Linking ≠ endorsement.
⇧ Science Says: Get used to polar vortex outbreaks
The article and the scientists are illogical. They say to get used to vortex outbreaks because of global warming but that they can’t say it’s caused by global warming.
I’ve been saying for decades now that absolutely zero weather events are isolated from the huge impacts of human carbon-burning.
It all started with misplaced Moroccan heat. Last month, the normally super chilly air temperatures 20 miles above the North Pole rapidly rose by about 125 degrees (70 degrees Celsius), thanks to air flowing in from the south. It’s called “sudden stratospheric warming.”
That warmth split the polar vortex, leaving the pieces to wander ….
⇧ $1.5 trillion U.S. tax cut has no major impact on business capex plans: survey
The White House had predicted that the massive fiscal stimulus package, marked by the reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, would boost business spending and job growth. The tax cuts came into effect in January 2018.
“A large majority of respondents, 84 percent, indicate that one year after its passage, the corporate tax reform has not caused their firms to change hiring or investment plans,” said NABE President Kevin Swift.
I predicted the vast majority of the money would go to stock buybacks. I also predicted the Fed would get it wrong and raise rates, which it did. It remains to be seen if they will cause a recession, but it’s quite possible what with all the other headwinds they seem to underestimate.
⇧ Chinese real estate investors exit US market due to slowdown, trade…
CNBC’s Diana Olick discusses the effect China’s cooling economy will have on a housing market already in decline.
⇧ Insured Losses From Wildfires Top $11.4B
Insured Losses From Wildfires Top $11.4B
Bay City News Service Published 4:03 pm PST, Monday, January 28, 2019
Bay City News Service
Insured losses from last fall’s devastating California wildfires are now more than $11.4 billion – 25 percent more than reported last month, the state’s insurance commissioner said Monday.
⇧ Germany to close all 84 of its coal-fired power plants, will rely primarily on renewable energy
The plan to eliminate coal-burning plants as well as nuclear means that Germany will be counting on renewable energy to provide 65% to 80% of the country’s power by 2040. Last year, renewables overtook coal as the leading source and now account for 41% of the country’s electricity.
… The planet has already warmed by about 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times as a result of the human-caused build-up of greenhouse gases. Scientists say the world is already experiencing the consequences in the form of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes and wildfires.
⇧ How to Maximize Your Write-Offs of Travel Expenses
… here are some common travel expenses that can be deductible when traveling for business purposes:
Train and airfare tickets, plus any baggage fees you incur
Taxi, subway, and bus expenses
Real estate and educational meetings
Overnight lodging (room service, Wi-Fi, tips, valet parking fees, even the cost of sending your suits out for dry cleaning!)
Meals and entertainment (keep in mind that this is a 50% deduction, but when you need to eat out several times a day, this expense can add up very quickly)
… Just because you stop in to see family or friends on your way to visit a rental property, that doesn’t mean the travel cost is not deductible. It is very possible to write off your travel costs, even if you take a day or a weekend to visit with family en route.
⇧ Midwest Temperature Change Is No Match For These Seven Major Temperature Swings in History
Just because there were wild temperature changes many decades ago does not mean global warming caused by carbon burning has not changed everything and doesn’t impact upon everything weather and climate related in the typical sense those terms are used.
… major temperatures swings in history.
⇧ Americans’ Concern About Climate Change Surging to Record Levels
I cover this because it is one of the biggest risk-management issues of our time. The less we do about it, the more expensive insurance coverage will become if it even remains widely offered at all. We’re already seeing plenty of insurance industry pullback from wildfire zones, which are growing as a direct result of AGW, not forest mismanagement, though there is such mismanagement but magnified by AGW.
Dr. John Kotcher of George Mason University discusses a new poll about climate change and says improvements in media coverage have helped spur the public’s concern about the issue.
⇧ The Wealthy Are Victims of Their Own Propaganda
Stephanie Kelton’s ideas are better than staying with the economic views on her right, but I happen to know that she knows there’s a perfect way around increasing deficits while not only paying for all the things AOC and Warren are talking about but much more and all without any aggregate price-inflation. I’ve been saying it to MMTers until I’m blue in the face. They know I’m right but very rarely ever openly admit it.
I was the very first person I knew of saying that we can and should issue new US money without the US borrowing a dime, without the US issuing bonds, without the US paying interest, without the US increasing the national debt, in fact, paying off the national debt in one fell swoop with one-off but completely manageable/reversible price-inflation. I’m not sure anyone else has said it even yet after many years.
The entire economy in terms of money supply in circulation versus price inflation hinges solely upon the supply of goods and services. Services are relatively easy. It’s the material goods that are more difficult. However, if we plan bringing forth a supply of goods matching the increase in money actually circulating (not simply parked) and at a balanced rate given the rate of circulation (velocity), than inflation would be a complete non-issue.
Planning correctly hinges upon transparent democracy. It’s really all that simple. Economics is not hard no matter what anyone else tells you.
⇧ The Interest Rate Lower Bound Trap and the ideas that keep us there
… debt phobia is ideological. Debt phobia is a means of keeping a lid on the size of the state. We see this in its most blatant form in the US from the Republican Party, but I think it is powerful everywhere. This is particularly the case under neoliberalism, where a key goal is reduce many activities of the state so taxes can be cut for the already well off.
That’s true, but he misses something more at the heart of the reason for the fake phobia: privatization. Their taxes go down so government coffers are smaller so governments must borrow so the rich can complain about the deficits so the government programs can be privatized so the rich can have a larger share of the smaller pie.
Regardless, just as with the vast majority of MMTers, Simon, who’s a hybrid between New Keynesian and MMT doesn’t talk about how senseless government borrowing is in the first place. Why is that?
Oh, and he’s wrong or overstating concerning MMT in general thinking monetary policy doesn’t work. MMT acknowledges the Fed hits its target rate given enough time but that, that’s not good enough, especially when there’s the whole fiscal realm that can get things done very quickly despite not everything being so-called shovel ready. Of course, there’s the whole issue of the Phillips Curve, but that’s beyond the scope of this quick link.
