News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Sept. 29, 2018

Linking ≠ endorsement. News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Sept. 29, 2018

Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Pipe Pressure Before Massachusetts Gas Blasts 12 Times Higher Than Normal

2) Two Wyoming County Men Sentenced for Roles in Insurance Fraud by Arson Scheme

3) After Florence Floods, Uninsured Awaken to Painful Reality

4) Florence Floods: Hurricane Rating System Fails to Account for Deadly Rain

5) Microplastics can spread via flying insects, research shows

6) 10 Years Since Lehman Brothers – Did the Economy Recover? [No. Economics Professor Michael Hudson explains.]

7) De-Regulation, and De-Criminalization Set the Stage for the 2008 Financial Crisis [Bill Black explains]

8) Myanmar refugees evacuated from squalid Omaha apartments

9) Trump’s Currency Confusion Continues [maybe it’s in the context]

10) Your Guide to Radiant Floor Heating: The Pros and Cons

11) Hurricane Florence 2018

12) Trump Might Be Wrong About Trade, but Not for the Reason You Think

13) Bankshot Are Wells Fargo, PNC probes a setback for affordable housing?

14) New Tax Provisions Open Gates to $250 Billion in Property Investment

15) Denver-Area Apartment Market Dealing With Crush [overstated] of New Units

16) Singapore Investor Pays $835Mln for Large Apartment Portfolio in Western US; Wants to Buy More

17) Ben Bernanke: The housing bubble, the credit crunch, and the Great Recession: A reply to Paul Krugman

18) Digging Deeper into the Details about the Unemployed

19) The US Will Lose Its Trade War with China, says Anatole Kaletsky

20) Governor signs five more Commissioner-sponsored bills to protect wildfire survivors

21) Trump and Xi Are Destined to Divorce: The 2008 crisis set the US and China on an inexorable path to confrontation.

22) “Free markets” and the decline of democracy, by John Weeks

23) Home sellers slash prices, especially in California

24) Home sellers slashing prices nationwide, NYC real estate prices drop

25) Republicans stunned to learn voters understand exactly what their tax cut did

26) These 5 amazing people are fighting to save our oceans

27) Air Pollution and Cigarette Equivalence

28) The New Gentrifier Tactic: Copy Climate Change Deniers [It’s not new]

29) Here are 4 “buy” cities for multifamily investment

30) Do Spectacular Earnings Justify Spectacular US Stock Prices?

31) Resiliency in the face of hurricanes makes the case for renewables even stronger

32) Study: Post-Maria contracts go to mainland, not Puerto Rico

33) Why scooters have run into trouble

34) The IMF’s ‘Large Brain, Unhealthy Ego, and Tiny Conscience’

35) The State of Housing Confidence in 2018

36) The Fed: Look Forward or Risk a Hawkish Mistake

37) The Knock-On Effects Of A Deleveraging China

38) Budget Estimates Show New Tax Cuts For Wealthiest Americans Threaten Middle-Class Retirement

39) US Stocks Sink as Dollar Swings After Fed Move: Markets Wrap

40) US apartment vacancy rate edges higher in third quarter: Reis

41) At long last, economists appreciate that private debt was the catalyst for the crisis

42) Don’t believe the excuses: plenty of people saw the 2008 crisis coming

43) Apartment rents are suddenly rising faster, reversing yearlong trend

44) These are the world’s biggest property bubbles as ranked by UBS

45) Hayekian communism [with all due respect: nonsense]

46) Why We Have to Break Up Amazon

47) In a Warming World, Carolina CAFOs Are a Disaster for Farmers, Animals and Public Health

48) ‘We’re moving to higher ground’: America’s era of climate mass migration is here

49) Air pollution rots our brains. Is that why we don’t do anything about it?

50) Europe Unveils “Special Purpose Vehicle” To Bypass SWIFT, Jeopardizing Dollar’s Reserve Status

51) Global waste could increase by 70% by 2050, according to the World Bank

52) Wetlands disappearing three times faster than forests: study

53) New Study Suggests Extreme Weather Will Become More Common

54) Brad Pitt’s Foundation Sues Architect Over Defects in ‘Katrina’ Houses

55) Oregon Rental Company Settles for $105k in Living Conditions Suit

56) Florence was Second Wettest Storm in US, Behind Harvey

57) Assignment of Benefits

58) Powell Emboldens Bond Traders to Wager Inflation Will Stay Tame

59) The high cost of preserving vulnerable beaches after hurricanes

60) Home Price Appreciation in Highest-Risk Areas Outpaces Overall Rate

61) Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee Deal with Major Flooding

62) Federal Appeals Court Reverses Order Requiring Tennessee Coal Ash Cleanup

63) California moves to protect auto emissions rules from Trump rollback

64) Multinationals launch global program to speed up switch to electric vehicles

65) The Most Important Least-Noticed Economic Event of the Decade [really?]

