News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Mar. 6, 2019

This aggregated post is a change from the previous style. This one doesn’t contain a Table of Contents. I’ll likely not be doing aggregated posts at least for several months. Perhaps I’ll not return to doing them at all, as they take a great deal of time over non-aggregated posts. Thanks for understanding.


Swedish teen leads Belgian students on 7th climate march

I’m highly impressed by this young lady and support her efforts. High schoolers are the new college kids. They have to be.

EastWest Institute releases municipal guide for developing safe, secure smart cities

Because so many of us invest within cities …

… even Republicans are backing a Green New Deal for America

… Green New Deal resolution …. The sheer scope and ambition of the proposal jolted a Washington political establishment that, unlike cities and businesses across the country, has made little effort – not to mention progress – addressing the climate crisis.

The six-page blueprint tackles climate, jobs and social inequity all at once, committing the US to dramatically invest in a clean energy economy along the lines of a 10-year national mobilisation comparable to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which lifted the nation out of the Great Depression and set it on course to lead the global economy for a century.

From massive investments in clean transit and sustainable farming practices, to the creation of millions of green jobs, the plan seeks to make America run on 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Polls show that four-fifths of the country’s registered voters support a Green New Deal – including, incredibly, two-thirds of Republican voters ….

Some say the nationwide popularity of the Green New Deal reflects a profound change in the American electorate, which previously failed to recognise the severity of the climate crisis.

Financial Regulation Shouldn’t Be Hard – Here’s What We Need to Make It Work

I’ve never heard anyone denounce racketeering and promote the public sector so well without calling for heads to roll.

We can land planes safely at crowded airports, yet we can’t manage to make our financial system safe. Why? Stanford University economist Anat Admati talks about what’s needed to get financial regulation that works.

Why the Green New Deal Includes a Jobs Guarantee

Pavlina Tcherneva, one of the economists behind the idea, explains how it can fight the climate crisis and promote economic stability for American.

Glencore Brings the End of Thermal Coal a Step Closer

Glencore’s move follows “engagement with investor signatories of the Climate Action 100+ initiative,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. “We must invest in assets that will be resilient to regulatory, physical and operational risks related to climate change.”

… death by a thousand cuts.

More shareholders will divest from miners and from their customers who burn the fuel; the group of insurers who refuse to provide coverage for mining projects and thermal generators will expand, further pushing up costs; new supplies will come increasingly from relative minnows like Whitehaven Coal Ltd. and MACH Energy Australia Pty., which will struggle to get access to capital, plus a handful of state-owned giants in China and India.

Building new renewables is cheaper than coal in most major markets, and heading that way in all but a handful of countries.

… the central bank needs to become a public servant. It needs to be made a public utility, responsive to the needs of the people and the economy.

Ellen Brown:

QE Forever: The Fed’s Dramatic About-face

The Fed is realizing that it cannot bring its balance sheet back to “normal.” It must keep pumping new money into the banking system to avoid a recession. This naturally alarms Fed watchers worried about hyperinflation. But QE need not create unwanted inflation if directed properly. The money spigots just need to be aimed at the debtors rather than the creditor banks. In fact regular injections of new money directly into the economy may be just what the economy needs to escape the boom and bust cycle that has characterized it for two centuries.

MMT – Krugman still does not get it! [And MMT doesn’t get it either.]

Please read the entire linked article, then notice how the most important statement in it is completely ignored:

He [Lerner] argued that the government should be prepared to spend whatever is necessary to sustain full employment without raising taxes or borrowing …

What Lerner put forth there has been put forth over and over and over and before Lerner first said it. It’s what I’ve been putting forth for decades. The government does not have to tax or borrow to spend whatever it takes to have the highest standard of living for every citizen and without price inflation or deflation.

Until that becomes the common understanding and position, we will have poverty, misery, and more.

Why Do the Media Provide Cover for Austerity Cranks, Like the Folks Running the EU?

One place we will never see the term mismanagement, or any equivalent term, applied is in reference to the austerity imposed on the euro zone countries by the European Commission, acting largely at the direction of the German government. In fact, major news outlets, like the New York Times, seem to go out of their way to deny the incredible harm done to euro zone economies and to the lives of tens of millions of people in these countries, as a result of needless austerity.

… The paper has repeatedly told readers that policies that undermined the welfare state and redistributed money upward, were being done for the purpose of revitalizing the economy. This was especially the case with Emanuel Macron in France … In these and other cases, the media took at face value the claims of politicians that the reason for the measures was to help workers, not to reduce their bargaining power, which is their immediate effect.

To be clear, labor market regulations can be excessive and there are certainly contexts in which streamlining them would end up benefiting most of the labor force, even if such streamlining could hurt narrow groups of workers. But the idea that excessive labor market regulation, rather than inept macroeconomic policy, is the main problem limiting growth and reducing employment in France, Spain, and elsewhere in Europe does not have any evidence to support it.

In short, the NYT and other media outlets have been engaged in a great exercise in misdirection. While the blame for Europe’s economic problems over the last decade can very clearly be laid at the doorstep of its leaders who have insisted on austerity, the media consistently ignore evidence that is as clear as day. They instead treat the problems facing Europe’s workers as being mysterious in origin or due primarily to an overly generous welfare state and excessive regulations that protect workers. This is some seriously biased and/or misinformed reporting.

California climate change: SF weather will feel like LA weather – Curbed SF

Yet another sign from the housing market of a looming recession

The Most Important Real Estate Investing Decision (Aside from Selecting Properties)

Evidence for man-made global warming hits ‘gold standard’: scientists

They said confidence that human activities were raising the heat at the Earth’s surface had reached a “five-sigma” level, a statistical gauge meaning there is only a one-in-a-million chance that the signal would appear if there was no warming.

The real truth is that there is absolutely zero chance human activities are not raising the heat at the Earth’s surface.

Introduction MMT Macroeconomics Textbook 2019

These guys are at the very heart of MMT; therefore, what they say is MMT, is MMT.

I’m glad this textbook is coming out. It will not only increase awareness of, and knowledge about, MMT but other political-economy schools of thought as well: sorely needed.

A brief introduction to the features of the new MMT textbook – Macroeconomics – published by Macmillan and written by William Mitchell, L Randall Wray and Martin Watts.

Five Years of GPM Storms | NASA Goddard video

On February 27, 2019, we celebrate five years in orbit for the NASA/JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement mission, or GPM. Launched from Japan on February 27, 2014, GPM has changed the way we see precipitation. It has provided unprecedented three-dimensional views of precipitation light rain to intense thunderstorms. To mark its five years, we’re looking back at five big moments in GPM’s history of observing storms. Music provided by Killer Tracks: “Life Defrosts,” “Revolutions Are Infinite,” “Formulas and Equations” Complete transcript available.

Trump’s China Trade “Win” Will Cost the U.S.

The analysis in the linked article is wrong. Trump postponed raising the tariffs (which tariffs have definitely been working, as I predicted they would). He holds all the cards. China is in no position to even score one point. Xi knows it.

I don’t agree with Trump’s economics, but I have to tell it like it is rather than engage in false propaganda.

The “free marketeers” are upset that the tariffs worked because they’ve been saying how awful tariffs are: how they never help, etc. False progressives were saying the same thing simply because it’s Trump.