⇧ Southern California home sales plunge 20% in December to the lowest pace in 11 years
“Half of America can only afford a $230,000 mortgage, and the builders in good locations just can’t get down to anywhere near that,” said John Burns, CEO of California-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “Eleven of the top 19 builders, their average sales price is above 400 grand.”
⇧ ‘Profit from war crimes’: Israel accused of justifying settlements by using tourist booking sites
‘Profiting from war crimes’ – that’s what a new report, by Amnesty International, says tourism companies are doing by listing accommodation in disputed West Bank settlements. The report has prompted one Israeli minister to call for the human rights group to be banned from the country.
⇧ The Fed ‘Put’ Applies to Both the Economy and Markets [and inherent economic crime]
… the Fed makes mistakes. Sometimes they tighten too much and other times too little. Maybe they don’t react to a negative shock as quickly as they should, and sometimes a shock overwhelms them. But on an average the Fed largely succeeds in placing a floor under the economy.
… follow the old maxim of “Don’t fight the Fed.”
No. The Fed should be done away with. It was never needed and has been a drain. It has been one thing only, a mask for commercial banksters.
⇧ 10 dead in Paris apartment block fire, police suspect arson
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⇧ Interactive eviction map shows where landlords are booting tenants
Bad landlords giving the industry a bad name:
Organizers say many eviction cases are abuses of power by landlords who drag tenants to court to seize their lucrative apartments. Rent-regulated renters especially are prone to harassment by construction, which can create hazards that make units dangerous to inhabit.
⇧ New York state creates one-stop portal for rent-stabilized tenant issues
… quick links to DHCR’s complaint forms—which run the gamut from a lack of heat and hot water in an apartment to rent overcharges—as well as the forms necessary to request your rent apartment’s history, a crucial document for anyone who lives in a rent-regulated unit.
There’s a similar side of things for owners of buildings with rent-regulated properties: There, landlords can file their annual rent registration, apply for a major capital improvement increase for a building, submit a report of vacancy decontrol, and other documents. (And as a tenant, it can be fascinating to see what hoops owners jump through in keeping their buildings regulated, or trying to get them deregulated.)
⇧ Disclosures and Tenant Agreements (And Mistakes to Avoid)
⇧ Home values are rising at the slowest rate in more than six years
There continues to be a mismatch between the strong demand for entry-level homes and the short supply available for sale.
⇧ Seneca Man Going To Prison on Insurance Fraud Charge in LaSalle Co. Arson Case
⇧ [Way ahead of the US on this urgent issue] EU proposes ban on 90% of microplastic pollutants
A wide-ranging ban on microplastics covering about 90% of pollutants has been proposed by the EU in an attempt to cut 400,000 tonnes of plastic pollution in 20 years.
Every year, Europe releases a bulk amount of microplastics six times bigger than the “Great Pacific garbage patch” into the environment — the equivalent of 10bn plastic bottles.
An Echa spokesperson said it was “unknown for now” whether the measure would apply in the UK after Brexit.
Seb Dance, Labour’s deputy leader in the European parliament, said Britons could lose out as a result of leaving the EU. “Clearly these proposals go much further than the measures so far suggested by Michael Gove,” he said.
“But even if Gove’s plan was as ambitious as this, there would be little point in one country taking action on its own to try to solve this crisis, as the products we buy, and the supply chains they depend on, cross many borders.
The fight against plastics pollution is zero reason to say “there would be little point in one country taking action on its own.” That’s like saying there’s little point in recycling when your neighbor doesn’t or that there’s no point in not littering because others do it anyway. In addition, the EU cuts both ways. They allow things that ought not be allowed and which other countries do not allow. Playing Leave or Remain politics with plastics pollution is just that, playing politics. The EU is not very democratic at all. It is a technocracy, and technocrats are often bought and paid for by those who put money above planetary health and wellbeing, which means above human health and wellbeing too.
“Whatever the shenanigans in Westminster, let’s hope that the government and MPs do not lose sight of the need to have comprehensive cross-border initiatives that scale up the response to the problem.”
Prof Richard Thompson of Plymouth University’s school of biological and marine sciences said: “Plastics don’t respect borders in the way that people do and, for me, the appropriate scale to legislate for our environment on is the European one. I have concerns that we may be compromised by leaving the EU, because it’s more complicated to manage things on a country-by-country basis.”
Microplastics are tiny synthetic polymers that resist biodegradation and block the digestive tracts of aquatic creatures, turtles and birds, diminishing the urge to eat and altering feeding behaviour.
With mass industrial production, they have spread to Earth’s peaks, depths, the Arctic and human bodies, where their health impacts are not yet fully understood.
⇧ [Politics is risk management] 7 Reasons Democrats Won’t Pass a Green New Deal
So, as I added to the title above, politics is risk management. That’s why I’m including this article. The article appears partisan on its face, but there are Republicans leaning toward, or already on board with, acknowledging the absolute fact that human carbon-fuel burning is the main driver of global warming right now and all of the catastrophes made worse by it, including increasing their number. That brings me to my second point.
The article left out converting more and more and more Republicans to the Green New Deal. The part about regulating carbon burning enough to reduce and then even help to reverse global warming would be the easier part of it. We have to do that part regardless.
My third point is the impact of lawsuits against the carbon-fuel industry, which could spill over into other industries as well, such as the automotive sector, more than slow to embrace electric and hydrogen power even while knowing about the technologies and about the negative impacts of global warming.
The oil industry bought the EV1 patents from GM. GM recalled all of its EV1s (which were leased out) and destroyed them. Then, the oil industry left the patents sitting in the dust. Now, if that wasn’t a conspiracy to avoid electric vehicles replacing gas and diesel cars, trucks, and busses, tell me what is.
The EV1 was a phenomenal car. People were putting solar on their garage roofs and charging their leased VE1’s there. There were even parking lots with solar covered carports with charger hookups VE1 leasers were using when out and about in California.