  1.    Pipe Pressure Before Massachusetts Gas Blasts 12 Times Higher Than Normal


  2.    Two Wyoming County Men Sentenced for Roles in Insurance Fraud by Arson Scheme

    “Greed leads to reckless, dangerous behavior,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.


  3.    After Florence Floods, Uninsured Awaken to Painful Reality

    Only about 1 percent of homes in North Carolina’s inland counties are insured through the national floodinsurance program, according to federal data, compared with 25 percent to 50 percent of homeowners on the coast.

    The article says that Craig Fugate is a former FEMA administrator who claims insurance agents tended to tell people they did not need flood insurance. I hope he’s mistaken. My training includes that flooding can occur almost anywhere depending on a number of factors and to never tell a customer or client that he or she doesn’t need flood insurance. It’s not a matter of whether or not but how likely and how much does the customer or client want to spend to insure against the risk given estimated odds.


  4.    Florence Floods: Hurricane Rating System Fails to Account for Deadly Rain

    Very, very important:

    … ratings are based on wind strength, not rainfall or storm surge — and water is responsible for 90 percent of storm deaths.

    So, hurricane/storm rating systems need to have a flood-risk number/category too.


  5.    Microplastics can spread via flying insects, research shows

    Do your level best to minimize and even eliminate these plastics from what you buy, including the packaging. Support the movement for sustainable, healthy alternative materials to become current-type plastic substitutes.

    ‘Shocking’ study reveals plastic contaminates our skies as well as the oceans, say scientists.

    In addition to the alarming information in the article, plastics are also major endocrine disruptors causing a whole host of illnesses. You can research that on the Internet.


  6.    10 Years Since Lehman Brothers – Did the Economy Recover? [No. Economics Professor Michael Hudson explains.]

    The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy was the largest in U.S. history and unleashed a financial meltdown. The Banks were saved but not people’s debt, savings or homes. Michael Hudson looks at the economic instability that we continue to live in.

    Part1

    Part 2

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


  7.    De-Regulation, and De-Criminalization Set the Stage for the 2008 Financial Crisis [Bill Black explains]

    It started with deregulating lender-due-diligence in 1994!

    White collar criminologist Bill Black analyzes how the U.S. got into the 2008 financial crisis and what it means that we have not learnt the lessons from that crisis 10 years later ….

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

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


  8.    Myanmar refugees evacuated from squalid Omaha apartments

    Yikes.


  9.    Trump’s Currency Confusion Continues [maybe it’s in the context]

    He thinks this will improve the US trade balance, but does not understand that if foreign exporters are cut off from the US market, they will not have the dollars to buy US goods.

    I don’t count Donald Trump some sort of economic genius by any stretch; however, I think the article is an oversimplification with a couple of twists.

    First, Trump is in a long-haul tariff war. His goal is to make China cave. If US exports don’t ramp up that much while he’s turning the screws, he looks at that as a lesser priority.

    Second, when he says China’s a currency manipulator, he’s not necessarily referring to the exact present state but China’s history and willingness in Trump’s view to return to the practice if China isn’t reined in.

    Trump thinks China was allowed way too much license for way too long, and Trump is selling his tariffs as a means for the US to recover some lost or ceded ground.


  10.    Your Guide to Radiant Floor Heating: The Pros and Cons

    We’d need a comparison of the cost of operation and the amount of electromagnetic radiation given off by the electric system over the hydronic.


  11.    Hurricane Florence 2018

    Towns and communities throughout the Carolinas have been inundated, making it difficult to assess the damage caused by on-floodplain flooding from Florence.


  12.    Trump Might Be Wrong About Trade, but Not for the Reason You Think

    Matthew Klein misses a couple of hugely important factors.

    First, the tariffs are being sold by Trump as strategic in the military sense. If the US doesn’t cover the full-economic-spectrum in productive capacity and capability, it will be beholden to others in a time of world war.

    Second, Trump hasn’t raise the tariffs to discourage Americans from buying alone but to also gain taxes similar to a sales tax. The lower classes are typically hit more by that type of tax. Trump is serving plutocracy in that way, just as he did with the corporate-tax cuts.


