About Tom Usher

Property and casualty insurance broker/producer

News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Jan. 12, 2018

Linking ≠ endorsement.

Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) ‘Our Hearts Are Breaking’: Firefighter, Resident Killed in North Philadelphia Blaze – NBC 10 Philadelphia

2) Editorial: Stop Trump from drilling off California’s coast

3) Dozens Evacuate In Washington State, Fearing Landslide : The Two-Way : NPR

4) The truth about the minimum wage | Real-World Economics Review Blog

5) Corporate America, You Just Got a $650 Billion Tax Cut! What Are You Going to Do Next?

6) Dallas-Fort Worth has the biggest development pipeline of apartments in the US, says a RealPage Inc. (Nasdaq: RP) – Dallas Business Journal

7) Southern California mudslides sweep away homes; 13 dead

8) Tesla’s New York Gigafactory Kicks Off Solar Roof Production – Bloomberg

9) IRS private debt-collection hurts low-income taxpayers

10) Bernie Sanders and the rise of American social democracy

11) Bitcoin is teaching libertarians everything they don’t know about economics – The Washington Post

12) Top charts of 2017: 12 charts that show the real problems policies must tackle, not the made-up ones | Economic Policy Institute

13) Nestle CEO: ‘Humans Have No Right to Access Free Water’

14) Fed’s Monetary Policy Cornerstone Attacked at Economists’ Gathering – Bloomberg

15) UBS Greater China Conference: Gen[.]Life on artificial intelligence in the US and China

16) Federal Reserve’s Neel Kashkari: Why the Banks Don’t Like Our New Research – TheStreet

17) China Weighs Slowing or Halting Purchases of US Treasuries – Bloomberg

18) We know which parts of California are prone to mudslides and fires. It’s time for residents to abandon them. – LA Times

19) Four Rhode Island Homes Damaged in Fire

20) Florida Apartment Building Gutted by Massive Fire

21) GM Drops the Steering Wheel and Gives Robot Driver Control – Bloomberg

22) Bonds and fixed income: Fed speeches, bonds, Data, on the agenda for investors

23) 10 developments set to reshape US cities in 2018 – Curbed

24) Mnuchin Warns Against Bitcoin Becoming the Next ‘Swiss Bank Account’ – Bloomberg

25) Disaster-Mitigation Programs May Be Cut, Despite Proven Savings

26) Researcher finds another security flaw in Intel management firmware | Ars Technica

  1.    ‘Our Hearts Are Breaking’: Firefighter, Resident Killed in North Philadelphia Blaze – NBC 10 Philadelphia

    So many risks … how did it start?

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


  2.    Editorial: Stop Trump from drilling off California’s coast

    As if our oceans aren’t already struggling mightily:

    Remember the devastation of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill: Union oil’s inadequate safety precautions resulted in 3 million gallons of crude oil spewing into the Pacific Ocean, spawning what we now know as Earth Day.

    Remember the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the largest marine oil spill in history, killing 11 workers and releasing 4 million barrels of oil into Gulf of Mexico, causing $17 billion in damages to natural resources.

    Then prepare to fight.

    If you are a land owner in California, think about it. If you’re a land owner on any sea coast, think about it. If you just give a darn about our planet and the legacy were leaving, if you care more about being moral than about having more money, think about it.

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


  3.    Dozens Evacuate In Washington State, Fearing Landslide : The Two-Way : NPR

    … Oso was also considered a “low probability” event.

    It wasn’t considered that by people who had raised alarms about it but were ignored.

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  4.    The truth about the minimum wage | Real-World Economics Review Blog

    It’s an atomistic fallacy to think that a policy of keeping wages low would strengthen the economy. On the contrary. The aggregate effects would, as shown by Keynes, be catastrophic. They would start a cumulative spiral of lower prices that would make the real debts of individuals and firms increase since the nominal debts wouldn’t be affected by the general price and wage decrease. In an economy that more and more has come to rest on increased debt and borrowing this would be the entrance-gate to a debt deflation crises with decreasing investments and higher unemployment. In short, it would make depression knock on the door.

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


  5.    Corporate America, You Just Got a $650 Billion Tax Cut! What Are You Going to Do Next?

    Of course, part of the Trump administration’s sales pitch has been that these corporate tax cuts will trickle down to workers in the form of higher pay, rather than simply feathering the nests of wealthy shareholders. And while it’s certainly plausible that some of the corporate tax cuts will be passed on in this way over the long run, the consensus among economists is that the lion’s share of the corporate cuts will accrue to the owners of these businesses, both in the short term and in the long run. This has been in part demonstrated by the announcement of tens of billions in new share buybacks by companies during the passage of the tax cut bill.