The oil industry used the fear of nuclear power to falsely persuade the public into believing an electric-vehicle takeover would be environmentally dangerous. The fact of solar panels and charging stations working well was deliberately avoided.
If the EV1 had stayed in GM hands and had GM pushed the technology and product and associated products hard, we wouldn’t be facing nearly the climate and weather disasters we have been. Hundreds of billions of dollars would have been saved, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of impacts.
Unfortunately, the statute of limitations has long since run out.
Nevertheless, the more various lawsuits prevail, the less insurance coverage will be available to the carbon-fuel industry. What insurance will remain will become astronomically expensive. The industry could simply be driven into the dirt, driven into irrecoverable bankruptcy.
If that industry wants to save itself from all of this, it must sequester carbon on a global scale and very soon to meet and exceed what’s necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.
⇧ And the Hits Just Keep Coming: More Bad News for Monsanto
Here’s a prime example of what I mean by lawsuits impacting an industry.
… U.S. product liability mass litigation to help both sides gauge the range of damages and define settlement options.”
The exact same principle has already started to be used against the carbon-fuel sector.
The outcome will come down to the issue of the preponderance of evidence, which is mounding up daily to the point of being beyond absurd to deny.
Don’t let ego stop you from changing your mind from denying AGW to openly acknowledging it. All human beings have the right to change on this issue without shame. Changing to the correct side on this issue is, among other things, emotional growth showing forth. That’s a good thing and cause for rejoicing, not shaming.
The Lyon court ruling cited the finding from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer that the chemical is potentially carcinogenic, and said that the product’s approval did not respect [the] ‘precautionary principle’ of the French environment charter, which allows potentially harmful products to be banned.
⇧ Immigrant share in U.S. nears record high but remains below that of many other countries
Renters are often immigrants. The linked article contains interesting data. A snippet:
Worldwide, most people do not move across international borders. In all, only 3.4% of the world’s population lives in a country they were not born in, according to data from the UN. This share has ticked up over time, but marginally so: In 1990, 2.9% of the world’s population did not live in their country of birth.
What’s very interesting is that the US is still within its historical patterns. We are not being flooded as a percentage of our population (legally or illegally).
I’m not saying there are no people who shouldn’t be allowed to enter the US due to criminal records and intent. Obviously, the question concerns where the lines are to be drawn.
Plenty of really good people want to come here to work hard and to be productive, law-abiding, decent residents and citizens and do. Plenty of you are renting to them and making a reasonable profit doing so.
⇧ The Ultimate Guide to Due Diligence
Okay, the title says: “The Ultimate Guide to Due Diligence.” However, the article qualifies that by saying a whole book can be written on the subject. Whole books have been written on it.
A few things I noticed missing (some often handled via title insurance):
Naturally, insurance considerations will force you to do due-diligence that would not otherwise necessarily occur to you.
⇧ Want to Find and Close More Deals? Get Better Data!
Good stuff …
⇧ China fast tracks new foreign investment law as U.S. talks loom
The time-table suggests the law will probably be formally approved then by the largely rubber-stamp legislature, accelerating a process that usually would take a year or more as Beijing rushes to meet Washington’s demands in order to de-escalate their trade war.
Did someone say tariffs don’t work? I sure didn’t.
⇧ How a dovish Fed sparked a stock-market rally and tanked the U.S. dollar
They saw the light.
The Fed hinted that it may be at the end of its rate-hike cycle and further surprised investors by issuing a separate statement regarding its balance sheet, indicating that its efforts to reduce the $4 trillion asset portfolio could end sooner than expected. The tone was seen as an about-face from the Fed’s hawkishly received December meeting when it delivered its fourth rate increase of 2018.
I wanted them to see the light but wasn’t going to hold my breath. What wasn’t mentioned: Trump’s corporate-tax cuts. Those cuts were actually counterproductive to the overall economy. The Fed now knows it. Why they didn’t know it before is simply slowness of mind. We all make mistakes, so better late than never.
By the way, “tanking” the US dollar makes US exports cheaper in other countries, which helps ramp up US manufacturing, which adds manufacturing jobs, etc. It makes imports into the US more expensive, which makes US made goods slightly easier to sell here in the US because of the exporting benefits (more supply, lower US prices on US goods).
⇧ Demise of indigenous people during colonization of America [the Americas] cooled Earth — study
The scientists found that some 56 million hectares of land were abandoned by the native population of the Americas as they fled or died due to epidemics, war, slavery and subsequent famine.
Those lands were reclaimed by forests that, in turn, absorbed so much carbon dioxide that the process cooled Earth.
Using a combination of counting methods, the researchers found that prior to the arrival of Europeans in 1492, the Americans [Americas] were inhabited by some 60.5 million people. About 95 percent of them, or 56 million, had died by 1600.
On a massive global scale, plant trees and enhance the soil’s ability to suck up and hold CO2.
⇧ Whatever you do, don’t blame Keynes for the current World Order (economic-neoliberalism) that ruined all the potential for global good after WWII
John Maynard Keynes, the chief British negotiator at Bretton Woods, was worried that the new system could only rely on the dollar as long as America had a trade surplus. The moment the United States became a deficit country, the system would collapse. So, Keynes suggested that instead of building the new world order on the dollar, all major economies would subscribe to a multilateral International Clearing Union (ICU). While keeping their own currencies, and central banks, countries would agree to denominate all international payments in a common accounting unit, which Keynes named the bancor, and to clear all international payments through the ICU.
Genius often goes unrewarded.
Keynes had his flaws, as everyone does, but he was a far, far, far cry better than any other global economics-leader of his time. Plus, we haven’t even come close since.
