News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Jul. 29-30, 2018

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Argentine economy shrinks 5.8 percent in May year-on-year [thanks to libertarian/neoliberal economics]

2) 'A Civil Action' Carcinogen Pollutes Tap Water Supplies for 14 Million Americans

3) EWG's Tap Water Database

4) Trump may bury the global recovery, Roubini says

5) New Facebook Campus Won't Get a Cafeteria, Thanks to Mountain View, CA

6) Offshore owners of British property to be forced to reveal names

7) China's Currency Is Back in Play

8) 12 Sent to Hospital After Carbon Monoxide Leak at San Antonio Hotel

9) Patrick Honohan: "Yes helicopter money can work"

10) Glasnost and Perestroika in Economics

11) Researchers develop model for predicting landslides caused by earthquakes

12) Leaders wrestle with affordable housing crisis after 'years wandering in the wilderness'

13) New San Jose apartments will be allotted exclusively for the homeless

14) Portland rents are going down: More supply is driving down rents in the Rose City [but why?]

15) International buyers are dropping out of US housing market

16) A Quick Review of 250 Years of [selective] Economic Theory About Tariffs

17) The higher the inequality, the more likely we are to move away from democracy

18) US Growth Hits 4.1%, Fastest Since 2014, in [fleeting] Win for Trump

19) The West is on fire ... again

20) Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests

21) 'Zombie blocks' to pull Sydney apartment prices even lower

22) Real estate no longer top investment choice for Americans

23) Great Pacific Garbage Patch cleanup is drawing near

24) Brownsville will get nearly 900 new affordable apartments: These developments are all located on city-owned land ...

25) The Ultimate Guide on Raising Rent

26) Kink in Jet Stream and Climate Change Spur Extreme Weather

27) Americans have been saving much more than thought, new data show

28) Overtaxation hurts private consumption

29) Great-grandmother sought to stave off US fire that killed her, two kids [CA must fight AGW to win]

30) Pros and Cons of Renting Your Income Property to Pet Owners

31) Quick Thoughts on Trump's "Amazing" Economy

32) Heat waves kill people in cooler climates because they can't cool off

  1.    Argentine economy shrinks 5.8 percent in May year-on-year [thanks to libertarian/neoliberal economics]

    I remember when the US economic right-wing hailed the elevation of Mauricio Macri as if he'd be the instant savior of Argentina. Meanwhile, we progressives said he'd herald in austerity, more debt to pay earlier debt, and recession. Maybe Argentina should take a close look at what Portugal has managed to do by taking pretty much the exact opposite approach to Argentina's and Greece's.

    Wake up and smell the economic progressivism. It beats libertarian-capitalism hands down every time.

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  2.    'A Civil Action' Carcinogen Pollutes Tap Water Supplies for 14 Million Americans

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


  3.    EWG's Tap Water Database

    Drill down on the website to the smallest utility for the place you're researching.

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


  4.    Trump may bury the global recovery, Roubini says

    No mention of the negatives of the corporate-tax cuts? This is Nouriel Roubini? Those tax cuts coupled with ill-timed Fed tightening will bring on recession. There may be a blip one could term stagflation, but wouldn't that be a contradiction in terms? The Fed would have to scramble back very quickly to avoid a significant downturn. More fiscal stimulus would actually be needed.

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  5.    New Facebook Campus Won't Get a Cafeteria, Thanks to Mountain View, CA

    I see the point from both sides.

    How about if Facebook were to open its cafeterias to the public and hire local restaurateurs to staff those cafeterias?

    It seems rather strange that a company can't feed its workers. It reminds me of charities being told they can't feed the hungry in public.

    There has to be a win-win for everyone.

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  6.    Offshore owners of British property to be forced to reveal names

    We've known about this for more decades than I can remember. Think about why it has taken so long to do anything about it.

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  7.    China's Currency Is Back in Play

    Technically, a managed depreciation is one of the hardest things for any central bank to pull off.

    It's doubly difficult if the US knows that's what's being attempted while the average Chinese citizen has never been through any of this before and simply expects the Chinese government to cover them if the bottom falls out.

    Yes, Trump would definitely think about ramping up to 30% on $500 billion in trade. China would be bleeding like crazy while the US would benefit in the medium and especially the longer run.

    Xi will blink or go down. Trump holds the vastly better hand.

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  8.    12 Sent to Hospital After Carbon Monoxide Leak at San Antonio Hotel

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


  9.    Patrick Honohan: "Yes helicopter money can work"

    It certainly doesn't have to be a central bank that decides who gets the money. It could be, and should be, the people themselves via democracy as direct (direct democracy or pure democracy) as possible. Yes, the EU would have to be changed into a democracy from its current state of technocracy on behalf of the elite (including commercial bankers).

    Former governor of the Central Bank of Ireland Patrick Honohan argues helicopter money could technically work and provide a significant stimulus to the economy. However it is unclear whether the measure would be legal in the Eurozone.

