacking: Here's How I Get Paid to Live for Free

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  12.    Fracking Earthquakes Pop Up in Unexpected Corner of Oklahoma's Shale Patch

    But "all earthquakes start out small," said Austin Holland, a supervisory geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico who worked for the Oklahoma Geological Survey until 2015. "You can't rule out the possibility that you could have a significant earthquake triggered by hydraulic fracturing."

    That's what I've said on this very blog and before I saw it anywhere else. I'm concerned that the entire process is severely weakening the very crust of the Earth and could result in damage not seen during modern record-keeping.

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  13.    Study Finds Houston's Apartment Safety Programs Are Flawed

    Houston is being dragged into the 20th century. Let's hope they can get through that and start on the 21st before the 22nd. Okay, I'm exaggerating. The city has received a wake-up call due to recent flooding, but it still has a long way to go to kick the "libertarian" habit. Zoning, building codes, and other governmental regulations are good when they are better than the result of not having them at all. People need to be protected from what they don't have the time or expertise to be completely up on to protect themselves, if that would even be possible while the rest of society around one didn't bother.

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  14.    Texas flood: Researchers compare pollution levels before and after Hurricane Harvey News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

    As expected:

    In the laboratory, researchers extracted organic compounds from the pre-Harvey dust and post-Harvey soil samples and analyzed them using gas chromatography. Horney and her colleagues found evidence that flooding had redistributed PAHs in Manchester. Sites with higher PAH concentrations before the storm had lower concentrations afterward, and the opposite was true for sites with lower pre-hurricane PAH concentrations. However, the source of PAHs was consistent in samples from before and after Hurricane Harvey.

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  15.    With spotlight on Seattle's hostile architecture, Mike O'Brien seeks clarity - Curbed Seattle

    The city does have some options for those who have to camp—city-sanctioned encampments were first authorized in 2015. "Those are great," said O'Brien. "Those are full."

    It's not like the city hasn't done some positive things to address the homelessness crisis, O'Brien told us. They're just not at a high enough capacity.

    "We were successful at moving a lot of people indoors last summer, but it wasn't necessarily [just] because of the incredible work of the navigation team," said O'Brien. He said that success can also be contributed to the options available: Hundreds of beds opened up, including a low-barrier shelter on First Hill, new tiny houses, and a new shelter in Licton Springs. "If you give people better options, they take them, and those are full now."

    We can build more housing options to transition people into, said O'Brien, but people need a place to go in the meantime. And he says he's open to different options—he just wants a solution.

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  16.    Report: Smart surfaces save cities billions through increased resilience | Smart Cities Dive News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

    Smart surfaces help to manage sunlight and rain. Installing them reduces the negative effects of an urban heat island by making them cooler, healthier and more resilient, the report finds. Smart surfaces reflect more light and heat instead of absorbing it into pavement or trapping it at the street level.

    Smart surfaces in cities improve resilience through stormwater management and water quality. Asphalt and other largely impervious surfaces produces greater runoff during storms, which can lead to flooding and more debris entering waterways. But adding elements like pervious concrete and rain gardens allows rainwater to absorb into the ground instead of simply flowing across the surface. Those features also provide filtration to improve water quality.

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  17.    College Was Once Free and For the Public Good—What Happened? by Thomas Adam — YES! Magazine

    College was free until the selfish and greedy stepped in the way. It's that simple.

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  18.    UK ICO, USCourts.gov... Thousands of websites hijacked by hidden crypto-mining code after popular plugin pwned • The Register

    Any "currency" that needs to be cyber mined should be banned before conception. I have yet to see one generally beneficial result of this entire "industry." The total negatives to it always have way outweighed any supposed positives.

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  19.    After Just a Year, Trump's Balanced Budget Promises Ring Hollow | Economy | US News

    This is all a huge yawn to me. It's an utter distraction for the masses. As always, no major politician cited mentioned getting rid of governmental borrowing and, hence, all deficits forevermore. It's one huge scam against everyone but the plutocrats. And they dare call it democracy.