⇧ Rigging the Science of GMO Ecotoxicity
Researchers who work on GMO crops are developing special “artificial diet systems”. The stated purpose of these new diets is to standardise the testing of the Cry toxins, often used in GMO crops, for their effects on non-target species. But a paper published last month in the journal Toxins implies a very different interpretation of their purpose. The new diets contain hidden ingredients that can mask Cry toxicity and allow them to pass undetected through toxicity tests on beneficial species like lacewings (Hilbeck et al., 2018). Thus the new diets will benefit GMO crop developers by letting new ones come to market quicker and more reliably. Tests conducted with the new diets are even being used to cast doubt on previous findings of ecotoxicological harm.
They report that these new “artificial diet systems” for raising non-target organisms contain surprisingly large amounts of antibiotics (Li et al., 2014; Ali et al., 2016a; and Ali et al. 2016b). The significance of this is that antibiotics are known to act as antidotes to Cry toxins (Broderick et al., 2006, Mason et al., 2011). By masking the harm caused by the toxin, antibiotics can give the unsuspecting reader a false impression of Cry harmlessness.
… antibiotics acting as antidotes to Cry proteins is widely known to Cry toxin researchers but is ignored by the authors of these three papers. Less surprisingly, using their antibiotic-laden diet Li et al. in 2014 found “no detrimental impact of these Cry proteins on any of the C. sinica(Green lacewing) life-table parameters measured”, as also did Ali et al. (Ali et al., 2016a)
This sort of rigging causes harm. This is a risk-management issue. We need to outlaw such rigging or face massive negative repercussions. What sort of world are you going to leave behind for your offspring. Are you going to leave them your real-estate portfolio only to have them suffer on account of currently looking the other way concerning GMOs an d such?
⇧ Go into debt to pay rent? California startup finances your rent with high-interest loans
Domuso’s loan model is making some experts uncomfortable. Financing rental payments like a car or a house, especially with a 27 percent interest rate — higher than the national credit card average of 17.5 percent — could end up plunging a tenant into a deep hole of debt.
“It seems like another predatory scam, and a distraction from the real problem of obscene rents,” Kristi Laughlin, senior campaign director for the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, wrote in an email.
… Serena Laws, a political science professor at Trinity College who studies bankruptcy and debt, called the Domuso loan model “really troubling.”
There are other local programs that offer emergency funds to renters without the pay-back requirement. Housing Trust Silicon Valley, for example, provides grants of up to $2,500 to cover the security deposit for a family moving into a new home.
Domuso addresses an obvious need, but not in the best way, said Mathew Reed, policy manager for affordable housing advocacy organization SV@Home. There are families all over the state who are one unexpected bill away from falling behind on rent — a predicament that can force them to look for payday advances, borrow from friends and family, take on second jobs or even cut back on food and medicine in order to make their rent payments.
“I think we should all be concerned,” Reed said, “that the best options we can offer people are super high-interest loans.”
⇧ Nineteen of the world’s 20 most dynamic cities are in Asia
Cities that are growing quickly tend to punch above their weight in attracting capital, companies and people. However, strong growth can also create challenges such as social inequality, congestion, overcrowding, pollution and environmental degradation. If these challenges are left unchecked, it is unlikely that short-term momentum will be sustainable and a city’s economy will struggle to move to the next level of development.
“Dynamic” is a relative term of varying connotations. Developed cities in the West naturally aren’t growing at the same rate. It’s not as if things aren’t going to level off in relative terms for the “dynamic” cities mentioned. Do your due diligence before investing anywhere.
⇧ Smaller NYC apartment buildings more likely to have chronic heat problems, report shows
Despite tenant laws stipulating that heat and hot water must be provided during colder months (roughly the beginning of October to the end of March), landlords don’t always comply, whether by accident—pipes freeze, boilers break—or because of a larger pattern of neglect. While tenants can file complaints to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the agency currently has a backlog of open violations going back to 2017.
To get a sense of how widespread the problem of heat and hot water violations is, there’s now a map for that: Localize.city, which provides neighborhood insights based on available New York City data, has created a resource showing the heat and hot water violation history for apartment buildings (with three or more units, and excluding public housing) throughout the city, and IDed 150 of the worst offenders.
⇧ SF Housing Authority decides not to double rent on Section 8 households
In all, only 182 renters would have been subject to the rent hike, adding up to an additional $54,600 in annual SFHA revenue.
The relative paucity of that sum is one of the reasons why, according to the San Francisco Examiner, the commission decided unanimously Tuesday not to go ahead with the rent increase.
⇧ Make America’s top tax rates great again
In the three decades following World War II, high top marginal tax rates likely contributed to the low pre-tax inequality that prevailed, and the economy grew far faster than it has since the 1980s, when top tax rates were slashed.
Of course, the effort to raise taxes from the rich shouldn’t rely solely on raising top rates. It should also include equalizing the taxes paid on income from work and wealth, closing loopholes that shield wealthy households’ incomes from taxation, and robust enforcement efforts.
Finally, even if raising taxes from the rich doesn’t manage to compress pre-tax income growth, it will still finance help for low- and moderate-income households through spending on social insurance, the safety net and work supports, and public investments.
How many tenants get help with rent or other expenses, thereby, allowing them to pay landlords rent? Are you a billionaire? Even if you were, would you oppose lifting the bottom so the bottom of our society doesn’t fall out?Have you falsely believed that cutting taxes on the superrich actually lifts the bottom? It doesn’t.
⇧ A quick guide to Seattle’s brand-new SR 99 tunnel
This is what most concerned me, though I’m not at all in favor of toll anything: bridges, roads, tunnels, you name it.
As for an earthquake: The tunnel is specifically designed to withstand a 9.0 and stay watertight. Measures were taken for floods, too: The tunnel can pump 1,090 gallons of water per minute, and has emergency storage below the that can hold up to 480,000 gallons.
With any emergency, there’s a means of egress for people on foot through doors in the tunnel walls.
⇧ Are Multinationals Eclipsing Nation-States? [Pray they don’t]
… a time when the capacity of governments to deliver for their constituents is shrinking, large corporations’ political clout is expanding, sometimes dramatically so, as in the case of Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google.