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  10.    Glasnost and Perestroika in Economics

    James Galbraith says academic economics is in need of radical reform "Openness" and "restructuring" led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. But if it also led to the collapse of orthodox economics, James Galbraith wouldn't mind. The University of Texas economist outlines how the profession has become "self-dealing"—creating a tribal and restrictive hierarchy through journals and university appointments that keep diverse scholarship out. Economics wasn't this way just a few decades ago, but now its closed-mindedness keeps independent scholars from getting the platform they need to do real, pathbreaking research. Galbraith also discusses the work of his University of Texas Inequality Project (UTIP), which is working to develop a new series of measurements of economic inequality at a global scale.

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  11.    Researchers develop model for predicting landslides caused by earthquakes

    Landslides are the third-largest contributor to earthquake deaths, after building collapse and tsunamis.

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  12.    Leaders wrestle with affordable housing crisis after 'years wandering in the wilderness'

    ... while renter households went up by nearly 10 million from 2005 to 2017, the number of affordable units went down by 260,000 nationwide.

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  13.    New San Jose apartments will be allotted exclusively for the homeless

    A third of the $36.8 million price tag is funded by public money, with the rest of the money coming from private ventures.

    Wouldn't you like to know more about how it's being funded, who's building it, and how much money everyone is making by doing this project?

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  14.    Portland rents are going down: More supply is driving down rents in the Rose City [but why?]

    Think about this article after reading it. Why are rents down? Are they down because a lack of regulation drove them down? No. If regulation had not been forthcoming, would there have been a boom in construction leading to more supply causing a very slight drop in rent rates? No. What's really needed, more "market-rate" rentals created purely by the "market" or more subsidies to developers to create more affordable housing? It's the latter of the two for sure. Would landlords lose out on profits that way? If the rents were subsidized, they would not. In fact, their income stream would be more assured. What happens with the former method? Affordable housing is not created. Developers develop for those who can afford the market prices driven up by higher land costs, higher material costs, higher labor costs due to insufficient education in construction, and on and on.

    Will a common landlord rent a luxury apartment to a homeless person for what that homeless person can afford working at McDonald's flipping burgers just because the vacancy rate might fall to where that would be the only way to get someone into that apartment and paying rent? No. The typical landlord would let it sit vacant, take a write off, and consider selling it at a loss to someone with even deeper pockets willing to wait out the downturn.

    It would take a depression at least twice as deep and long as the Great Depression before that pattern might be broken by natural means. Let's hope the government would step in and step up before that.

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  15.    International buyers are dropping out of US housing market

    This is good for domestic investors looking to get in.

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  16.    A Quick Review of 250 Years of [selective] Economic Theory About Tariffs

    What's missing here? Well, among other things, the fact that some tariffs are about regaining fair trade. The neoclassical interpretation is always that all tariffs are bad, period. Fair is not immediately important, as supposedly, the markets will work it all out if left completely alone. Well, all that will do is lead to monopoly and one totalitarian dictator over the entirety of humanity, which is definitely not a good idea, as that one will be hyper-selfish rather than serving each and all fairly.

    In addition, so called protectionism for startups in developing countries doesn't say anything about the deep exploitation of labor and the environment within those developing countries. It also, therefore, doesn't say anything about the deep lack of democracy in many of those countries either.

    Trade appears to be great so long as the richest of the rich reap the lion's share while making trickledown promises never kept because keeping them is actually impossible under laissez-faire ideology.

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  17.    The higher the inequality, the more likely we are to move away from democracy

    ... we need to look at the relationship between inequality and politics. In every political system, even a democracy, the rich tend to hold more political power. The danger is that this political power will be used to promote policies that further cement the economic power of the rich. The higher the inequality, the more likely we are to move away from democracy toward plutocracy.

    It's not just plutocracy, per se, but also fascism as an aggressive mistaken reaction to democracy that's taken over by the rich who crushed the common people.

    It isn't democracy that leads to plutocracy and then a fascist reaction. It's insufficient democracy.

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  18.    U.S. Growth Hits 4.1%, Fastest Since 2014, in [fleeting] Win for Trump

    ... the pace of expansion will slow as the effects of tax cuts fades, companies pull back in the face of foreign tariffs or strong dollar and the Federal Reserve raises interest rates further.
    ...
    Even with the relatively strong pace of growth last quarter, most economists expect expansion to settle back to near its long-run rate, and some have flagged the risk of a recession in two years. ...
    ...
    Housing remained a weak spot in the economy amid signs that the sector is poised for its broadest slowdown in years. Residential investment contracted at a 1.1 percent rate, the fourth decline in five quarters. [It's a leading indicator.]

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  19.    The West is on fire ... again

    The not-so-new normal:

    ... the destruction from the gargantuan blazes we've seen in recent years is hardly natural; human activity is clearly making it worse.

    For one thing, humans start the vast majority of these fires, upward of 84 percent of them. California officials have blamed a dozen of last year's fires on Pacific Gas and Electric's power lines. Utilities were also blamed for fires in Nevada. Arson was suspected for fires in Northern California.