  13.    Bankshot Are Wells Fargo, PNC probes a setback for affordable housing?

    … it is easy to imagine opponents of LIHTC, namely limited-government groups who favor the alternative of housing vouchers, pointing to the alleged manipulation of the tax credits as an argument for why the program should not be expanded.


  14.    New Tax Provisions Open Gates to $250 Billion in Property Investment

    Opportunity zones are designed to spur economic development by allowing investors to defer tax on any prior gains through 2026, so long as the gain is reinvested in a “Qualified Opportunity Fund.” In addition, if the investor holds the investment in an opportunity fund for at least 10 years, there would be no tax on any new gain from the investment in the opportunity fund.

    Virtua Partners is also one of the first out of the gate to undertake an opportunity zone fund project. It has completed a rezoning in Tempe, Arizona, for a 90-unit apartment project. Tempe City Council unanimously approved the 3.6-acre rezoning for multifamily development. The 16-month construction of the 90-unit apartment complex is scheduled to break ground in the first quarter of 2019.


  15.    Denver-Area Apartment Market Dealing With Crush [overstated] of New Units

    … the area’s highest-flying sector of the commercial real estate industry for the last several years, multifamily is expected to continue cruising for the foreseeable future, even if the market experiences a bit of turbulence in the short-term.


  16.    Singapore Investor Pays $835Mln for Large Apartment Portfolio in Western U.S.; Wants to Buy More

    The company has purchased 16 apartment properties with 3,787 units in the suburbs of Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., for $835 million.


  17.    Ben Bernanke: The housing bubble, the credit crunch, and the Great Recession: A reply to Paul Krugman

    These guys split hairs for no reason. I can’t tell you how many times I find myself shaking my head sideways when I see such arguments that never need to even begin if both or all sides would simply see that it isn’t a case of either-or but of both.

    Yes, the argument is over the degree each aspect contributed and continued to contribute. Okay, let them hash it out.

    Nevertheless, what will we get out of it in terms of establishing preventative measures? It was deregulation that allowed for lenders fraud that cause the house of cards that collapsed. There was panic of sorts, but should that be anyone’s focus relative to prevention? I don’t think so.


  18.    Digging Deeper into the Details about the Unemployed

    Let’s look at the unemployed in more detail. We can sort the unemployed into 4 groups: (1) new entrants to the labor force (such as recent graduates now looking for work); (2) reentrants to the labor force (those who had a job, then left the labor force, and are now looking for work again); (3) job leavers (those who recently left a job voluntarily); and (4) job losers (those who left a job involuntarily, such as getting laid off or fired or completing temporary jobs).


  19.    The US Will Lose Its Trade War with China, says Anatole Kaletsky

    When I see that Anatole Kaletsky is the author of something, I read it. That’s because he’s very bright. It’s not because I always agree with him. I don’t agree with him here.

    … unless US businesses are sure the tariffs will continue for many years, they will neither invest nor hire new workers to compete with China.

    … China can avoid any damage at all from US tariffs simply by responding with a full-scale Keynesian stimulus. But would the Chinese government be willing [to] do this?

    … It is simply inconceivable that Xi would attach higher priority to credit management than to winning the tariff war and thereby demonstrating the futility of a US containment strategy against China.

    This raises the question of how Trump will react when his tariffs start to hurt US businesses and voters, while China and the rest of the world shrug them off. The probable answer is that Trump will follow the precedent of his conflicts with North Korea, the European Union, and Mexico. He will “make a deal” that fails to achieve his stated objectives but allows him to boast of a “win” ….

    China is the biggest fish. Trump has more riding on this tariff move of his concerning China than he does with any other issue. China is a military issue beyond all others. US Pentagon planners have informed Trump in no uncertain terms just how vulnerable the US is, and, more so, will continue becoming, due to Chinese manufacturing and assembly prowess. Can I be absolutely sure Trump will play out the tariffs? I can’t, but I’m leaning in the direction that he realizes he can’t afford to be willy-nilly on this one.

    Furthermore, Xi has a track record that doesn’t support Anatole’s view of Xi. Xi is not good at economics. He has his entire dictatorship based upon competing ideologies that can’t be reconciled, but he must stick to his anti-democratic, Marxist dogma or lose his dictatorial grip. Coupled with his fears of a runaway economy and social unrest, which unrest already exists in China, he’s not apt to go full-on Keynesian. He doesn’t know how, and he doesn’t trust those who do. It also wouldn’t really work as well under China’s current economic scheme.