The one and only reason government power is shrinking is political ideology, not natural capabilities. Anything the private sector can do, government can do better. The only thing holding that back is the lack of democracy. It is as simple as that. Corporations eclipsing nation-states means globalize fascism by definition. Supranational fascism (rule by private-sector corporations) is definitely not what we want. There would end up being zero accountability.
⇧ The Laugh’s On Us: How The Trump-Radical Republican Tax Cut Broke the Economy But It’s Been Great for the Super-Rich and the Corporations They Control
May I say, “Told you so.” Well, whether anyone thinks I shouldn’t, I just did because it’s true.
I said from the very moment the idea was floated that it was a very, very stupid thing to do to the US economy. I was far from alone. Everyone who at the time knew enough about economics and wasn’t shilling for the superrich at the expense of all the rest, agreed with me.
So, what are we going to do about it?
This is a great article by David Cay Johnston. Read it, weep, but plan to promote the right economic ideology to permanently slap down the fake idea that trickledown works.
Donald Trump’s tax cut for the rich and the corporations they control is turning out to be a bust for the American economy.
⇧ California Wants Faster Forestry Approvals in Wildfire Fight
“When you have a healthy forest and a wind-driven fire runs into it, it will reduce to a ground fire and not take out the entire forest,” said Porter. “It’s less likely to burn down the community as well.”
That’s true, but curbing CO2 is the main issue. Ramping up forest thinning while also ramping up CO2 is the definition of insanity: not being able to tell the difference between right and wrong. The thinning will have to be that much greater with CO2 going up, even while we need more trees to capture and store the CO2.
Clear underbrush by all means. In nature, it would have been burned away rather than allowing Smokey the Bear to always snuff the good fires. It’s called the balance of nature: an ecological system.
⇧ Why Working Until 70 Is Not Simple Solution to Retirement Crisis: Viewpoint
The Urban Institute noted in a new study that about 10 percent of those over 50 had to leave their jobs because of health. But Urban Institute economist Richard W. Johnson, who studied work records of people over 50 in the federally funded Health and Retirement Study, said ageism is driving far more older workers away from their jobs, regardless of education, race or gender.
Real estate investing is a fall-back position for many because of this.
⇧ Victims of Floor Collapse at Party Near Clemson Deal With Recovery, Lawsuits
… the city also sent a letter to all rental property managers in town with advice for residents.
“We encourage you to remind your tenants that overcrowding a room and/or jumping up and down on a suspended floor may lead to disaster,” the letter from planning and codes director Todd Steadman read.
⇧ How Much Could Negative Rates Have Helped the Recovery?
In case you’re wondering, I called for a negative rate in 2009 once it became clear that helicopter money to the People wasn’t going to be forthcoming. I said at the time that negative rates is inflation by other means. Its no panacea, however. There were and are much better methods of handling the economy.
⇧ The (Modest) Rebound in Manufacturing Jobs
The United States lost 5.7 million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010, reducing the nation’s manufacturing employment base by nearly a third. These job losses and their causes have been well documented in the popular press and in academic circles. Less well recognized is the modest yet significant rebound in manufacturing jobs that has been underway for several years. Indeed, employment in the manufacturing industry began to stabilize in 2010, and the nation has added nearly 1 million jobs since then. Although modest in magnitude, this uptick in manufacturing jobs represents the longest sustained increase since the 1960s and bucks a decades-long trend of secular decline in employment in the goods producing sector of the economy. This is the first of two posts on the rebound in manufacturing jobs.
⇧ Officials Investigating 11 Fires in West Virginia City
… it’s not uncommon to have accidental fires this time of year due to people trying to stay warm.
Winters says the proximity of the two incidents has caused investigators to think the structures may have been intentionally set on fire.
⇧ New York landlords rush rent hikes ahead of housing reforms
Under current laws, tenants have some tools at their disposal to protest the MCI increases, or at least delay them for long periods of time. The Division of Homes and Community Renewal, the regulatory agency overseeing the matter, has a process for tenants to appeal, sometimes taking years to make final decisions. This process is especially key for tenants who believe the MCIs have been fraudulently claimed, or that the work performed was done poorly, or paid for at an exaggerated cost.
Document, document, document honestly.
⇧ Trump Administration Brings Relief to Long-suffering Predatory Lenders
Does usury help your tenants pay you rent or only end up making things worse?
Congressional Republicans have been willing to back a lot of extremely unpopular causes for the sake of freeing their party’s corporate donors from the tyranny of Obama-era regulations. In 2017, GOP lawmakers went on the record in support of expanding coal companies’ right to dump mining waste in streams, preserving retirement advisers’ right to gamble with their clients’ money, allowing internet service providers to track and sell consumers’ data without seeking their permission, banning states from setting up retirement savings plans for private-sector workers (a betrayal of Federalism that serves no purpose beyond eliminating one of Wall Street’s potential competitors), and ending discrimination against serial labor-law violators in the bidding process for government contracts.
… instead of repealing the Obama administration’s reforms to payday lending through a highly visible congressional vote, the GOP has opted to kill them quietly through regulatory fiat.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg revealed that the Trump tax cuts have saved America’s 23 largest banks $21 billion in taxes last year — a sum larger than NASA’s entire budget, and more than double what the FBI spent on fighting all crime. During the debate over tax reform, many of these banks pledged to use their savings to reward employees and expand consumers’ access to credit. And perhaps some did — but collectively, the banks eliminated 4,300 jobs in 2018, while reducing their rate of lending growth.
⇧ More Republicans say stricter environmental regulations are ‘worth the cost’
… since 2017, the share of Republicans who take a positive view of stricter environmental laws has increased, from 36% then to 45% today. There has been little change in Democrats’ views in this period (77% then, 81% now).
Many Republicans are waking up to the fact that they were lied to about carbon fuel, CO2, and global warming. They are learning about the huge problems plastics have caused too. This trend will continue so long as we have the ability to share truth with each other.