Companies and higher education institutions call for a global phase down of ‘super pollutant’ hydrofluorocarbons

Primarily used for cooling and refrigeration, HFCs are a type of greenhouse gases known as “super-pollutants” because they are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. If left unchecked, emissions from HFCs will increase to as much as 19 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as global population and demand for air conditioning continues to grow.

“As the rest of the world takes steps to ratify the Kigali Amendment, it is critical that the U.S. step up with a clear and predictable plan for transitioning away from HFCs,” said Anne Kelly, senior director of policy and the BICEP Network at Ceres.

How to Cut U.S. Emissions Faster? Do What These Countries Are Doing.

Together, these seven policies would slash greenhouse gas emissions in the United States roughly 29 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and roughly 50 percent by 2050, according to Energy Innovation’s climate policy modeling.

… could include a much higher carbon price, investing in advanced clean-energy technologies, retrofitting older buildings, tackling sectors like air travel and shipping, deploying carbon capture systems to further reduce steel and cement emissions, as well as strategies to revitalize forests and curb methane and nitrogen pollution from livestock and farming.

Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic

… the people who have denied the science and the solutions own a special responsibility that history will judge harshly.

It isn’t just humans that are suffering and will suffer more in the future. The heating of oceans is causing tremendous problems for sea life, particularly coral reefs. If we continue to warm the planet, we can expect to lose much of these reefs. We can also anticipate reductions in fish and sea life populations.

We scientists sound like a broken record. Every year we present the science and plead for action. Not nearly enough is being done. We can still tackle climate change, but we must act immediately. We have the means to make a difference, we lack only the will.

Wages, surplus, and inequality

… corporate executives – on both Main Street and Wall Street – have been able to share in the extra booty captured from American workers, who were forced to have the freedom to sell their ability to work for wages that have barely increased in recent decades.

That combination of stagnant wages for most workers and the ability of those at the top to capture a large portion of the extra surplus is therefore at the root of increasing inequality in the United States.

This was all accomplished via deregulation and the strangling of unions. The answer is more direct-democracy over the economy: economic democracy. Re-unionization is not the answer because unions were always part of the problem, as it placated workers.

Krugman vs Kelton on the fiscal-monetary tradeoff

We have to free ourselves from the loanable funds theory – and scholastic gibbering about ZLB – and start using good old Keynesian fiscal policies.

Ah, my position ever since I learned that banks create loans out of thin air. In the US, the Fed requires a 10% reserve ratio but will increase reserves to meet the demand. In the UK and other places, the central bank doesn’t even require a reserve ratio.

To top it off though, what’s always still missing from all of these pro-commercial banking policies is the fact that the government doesn’t have to borrow a dime to issue more money into the economy.

Stephanie Kelton is a vastly better economist than is Paul Krugman, but she avoids the fact (that the government doesn’t need to borrow) like it’s a hot potato. Ask her why?

Powell Gets Sharp Warning From Senator Over Fed Inflation Target

Some officials have proposed replacing the 2 percent target with a strategy that seeks to achieve average inflation of 2 percent over time. That would require the Fed to intentionally overshoot 2 percent to make up for periods when inflation ran below the objective.

Toomey responded to Powell’s remarks with a warning.

“I understand the problem that you are wrestling with,” he said. “I would just urge great, great caution on this for many, many reasons, not the least of which for whatever period of time the Fed decided it would exceed the goal so that it averages the goal, first of all during that period of time presumably you don’t have price stability.”

Powell said there were “plenty of questions and concerns” to address in the review, but the central bank “owed it to the public to try to think our way through the best possible way to address that problem so that we can carry out our mandate.”

“… during that period of time presumably you don’t have price stability.” That’s incorrect thinking. What is price stability? Is it when inflation is zero? If that’s the thinking, then 2% inflation is intentional instability. However, averaging around 2% with an overshoot is itself stabilizing with the target as the center rather than always undershooting.

I’m not a monetarist; but, if we’re thinking in such monetary terms, then overshooting to get 2% as the average is absolutely not instability.

I’ve been saying that for quite a few years now. I started shortly after the Great Recession hit and the topic of how to hit the rate started making the news.

I didn’t develop my thinking about it. It was my starting place. So, the Fed has taken all this time to even begin considering what I would have been doing from the outset.

Disaster Recovery Tracking Tool

This web-based resource helps local governments and other groups track the progress and quality of post-disaster recovery.

MMT Is Already Helping

Well, it’s all true, albeit often merely a matter of semantics; however, please note that even while MMT doesn’t rely upon taxes to spend, it does rely upon governmental borrowing, though Bill Mitchell has written that he would move beyond borrowing to the government simply issuing the money, which has always been my position.

China Continues To Pile Debt On Top Of More Debt

Even MMTers will freely admit that there is a limit. China is quickly approaching it. I find it amazing just how blind Xi is about monetary policy.

GDP Rose by $1.0 Trillion in 2018, US Gov. Debt by $1.3 Trillion

Limited as GDP measures are, they do not include where the dollars came from that were invested, spent, or blown. Governments play a large role in GDP. Just the federal government alone is a major contributor behind GDP. Everything it spends and invests in the US goes into the GDP formula. What does not go into GDP is where those dollars came from. Much of it came from tax revenues, fees, and other receipts. The remainder came from borrowing.

In the calendar year 2018, the federal government’s debt grew by $1.4 trillion, to end the year at $21.97 trillion. If you exclude the distortive effects of the last debt-ceiling fight, the increase in 2018 comes to around $1.3 trillion.

Most of the additional borrowing of $1.3 trillion was added to GDP and therefore to GDP growth. But GDP growth in current dollars totaled just $1.0 trillion. Without that additional federal borrow-and-spend, GDP growth would have been negative.

So, $300 billion is pure borrowing. If the government had created the money without issuing debt, the $1.3 trillion would be free and clear. It’s that simple. In fact, the multiplier would have seen that 1.3 bumped up perhaps 10% or more depending upon how productive the investments, such as on the Green New Deal (without borrowing, without deficits, without government shutdowns while the government stupidly argues over increasing the debt limit). Makes me want to run for office just to get the message out there.

“Shadow Banks” Dominate Mortgage Lending by Piling on Risks. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) on the Hook

As expected, lending standards are continually being allowed to go down. It’s the same pattern as before the Great Recession. How far will they go? Will they go low enough that the securitized packages once again contain toxic loans in large enough quantities to sink the market?

Fake Capitalism Is A Bigger Threat Than Socialism [?]

What Patrick W. Watson is calling fake capitalism isn’t fake capitalism. Fake capitalism is anti-trust laws. Real capitalism is exactly unregulated monopolies. It’s why we use the term mixed economy. Crony capitalism is the superrich buying the regulations they want in place. It’s the mixture of fake democracy and unbridled greed.

Patrick says, “Let everyone compete on an equal footing, and give consumers and workers freedom to choose what they want.” Why do they get to choose via dollars but not via votes? Why do they only get to vote with their wallets? What about those with less money, why do they have less say over the economy? Patrick is upset with the wealthy buying government, but he doesn’t seem to see the hypocrisy. What if the people don’t want Patrick’s “everyone competing” but rather want cooperation via their government?

Democracy is better than the rich having more say. People don’t merit more say simply because they are more competitive and less cooperative.