    In addition, the deal with North Korea is far from concluded. There’s still plenty of movement in the right direction. The issues with Europe remain more than murky. As for Mexico, I don’t think Trump ever considered NAFTA as being as big a deal as he was making it out to be. Immigration is the bugaboo he thinks is real, not that there aren’t real issues concerning immigration.


  20.    Governor signs five more Commissioner-sponsored bills to protect wildfire survivors

    Regulators and lawmakers need to be careful concerning making things retroactive because such measures can weaken companies in their ability to pay going forward, which can weaken the industry and can cause fewer companies to be willing to write the coverage.

    I think the government should be prepared to step in with direct subsidies to insureds rather than putting the full onus on the insurance industry via retroactive changes.

    I particularly appreciate AB 1800 (Levine) and AB 1875 (Wood) in the industry. Clarity is good.


  21.    Trump and Xi Are Destined to Divorce: The 2008 crisis set the U.S. and China on an inexorable path to confrontation.

    This is a bit more “political” than my typical fare here, but it’s apt.

    Confidence morphed into assertiveness, and then into recklessness. Did Xi and his advisers really imagine that they’d face no pushback to the “Made in China 2025” industrial policy that has, as its explicit goal, the mercantilist objective of taking over swaths of advanced technology through subsidies and other incentives to state champions? Or that smaller neighbors would be so grateful for infrastructure supplied under Xi’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative they’d indefinitely overlook some of its more predatory terms and conditions? It took Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, beyond caring about diplomatic niceties at the age of 93, to warn about a “new version of colonialism” on a visit to Beijing.


  22.    “Free markets” and the decline of democracy, by John Weeks

    Market competition is the source of authoritarian rule, and by its nature competition among oligopolies extends to social and political conflict.

    The current authoritarian tide in Europe and the United States comes from the excesses generated by capitalist competition, unleashed and justified now not by fascism but by neoliberalism. Neoliberalism pretentiously claims to be the guarantor of freedom — “free markets, free men” was the title of Milton Friedman’s infamous lecture to London businessmen in 1974. Reality is quite the contrary. Neoliberal market re-regulation over the last thirty years has destroyed freedom.

    … Finance capital not the huge industrial predators of the twentieth century drive competition in this the globalized twenty-first century. The hegemony of finance capital brings forth overtly authoritarian political dictatorship undisguised by democratic trappings.


  23.    Home sellers slash prices, especially in California

    The slowing begins.


  24.    Home sellers slashing prices nationwide, NYC real estate prices drop

    Home sellers slashing prices nationwide, NYC real estate prices drop from CNBC.

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


  25.    Republicans stunned to learn voters understand exactly what their tax cut did

    The reality is not in dispute. Around two-thirds of the benefits of the tax cuts went to those in the top quintile of taxpayers, with about 20 percent of the benefits going to the richest 1 percent. By 2025, when the cuts are fully phased in, the top 1 percent will get 25 percent of the benefits. (See details here.) The centerpiece of the plan, furthermore, was a gigantic corporate tax cut. Republicans promised that this cut would produce a wave of investment and wage increases for workers, but so far the only wave that has resulted is a tsunami of stock buybacks benefiting wealthy shareholders, which is exactly what liberals predicted.

    “Republican voters said by a 38-point margin that the middle class benefits more.” They are being told over and over and over that trickledown works, which they believe; but, trickledown doesn’t work. The stats over the last 40 years show it clearly.

    The tax cuts will lead to higher deficits and more demands by the tax cutters to slash government programs to balance the budget so the slashers can privatize the once governmental services that were paid for by a more sustainable and healthier tax-rate structure.


  26.    These 5 amazing people are fighting to save our oceans News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Sept. 29, 2018

    While only 5% of the ocean has been explored, evidence suggests its entire ecosystem is seriously under threat. The number of fish in the oceans has halved in 50 years, since 1970. Coral reefs bleach far more frequently and extensively than just four decades previously, putting countless species at risk. Every minute, it’s estimated that the equivalent of an entire garbage truck of plastic is dumped into the ocean.

    As a reminder, 95% of all plastics in the ocean are getting there via 10 rivers. Just one of those rivers is spewing more plastics into the ocean than the other 9 put together. That one river is in China.


  27.    Air Pollution and Cigarette Equivalence News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Sept. 29, 2018


  28.    The New Gentrifier Tactic: Copy Climate Change Deniers [It’s not new]

    All of this can be avoided when we fix up a neighborhood if we do it for those already there and without pricing them out. How it that possible? Subsidies. By the way and in general, everything would improve.