⇧ Janet Yellen: Possible next Fed move is a cut if global growth continues to slow
The Federal Reserve’s next move may well be an interest rate cut if weakening growth around the world starts infecting the U.S. economy, former central bank Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday.
There was no mention of the negative impacts of the foolish corporate-tax cuts.
⇧ Boeing Sued for Negligence in Southern California Wildfire
They claim Boeing failed to properly manage the vegetation on the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and allowed the fire to spread to surrounding neighborhoods.
⇧ World’s Four Warmest Years Have Occurred Since 2015 [Meanwhile, our President, Donald Trump, denies we’ve done it]
… warming is driven by the amount of greenhouse gases humans have introduced into the atmosphere, particularly in the last 100 years, Schmidt said.
⇧ Monetary policy has failed — we must reprioritise fiscal policy
I have always been on the fiscal side, long before having heard of MMT, even before MMT, per se, existed as an economic school of thought.
They certainly haven’t been able to achieve an acceleration in the inflation rate.
This has massive implications for how one assesses the validity of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) viz the dominant mainstream New Keynesian macroeconomics.
The latter has a preference for what they term monetary policy assignment over fiscal policy because they claim that monetary policy is an effective instrument for maintaining full employment and price stability.
The evidence certainly does not support that preference.
… appropriate use of fiscal policy can always prevent a recession from occurring.
So two things arise.
First, central banks around the world have been using ‘loose’ monetary policy as a tool for accelerating inflation and have failed.
They believed in the New Keynesian (mainstream macro) model and it has shown itself to be a failure.
Second, this bias towards monetary policy overlaid with the rampant neoliberalism of the European Union’s pet baby, the common currency, has derailed reasonable fiscal policy interventions and its largest economies are heading ‘south’ again.
And then they wonder why people want to leave the EU, or march in the streets in yellow vests, or elect far right politicians who give voice in the absence of any effective Left engagement to the peoples’ angst.
⇧ 6 simple reasons we should raise the minimum wage right now
If the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity increases, it would be around $20/hr. …
The bump from $290 a week to $600 a week would lift millions of families out of poverty. …
The roughly $120 billion extra paid to workers would be pumped back into the economy for necessities such as rent, food, and clothes. Economists have long recognized that boosting purchasing power by putting money in people’s pockets for consumer spending has positive ripple effects on the entire economy.
In one recent poll, 67 percent of small business owners support the minimum wage increase to $15 an hour. They say it would spark consumer demand, which would enable them to retain or hire new employees.
And raising the wage doesn’t seem to compel employers to cut jobs. As states and cities across the country have raised wages, research has found no statistically significant effect on employment.
… Raising wages for low-wage workers would “unambiguously reduce net spending on public assistance, particularly among workers likely to be affected by a federal minimum-wage increase.”
⇧ Ripple Has Signed Up A Bank [in name only?] To Use XRP For Payments. So What? [Sounds like another in a long line of libertarian schemes to part you from your money.]
Despite all the hype, Ripple still has an awfully long way to go.
That’s putting it mildly.
⇧ A bipartisan group of senators just agreed we need to break our addiction to carbon
… advanced nuclear ….
Terrible idea! Definitely counter-productive. Much riskier than other alternatives: much more polluting from cradle to grave, if there really is a grave within a reasonable time frame.
⇧ The Media [lies about economics] and the Public [falls for it]
… defenders of the press might argue that there was more waste because of a Labour government, but the number of stories in these papers increased over the period by 600%. A much more plausible explanation was that these papers were trying to undermine what the Labour government was doing, particularly as it was popular.
In this way readers of these papers were primed for the idea that Labour was being profligate. As a result, something that was clearly false could be sold as true. …
So why did the broadcast media start obsessing with the need to reduce the deficit? What is clear from Mike’s interviews with Robert Peston and Evan Davis is that the broadcasters really believed a large deficit was a problem of the utmost importance that needed to be tackled. …
“… when the deficit became a major political issue there were no sources – outside of Labour – who were given space to put the Keynesian view in comparison to a range of sources who put the case for a faster pace of fiscal consolidation.”
… What Mike does so successfully in this book is show how stories in the press were reflected in people’s attitudes and how this can have a profound influence on the political climate and therefore what politicians do.
⇧ California Wildfire Victims Living in RVs Ordered to Leave Properties
Schuster said she hired a contractor to clear her debris rather than waiting for government-supported crews to get to her property. She said her property is mostly cleared and she and her husband are awaiting inspection and certification, so she’s hopeful they won’t have to leave.
Health is a major concern, but the government must step up to house people who are in such dire straits.
⇧ San Francisco Gas Blast Shoots Fire Burning Buildings
The fire began around 1:20 p.m., apparently by crews working on fiber-optic wires, Hayes-White said.
⇧ Industrial Agriculture Poisoning Wells and Streams
Large industrial farms are polluting water across rural America with repercussions felt in public water supply systems and private wells alike
The number of systems polluted with nitrates and Coliform bacteria, including E. coli, are rising; rural residents in some Wisconsin communities are forced to drink bottled water as well water piped into their homes is brown, smells of manure and is full of nitrates and E. coli
Cracks in the bedrock and areas near waterways and the practice of spreading manure over land with thin topsoil result in rising nitrate levels in water, which in turn promotes toxic algae growth and increases the risk of cancers, birth defects and miscarriage
⇧ The Green New Deal (GND) [and proper soil-management sequestering carbon]
For the GND to accomplish its climate goals, it must spur two large-scale transitions: the transition away from fossil fuel use toward renewable energy, and the transition away from industrial agriculture toward organic regenerative practices that draw down and sequester carbon.
⇧ The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Taxes & Deductions
Well, I don’t think it’s the “Ultimate,” but it’s a good primer.
⇧ TWOSENSE.AI Awarded $2.42M Behavioral Biometrics Security Contract by DoD
I’m going to start bringing you more cybersecurity info. This is the first in that new pattern.
