Interesting & Important News & Analysis, August 4, 2019

The backward leadership of Ohio makes a deal with the devil and forces it on voters who don’t want it.

Ohio just passed the worst energy bill of the 21st century

The bill would subsidize four uncompetitive power plants, remove all incentive to build more renewable energy projects, and cancel efforts to help customers use less energy. It is a bill only a utility (and the lawmakers who do its bidding) could love, an extravagant gift to utility investors that hoses Ohio ratepayers.

I would not invest any additional funds into the Ohio property market until I were certain this monstrosity would be reversed within a reasonable investment time-frame.


50 Years of Failure – U.S. Affordable Housing Programs and the Black Home Ownership Rate

The Fair Housing Act was:

“signed 51 years ago on April 11, 1968. The Act outlawed housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin.

“As a real estate numbers geek, I was shocked a couple of years ago when I stumbled upon some U.S. Census data that showed that the percentage of U.S. blacks who own their own houses today is essentially the same as when housing discrimination was outlawed in 1968.”

I don’t know the answer, but I’m wondering how many Black families saved up and bought smaller houses with all cash.


What Landlords Need to Consider in the Era of AirBnB


Scientists have discovered a sea of fresh water under the ocean


The world’s coastal cities are going under. Here’s how some are fighting back

The conservative scientific consensus is that a 1.5°C increase in global temperature will generate a global sea-level rise of between 1.7 and 3.2 feet by 2100. Even if we collectively manage to keep global temperatures from rising to 2°C, by 2050 at least 570 cities and some 800 million people will be exposed to rising seas and storm surges. And it is not just people and real estate that are at risk, but roads, railways, ports, underwater internet cables, farmland, sanitation and drinking water pipelines and reservoirs, and even mass transit systems. While some coastal cities and nations will literally disappear, the rest will need to adapt, and quickly.

… US cities are busily investing billions of dollars to bolster their resistance to rising sea levels. New Orleans established the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System shortly after Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,600 people in 2005, leaving 80% of the city underwater. The system includes a series of massive dam barriers, reinforced levees and flood-walls stretching some 560km around the city. The city also built a living water system of parks, wetlands and other existing features to reduce reliance on pumping and canals. It is one of the largest public works projects in US history and the most expensive flood-control system in the world. Boston, Houston, Miami, New York City and dozens of other places are following suit, albeit on different scales.


5G could change everything. Here’s what you need to know before you buy into the tech

In the case of sub-6 GHz 5G, the radio signals can travel much farther than millimeter waves and generally have no issue getting through windows and into buildings. In real-world terms, that means much broader coverage with significantly fewer transmitters.

However, there’s a big trade-off in speed. While the results vary depending on the specific frequencies used, early testing on Sprint’s sub-6 5G network showed speeds up to about 300 Mbps, which is only about 1/6th as fast as millimeter wave but is still 10 times as fast as 4G averages.


The labor theory of value is contextual.

You know who was into Karl Marx? No, not AOC. Abraham Lincoln.


Lack of affordable housing is fueling a reverse migration from big cities

“We’re seeing a mass migration from coastal markets to the middle of the country, and we’re seeing people fleeing high tax states,” Kelman said. “I used to think that this would depolarize the country, but the people who are leaving California and other blue states are actually the ones who are the most conservative and are fed up with the politics and the taxes. It’s actually deepening the divisions in the country.”


South Korean women will soon outlive us all. What’s their secret?

In the United States, however, life expectancy is set to rise more slowly. This is due to a combination of factors including obesity, high maternal and infant mortality rates, unequal access to healthcare and relatively high homicide rates.

By 2030 lifespans at birth for American men will be comparable to those of Czech men (under 80) and American women will have life expectancy similar to those in Croatia and Mexico (under 85).


Missing Issues on the Economics of a Fed Rate Cut

There are few sectors where wages are rising especially rapidly, the most obvious sign of a labor shortage. In fact, overall wage growth has slowed in recent months, suggesting increasing slack in the labor market.

The most obvious reason to lower rates is that in an economy with no evidence of inflationary pressure, there really is no reason not to try to push demand higher. This will allow more people to get jobs and improve workers’ bargaining position.