  29.    Here are 4 “buy” cities for multifamily investment


  30.    Do Spectacular Earnings Justify Spectacular US Stock Prices?

    Robert J. Shiller is another of those names that causes me to routinely click through to read. Shiller is a behavioral economist with a good head for economic/financial history in the big-picture sense.

    Just because this article is on the stock market doesn’t mean it has little to do with real-estate risk. If the stock market tumbles, real-estate investments of the right kind will actually have proved the better investment. I happen to think proper real-estate investments beat the stock market for the average investor who will do his or her homework, but stock-market bubbles popping really drives that home. Then there are those who know how and when to short.


  31.    Resiliency in the face of hurricanes makes the case for renewables even stronger


  32.    Study: Post-Maria contracts go to mainland, not Puerto Rico

    A study published Wednesday found that the bulk of federal funds slated for post-hurricane reconstruction efforts in Puerto Rico are going to mainland companies, despite a federal provision that states local companies should receive priority.

    Is there cronyism involved?


  33.    Why scooters have run into trouble

    How do you handle them on your properties?

    … city officials have complained that the scooter companies simply dropped their gear on sidewalks, following a tactic that other sharing-economy businesses have employed: Do now, ask for forgiveness later.


  34.    The IMF’s ‘Large Brain, Unhealthy Ego, and Tiny Conscience’

    Much talk and little action?

    … the IMF more robustly considers the social dimensions of its macroeconomic policies, such as their impact on vulnerable populations. Even the fund’s strict adherence to market fundamentalism has come in for some introspection. In 2016, three IMF economists praised aspects of neoliberalism, but found that several of its central tenets had been “oversold,” admitting that austerity could have harmful consequences, that inequality hampers growth, and “that policymakers should be more open to redistribution than they are.”

    Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, has been a particularly vocal champion of reform since taking over in 2011. Under her tenure, climate change and inequality have assumed an increased urgency. Lagarde claimed in 2014 that the IMF was no longer pushing the much-maligned structural-adjustment programs—a combination of privatization, slashing public spending, financial deregulation, trade liberalization, and labor market reforms.


  35.    The State of Housing Confidence in 2018

    The housing market is far from a perfect science, but there are some trends that could be influencing homeowner behavior and confidence such as:

    Rising house prices
    Salary stagnation
    Generational trends
    Record high interest rates

    All of the above have hurt consumer housing confidence. How did we get here? Let’s unpack the above drivers ….


  36.    The Fed: Look Forward or Risk a Hawkish Mistake

    … amid the absence of strong evidence of nonlinear behavior of the Phillips curve, and the existence of macroprudential tools that can offset financial sector imbalances (e.g., a countercyclical capital buffer), some continued reliance on imperfect forward-looking models appears to be a better risk-management strategy than risking overtightening with too much focus on measures that reflect the current (likely temporary) tailwinds underlying U.S. economic activity.


  37.    The Knock-On Effects Of A Deleveraging China

    Only two types of government have been able to handle and survive a difficult economic and debt rebalancing like this (1) robust democracies with strong institutions (like the US in the 30s) or (2) strong centralized authoritarian regimes (like China in the 80s).

    This is what the whole anti-corruption campaign and last year’s 19th Party Congress where Xi became de facto emperor, are all about: Xi consolidating power.

    Only China in the 1980’s wasn’t yet as the US was in the 1930’s. Besides, the US in the 1980’s wanted China to “make it.” Right now, things are too volatile to be able to tell. China has quickly become a technological rival. Couple that with military plans, and you have something that will keep risk managers up at night.


  38.    Budget Estimates Show New Tax Cuts For Wealthiest Americans Threaten Middle-Class Retirement

    Can you afford tenant’s not affording decent housing?

    The idea was that those, who already had a lot of money, would save the additional funds, lowering the cost of companies to borrow and invest, which would unleash a boom in productivity and economic growth. Deficits then would not be a problem as faster growth would pay for the new deficits.

    The latest data — once again — show that this is not the case. Corporate investment is relatively low and has recently been falling. In this business cycle, dating back to 2007, corporate capital expenditures to after-tax profits are at their lowest level since the 1950s. And, they have been falling since the end of last year. …

    … Republicans now target Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to pay for their tax cuts. Middle-class Americans heavily rely on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for their retirement security. Changes to these programs could include higher retirement ages under Social Security, Medicare privatization, and block granting Medicaid, which amounts to progressively deeper across-the-board benefit cuts.