Most millennial homeowners have buyer’s remorse, a new survey shows

What seems to irk millennials most is maintenance. They didn’t factor in the high costs of fixing what breaks. Young buyers may have been renters previously, and not even considered maintenance since it was never a factor financially.

The Biggest Advantage of Doing Due Diligence Well
News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Mar. 6, 2019

Not long …

Forbes retracts attack on paper showing link between glyphosate and cancer

These are the same types of people using the same types of tactics and hired by the coal, oil, and gas industries to deny human-driven global warming or that it matters.

‘Irresponsible’ agents blamed as top end property plunges by 40pc

“A lot of agents are losing money. The kickbacks help keep their businesses running,” he said.

China’s Premier Slams Central Bank For Gargantuan Credit Injection

… Jianguang Shen, chief economist at JD Digits, a Chinese fintech group, said: “Li has always tried to emphasize that he will never do flood-style stimulus. He is expressing the concern of many commentators that if you have such huge lending, some part of it will not go to the real economy.”

True, but a large part will go to the economy, and the problem is that in China, some 300% in debt/GDP notwithstanding…

… absent massive new credit creation, the economy tends to grind to a halt.

They really, really, really do not know what they are doing. Both sides in the debate are completely wrong.

Scientists who discovered ‘amphibian plague’ worried a dangerous new hybrid disease will emerge

A killer fungus known as Bd has triggered a mass amphibian extinction that has spread across every continent and been described as among the worst infectious diseases ever recorded.

Concrete is tipping us into climate catastrophe. It’s payback time

Nearly 6% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 8% of the world’s, are now sourced from cement production. If it were a country, the cement industry would be the third largest in the world, its emissions behind only China and the US.

The great bulk of the industry is inherently conservative, ignorant of the alternatives to cement and reluctant to adopt change. Conventional, or Portland, cement is trusted to be safe and strong and developers continue to specify it because it is cheap and the alternatives are not well-known. Without major demonstration projects showing what is possible, and the education of architects and planners, progress will be incremental and possibly too late.

The cement industry has transformed the world and enriched both itself and mankind. But it now threatens to tip the environment into uncontrolled warming. It’s now payback time and the industry must respond urgently to the problem it has helped to create.

Australia: 18 reasons why property prices will fall further

“We are seeing a lot of flighty property investors who want to get out before the market falls further but they’re not getting out at any price.”

Could a free fall start?

The Green New Art of the Deal

Claiming that we can continue as we were if only we switch energy sources is so in conflict with the most basic of physics, that is: thermodynamics, that those who claim it are either real thick or, perhaps more likely in politicians and business people, lying through their teeth.

That’s a complete disconnect. Switching the mode of production of energy to that which doesn’t increase greenhouse gases does not violate the laws of thermodynamics at all. Generally, if you decrease greenhouse-gas emissions, you reduce global warming. You can do that while increasing energy output. Thermodynamics in the equation is not inextricable from greenhouse gases.

Now that Housing Bubble #2 Is Bursting…How Low Will It Go?

All of this is possible if fiscal stimulus isn’t employed to stop it, stimulus way beyond the Obama package.

We still aren’t in a 2007-8 bubble, however. Speculation is not rampant. Lenders haven’t quite reached that level of recklessness.

MMT for Dummies

Pretty good overview of MMT …

… there’s a more controversial part to Lerner. Here’s Stephanie again:

The first law of Functional Finance is designed to eliminate a shortfall in total spending, while the second decrees the specific manner in which the deficiency is to be funded. Specifically, the second law calls for the sale of interest-bearing government debt only in the event that private spending would otherwise generate excessive aggregate demand. Under ordinary circumstances, Lerner argued, it is expected that capitalist economies will suffer from insufficient rather than excessive aggregate demand so that it would not be necessary to offer bonds in exchange for money as a means of tempering inflationary pressures. Instead, Lerner believed that bonds should be sold to the central bank or to private banks “on conditions which permit the banks to issue new credit money based on their additional holdings of government securities, [which] must be considered for our purposes as printing money”

Translation: You don’t have to sell Treasury bonds at all. Just print money, credit accounts directly. That’s a pretty controversial view. And I think this is the one that is most pilloried.

Yes, it is. However, it doesn’t even go far enough. This is why the MMTers kicked me out. I said the government never needs to issue anything but money and doesn’t ever have to tax in order to control inflation. My position was, and remains, that there should only be one legal tender (which is the case now) but that all such money should be in government-controlled accounts only: no commercial lending or borrowing either. Monetary inflation/deflation would control price inflation via the US Treasury as central bank (replacing the Federal Reserve) simply increasing/decreasing account levels. The only issue I can think of is people moving everything out of “cash” and into tangible assets. However, barter wouldn’t be legally allowed to replace cash transactions. The money couldn’t hide, and its value would still be set by the government democratically and hopefully via algorithms.

I’m convinced I’ll be vindicated. I think my real “sin” was/is not having an advanced degree in economics. That’s okay. I’ll take political economy over “scientific” economics every time.

BTW, Edward (the post’s author) unfriended me somewhere along the line too. Not sure why.

Financing the Green New Deal in Europe

See what I mean? The only choice is between taxing or borrowing. What nonsense!

Don’t tax or borrow. Just issue the money! End of story.

Maybe their problem is they did get advanced degrees in economics, though I more than suspect it’s all really a bankers’ protection act. In other words, it’s anti-democratic-socialism because in democratic-socialism, the money supply is democratized rather than a private-sector profit point.

Worldwide Crackdown on Money Laundering in Real Estate

To help combat scams in the U.S., FinCEN, an investigative arm of the U.S. Treasury Department, has lowered the threshold for real estate transaction sizes involving shell companies that require title companies to identify the parties behind the shell companies. The threshold is now cash purchases above $300,000 or transactions involving cryptocurrency. The orders apply to all title companies in Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.

‘Tiny homes’ make up less than two percent of SF sales

Could ‘climate delayer’ become the political epithet of our times?

… she used the term “climate delayer” to call out those dragging their feet on climate change.

Ocasio-Cortez used the term to describe Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was filmed telling a bunch of children that when it comes to the looming apocalypse, she knows better than they do, because she has spent a long time in the Senate not fixing the problem. While they called for immediate action on the Green New Deal, she argued that change wasn’t going to come anytime soon. After all, when it comes to averting a global catastrophe on an unprecedented scale, endangering hundreds of millions and fundamentally altering the human experience, you don’t want to rush into things.

Europe’s Leaders Are Aiding Italy’s Populists

… if financing for Japan’s economy and banking system had been provided by an external central bank bent on enforcing fiscal austerity by threatening to withhold liquidity, then a doom loop of insolvent banks, rising bond yields, and recessionary forces would have been inevitable. Politically toxic populism would not lag far behind, occasioning the same kind of clashing-though-compatible narratives that we now hear from the European Commission and Italy’s government.

Insurer Group Fears Property Losses Due to Climate Change

… ClimateWise said that increasing catastrophes linked to climate change could triple losses on property investments over the next 30 years.

Northern California River Flooded 2,000 Buildings

RSA Security Conference: The race to plug a $6 trillion security hole

Cyber crime is so massive it has been described as the largest and fastest transfer of wealth in history.