Hong Kong stocks slide as fears over protests grow. Real estate hardest hit

The biggest loser on the Hang Seng was Wharf Real Estate Investment, which owns major shopping malls in the city. Real estate stocks in Hong Kong have been hurt by China’s economic slowdown. But protests may also have an effect on business: One of Wharf Real Estate’s malls, Times Square, is a major tourist attraction that was close to where some recent protests took place. The stock ended down 4.7%, the biggest daily percentage fall in a month and a half.

It’s worth it. However, will the dictator invade?


How much time has Donald Trump ever spent in the wilderness? I love the wilderness. That’s why I don’t live there. There are too many of us. It’s also why I don’t want to touch it in anyway that will fundamentally pollute it. We don’t need to rape the wilderness to make progress or money.

Trump administration appoints opponent of public land to oversee 250 million acres of government-owned wilderness

Jon Tester, the senator for Montana – the home state of former Trump interior secretary Ryan Zinke – said in a statement: “William Pendley has built a career advocating for the sale of public lands to the highest bidder. His leadership of the agency tasked with protecting the very entities he’d like to sell is a grave threat to the future of public lands.”


100 Years Ago, Farmers and Socialists Established the Country’s First Modern Public Bank

… activists have taken their fight to the state legislature. Recently, a statewide bill to clear some roadblocks for the establishment of local and regional public banks passed the General Assembly and has moved on to the State Senate (where it passed two key committees in June and July).

Whatever the bill’s ultimate fate, the campaign that the California Public Banking Alliance has put together is truly remarkable. More than 100 organizations representing 3.3 million Californians have endorsed the bill. These include labor unions (such as the California Nurses Association, SEIU California, AFSCME California and UFCW Western States Council), community groups (such as People Organizing To Demand Environmental and Economic Rights and Healthcare for All- California), environmental groups (such as 350.org, Friends of the Earth and the Local Clean Energy Alliance) and political organizations (such as the California Democratic Party and the Green Party of California). Moreover, 10 city governments have backed the effort, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Diego.

In California and elsewhere in the country, public banking has very quickly moved from a fringe interest to a mainstream political issue. This is testament to both the long-term success of examples like the Bank of North Dakota and to the efforts of a new generation of activists and movement builders who, like their predecessors 100 years ago, understand how critically important control of finance and capital is to the hope of building a more equitable, just and democratic world.


Elizabeth Warren’s plan for public lands

… lands are under threat. The Trump administration is busy selling off our public lands to the oil, gas and coal industries for pennies on the dollar — expanding fossil fuel extraction that destroys pristine sites across the country while pouring an accelerant on our climate crisis.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We must not allow corporations to pillage our public lands and leave taxpayers to clean up the mess. All of us — local communities and tribes, hunters and anglers, ranchers and weekend backpackers — must work together to manage and protect our shared heritage. That’s why today I’m rolling out my plan to protect our public lands and preserve wild, natural places for future generations.


Ethiopia plants 350m trees in a day to help tackle climate crisis: a world record

According to the UN, Ethiopia’s forest coverage was just 4% in the 2000s, down from 35% a century earlier.


How AI and data turn city water management from an art to a science

Sensors, drone technology and machine learning could benefit many cities and their water supplies, especially as they battle with the need to keep up consistent service. It also reduces the need for emergency fixes.


The Trump Tax Cuts Worked (As a Scam)

Give a poor man a handout, he eats for a day; give corporations a tax break, and they will make growth-enhancing investments that enable poor men to discover the “dignity of work” and the middle class to enjoy a jump in living standards.

There was little empirical evidence to support this argument when Republicans were making it two years ago. There is even less today.

There was, and is no, evidence to support it. It was a scam to redistribute wealth upwards. The only thing partially bailing it out is the Fed lowering interest rates.