When it comes to the type of behavioral patterns the company’s product tracks, he mentioned “Right/left handedness, typing impact, pressure, fingertip size, muscular tremors, app usage profiles, commute patterns, daily routines, in some cases ballistocardiography, etc. To name a few.”
⇧ Security Think Tank: Approach UTM with caution
A lack of redundancy systems means that if the worst were to happen, there’s nobody on the subs bench ready to come on and change the game. If the UTM system fails, the criminals can essentially walk right in.
One size doesn’t always fit all
Some sort of DNS protection capability will be essential, as that may be the only way to spot malware that is calling out to a command and control (C&C) centre.
⇧ Update Android devices, Chrome browser protection for passwords, a sneaky email scam
Updates are only available for recent versions of Android. Go into your settings and find the About section and check to see when the last time your device was updated. If you can’t update it’s time think about getting a new device.
⇧ Hackers could get access to your phone and personal details through your car’s wifi due to poor cyber security
Why bring you this? Among other reasons, your real-estate investment work may be accessible.
⇧ Democrats float ‘Green New Deal’ to end fossil fuel era [and selfish whiners whine]
The Trump administration does not believe action on climate change is necessary and is focused on increasing production of oil, gas and coal on federal and private land.
“It’s a socialist manifesto that lays out a laundry list of government giveaways, including guaranteed food, housing, college, & economic security even for those who refuse to work,” Republican Senator John Barrasso, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, said on Twitter.
It’s not socialism. Socialism is public ownership of the means of production. The GND can certainly be mostly private enterprises being used to build out the infrastructure, etc. Even the healthcare component is not socialist. It’s public funding to pay private providers to provide care. What it is, is welfare-state enhancement. It’s not even a social democracy, in which the top of the economy is nationalized.
Also, what exactly is a government giveaway? Who is the government? We the People are supposed to be. What is Republican Senator John Barrasso claiming, that we the People can’t give ourselves what we want and need? Where exactly does he think money comes from in the first place, the private sector?
It flows from the federal government, again, we the People flowing money out to ourselves. Does the Senator object simply because more money would flow to more of the People versus remaining more consolidated in fewer (obscenely wealthy) hands?
I say “obscenely” there because it is obscene to have so many Americans struggling just to eat while working full time and being thrown between the cracks into homelessness while others live in houses so large they may not even visit quite a few of the rooms for years at a time, rooms empty of people but loaded with obscenely expensive furniture, unused furniture. Think about it.
The Green New Deal also aims to create an economic safety net for communities that will be affected by the impacts of climate change and the shift away from fossil fuel use, including through guarantees of healthcare, jobs, and jobs training. It was not clear how the programs would be funded.
“We… need to be sure that workers currently employed in fossil fuel industries have higher-wages and better jobs available to them to be able to make this transition, and a federal jobs guarantee ensures that no worker is left behind,” according to a summary of the plan.
A jobs guarantee is a great thing. When creating enough non-make-work jobs won’t be possible or necessary due to automation, so what? We the People still have a perfect right, and even a moral obligation, to supply ourselves, all of us, with enough money to live and to live well.
To me, the “bruised” egos are deeply offensive. They want to keep others down to avoid those twistedly self-inflicted bruises. Let them grow up. Let them become sane for a change.
⇧ In EV100 initiative, 31 companies join drive to switch to electric vehicles
⇧ Warming winters across the United States (despite cold snaps)
The 2000s decade had so little area with extreme cold, that the decadal average (dotted line) sits barely above the graph’s zero line. In short, winters in which large areas of the U.S. experience extremely cold temperatures have become more rare, but they aren’t impossible.
(Watch this space for an upcoming Beyond the Data post that will provide a more thorough investigation of the records broken by the late January cold snap.)
Arctic warming increases polar vortices.
⇧ January 2019 Data Update 8: Dividends and Buybacks – Fact and Fiction
I believe that the shift to buybacks reflects fundamental shifts in competition and earnings risk, but I don’t wear rose colored glasses, when looking at the phenomenon. There are clearly some firms that are buying back stock, when they clearly should not be, paying out cash that could be better used on paying down debt, especially in the aftermath of the reduction of tax benefits of debt, or taking investments that can generate returns that exceed their hurdle rates. You may consider me naive, but I believe that the market, while it may be fooled for the moment, will catch on and punish these firms. Also, the data suggests that these bad players are more the exception than the rule, and banning all buybacks or writing in restrictions on buybacks for all companies strikes me as overkill, especially since the promised benefits of higher capital investment and wages are likely to be illusory or transitory. If you are tempted to back these restrictions, because you believe they are well intentioned, it is worth remembering that history is full of well intentioned legislation delivering perverse results.
I have not said that all buybacks are misplaced. I have not advocated for banning them. What I have said is that in the aggregate in terms of the recent corporate-tax cuts, the vast majority of buybacks have not been productive but have returned money to those with less propensity to support the general economy and that the Fed has finally come to realize this, hence the pullback from formerly expected rate rises.
Even with the pullback, I still expect an economic downturn because I don’t see (among other things) a sufficient increase in the minimum wage coming soon enough. I still see plenty of labor slack for a whole host of reasons. I also don’t look at the current tariffs against China as the major source of our longer-term economic problems at all.
⇧ The State of the American Debt Slaves, Q4 2018
… if consumers had just maintained their debt levels, GDP growth might only have been 2.2% in 2018, instead of 3.1%. So, a huge round of applause is due our debt slaves that now owe over $4 trillion for the first time ever ….
They aren’t really ramping up borrowing because they want to but pretty much often have no other clear choice. It’s not sustainable. We the People must bail ourselves out.
The plutocrats will do everything in their power to avoid that because once we do it, it will be extremely clear that we don’t need the plutocrats for anything.
⇧ Two Competing Forces Are Setting the Price of Oil
So, oil prices are going up while the US oil sector can’t keep pace and (fracking costs continue to rise in terms of how much oil can be produced for the buck). Trump is considering releasing oil from the strategic reserve because he’s been schooled on how higher fuel prices negatively impact the economy, the last thing he wants while already facing headwinds from his very poorly timed corporate-tax cuts in the face of a tariff war with China, not that I oppose slowing China’s dictator.