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  20.    Trump Privatizes America - YouTube

    No governmental borrowing, no taxing to get the money already created via borrowing, just create new money (interest free) and spend it right into the real economy is what I've been pushing for a decade now.

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  21.    mainly macro: Labour, the polls and the Customs Union

    I've avoided Simon Wren-Lewis on Brexit because he's hammered with the "technocracy is good" mantra {"the people are too ignorant and just can't ever be educated enough to make the 'right' economic decisions (anti-democratic ones, pro-banker ones) on such a huge scale" nonsense}; however, he's fairly reasonable here:

    Labour surge during the 2017 election is that once the party gets direct access to voters they like what they see. Once the media filter goes back on, voters see a very different picture. This is the lesson of 2017 that hardly anyone in the media wants to admit.

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  22.    Stick To The Forecast | Tim Duy's Fed Watch

    I don't think anyone could be faulted for believing that two percent is a ceiling, not a target.

    It is too high a target for many hawks. We still live in a neoliberal economic-world, despite the growing deficit. The goal for them is privatization on steroids: greed over brains! A recession will simply be another in a long, long list of fake reasons to privatize. They hated the fiscal stimulus because they didn't get the lion's share (even though the stimulus still wasn't large enough or targeted nearly enough at the poor).

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  23.    Bond-Stock Clash Has Just Begun as Inflation Looms - Bloomberg

    ... market-based expectations for consumer-price growth over the next decade have tumbled. And the consumer price index is projected to have slowed last month on an annual basis.
    ...
    Jim Platz, who helps oversee American Century Investments' $3.1 billion inflation-adjusted bond fund, cautions against overreacting to one inflation report. Three-month averages are more telling, he said.

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  24.    Here's what a 5 percent mortgage rate would mean to buyers

    Raising rates is currently recessionary. It is at cross-purposes with tax cuts. On top of that, the cuts for people versus corporations are temporary.

    You really need a long-term view to not get fleeced.

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  25.    Germany overtakes China as world's richest exporter - The Local News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

    What?

    We live in a time when the continuation of the liberal world order is in question.

    The term "liberal" there is a gross misnomer. In the context in which it is used there, it only applies to protecting Germany from every other country in the world, not protecting the Greeks and others from Germany.

    The entire European project (European Union) was deliberately skewed from the start to grant Germany hegemony over economic Europe and not as a beneficent dictator but a completely self-centered one.

    As we've seen, the Greeks work the longest hours of all Europeans and the Germans the fewest. In the face of that, when the Greeks were raped by corrupt leaders in Greece, who were taking their marching orders from the economic system of Europe, the Germans referred to the Greeks as lazy.

    The European project was started by technocrats for plutocrats. It was not democratic and still isn't.

    The proper use of the term "liberal" would apply to both the Germans and Greeks equally, and I don't mean the elites in both countries but all the people.

    The use of the term "liberal" as used in the article is per laissez-faire advocates but skewed for German elites. The laissez-faire use is always on behalf of the elites. It means "liberty" of capitalists to do whatever they want concerning everything and let the so-called market decide, as if people have a choice under monopolies created by, and for, the elite capitalists who only get where they get by the system skewed to benefit those who often couldn't care less about so-called "externalities" in the first place.

    Externalities is a euphemism (a word designed to make the wrong appear less wrong or not wrong at all). Externalities are the harms done left and right on account of the fact that the capitalistic-only market can never really decide for the best.

    It takes a different kind of market to do that: the market of open, honest, and direct ideas put before all the people to decide regardless of how much money they have acquired to "vote."

    The fact is that laissez-faire capitalism is itself an inherent Ponzi scheme.

    Unless democracy is placed permanently and incorruptibly on top of economics, laissez-faire capitalism will forever drag the world down from where it would otherwise have been able to be (if we were to even survive it).

    The proper question is never whether democracy. It's how much capitalism to allow under democracy.