ShakeAlertLA users are concerned about earthquake app’s security issues, bugs and crashesShakeAlertLA users are concerned about earthquake app’s security issues, bugs and crashes

What Do Modern Monetary Theorists Think About Inflation?

If output does not adjust sufficiently, the program would prove to be inflationary.

Exactly! It’s what I’ve been saying year after year after year. Plan capacity, and produce what we need and want (decided democratically, not by entrepreneurs) issuing the money to do it as we go. Done correctly, there would be no inflation but huge growth, especially is we bring on AI production.

Photos of the Deep South’s Deadly Tornado Outbreak

The worst of the outbreak was in Beauregard in Lee County, Alabama, where the 23 deaths occurred.

“The devastation is incredible,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told WRBL. He detailed that at least 40 people were injured in the storm, and two are in intensive care.

Chinese real estate is between a rock and a hard place: Strategist

Hao Hong of the Bank of Communications International says the property bubble in China is “quite visible” and discusses the state of the real estate market in the country.

Chinese real estate is between a rock and a hard place: Strategist from CNBC.

Please, Self-Styled Progressives, Enough With The Rentier Economics

The sooner we recognize that we, the people are the ‘franchisor’ in our finance franchise – that it is our monetized full faith and credit, that of the United States that our financial system disseminates – the sooner we see that we don’t have to placate those ‘bond vigilantes,’ ‘skittish investors,’ and other 19th century mustachioed villains. We can do as we collectively will – as consistent with not over- or under-issuing our collectively issued promissory notes in relation to the stock of resources that those notes summon through investment or command through purchase.

… The whole intermediated scarce private capital picture trades, I suspect, on unclarity or outright equivocation over the word ‘capital.’ Too many seem to take the word somehow to refer both to physical capital and to financial or money-capital at the same time.

As soon as you prise these two things apart and track them both separately, you see at once that we can act collectively to unlock any horde of artificially ‘scarce’ capital simply by issuing more claims upon physical capital in the form of financial or money-capital. That dilutes the ‘holdout’ value of the horde, restores the circulation, and of course results in no ‘general inflation’ unless and until we outstrip our indefinitely extensible productive capacity.

And were that ever happen, we would know what to do. For we know this already. We can always complete the job – the ‘de-distribution’ job – begun by our earlier dilution of the non-investing (merely gambling) rentier by … taxing the non-investing rentier, selling our collectively issued bonds to the non-investing rentier, or, better yet, reasserting our franchisor’s prerogative by tightening up privately issued credit quality through better targeted leverage and liquidity regulation of the non-investing rentier.

I’m not going to translate all of that. I will say, however, that MMTers better learn how to speak and write in plain language if they are ever going to make their points perfectly clear to the masses who’ve not spent their lives building up the needed jargon to otherwise get it.

With proper planning and transparency, the People can issue all the money we want without borrowing a dime from anyone ever and without causing price inflation.

What’s really interesting is that the article is on Forbes, which was about as rentier promoting as it got.

Trump is an environmental hazard: Groundwater Near Most Coal Plants Polluted by Coal Ash: Environmental Groups

This is just another reason coal is not king and why a war on coal is a good war, a required war.

One Dead, Two Injured After Beams Fall at MIT Construction Site in Massachusetts

Always, always, always safety first!

Drilling Rules in Colorado Would Undergo Major Shift Under Bill

“Right now, oil and gas laws in Colorado tilt heavily toward the industry,” said House Speaker KC Becker, a Democrat, who will be one of the co-sponsors of the bill. “We are going to correct that tilt so that health, safety, and environment are no longer ignored by state agencies.”

That will lower insurance costs among other costs.

What’s the matter with oil? What isn’t? Environmental Disaster Unfolds in Pacific, Near Solomon Islands, as Ship Leaks Oil

Three levels of controversy over MMT

Excellent article …

I urge seasoned readers to do their best to muster some openness and goodwill towards the side you think you disagree with. Often the disagreements are smaller than you think.

Oh, very well said. I know firsthand. I kept telling MMTers that they’re getting hung up where they should see that the differences are purely semantical. They still threw me out. Of course, the gold bugs threw me out too but for different reasons, such as that they are simply wrong.

Enters the clown: “Modern Monetary Nonsense” Really?

Kenneth Rogoff is only hitting at strawmen, as MMT doesn’t hold to what he claims it does.

BTW, Rogoff totally screwed up his calculations concerning the debt ratio.

Anyway, who needs to issue bonds?

Well, what’s his real concern? An independent central bank meaning banksters welfare. If the Central Bank were the US Treasury, we wouldn’t have bankster bailouts.

Momo ‘is now becoming real’ as trolls exploit publicity to make new videos

Lots of investors are parents of young children. That’s why I’m including this. Little kids are very much more emotional than we are as adults. The parents in this case did exactly the right thing, ask questions. However, if they hadn’t first heard of this Goddamned Momo thing, they’d not have known to ask specifically about it.

Tornadoes Take Lives, Homes in Alabama

… killed at least 23 people, including children.

Traveling straight down a county road, the twister carved a trail of destruction at least half a mile wide and about a mile long ….

Florida CFO Launches ‘Fraud Free Florida’ Anti-Fraud Initiative

High Avalanche Danger in Colorado Following Heavy Snow

You are what you eat: Study says eating organically could reduce cancer risk by 25 percent

What good is sweating it making a fortune in money if you turn around and die from eating poison?

… a diet high in organic foods is linked to a 25 percent reduced risk of developing cancer. Most notable was the correlation between organic food consumption and the risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which the data shows as decreasing by 86 percent for those who most often consumed an increased amount of organic food.

“I think the California produce industry could be 30 percent organic by 2030, and in Washington, 70 percent by 2030 if the government, food industry and retailers openly and honestly explained to consumers the trifecta of benefits that society will enjoy as a result – safer and more nutritious food, a healthier environment, and way fewer farmworker poisonings,” he wrote in an email.

Look at all the benefits. It not only helps you but helps the entire planet.

Who’s Afraid of the Green New Deal?

What good is sweating it making a fortune in money if you turn around and your investments are wiped out due to catastrophic damages from global warming caused by carbon fuels?

Get on board with the Green New Deal. You have nothing to lose but increased losses and higher insurance premiums, if you will even be able to get coverage if we don’t have a Green New Deal.

Regenerative Agriculture: Congress Should Learn More About Organic

You know that switching to organic and pasture-based agriculture is what we need to do to feed the world and cool the planet – because healthy soil can both provide abundant food, and also draw down and sequester carbon.

But do your members of Congress know this?

And if they do, are they doing anything to level the playing field for farmers who grow nutrient-rich food in ways that protect, not harm, the environment?

Everything is rosy in China except for everything

The word democracy wasn’t mentioned once. The Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 was the Democracy Movement protesting. They were [allegedly] slaughtered, and it was completely censored. China was then rewarded by the anti-democratic forces in the West, including the leadership in Washington. Trump will cut a deal that will not include anything for democracy in China. It’s All About The Benjamins. Those who “opened” China knew full well it would NOT lead to the democratization of that one-party dictatorship.

Heatwaves sweeping oceans ‘like wildfires’, scientists reveal

Rentals Gone Wrong: Was It Less-Than-Stellar Location? Or Problematic Management?

Investing in “C” or lower neighborhoods is overall more work, but it can also generate a higher payday. In these cases, I calculate my estimated cash flow and compare it with how much time and stress I’m willing to dedicate to the property.