    Another factor is how humans use the land. People are increasingly building closer to the wilderness, blurring the line between suburbs and shrubland. That means that when fires do burn, they threaten more lives and property. Meanwhile, active fire suppression in some areas has allowed dry vegetation to accumulate, so when embers ignite, it causes a massive conflagration.

    And of course, the climate is changing, mostly due to human activity. Rising average temperatures have led to western forests drying out, increasing the risk of fires. There are 129 million dead trees in California alone. Across the state, the total number of fires is trending downward, but the size of fires is going up.

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  20.    Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests

    Increased forest fire activity across the western United States in recent decades has contributed to widespread forest mortality, carbon emissions, periods of degraded air quality, and substantial fire suppression expenditures. Although numerous factors aided the recent rise in fire activity, observed warming and drying have significantly increased fire-season fuel aridity, fostering a more favorable fire environment across forested systems. We demonstrate that human-caused climate change caused over half of the documented increases in fuel aridity since the 1970s and doubled the cumulative forest fire area since 1984. This analysis suggests that anthropogenic climate change will continue to chronically enhance the potential for western US forest fire activity while fuels are not limiting.

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  21.    'Zombie blocks' to pull Sydney apartment prices even lower

    So, this will be the perfect proof that massive construction alone does not lead to truly affordable housing. It means that deregulation does not lead to truly affordable housing. It means that regulations, per se, in the first place do not lead to unaffordable housing. In other words, the libertarians are flat-out wrong.

    Do prices and rents go up and down? Of course. Do they do it enough to result in truly affordable housing? Absolutely not.

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  22.    Real estate no longer top investment choice for Americans

    Well, real estate (income producing) is better in my mixed-economy eyes; but, cash is next if we're going into a deflationary recession, which appears in the making (M2 FDIC cash, of course).

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  23.    Great Pacific Garbage Patch cleanup is drawing near

    This is absolutely great news! The entire planet nees to get fully behind this effort.

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  24.    Brownsville will get nearly 900 new affordable apartments: These developments are all located on city-owned land ...

    Now what's wrong with this in the eyes of libertarians? Do they really think libertarianism would handle it all and do a better job? I don't think many of them truly believe it.

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  25.    The Ultimate Guide on Raising Rent

    Usually people narrowly focus on the market rate for rents to determine whether one should raise them or not, but that shouldn't be your prime focus. ...
    ...
    Before deciding to decrease or increase rents, you should determine the cost benefit analysis of your decisions.

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  26.    Kink in Jet Stream and Climate Change Spur Extreme Weather

    "It is important to know that any heat wave has both natural and now, human causes," said Michael Wehner, a senior staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    Okay, I'm glad scientists are finally catching on. However, what part of interconnected climate do they still not get? When the first human appeared on the Earth, that human was impacting everything due to interconnectivity on the Earth. It's the pebble that sends waves out forever. Magnify that by the number of people and the impact huge industrialization has had, and it is absolutely impossible that any weather event anywhere on Earth is not impacted by AGW. How long will it take for everyone to grasp this simple, fundamental, indisputable fact?

    It's a matter of life and death on a global scale that they get it and get it soon, very, very soon.

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  27.    Americans have been saving much more than thought, new data show

    The article doesn't mention the paradox of thrift.

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


  28.    Overtaxation hurts private consumption

    In short, austerity is a con.

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


  29.    Great-grandmother sought to stave off U.S. fire that killed her, two kids [CA must fight AGW to win]

    With events such as these, California should refuse to accept any edicts from the US government attempting to roll back CA's fight against Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).

    CA's leadership as a solemn obligation to fight for the lives of CA citizens and occupants. CA should take the fight beyond the US Supreme Court (that will be on the AGW-deniers side, which is death). CA should take it directly to the People to encourage them to amend the US Constitution in any way required to put the fight against AGW and carbon-burning above any supposed "right" to sell or burn carbon beyond scientifically sound bounds.

    Any debate about whether AGW is real and whether it is primarily driven so far by human oil, gas, and coal burning is now utterly ridiculous. Not saying so is highly unprofessional and terrible risk management.

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  30.    Pros and Cons of Renting Your Income Property to Pet Owners

    When they are good, they're good; but, when they are bad ...

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  31.    Quick Thoughts on Trump's "Amazing" Economy

    One item that deserves attention is the 1.1 percent drop in residential investment, the second consecutive quarterly decline. This is a modest drag on growth, but more importantly it indicates that housing construction may be leveling off. This means that we may not see the increase in housing supply needed to put a check on rental inflation.

    The Fed's interest rate hikes are the immediate culprit here, as the anticipation of higher short-term rates have caused the 30-year mortgage rate to increase by roughly a percentage point from levels of two years ago. The tax cuts do play a role also, since the Fed is (rightly or wrongly) responding to what it sees as the risk that the tax cuts may over-stimulate the economy, causing inflation.

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  32.    The disturbing reason heat waves can kill people in cooler climates It's not a record-high temperature that necessarily makes a heat wave dangerous. It's whether you can cool off.

    ... cooling isn't a luxury; it can be a matter of life and death.

    The lack of it could be a liability for landlords going forward.

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