  39.    U.S. Stocks Sink as Dollar Swings After Fed Move: Markets Wrap

    “Unfortunately, they just raised interest rates,” Trump told reporters in New York, where he was attending the annual United Nations General Assembly. “I am not happy about that.”

    Well, he’ll be able to blame them for being part of the reason for the coming recession.


  40.    U.S. apartment vacancy rate edges higher in third quarter: Reis


  41.    At long last, economists appreciate that private debt was the catalyst for the crisis

    A particularly interesting paper in the journal is by Atif Mian of Princeton and Amir Sufi of Chicago. Their focus is considerably wider than the crisis of the late 2000s in the United States. They quote empirical studies across some 50 countries with data going back to the 1960s. They found that a rise in household debt relative to the size of the economy is a good predictor of whether GDP growth will slow down.

    Rickard Nyman, a computer scientist at UCL, and I applied machine learning algorithms to data on both public and private (households and commercial companies) sector debt in both the UK and America. We find that the recession of 2008 could have been predicted in the middle of 2007.

    Perhaps the most striking result is that public sector debt played little role in causing the crisis. The driving force was the very high levels of private sector debt.

    A critic might say that this is simply a case of generals fighting the last war.

    True, we don’t know whether a completely different nasty event lies around the corner. But at long last, economists appreciate the fundamental importance of debt and finance in Western economies.

    “the middle of 2007”? Wow, is that ever late. All it really took was knowing that mortgages were being handed out like candy. What was the saying? I think it was “to anyone who could fog a mirror.”


  42.    Don’t believe the excuses: plenty of people saw the 2008 crisis coming

    … so many people “saw it coming”, that it’s simply not that big a deal to have expressed concerns ahead of 2007.

    … we’re at risk of allowing the people and philosophies who aided and abetted the last crisis to continue running the show, and to argue that there was no alternative to the bailouts and a decade of quantitative easing, in what amounts to a massive backside-covering exercise.

    That’s why the correct answer to the Queen’s question is: “Actually, lots of people saw it coming, but they didn’t fit existing theories, so we ignored them. And we’re still doing our best to ignore them”.

    Of course, the earlier, the louder, the more accurate, and the more frequent the warnings, the more credit is due the seer.


  43.    Apartment rents are suddenly rising faster, reversing yearlong trend

    So, this article substantiates what I’ve been saying about construction and vacancy and rent rates. It’s just like the job market and the unemployment rate and especially the number used to represent the work force. The more new jobs that are created, the more people come out to look for a job who had been feeling too depressed as a result of the Great Recession and all the money going to the top rather than being shared more fairly with those who are more productive at the front line of operations and all the other areas of business.

    Well, the better the economy at least looks, the more jobs that appear, the higher wages rise, the more people who were feeling stuck sharing housing begin looking for a different place, a better place, however, still affordable.

    As I’ve pointed out before, there’s a lag between construction and then filling the new units. Those who stick it out and work hard to create new affordable housing will reap their rewards.

    The trick is making it pencil out. The trick to that is governmental assistance for the developers and owners or the renters or all three.


  44.    These are the world’s biggest property bubbles as ranked by UBS

    … “a substantial and sustained mispricing of an asset.” The report said typical signs include a decoupling of prices from local incomes and rents, as well as excessive construction or bank lending.


  45.    Hayekian communism [with all due respect: nonsense]

    Branko Milanovic mixes up the terminology here. He says it’s a paradox, but he’s mistaken. He’s wrong because the “Communist Party” remained communist in name only.

    China unleashed a great portion of its population to be capitalistic. It retained quite a bit of the commanding heights, just as with social democracies but without the democracy. What it did is end the central planning of the puzzle pieces. It only retained central planning concerning the big picture.

    Unfortunately, the so-called externalities (a euphemism), the negative results of unbridled capitalism, have been extreme. The pollution and other negatives may well end up outweighing all the so-called benefits. They already have, but we’ll have to wait for the data collectors and analysts to finally say I’ve been right or wrong before most people will agree with me.

    All of those “externalities” are the direct result of extremely insufficient democracy. Given sufficient transparency, the poor, who can’t vote with tons of dollars, would vote to prevent things that will generate externalities rather than vote for them and worry about all the massive toxicity later. The central planners of the Chinese Communist Party were not smart enough to think as an informed, poor electorate. They never will be. That’s because were they as smart as that, they’d cede power to obtain the very best decisions on a nation-wide basis.


  46.    Why We Have to Break Up Amazon

    Amazon isn’t quite where Standard Oil was, but it’s only a matter of time if we allow things to continue as is. It would be much better were we to head things off at the pass so more little people can be spared rather than waiting until all the damage has already been done.