If the numbers work out (achieve a desirable hourly rate), I go for it. It has worked out for me thus far, but it definitely hasn’t been worry-free.

Ah, another clownish strawman attack on MMT. This one’s by Lawrence H. Summers.

Look, if the government doesn’t borrow to issue currency, it doesn’t pay any interest on that money. Larry says that sometimes money financing results in interest payments. He’s dead wrong about that. Secondly, no leading MMTers have ever said that hyperinflation can’t happen by over issuing money into the system. MMTers simply say that deficits can be managed and that a major economic power, such as the US, could bail itself out. It’s understood that the MMTers aren’t saying to ramp up inflation and then ramp it up further via any such bailout. They’re talking about a well-regulated issuing of money so that hyper-inflation won’t happen.

As for creating money to fund the welfare state, it’s completely doable without price inflation becoming a problem. The new-welfare-state aspects would be supply-and-demand matched. It’s really that simple.

One wonders whom Larry is trying to protect from economic democracy.

“The Clock Runs Down on Mainstream Keynesianism [actually “New Keynesianism”]: Paul Krugman’s macro framework is leading him astray,” by Stephanie Kelton

In the U.S. context, modern monetary theory begins with the observation that the currency itself is a simple public monopoly. From the earliest stages of the project (mid-1990s), MMT held that currency regimes matter. MMTers argued that governments cannot become insolvent when they borrow in their own non-convertible currencies and that the currency issuer never has to accept “market-determined” interest rates.

We explained that Social Security faces no long-term financial crisis and warned that the budget surpluses in the Bill Clinton administration were unsustainable. We warned of the housing bubble before it burst. We explained that quantitative easing wouldn’t be inflationary. We knew Reinhart and Rogoff were wrong about deficits and growth even before the Excel spreadsheet error was discovered.

We warned that the euro was susceptible to a debt crisis. And, once the crisis occurred, we insisted that the U.S. could never end up like Greece.

Krugman calls MMT “a losing game,” and he urges us to remember “all those articles I wrote” over the previous years.

I sampled those articles, and here’s some of what I found.

On Social Security, he asks, “Where is the crisis? Just over the horizon.” And then he warns, “While the present generation of retirees is doing very nicely, the [Social Security] promises that are being made to those now working cannot be honored.”

He called our nation’s finances “a fiscal train wreck” and confessed, “I’m terrified about what will happen to interest rates once financial markets wake up to the implications of skyrocketing budget deficits.”

He insisted that the U.S. faces, “a looming fiscal crisis,” adding, “the only question now is when foreign investors, who have financed our deficits so far, will decide to pull the plug.”

He mused about the potential for accelerating inflation under quantitative easing, writing that the Fed is, “printing $1 trillion of money, and using those funds to buy bonds. Is this inflationary? We hope so!”

He asked, “couldn’t America still end up like Greece?” answering, “Yes, of course. If investors decide we’re a banana republic whose politicians can’t or won’t come to grips with long-term problems, they will indeed stop buying our debt.”

And he puzzled over the different interest rate environments in Japan and Italy, asking, “Why are the interest rates on Italian and Japanese debt so different?” confessing, “I actually don’t have a firm view. But it seems to be an important puzzle to solve.”

No economist is going to get everything right. But the odds of getting things right improve dramatically when you’re working with a macro framework that doesn’t lead you astray. The IS-LM framework is a gadget that will often align with sensible real-world analysis. It may perform better than a stopped clock, but it is no match for MMT.

News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 20, 2019

Linking ≠ endorsement. News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 20, 2019

Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) Trump Is Rooting for Ocasio-Cortez’s Democratic Party [somebody hates the Green New Deal]

2) National Development Banks: Corbyn’s Engine for the UK’s Own Green New Deal? (Video)

3) Drought then Deluge Turned a Stable Landslide into Disaster

4) As more older Americans ‘age in place,’ millennials struggle to find homes

5) Why Is the Political Establishment So Afraid of Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal?

6) These probiotics for plants help farms suck up extra carbon dioxide

7) The Great Discontent

8) ‘All hands on deck’: Can public-private solutions solve Calif. housing crisis? [something better]

9) US expects record domestic oil production in 2019, 2020

10) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is a radical front for nationalizing [no, further democratizing and saving] our economy

11) Residents Increasingly Fleeing New York, Los Angeles and Chicago

12) As Fed Nears End of the Hiking Cycle, It Faces a Hard Reality

13) Trump has lost the plot on China [Wrong. He never had it.]

14) [Labor slack remains huge] Best US Job Numbers Ever? Not If You’re Out of Work for a Year

15) China has no use for democracy. It needs a strong leader like Xi Jinping right now [because fear]

16) Adam Smith’s hidden hand of empathy

17) Weakest US retail sales since 2009 cast pall over economy

18) Trump, Xi Hail Progress in Trade Talks as Tariff Deadline Nears

19) Wealth Inequality Is Way Worse Than You Think, And Tax Havens Play A Big Role

20) Multifamily National Report — January 2019: Year-over-year growth has increased by 10 basis points to 3.3 percent

21) China-Based Investor Takes Rare Step of Cashing Out of US Apartments

22) Mayor Breed wants to ax fees for affordable housing

23) Gov. Gavin Newsom slows high-speed rail plan to SF [Updated]

24) Oregon lawmakers propose unorthodox approach to rent control

25) How to Navigate New Rental Rules from your Condo Association

26) Oil’s Twilight? Here’s One Investor View on How It Plays Out [good view]

27) Amazon Pulls Out of Planned New York City Headquarters

28) 13 Must Watch YouTube Channels For Making Money

29) (Video) 4 Reasons New Real Estate Investors FAIL

30) How To Invest In Real Estate: The ULTIMATE Guide to Calculating Cashflow (EASY)

31) Erie County land bank takes inventory of blighted buildings

32) MMT And Its Fictional Discipline [What?]

33) Economics After Neoliberalism

34) AI is reinventing the way we invent

35) There’s No Good Reason to Trust Blockchain Technology [I couldn’t agree more!]

36) Fed Will Probably Change Its Approach to Inflation, Dudley Says

37) Amazon pays no federal income tax for 2018, despite soaring profits, report says

38) Unemployment Rate and Recessions

39) … tackling one of the hardest, unsexiest [sex?] parts of climate policy: Decarbonizing buildings

40) Where Real Estate Investors Should Look In 2019

41) Bill Gates Says Taxing Capital Gains Is the Best Way to Tap ‘Big Fortunes’

42) Time to restore the revolutionary Keynes [or go even further]

43) How Fiscal Policy Works

44) Are We Heading towards a Synchronised Global Slowdown?

45) Dirty Sock vulnerability lets attackers gain root access on Linux systems

46) Inflation: Stress-Testing the Phillips Curve

47) Do [vat] tax increases always contract economies?

48) Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence

49) Monsanto Roundup Attacks Healthy Gut Bacteria, Lawsuit Says

50) Rate cut calls grow as home loans fall at their fastest rate since GFC

51) Debt guarantee tangle: China’s private firms hit by default contagion

52) (Video) ‘I want you to panic’: 16-year-old issues climate warning at Davos

53) ‘The beginning of great change’: Greta Thunberg hails school climate strikes

54) The Poison Papers [What you don’t know can kill you and yours]

55) Massive restoration of world’s forests would cancel out a decade of CO2 emissions, analysis suggests

56) UK plans to make plastic packaging producers pay for waste disposal

57) [gender-bending] Plastic chemicals discovered inside bird eggs from remote Arctic

58) British lawmakers call on government to put an end to throwaway fashion

59) Global Slowdown Leaves Growth Weakest Since Financial Crisis

60) Mississippi Lawmakers Consider Bill Limiting Liability of Property Owners

61) Georgia Apartment Fire Damages 15 Units, Displaces 30 People

62) EPA Prepares Chemical PFA Safety Plan Amid Calls for Tougher Action

63) Californians Lose Homes, Cars to Mudslides, Floods from Winter’s Wettest Storm

64) What is biometrics? And why collecting biometric data is risky

65) Linux container bug could eat your server from the inside — patch now!

66) 7 Ways to Protect Your Building

67) New Astaroth Trojan Variant Exploits Anti-Malware Software to Steal Info

68) TrickBot variant steals credentials for remote computer access

69) Shlayer Malware Disables macOS Gatekeeper to Run Unsigned Payloads

70) Emotet Uses Camouflaged Malicious Macros to Avoid Antivirus Detection

71) The Best Free Password Managers for 2019

72) It’s Time to Kill Your Eight-Character Password

73) Multi-Stage Rietspoof Malware Drops Multiple Malicious Payloads

74) Windows 7 and Server 2008 Updates to Require SHA-2 Support Starting July

75) Before a Flood

76) San Diego advances proposal to nix parking requirements

77) Trump’s Tax Cuts Are Already Hurting Americans

78) Lawmakers consider far-reaching rent control bill

79) Humboldt Park’s ambitious homeless center opens in former screw factory

80) Neuroscientist: How Our Brains DEHUMANISE Homeless People

81) Inside China’s High-Tech Dystopia

82) Renegade Inc: The Finance Curse

83) … accused of unlicensed practice of public adjusting and grand theft related to Hurricane Irma

84) Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Could Limit Clean Water Act

85) North Carolina Insurers Request 19% Rate Increase for Mobile Home Policies

86) Once hailed as unhackable, blockchains are now getting hacked

87) Password managers have a security flaw. But you should still use one.

88) Net-zero energy homes have arrived — and are shaking up the US housing market

89) The battle against bugs: it’s time to end chemical warfare

90) The Economist misrepresents MMT

91) Delinquencies Are Surging As $1.6 Trillion Student Loan Bubble Inflates

  1.    Trump Is Rooting for Ocasio-Cortez’s Democratic Party [somebody hates the Green New Deal]

    Who’s afraid of AOC? Warning: It shows throughout this blog post that I’m playing hardball concerning those who, on libertarian-capitalist grounds, oppose the Green New Deal. Patience is a virtue until it’s not.

    This may not be “socialism” in the sense of Soviet-style command and control.

    What does that mean? Why socialism in quotation marks? Is this some sort of illiterate political statement suggesting that true socialism is Soviet-style command and control rather than democratic economics?

    You could also say it has American roots: FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” and all that. Nonetheless, embracing this as a program, rather than as lofty aspirations not meant to be taken seriously, would require a cultural revolution.

    Duh! That’s exactly what’s happening. FDRs New Deal was the result of the Great Depression brought on by Wall Street insanity. His New Deal saved capitalism from itself it’s said. It really didn’t save capitalism but installed a welfare state and more mixed economy.

    It would move the U.S. from its liberal tradition of individual responsibility and limited government to a collectivism somewhat to the left of EU-style social democracy.

    That is definitely not true. It is another politically illiterate statement. Social democracy is the nationalization of the economic heights. One could certainly argue for truly public utilities, and there are such, but the Green New Deal isn’t bound to total energy-nationalization.

    And, to repeat, this war-footing “mobilization” of people and resources is not an unforeseen drawback of AOC’s plan; it’s the whole idea.

    Of course it is, and rightly so. The US won WWII on a war footing. We are facing warlike catastrophes if we don’t rein in global warming. Reining it in while whipping a bunch of other problems, such as unemployment and a lack of affordable healthcare seems quite sensible (provided you aren’t mesmerized by Libertarian-nonsense economics).

    By the way, we had full employment during WWII. We can have the same thing without being in a hot, military war but simply a war on global warming, on excessive CO2.

  2.    National Development Banks: Corbyn’s Engine for the UK’s Own Green New Deal? (Video)

    We speak to Stephany Griffith-Jones, the author of ‘The Future of National Development Banks’, she discusses why National Development Banks aren’t as radical as made out to be in the UK, the good they have done around the world and the potential for National Investment Banks to fuel a Green New Deal to combat climate change.

  3.    Drought then Deluge Turned a Stable Landslide into Disaster

    “Since we now know that stable landslides in this region can fail catastrophically and we have good data coverage here, our plan is to monitor this whole stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway and look for these unusual velocity changes. If we get enough examples, we can start to actually figure out the mechanisms that are controlling this behavior.”

    … and predict them and use the same technology and analysis concerning land on which real estate structures sit.

  4.    As more older Americans ‘age in place,’ millennials struggle to find homes

    Why they rent …

  5.    Why Is the Political Establishment So Afraid of Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal?

    Not all of the details have been hashed out, and it will no doubt take considerable struggle—and outside agitating—to ensure any final plan is informed by left principles. But, nonetheless, the proposal represents the most ambitious effort yet to tackle the climate crisis. And it correctly refocuses the question of cost away from whether the United States can afford to pay for such a bold proposal to whether it can afford not to.

    Already more than 60 members of the House and 9 senators have co-sponsored Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s resolution. Much like other bold left-wing proposals such as Medicare for All and tuition-free college, the Green New Deal has emerged as a consensus policy back by a number of high-profile potential 2020 Democratic nominees such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders. And over 80 percent of the American public supports the Green New Deal, including 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans.

    Republicans and centrist Democrats alike seem content continuing to oversee the same economic and political consensus that led us to the brink of climate chaos. But for the vast majority of Americans who want real solutions to the crisis, today’s Green New Deal resolution marks a clear escape path from the stale politics of the past.

  6.    These probiotics for plants help farms suck up extra carbon dioxide

    Unlike the ocean, which has absorbed the brunt of human emissions so far—becoming more acidic and hotter and threatening marine life as that happens—soil can benefit from extra carbon. “Soil is the exact opposite,” Zorner says. “Soil actually enriches its productivity when you’re sequestering carbon, and so the soil and crop and ultimately the growers benefit by sucking as much CO2 from the atmosphere to the plant into the soil as possible.”

    When plants take up CO2 during photosynthesis, creating sugar that they use for growth, they also release sugars through their roots, attracting microbes. Healthy soil is full of these microbes, which then keep the carbon in the ground. But conventional farming—including the overapplication of chemical fertilizer—has destroyed the microbial balance. Adding “probiotics” helps restore it.

  7.    The Great Discontent

    … her Green New Deal/Dream can easily be dismissed as crazy, but pray tell what the difference is between how the Green New Deal might be financed, and how the Federal Reserve has financed its QE schemes.

  8.    ‘All hands on deck’: Can public-private solutions solve Calif. housing crisis? [something better]

    Everyone is affected by the lack of low-income housing, and all of us benefit when there’s more of it.