    The idea of democratic-capitalism is totally wrong. There's no such thing. There is democracy and then there is capitalism. Capitalism, per se, is inherently anti-democratic. Capitalism, per se, is always only about capitalistic markets. The moment democracy is being discussed, capitalism is not. A democracy can attempt to decide how much anti-democracy to allow: how much capitalism (private capital, private ownership of the means of production, to use Marx's conceptualization, which is actually the right one in this context and whether we are Marxists or not).

    An enterprise can produce and sell for a profit while being owned publicly. The question then concerns how democratically controlled the enterprise is: how democratically controlled the public property is.

    The idea that publicly owned enterprises would result in inefficient central-planning is completely wrong. Dollars counted as votes in the capitalistic market is not better than dollar-less votes in democratically derived decisions. In the dollar-less market I'm describing, even better efficiencies would result. That's because the people wouldn't be trapped with the so-called externalities of pollution, etc. They'd be able to instantly vote down polluting endeavors and vote for bringing resources to bear on systems that do not pollute. Pollution is just one example. The others are only limited by the number of so-called externalities.

    The amount of money to create and circulate for such endeavors would be entirely democratically decided as directly as practicable, as transparently as practicable. The equation to avoid inflation and deflation harms could be both determined and employed.

    Who hates this? Those who want more for themselves for no good reason. Frankly, I think it comes down to wounded egos. I believe it's a mental illness. I say that not desiring to hurt anyone's feelings but to open our eyes to begin to heal the wounds that cause selfishness and greed and to learn how to prevent those wounds from happening.

    Why would an insurance broker write this? Insurance is fundamentally about spreading risk: sharing the so-called burden. I say "so-called" because our fellow humans really shouldn't be seen as burdens even while we each should endeavor at the very least to be a net-benefit to humanity and no bother in any sense. It's balanced expectations and actions.

    Is this utopian? Utopia means nowhere. Once it's in place, we'll have arrived not at nowhere but the best place we've all ever been. It won't be an illusion. It will be as real as real gets on this plain of existence.

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  26.    My professional opinion as a blockchain researcher: I don't see the point (yet) | The unpublished notebooks of J. M. Korhonen

    This is an excellent overview by Janne Korhonen. It expresses my sentiments all along almost to the letter. I was adamantly opposed to Bitcoin the moment I was asked by that "community" to sign on and invest. That was when Bitcoin was 25¢. I have always looked upon Bitcoin and the like (alternative cryptocurrencies) with exactly the same scorn I had for the extremely evil Silk Road on the darkweb.

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  27.    What is pro-cyclical fiscal policy [and why is it such a terrible and divious idea]?

    Edward Harrison has done an excellent job here explaining exactly why Trump's timing is more than highly suspect.

    ... the real test here is about inflation and the Fed. With Jerome Powell, a new Federal Reserve Chairman at the helm, there is a lot of uncertainty. If the Fed reacts with the same caution it has so far, long-term interest rates will remain low. And that could allow for continued growth in the economy and in corporate earnings, which ultimately helps stocks too. But since pro-cyclical policy amplifies the business cycle, it could cause overheating. if [sic] inflation rises or the Fed becomes more aggressive, the Trump Administration's stimulus could boomerang. That would mean an initial bump in growth is followed by a steep fall. And the pain would spread beyond asset markets, to the economy real [sic] too.

    My view is that President Trump is being used by "libertarians" to ruin the economy to then blame it on everything but their libertarian economics and to use that blame/excuse to further privatize the public sector and to slash governmental spending, whether that means greatly harming the already poor or not.

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  28.    China rental housing: trickle to torrent | JLL

    All I can say is that it's about time. How China went on and on building "investment" housing that just sat, and still mostly sits, empty only socialism with Chinese characteristics can answer. It's simply made zero sense. Frankly, I think it was insane.

    This doesn't mean I'm completely on board with China's Xi, far from it.