    By the way, someone should explain to Jeff that Rockefeller discovered that he was even richer after the breakup of Standard Oil than before. He also put his son in charge of giving huge swaths of the wealth away. His conscience caught up with him. Good thing that.

    The following railroad analogy is very apt.

    The response was antitrust laws that said to the railroads “you can’t have this cross interest in other industries and you have to be common carriers. You have to treat all commerce equally,” Mitchell said. “So I think we need to look at Amazon’s platform in that context. And I think in order to have that sort of public interest, common-carrier kind of regulation of the platform, we have to cleave off Amazon as a retailer manufacturer. That has to be a completely separate company. So we have to break up Amazon.”

    The United States should be asking the same questions the European Union regulators are beginning to ask. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is a modern-day railroad baron. Ohio Sen. John Sherman, the man from whom the Sherman Antitrust Act gets its name, had this response to the railroad barons of the 1880s: “If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life.”

    There you go, “King.” Capitalism left unchecked leads us right back to absolute monarchy.


  47.    In a Warming World, Carolina CAFOs Are a Disaster for Farmers, Animals and Public Health


  48.    ‘We’re moving to higher ground’: America’s era of climate mass migration is here

    Within just a few decades, hundreds of thousands of homes on US coasts will be chronically flooded. By the end of the century, 6ft of sea level rise would redraw the coastline with familiar parts — such as southern Florida, chunks of North Carolina and Virginia, much of Boston, all but a sliver of New Orleans — missing. Warming temperatures will fuel monstrous hurricanes — like the devastating triumvirate of Irma, Maria and Harvey in 2017, followed by Florence this year — that will scatter survivors in jarring, uncertain ways.

    The projections are starting to materialize in parts of the US, forming the contours of the climate migration to come.

    … It’s magical thinking to think someone else will buy out your property.

    Well, we will have to share the “burden.” Governments wil have to buy out the properties. Of course, it would be vastly smarter to stop burning carbon fuels. Are we smart enough? It will have to be a worldwide effort.


  49.    Air pollution rots our brains. Is that why we don’t do anything about it?

    Researchers from Beijing University and Yale School of Health published research last month showing that people who live in major cities — which is, today, most of us — are not only suffering from increases in respiratory illnesses and other chronic conditions due to air pollution, but are losing our cognitive functions. The study showed that high pollution levels lead to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the impact on some participants equivalent to losing several years of education. Other studies have shown that high air pollution is linked to premature birth, low birth weight, mental illness in children and dementia in the elderly.

    We’re only just beginning to understand how the air we breathe affects not just our physical environment, but our mental capacity as well. And the air we breathe is changing in the long term, as well as the short. Rising carbon dioxide levels — the main driver of climate change — aren’t just a hazard to the earth and other living creatures, they’re also affecting our thinking. At higher levels, CO2 clouds the mind: it makes us slower and less likely to develop new ideas, it degrades our ability to take in new information, change our minds, or formulate complex thoughts.

    Noise pollution, light pollution at night, higher and higher temperatures, bad nutrition, sleep deprivation, and other stressors do it too. When are we going to stop dumbing down and killing ourselves by means that we can readily curtail?


  50.    Europe Unveils “Special Purpose Vehicle” To Bypass SWIFT, Jeopardizing Dollar’s Reserve Status

    I won’t go into the politics here of whether the deal with Iran was good or bad. It’s simply important, however, to know what’s going on as concerns the US dollar (USD) as the world’s reserve currency. Even if one were to agree 100% with Donald Trump about Iran vis-a-vis Israel, et al., which is better in the longer run 1) leaving the nuclear deal in place with Iran so the USD won’t be slammed or 2) attempting to undermine the current Iranian government at the expense of USD supremacy? The decision will impact our entire US economy for better or worse.


  51.    Global waste could increase by 70% by 2050, according to the World Bank

    Boosting recycling and cutting plastics consumption along with food waste could help reduce rubbish, said the report, which noted a number of low income countries lack laws to deal with waste.

    Plastics, which can contaminate waterways and ecosystems for thousands of years, comprise 12 percent of all waste, the World Bank said.


  52.    Wetlands disappearing three times faster than forests: study

    – Don’t drain the swamp –

    Directly or indirectly, they provide almost all of the world’s consumption of freshwater and more than 40 percent of all species live and breed in wetlands.

    The Ramsar Convention stressed that wetlands are essential to reining in climate change, pointing out that peatlands store twice as much carbon as the world’s forests, even though they cover just three percent of all land surface.