    … as predicted on this blog.

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  6.    Dallas-Fort Worth has the biggest development pipeline of apartments in the U.S., says a RealPage Inc. (Nasdaq: RP) – Dallas Business Journal

    We need a sustainable economy, not just richer landlords. If the Trump plan doesn’t work (and I’ve been saying quite openly and often that it won’t), we’re going to need all the apartments we can get for the people who won’t be able to afford anything else.

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


  7.    Southern California mudslides sweep away homes; 13 dead

    The Thomas Fire, the largest in California history, burned more than 440 square miles and more than 1,000 homes, businesses and other buildings in the area last month. Then came the rains, and hillsides stripped of their vegetation by the fires were left prone to mudslides.

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


  8.    Tesla’s New York Gigafactory Kicks Off Solar Roof Production – Bloomberg

    Decades ago, I couldn’t figure out why we weren’t doing this, as the more that we would have produced, the lower the cost would have been. They would have been really cheap by now, and we would have all been better off.

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


  9.    IRS private debt-collection hurts low-income taxpayers

    “In any event, the cost of the (private debt collection) program thus far exceeds the revenue it generates.”

    Why are we even taxing the poor in the first place? Until people have earned enough to live comfortably and then have disposable income on top of that, we shouldn’t even be thinking about taxing them. All taxes should come from money earned above a truly decent living. We should also not be taxing anyone on income used to pay for expenses due to genuine problems that must be addressed via personal spending.

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


  10.    Bernie Sanders and the rise of American social democracy

    This article gets an A-, and I’m a very hard grader concerning defining liberalism (“neoclassicalism”), welfare state, social democracy, democratic socialism/communism, and right-wing (anti-democratic) socialism/communism.

    … Sanders’ forthright advocacy of huge tax increases and Medicare for all has made him the most popular national politician working today. Much of that is no doubt due to how the 2008 financial crisis, and the ensuing lousy recovery, deeply discredited orthodox capitalism, especially among the young. “But it’s a mark of how entrenched neoliberalism is among the political elite that he remains the only nationally prominent social democrat; despite the few Senate Democrats who have signed on to his Medicare-for-all bill, none of them have fully embraced the Nordic model.

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


  11.    Bitcoin is teaching libertarians everything they don’t know about economics – The Washington Post

    As scathing as this is, it’s still too charitable.

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


  12.    Top charts of 2017: 12 charts that show the real problems policies must tackle, not the made-up ones | Economic Policy Institute

    Want to be radicalized? Learn the facts …

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


  13.    Nestle CEO: ‘Humans Have No Right to Access Free Water’

    Municipal and other such water systems should never be anything but publicly owned utilities.

    Anyone who disagrees should experience being cut off from all money. Unfortunately, most privatizers only get the message when it happens to them or someone extremely close to them. Empathy concerning strangers is less than their strong point.

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


  14.    Fed’s Monetary Policy Cornerstone Attacked at Economists’ Gathering – Bloomberg

    … what does that mean for the Fed? “There is a decent case” it should overheat the economy and try to attract more people into the labor force, said Blanchard, now a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

    That’s what I’ve been writing all along.

    Before the economy bottomed out for this last downturn, I wrote that the target unemployment rate should be 3% or lower and that once there, the Fed should do nothing until price inflation hits 5%. Even then, it should not drastically raise rates but do so gradually and be ready to stop at the drop of a hat.

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


  15.    UBS Greater China Conference: Gen.Life on artificial intelligence in the US and China

    “There’s a sense of urgency within the leading academic institutions in the United States about a lack of central, coherent policy by the central government, whereas in China, if you look at the recent State Council White Paper on A.I., it’s clear China has a clear vision on how they would like to see this go,” Tu said.

    US economic-Libertarians see Industrial Planning as “Central Planning” a la Stalinist-Russia. At least they claimed to. However, a US Industrial Policy that prioritizes research and development was, and remains, the only sensible approach.

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


  16.    Federal Reserve’s Neel Kashkari: Why the Banks Don’t Like Our New Research – TheStreet

    I truly enjoy reading what Neel Kashkari has to say. His logic is a notch higher than the average at the highest ranks at the Fed.