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  29.    It's a 'bizarre time' for a big infrastructure plan, economists say - POLITICO

    "It's a completely and utterly bizarre time to be doing this, and frankly it's probably not going to happen," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics. "Unless you magically improve the labor force participation rate and get a miracle on productivity, all you will do is tighten labor markets, drive up wages and lift demand when it doesn't need lifting."

    Without an increase in the size of the labor force, which has remain stuck near a 30-year low for years, or a strong uptick in productivity, the Fed would likely to be forced to hike interest rates in response to a sharp uptick in wages in order to fight inflation.

    Unfortunately, that's all true.

    Now, I say there's still plenty of labor slack. I also say that wages would need to go up to attract new labor. It would increase demand for goods and services. The question is whether new/increased supply would keep up to keep price inflation at bay to keep interest rates down.

    That would all take genius planning, which is in extremely short supply on purpose.

    We do need to repair a great deal of existing infrastructure. We do need to create totally new vastly more modern and efficient, clean infrastructure.

    What's the plan to do that without price inflation, interest-rate hikes, and a resulting recession? Who knows the math? Who can critical-path the whole thing? Who wants to?

    It's that last question that matters most. Those who want to gain for self at the direct, negative expense of the general welfare do not want to and will attempt to block all attempts.

    When we fought WWII, we managed everything. We even did it the hard way, the stupid way: by borrowing, by selling war bonds.

    We could martial ourselves to do what's needed for the sake of the nation and do it the smart way: without borrowing a dime. However, doing things for the good of the nation is not the highest priority of those who have control via our rather fake democracy.

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  30.    Another Cryptocurrency Target for U.S. Regulators: Tether - Lawfare

    Tether appears likely to be a scheme that facilitates money laundering or to be a "wildcat bank," one that prints banknotes that aren't actually backed. In both cases the U.S. government can, and should, intervene.

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  31.    Bitcoin Price and Crypto Markets Rise After Regulators Dial Back Rhetoric | Investopedia

    ... Hong Nam-Ki, minister of the Office for Government Policy, said they were focused on making crypto trading transparent (as opposed to banning crypto exchanges). Hong's statement came after the circulation of an online petition criticizing the government's threat to ban crypto trading was signed by 200,000 people.

    If that petition caused the decision not to ban it, that was some terrible governmental-policy making.

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  32.    Trump's infrastructure plan: Small federal investment, more state and local control - Curbed News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

    This is scathing but accurate.

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  33.    Trump's Budget and Infrastructure Plans Threaten Environment - YouTube

    I'm including this because it goes right to the heart of governmental risk-management. Every pro-carbon-burning move by the government increases risks.

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  34.    7 Common Myths About Rental Property Taxation—Dispelled

    ... you have a $100,000 home with $40,000 in equity. You find a lender who will lend 80%, so you lock that note up, leaving you with $20,000 in equity and $20,000 in cash.

    The interest on the $20,000 in cash is non-deductible until you apply it to a rental property or a business activity. Please make sure you plan for this; otherwise, you're missing out on easy money.

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  35.    Are Carbon Monoxide Detectors a Landlord's Responsibility?

    In roughly half of the 50 United States, landlords are required to provide and maintain carbon monoxide detectors. Their degree of responsibility varies according to state-specific laws.

    If your insurance coverage says you have to have one, then do it whether the state requires it or not.

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  36.    The Elevation of Corporate Executives in the Age of Problematic Presidencies | Best Countries | US News

    I'm not going to nitpick about this article. I don't agree with all of its premises. However, the following is important:

    Many of the recent examples of global corporate influence reflect the positive and constructive role they can play. Nonetheless, there is undoubtedly a significant danger that this power can be used for less noble goals. They are not accountable to voters, though there is to some extent congressional oversight.

    Even so, who will be responsible to check abuses when companies exercise greater influence than countries? Perhaps the same members of their movement. Yet, movements can work in strange and unpredictable ways. Moreover, what impact will their ascendance have on those very democratic institutions and even ideals?