While we’re being scrupulously honest, it must be said that there are obvious crass political-dimensions to the oil embargo on Venezuela and even Iran. All is far from what is being represented by the mainstream-US-corporate media on all these subjects.
Not bringing all of this up would be to deliberately avoid proper risk-management analysis.
If you don’t want the hard facts, you’re in the wrong place reading this blog.
⇧ Gushing profits for oil majors on crude price
“One day we’ll see that the capacity not launched risks being missed on the market” if US shale production fails to fill the gap.
He said this could happen sometime between 2021 and 2023.
The fracking technology took peak-oil proponents by surprise. Could Big US Oil and Gas see another tech bump? Let’s hope not. Why? Global Warming, groundwater pollution, earthquakes, other air-pollution, oil wars, etc.
⇧ Free Money Experiment Is Set to Reveal First Results in Finland
The idea of a basic income as a replacement for means-tested welfare payments has its share of supporters on both the left and the right of the political spectrum.
I totally oppose UBI but totally support ULI (L is for Living).
⇧ How rising inequality hurts everyone, even the rich
The studies suggest that the inequality depresses economic growth, leaving less for society to divvy up — regardless of how its members decide to do so. …
“The main mechanism through which inequality affects growth is by undermining education opportunities for children from poor socio-economic backgrounds, lowering social mobility and hampering skills development,” the OECD found. …
… If you’re a billionaire owner of a retail or manufacturing company, you want people to be able to afford the stuff you’re selling. Henry Ford offered his workers high wages not out of any altruistic impulse but because he wanted them to buy his cars.
… If you have a society sharply divided between winners and losers, some of those losers are going to conclude that the game is rigged and that it’s not in their interest to play by the rules.
… A 2002 World Bank paper found strong correlations between inequality and rates of violent crime, both within countries and between them. The authors say the relationship appears to be causal, even after controlling for a number of other known determinants of crime. The implication is that high levels of inequality create a permanent underclass forced to compete, sometimes violently, either with itself or with other classes for scarce resources.
… if the rise of inequality had been less severe, American crime rates would have fallen even more.
But even if you feel that the rich are entitled to a larger share of the national pie because of their talent, productivity and hard work, current economic research suggests that unchecked inequality means less pie for everyone — even the rich.
Actually, Ford was altruistic. He wasn’t perfect, but he was for the People. All one needs to do to verify that is study his views on money, where it comes from and where it should come from instead.
Also, the rich are not rich because they are more talented, more productive, or work harder but because the system is rigged to benefit selfishness and heartlessness, hardly admirable or worthy of rewards.
⇧ Best apps and websites to find NYC apartments for rent
Landlords and managers need to know.
⇧ The Coming China Shock
This article gets it wrong. It is not insufficient laissez-faire that will choke China but the lack of democracy.
… domestic investment levels have passed the point of diminishing returns and are veering toward negative territory.
… the upward sloping line represents the positive relationship between political and economic development. As the notable exception to an otherwise robust relationship, China has long posed a problem for this theory. With its closed political system, it should not be anywhere near as rich as it is.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the West made a gamble that China would cease to be an exception and would veer toward normalcy by adopting more open and democratic political institutions (as indicated by the dotted blue arrow). As a practical matter, that bet translated into Western policies to facilitate China’s rise, and decisions by US firms to transfer manufacturing capacity there.
But under Xi’s leadership, China has instead become less open (as shown by the red arrow). And, as Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute for International Economics shows in a new book, its economy has also shifted back from a private-sector-driven growth model to state capitalism.
In other words, systemic political and economic changes are making China even more of an exception, thereby increasing the odds that its return to normalcy will come in the form of a sharp deterioration in economic performance (the downward dotted black arrow). There is no telling precisely when that correction will happen. But the more China defies the rules of economic development, the more likely it becomes.
One way or another, China’s continued defiance of the “laws” of macroeconomics, geopolitics, and economic development will hasten its inevitable return to normalcy. When that happens, the world had better brace itself.
⇧ Where did AOC get it: They Green Party US: Green New Deal — Full Language – www.gp.org
The Green New Deal is much better risk-management than the current situation by far. Among other beneficial things, it would definitely help keep insurance premiums down and insurance coverage available. It would save everyone money quite quickly.
The article is pre-2016.
The New Deal enhanced and for turning the US green from dirty and harmful to the Earth …
I’ve been pushing this since before “The Green New Deal” was first used.
This is not anti-mixed economy, anti-all capitalism. It is anti-laissez-faire.
⇧ The Troubling Trajectory Of Technological Singularity [control the impetus]
… as the computing power of the rapidly evolving computers will exceed that of even the most intelligent and evolved human brain, the exponential growth in machine intelligence will continue towards singularity. Then artificial super intelligence will be just around the corner.
Impact of the Intelligence Explosion
There is no doubt that when a super intelligence emerges through artificial intelligence, it will bring to bear greater problem-solving and inventive skills than current humans are capable of. But would that not also mean creating another species with intelligence that may or may not have human interest at heart? What happens to human intelligence and the human race at that point of singularity?
Since there is no direct evolutionary motivation for an AI to be friendly to humans, the challenge is in evaluating whether the artificial intelligence driven singularity will — under evolutionary pressure — promote their own survival over ours. The reality remains that artificial intelligence evolution will have no inherent tendency to produce or create outcomes valued by humans– and there is little reason to expect an outcome desired by mankind from any super intelligent machine.
I completely disagree. The one and only issue is the human motivation behind the AI brought forth. If that motivation is selfishness, the AI will reflect that. If it is the opposite, meaning unselfishness, then the AI will reflect that instead.
Let’s make sure the right thinking brings forth the first super-intelligent AI. It will then be a blessing rather than a self-inflicted curse.