    Kashkari: I think several of the large banks choose to restructure themselves radically due to these higher capital requirements. The banks like to claim that they have these great economies of scale but then they say if you raise our capital requirements, we won’t be profitable anymore. Then you have to ask if they really have these great economies of scale? I think they don’t.

    Kashkari: I don’t find cryptocurrencies a credible competitor to the dollar. Here is the fundamental flaw. The advocates of bitcoin said, Hey, you can trust bitcoin because we are only ever going to mine X number of bitcoins.” It’s constrained in its foundation. That may well be true. But the barrier to entry in all these alt-coins is zero. I can create Brian Coin or Neel Coin and all of a sudden you have inflation in cryptocurrencies that are indistinguishable from one another.

    Think about gold. Why has it had this role in the economy for thousands of years? You can’t just create gold. The Earth created gold and there is only so much of it. It’s that scarcity that gives currencies value. When you think about the dollar, it’s created by the the federal government and it has a monopoly on creating U.S. dollars.

    So cryptocurrencies will never be credible competitors because the barrier to entry is so low. I would stick with the dollar.

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


  17.    China Weighs Slowing or Halting Purchases of U.S. Treasuries – Bloomberg

    Yields were already climbing this week amid expectations the improving global economy will boost inflation pressures round the world ….

    Trump’s tax scheme will not work as advertised by the Trump people. The Chinese are actually making a serious economic mistake, but what’s new?

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


  18.    We know which parts of California are prone to mudslides and fires. It’s time for residents to abandon them. – LA Times

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


  19.    Four Rhode Island Homes Damaged in Fire

    Four multi-family homes have been damaged and six residents and two firefighters injured ….

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


  20.    Florida Apartment Building Gutted by Massive Fire

    No one was seriously injured.

    Officials say most of the units are a total loss.

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


  21.    GM Drops the Steering Wheel and Gives Robot Driver Control – Bloomberg

    I’m including this link because I find it astounding that there are so many people in supposedly high places who write that automation really isn’t going to take that many jobs, etc. It’s like they’re in an alternate universe.

    The rate of change is only accelerating and will continue to do so indefinitely (barring a catastrophe the likes of which humanity has never seen). The replacement of humans as workers doing required work to “earn livings” is inevitable and will happen much sooner than most people appear to appreciate.

    I, for one, am looking forward to it.

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


  22.    Bonds and fixed income: Fed speeches, bonds, Data, on the agenda for investors

    It’s obvious that a majority of active traders are suffering under laissez-faire delusions that Trump’s tax plan will work and that the federal deficit will be dealt with by slashing welfare and other benefits.

    I’m confident the tax plan will not work and that reducing the deficit will not be done on the backs of the already poor.

    Yes, the increase in the standard deduction will give more of the poor more money to spend, which many will do. However, some will save and others will pay down debts. Many will realize that the cuts for the middle and lower economic classes are to be rolled back automatically unless deliberately extended.

    I don’t think we’ll even get that far into the plan before the plan itself is rolled back of necessity.

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


  23.    10 developments set to reshape U.S. cities in 2018 – Curbed

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


  24.    Mnuchin Warns Against Bitcoin Becoming the Next ‘Swiss Bank Account’ – Bloomberg

    Under U.S. law, “if you have a wallet to own bitcoins, that company has the same obligation as a bank to know” you as a customer, Mnuchin said. “We can track those activities. The rest of the world doesn’t have that, so one of the things we will be working very closely with the G-20 is making sure that this [cryptocurrencies, so-called] doesn’t become the Swiss bank account.”

    I’ve been saying for years now that there is no way that the major governments of the world are going to simply allow anarchist “money.”

    I understand the pros of such “currencies,” but the cons vastly outweigh them.

    Bitcoin headed people in exactly the wrong direction. We need to centralize money while putting it all under democracy that is as direct as possible.

    Of course, if you want to do evil things, you’re going to be against that (unless you’re the type that prays to be kept from the temptation to do evil).

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


  25.    Disaster-Mitigation Programs May Be Cut, Despite Proven Savings

    Some federal spending is as smart as it gets:

    … the National Institute of Building Sciences, found that every $1 the federal government spends on so-called mitigation projects, such as elevating homes at risk of flooding, improving stormwater management systems or strengthening buildings against earthquakes, reduces future costs by an average of $6.

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


  26.    Researcher finds another security flaw in Intel management firmware | Ars Technica

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

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