  53.    New Study Suggests Extreme Weather Will Become More Common

    “Knowing which types of events will occur more often in which regions and under what background conditions — such as certain ocean temperature patterns — will help decision-makers plan for the future in terms of infrastructure improvements, agricultural practices, emergency preparedness and managed retreat from hazardous areas.”

    Future research will expand the analysis to other regions of the Northern Hemisphere, develop new metrics to find causal connections, and analyze projections to assess future risks from extreme weather events linked to persistent patterns, ….


  54.    Brad Pitt’s Foundation Sues Architect Over Defects in ‘Katrina’ Houses


  55.    Oregon Rental Company Settles for $105k in Living Conditions Suit


  56.    Florence was Second Wettest Storm in U.S., Behind Harvey

    It is “not surprising — but still terrifying — that the two top ranked soakers happened over the past two years,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn’t part of Kunkel’s research but praised it. He said warmer oceans, more moisture and slower moving storms due in various ways to climate change make storms dump more rain.


  57.    Assignment of Benefits

    Please note that this article is about Florida law. Check your own state’s laws.


  58.    Powell Emboldens Bond Traders to Wager Inflation Will Stay Tame

    With tariffs not in their hands, the Fed can’t control the inflation rate via interest rates in advance. They’ll have to wait right along with the rest of us. If they overshoot with too many rate rises and the tariffs come off, deflation will be in the offing. Who will have locked in the highest yields for the right duration? How quickly would the Fed reverse course? Would they dramatically lower rates? What other tools would they pull out? Would they call for tax elimination for the poorest of the poor? Would they call for fiscal stimulus on a large enough scale? There are plenty of other possible twists and turns.


  59.    The high cost of preserving vulnerable beaches after hurricanes

    Carolina Beach has been replenished 31 times since 1955. North Topsail Beach, part of a barrier island northeast of Wilmington, has gotten fresh sand just about every year since 1997.


  60.    Home Price Appreciation in Highest-Risk Areas Outpaces Overall Rate

    So, should you invest in these areas or not? If you do, insurance costs will be part of the equation. Of course, some of the risks can be more easily managed/reduced than others. Factor the costs and benefits of different risk-management strategies into your calculations. Will the investment be short term? If so, appreciation rates will be even more important depending upon other local factors and the overall economy, which is difficult to predict.


  61.    Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee Deal with Major Flooding

    … inundated about 100 homes and 25 businesses and one person died ….


  62.    Federal Appeals Court Reverses Order Requiring Tennessee Coal Ash Cleanup

    … storing highly toxic coal ash in unlined, leaking pits next to our rivers and lakes is irresponsible,” Gerkin said in a news release. “It’s past time for utilities to move their coal ash to dry, lined storage away from our waterways.”


  63.    California moves to protect auto emissions rules from Trump rollback

    Global Warming is caused by carbon-fuel burning. Yes, the Sun and other factors are involved; however, right now, carbon burning is the main driver of the increase in average global temperatures. The burning reduces the ability for heat to dissipate from the atmosphere. Therefore, California is right to fight to reduce the rate of carbon burning. If we were to have a method of sequestering enough of the greenhouse gasses and implement that method enough, the federal government’s position wouldn’t be quite so bad. There are other reasons to move away from carbon fuel besides global warming is why it would still be bad.


  64.    Multinationals launch global program to speed up switch to electric vehicles

    Smart move!


  65.    The Most Important Least-Noticed Economic Event of the Decade [really?]

    In the last year, the Trump administration has been lobbing tariffs at China and other major economic partners to extract more advantageous terms for trade. But the mini-recession warns of the risk of ricochet.

    Like it or not, the complexity of our global connections means that policy can’t just focus on the home front. In 2016, we learned that lesson the hard way, even if not everybody was paying attention.

    Of course, there are interconnections domestically and internationally. Even with focus on both, one can’t control everything, as minds change in both places in ways that can’t always be anticipated. What we can’t take away from the mini-recession is that under no circumstances do tariffs ever work. We also can’t simply take the stories of those who are harmed in the short run as proof that any given tariff is bad. We need to know the big picture and the long-term plan. Unfortunately, imparting such takes a very disciplined mind bent toward the intellectual method of conveying and persuading. The educational process is not for those who can only handle instant gratification. They aren’t the ones who need to be sold on the idea, though. They aren’t the experts who will finally decide policy refinements if we’re not to be subject to mere willy-nilly policies leading to disaster.