  9.    US expects record domestic oil production in 2019, 2020

    Despite the claims in the article, unless there are major technological breakthroughs, fracking will become more and more expensive with increasingly diminishing returns while negative ecological impacts continue ramping up.

  10.    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is a radical front for nationalizing [no, further democratizing and saving] our economy

    … policies that include a federal jobs guarantee, economic security for those unable to work, provision of housing, free health care, higher education for all and a family living wage? Besides the plan’s calls for electrifying the whole transport system and undertaking a crippling federal financing of renewable energy over 10 years, it reads like a wish list for socializing the economy.

    Crippling? Hardly. The article’s author is economically illiterate. There is a well-known positive impact of fiscal investment called the multiplier. It means that the expense will be more than amortized. It will return more than it costs. Real estate investors are well aware of it in the private sector. The same applies to governmental expenditures done correctly, for the right reasons, such as a federal jobs-guarantee, economic security for those unable to work, provision of housing, free healthcare, higher education for all, a family living-wage, and the reversal of global warming and environmental destruction brought to us by the anti-good-government crowd.

    Previous estimates from Stanford engineers of meeting power demand through clean, renewable zero-emission energy sources put capital costs at $14.6 trillion (almost three-quarters of current annual GDP). The running costs, coupled with all the other environmental programs, would therefore take up a huge chunk of economic resources, effectively cutting vast private sector activity.

    Get a clue. The costs would increase GDP. What the author is foolishly worried about is the so-called crowding out of the private sector, as if the whole thing wouldn’t be a boon to the private sector. It would definitely be a boon. Besides, who cares about such things when the government would simply be doing things the private does not do and couldn’t do even if it were to try, which it wouldn’t.

    Just to ram home the absence of trade-offs, we are also told this will be finan ced by printed money. Ocasio-Cortez subscribes to the view that governments can apparently spend and spend forever, with the only constraint being the capacity of the economy. Yet, even under the crank Modern Monetary Theory model that recommends this, inflation will surely result from so much new government spending.

    This is the exact same ideologically driven nonsense argument that was used when Obama increased fiscal spending to rev up the economy in the face of the deregulation-caused Great Recession. CATO Institute types came out in droves fearmongering about hyper-inflation. We not only didn’t get hyper-inflation, we got zero price inflation, the only kind that counts. This CATO Institute person falsely believes that monetary inflation results in price inflation. I think he should study real economics (economic history, what has actually happened) rather than spending his time reading Ayn Rand. I’ve read them both, and I’ll take reality every single time.

  11.    Residents Increasingly Fleeing New York, Los Angeles and Chicago

    Just an FYI …

  12.    As Fed Nears End of the Hiking Cycle, It Faces a Hard Reality

    The Federal Reserve’s recent turn toward patience on further rate hikes underlines an unfortunate reality: the central bank will have way less ammunition to fight the next recession than it had in the past.

    That is much ado about nothing.

    Monetarism is so silly. The right way to handle the economy is via fiscal actions.

    Furthermore, the Fed raising rates causes recessions when done at the wrong time and for the wrong reason. Raising rates to have ammunition to fight a recession is so utterly stupid. I’m not trying to be offensive, but why cause what you’re trying to avoid so you can then fight what you caused?

    Please explain to me why this nonsense hasn’t had a stake driven through its heart. Actually, you don’t need to. The reason rates have been rising is so banks can charge more so their profits can be even larger at the negative expense of everything else. It’s held the economy back to also hold wages down to keep the rich up relative to everyone else. It’s wealth, power, and, therefore, control over you, unless you’re a billionaire. Even that doesn’t completely insulate you.

  13.    Trump has lost the plot on China [Wrong. He never had it.]

    Here’s the problem, though. Since April 2018, Beijing has reduced the value of its currency by 10 percent against the dollar, and that has more than offset all of President Trump’s tariffs. As a result, the U.S. trade deficit with China keeps climbing.

    I agree about the benefits to more offshoring, but currency manipulation is a nonsense concern.

    China reduced its currency, but that jacked up China’s domestic prices. If Trump hits China with a 25% tariff, something he should have started with instead (at least), China can drop the value of its currency again and then face a violent overthrowing of Xi’s dictatorship. I’m not for violence, but I am for ending the dictatorship and replacing it with true democracy.

  14.    [Labor slack remains huge] Best U.S. Job Numbers Ever? Not If You’re Out of Work for a Year

    President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union speech last week that the labor market’s strength is evidence of an “unprecedented economic boom,” adding to his frequent boasts that include a tweet about the “best jobs numbers” in U.S. history.

    Yet by one key measure, far from a boom, the labor market hasn’t even returned to a normal state. Over the past 12 months, the share of unemployed people out of work for 52 weeks or longer has averaged 13.2 percent — higher than at almost any point in data from 1976 to 2008.

  15.    China has no use for democracy. It needs a strong leader like Xi Jinping right now [because fear]

    The linked article is utterly ridiculous. It’s akin to saying that no nation-state that wasn’t already democratic can or should become democratic. However, there was a time when no state was democratic at all. So, how did they start becoming at all democratic? Also, there was a huge Democracy Movement in China. Doesn’t the author know that? Of course he does, but he’s not allowed to in public.

  16.    Adam Smith’s hidden hand of empathy

    What we’re seeing is not the first major challenge to capitalism, a system whose roots go back 250 years to the writings of Scottish philosopher Adam Smith. In his “Wealth of Nations,” first published in 1776, he argued that through the “invisible hand” of a free market, the pursuit of self-interest would lead to prosperity for all. But he also posited an underlying strain of human empathy, presumably tempering excesses by some individuals at the expense of others. That’s where the strains emerged, especially with the Industrial Revolution and during the Depression of the 1930s. Over time, they led to a range of corrective measures, including antitrust and labor-union laws, and the growth of the modern welfare state.

    … A recent Fox News poll, for instance, found that even a majority of registered Republicans now favors higher taxes on the
    very rich.

  17.    Weakest U.S. retail sales since 2009 cast pall over economy

    December’s collapse in retail sales and other data showing an unexpected increase in the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits last week and a second straight monthly decline in producer prices in January support the Federal Reserve’s pledge to be “patient” before raising interest rates further this year.

    “Until this morning, Fed official hesitance to hike further was based on risks emanating from global growth and from financial markets, despite a strong domestic outlook,” said Andrew Hollenhorst, an economist at Citigroup in New York. “The decline in retail sales calls into question the domestic growth assumption.”

    That’s exactly what this blog has been predicting. I’m still looking for a recession. We could avoid it, but things really aren’t going well. Now, the tax changes (increases in the standard deduction) will possibly trick some naïve people, but that too won’t last.

    We still have tons of labor slack. Wage pressures are as much from the increase in the minimum wage as anything else.

  18.    Trump, Xi Hail Progress in Trade Talks as Tariff Deadline Nears

    Not a single word about democracy … just money, money, money. Make America Great? Meanwhile, use the term democracy over and over and over where the People are vastly freer than those in China’s totalitarian dictatorship.

    You know, there’s supposed to be ethics in business. In the insurance industry, we are required to take continuing-education courses on ethics before every license renewal. I say that’s a good thing. I’d like to see the same requirement for public officials, including the office of US President.