    As my readers know well, I'm a direct-democracy advocate. I fully oppose plutocracy and technocracy over democracy and have no faith in the type of government we term representative democracy, as there are different types of representation, and we don't have the type I like at all.

    I like the power of the people to recall representatives who end up not reflecting the desires of the voters. I also like "Ranked Choice Voting / Instant Runoff" elections among other things. http://www.fairvote.org/rcv

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  37.    Climate Change Costs Insurance Companies Billions, And Price is Rising - YouTube

    If these facts offend, please understand that we are in the truth business. We don't have the luxury of denying what's happening and why.

    Most importantly to insureds who pay for premiums to transfer the risk of losses to insurance companies/carriers, carbon-burning as a source of energy and transportation, etc., is raising your premiums even as I write this.

    Quite a while ago, I wrote that coverage won't even remain available if we don't severely and quickly rein in or sequester CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases.

    Sequestration would be great, but things aren't being rolled out nearly quickly enough. Besides, there are a whole host of other negatives associated with carbon as fuel.

    Insurance claims due to climate change-related disasters reached a record $135 billion in 2017. That should be a big wake-up call to the insurance industry, says Carbon Tracker CEO Anthony Hobley.

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  38.    Global Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating - Study | UNFCCC

    Global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly caused by fossil fuel combustion and deforestation, need to peak soon and then decline rapidly to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, which include rising sea levels, more droughts, floods and forest fires.

    ... among other risks

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  39.    Those scented products you love? NOAA study finds they can cause air pollution | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

    Having worked in manufacturing, I knew there were issues; however, I had no idea they were this significant.

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  40.    Spokane Hopes Tiny Homes and Cottages Will Spur Infill Density — Next City

    I've been advocating this for years now. It's great to see a city adopting it.

    ... by making it more financially feasible for developers to build denser infill housing, it will increase the housing stock, improve affordability and keep people from sprawling further into Spokane County.

    Large houses just aren't always needed. The same goes for large yards. If the small houses are well-built (weather and climate-change smart too) and afford proper privacy, I'm all for them.

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  41.    The White House Is Very Optimistic on Growth. It Shouldn't Be. - The New York Times

    ... the Trump administration projects similar interest rates to those envisioned by more cautious forecasters, despite projecting higher growth.

    It implies something of an immaculate expansion: returning to pre-2000 growth rates without also returning to pre-2000 interest rates.

    That's true.

    However, the article doesn't delve into automation or the planned disappearance of the personal-income-tax cuts.

    Automation is a huge part of Total Factor Productivity and is supposed to be part of more capital spending on plant and equipment and the like. The issue is whether models are properly set to reflect the acceleration in technological advances or even can.

    To me, the entire Trump plan is going to exacerbate the "business cycle," which cycle we should be getting rid of instead, and be used as the central lame-excuse for slashing entitlements right when automation is going to make getting, and/or holding, a job more and more difficult and eventually impossible and, frankly, needless.

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  42.    How Monopolies Gamed the System | The Nation

    Companies and their shareholders are hoarding these savings, which in the past may have gone to workers. Profits are now at near-record highs, while wages have stagnated for a generation.

    That's why the Fed is likely to overly correct: overshoot and raise interest rates too much and too soon. They are under the same illusion as the "chain CPI" pushers of nonsense to mask the real game: privatization, consolidation, which will lead us nowhere but down and then to democracy to fix it all once and for all. Hopefully, the planet won't be too messed up to fix in time. I'm optimistic.

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  43.    Major apartment developer: 'There is an acute crisis headed our way' News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

    Scan the downtowns of the nation's largest cities, and you are likely to see a staggering array of cranes.
    Most of them are helping to build luxury apartment buildings. In fact, multifamily construction is now at a 40-year high; the trouble is, developers are putting up the wrong kinds of buildings. The luxury market is largely overbuilt, while there is a shortage of affordable rental housing, and developers are hamstrung by the now record-high cost of construction.
    ...
    There are some government programs that offer developers financial incentives to build lower-income housing, but they don't meet the needs.