Earth Overshoot Day is earlier than ever this year—and it underestimates the crisis

Overshoot Day doesn’t take into account, for example, whether our current level of agricultural output is ruining soils for future generations, or whether the current rate of groundwater pumping will result in desperate water shortages a few years down the line. “It’s a measure of what is. Not what could be,” Lin says. It’s a snapshot of Earth’s current deficits, but the future survivability of Earth depends on a lot more than what can be captured by that. “You could sell your organs for money, and your bank accounts that year might look okay, but that’s not sustainable,” Lin says.


Fast-and-loose is catching up with China.

Fake Cash & Fake Accounting: Chinese Regulators Suddenly Halt 46 IPOs and Bond Offerings


Even corporate execs need places to live for a month or so.

SF ponders what to do with corporate rentals like Sonder

… there’s nothing illegal about this use of housing stock. Companies have done it for years. SF Corporate Rentals, a local Sonder competitor, presently advertises nearly 50 units around the city for month-to-month rentals, with rent prices up to $8,100.

Subsidies for developers/landlords and/or tenants is the easiest solution.


The US is such a laggard.

Zero by 2050: How the world’s economy has planned to battle climate change

Two countries, Bhutan and Suriname, are already beyond net zero – absorbing more carbon dioxide than they emit.

… a number of major wealthy nations including the US, Australia and the Gulf States have yet to put net zero on the agenda. Japan, meanwhile, has only committed to achieve net zero in the latter half of this century.


Costa Rica has doubled its tropical rainforests in just a few decades. Here’s how

… Costa Rica began to realize the potential of its rich ecosystems and set about safeguarding them.

Policy-makers restricted the number of logging permits and created a national forestry commission to police forest activity.


Private equity rushed into health care — now, a nurse warns: “Be scared”

More than 1.3 million retail workers have lost their jobs because of bankruptcies or financial struggles at retail companies owned by private equity and hedge funds, according to a new study from several left-leaning advocacy groups.

… it appears the hospital was bought for the value of its real estate, not for its mission to provide care to low-income Philadelphians. The hospital is located near a burgeoning arts district in central Philadelphia, as well as Temple University, which makes the land valuable to developers.

“It’s the first time I know for a hospital being bought by a private equity company in what appears to be a pure real estate play,” ….


What the Rental Community Should Know about Emotional Support Animals

As it applies to service animals for disabled residents, FHA states any person with a mental or physical disability cannot be turned away from housing with their service animal or emotional support animal. This includes buildings and apartments that normally do not allow pets. Landlords and apartment managers are required to make a “reasonable accommodation” for both service and emotional support animals.

Under both ADA and FHA, there are no breed restrictions. If a disabled individual has an emotional support or service dog that the landlord prohibits (pitbull, rottweiler, husky), they must still accommodate that tenant and their service dog regardless of dog breed.

Certain insurance policies can restrict coverage if certain breeds of dogs are allowed by the landlord. If you have such coverage and a tenant has such a breed, you need to inform your insurance broker or carrier.


Suburban apartment complexes are the thing.

CRE ‘Burbs’ are Alive and Well

Economists Barbara Byrne Denham and Victor Calanog noted that “Few recognize that the bulk of the apartment inventory is located in suburban submarkets, either within the city limits or outside. A quick look at the numbers shows that the ratio of suburban to CBD apartment stock is nearly 6:1.” This interplay is an important aspect of the urban/suburban divide in commercial real estate. Mixed use is showing its colors in the urban core, but the ‘burbs won’t be left behind—even if those ‘burbs begin to look different than those of past generations.


In defense of MMT: When the Left disgraces itself

Arguing like this is no longer my style. I agree with Bill Mitchell’s representation of MMT and his own positions. He’s not lying or mischaracterizing. His detractors are typically slow. Very few stick to MMT’s real positions. Often those who try simply can’t comprehend MMT and claim MMT must be wrong for being incomprehensible. They usually say that MMT economists can’t explain MMT in any comprehensible manner. That’s nonsense. MMT economist describe MMT very clearly.

Regular people are finally catching on. Economics is easy. The neoclassical economists hate that. Their plutocratic patrons hate it even more and demand (they don’t even have to say it) the neoclassical economists take down the MMT economists. It’s not working and won’t in the future, quite the contrary.