    That means the capitalistic market isn't doing what it's falsely alleged to be able to do. Therefore, we collectively must subsidize the industry to create the affordable housing that's really needed. Unfortunately, those with the most power and control (and personal wealth in dollars) want to keep the poor down.

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  44.    What's Hiding in the Budget Bill? Sneak Attacks on Wolves, Trees and Water | Earthjustice

    Humanity pollutes, and then polluters complain when they get sick and their family members and loved ones die. How about we care first. How about we prevent what causes the sickness and death: pollution, wanton degradation of nature, etc.

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  45.    Is Bitcoin a Waste of Resources? | St. Louis Fed

    Argument 4: Bitcoin is already a net benefit to the economy. Venture capitalists invested more than $1 billion into at least 729 Bitcoin companies which created thousands of jobs. ... the bottom line is that spending an estimated 150 megawatt in a system that so far created thousands of jobs is a valuable economic move, not a waste.

    Bevand either has not studied economics, or he went to the class where they talked about Keynes and missed the class on opportunity cost. The fact that people are spending time in activities associated with Bitcoin—designing it, trading it, mining, designing new chips, maintaining dedicated hardware, etc.—is in fact a waste of resources. All those people could be doing something more productive with their time, assuming the opportunity cost of this time is not zero. Some of these costs may be recouped in terms of learning, but my best guess is that we have learned all that is useful from the Bitcoin phenomenon.

    Of course.

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  46.    Elmwood Park woman pleads guilty to insurance fraud

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  47.    What Happens When You Fill A House With 'Smart' Technology : NPR

    "The House That Spied On Me."

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  48.    Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers - Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

    The share of these workers with some college education rose from 48.4 to 56.5 percent in hospitals and from 55.2 to 59.4 percent in outpatient facilities. By 2015, 62.5 percent of health aides and assistants in hospitals had some college or a four-year degree; more than three-quarters (77.1 percent) in outpatient care had this level of educational achievement.

    Nevertheless, median real wages of full-time, full-year workers fell from $14.87 to $14.72 in hospitals and rose by a penny from $14.27 to $14.28 in outpatient facilities over the decade.

    Wages are low because executive compensation is so high in relative terms. It's that simple.

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  49.    Special Investigation: The Dirty Secret Behind Warren Buffett's Billions | The Nation

    ... Buffett's investment strategy should not legally be available, to him or anyone else.

    Where's that part of Teddy Roosevelt's spirit that's actually needed? Bust the Trusts!

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  50.    Here's How New Fed Chief Powell Is Changing Things Up - Bloomberg

    ... a voracious reader of economic research. At the same time he lacks the academic grounding of Ph.D economists .... Perhaps in recognition of that potential weakness ....

    Emphasis on "potential," as it can actually be a benefit if applied properly.

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  51.    California drought could last more than a decade - Curbed SF

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  52.    Boyle Heights mariachis, landlord cut deal ending rent strike - Curbed LA News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 18, 2018

    ... Tenants Union ....

    If landlords and management firms try to get rich too quickly and too much relative to their tenants, this is likely what they'll be able to look forward to. Some anti-tenant-state governments may move to outlaw Tenant Unions, but I'd look for that to be overturned in federal courts.

    As a landlord, look to make a decent living, not to soak your tenants. Look to treat your tenants well. If you do, they'll likely go easy on you when it comes time to negotiate with them collectively.

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  53.    Tenant groups collect signatures to repeal Costa Hawkins - Curbed LA

    More reason to not grab for too much:

    ... we're getting a lot of support from homeowners and even small landlords, because they don't want to see this massive displacement by development that also changes the character of their neighborhoods," Senterfitt says.

    Don't be unreasonable, and you'll have a welcome seat at the table. You'll have more say if you show you want a win-win situation. If your expenses are high and you aren't taking too much for yourself, tenants will be receptive to sharing the financial burdens with you. If you're greedy or appear to be a slum landlord, watch out. People are becoming savvier and better networked.

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