  19.    Wealth Inequality Is Way Worse Than You Think, And Tax Havens Play A Big Role

    The global wealth gap is far worse than previously estimated because until recently economists had really limited information about how much money the super-rich had stashed away in tax havens.

    Enter Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman, an intrepid data-gatherer and inequality expert whose work teasing out that hidden wealth from various data sets—including the Forbes list of billionaires—is able to account for as much as one tenth of annual economic output globally.

  20.    Multifamily National Report — January 2019: Year-over-year growth has increased by 10 basis points to 3.3 percent

    When it comes to Renter by Necessity versus Lifestyle rent growth, the gap amongst the two is contracting, according to the report. In January, RBN rent growth was at 3.8 percent, 70 basis points above Lifestyle. However, this was the first month where the spread was under 1 percent since 2014.

  21.    China-Based Investor Takes Rare Step of Cashing Out of US Apartments

    … apartment analysts don’t see the recent sales flurry by Elite as necessarily a vote of no-confidence in the multifamily market. Rather, Epenshade and others say the exit seems traditional: as an equity partner Elite waited until the properties were built, leased and operating efficiently before cashing out — at a time when rentals are still among investors’ favorite targets.

  22.    Mayor Breed wants to ax fees for affordable housing News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. Feb. 20, 2019

    In another effort to prod housing in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed says she wants to eliminate Department of Building Inspection fees for 100 percent affordable housing projects and for new in-law apartments (or ADUs—”accessory dwelling units”—in City Hall parlance.)

  23.    Gov. Gavin Newsom slows high-speed rail plan to SF [Updated]

    Update: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office now says that, in fact, the state is not canceling the LA-SF connection but that the state cannot move forward with the plan until more funding is acquired.

  24.    Oregon lawmakers propose unorthodox approach to rent control

    Senate Bill 608 would limit annual rent increases to 7 percent plus inflation throughout the state. It also would require most landlords to cite a cause, such as failure to pay rent or other lease violation, when evicting renters after the first year of tenancy.

    The rent increase restrictions would exempt new construction for 15 years and landlords would be free to raise rent without any cap if a renter left of their own accord. Subsidized rent would also be exempt.

  25.    How to Navigate New Rental Rules from your Condo Association

    … your question is whether a condominium association can have two sets of rules, one for existing homeowners and for new homeowners. Well, maybe. We’ve talked to attorneys that represent condominium associations who say it’s perfectly fine to have two sets of rules and others that argue it creates two classes of owners, those who were there before and those who come after. To prove that point, they say that condominium law prohibits having two classes of owners in an association.

    We’ve seen homeowner associations go both ways and haven’t yet seen a definitive answer to your question.

  26.    Oil’s Twilight? Here’s One Investor View on How It Plays Out [good view]

    Even oil major BP Plc’s own forecasts show oil demand growth drops to about 0.5 percent a year after 2025, compared with 1.3 percent now, as electric vehicles become more popular and energy efficiency improves. Stansbury argues it’s that lower pace which might not be enough to drag crude prices back up, after a fall.

    Stansbury said Legal & General will favor management teams today that commit to responsibly “run-off” existing fossil-fuel businesses when the time is right and return the money to investors, rather than pursuing expansion in declining markets. The investors reckon they can probably deploy the capital better than conflicted management teams running coal, oil and gas companies.

  27.    Amazon Pulls Out of Planned New York City Headquarters

    Over time, opposition to Amazon had spread from the specifics of the deal to the company’s corporate practices. Elected officials and activists in New York drew attention to the company’s anti-union stance and its work with federal immigration officials — positions unpopular with Democratic leaders across the country.

    Some unions supported the deal, and even those opposed had appeared willing to work with Amazon if the company agreed to not work against the unionization of its employees in New York. An Amazon representative, during one council hearing, pointedly said the company would not agree to such terms.

    The company has long been willing to take short-term pain in exchange for maintaining long-term leverage. In Seattle, Amazon’s relationship with officials soured as it grew to become the city’s dominant employer. Last year, when the Seattle City Council proposed taxing large employers to pay for homeless services and affordable housing, Amazon took a rare public stance and threatened to halt its expansion. In the end, the city retreated and got rid of even a pared back version of the tax it had adopted.

    … the company did not hire a single New Yorker as an employee to represent it in discussions with local groups. Its main representatives traveled between Washington and Manhattan, and only one had moved into an apartment to work with community members and foster support.

    I’ve never been in favor of any government making any special deals with any entities. I favor a level playing field. In fact, I think it should be the law: no tax breaks or other special favors for any business entity over another. Let businesses choose locations based upon the laws as they are, not as the business can get them to change to favor that one business often at the expense of others and some of those actually doing more for the local community relatively speaking.

  28.    13 Must Watch YouTube Channels For Making Money

    I have not investigated every channel (yet).

  29.    (Video) 4 Reasons New Real Estate Investors FAIL

    Okay, Brandon plugs his stuff here. To his credit, however, he’s not trying to pick your pocket. What he’s suggesting is not very expensive compared to many “gurus.”

  30.    How To Invest In Real Estate: The ULTIMATE Guide to Calculating Cashflow (EASY)

    Do Epic What? Hmmm? You’ll have to watch the video to understand.

    Here is EXACTLY how to calculate and analyze the cashflow of a rental property anytime you invest in real estate…and make as much passive income as possible! Enjoy!

    Well, he missed capex. He needs a sinking fund to pay for those. Plus, there’s property appreciation. Oh, don’t forget depreciation for tax purposes. Hold the property for the capital-gains rate too. Maybe that’s implied because he did his calculation based upon holding for a year. Am I nitpicking? I did particularly like the part where he said “insurance.” Ha!

  31.    Erie County land bank takes inventory of blighted buildings

    Land banks take vacant, abandoned, blighted or tax-foreclosed properties and find new uses for them, often with the intention of putting them back onto the tax rolls. Land banks have the power to extinguish liens and clear property titles.

    They also increase the value of neighborhoods where investors invest.

  32.    MMT And Its Fictional Discipline [What?]

    Given the relative ease with which inflation can be hidden, we should assume politicians, especially those that embrace MMT, will lobby for more “adjustments” when inflation rises and threatens their campaign promises.

    Don’t consider MMT because politicians can manipulate how price inflation is calculated? That makes no sense whatsoever. MMT is an alternative to the Fed, which uses inflation to decide monetary rates. The Fed benefits the banks first and foremost. MMT is about benefiting the People first and foremost. What’s the real complaint? I think it’s privatization versus public ownership. I think it’s private estates versus democracy.

    Who in MMT advocates allowing politicians to play fast and loose with inflation calculations? None that I know of. Besides, the general wellbeing of the overall economy is MMT’s goal, not being discredited with a bad result due to politicians playing games.

    Who would be fooled? If you become worse off due to MMT, wouldn’t you know it? Would you really be tricked because you wouldn’t take rising food and fuel prices into account for yourself?

    I know my income, and I know what’s left over after expenses. I know my standard of living. These are common understandings by human beings with even below average intelligence.

    Let’s not fear giving MMT a chance to prove itself. After all, the libertarians were predicting runaway inflation due to the Obama fiscal stimulus. They were completely wrong. Meanwhile, MMT advocates were mostly saying the stimulus was too small, which it was (about 10-fold in my view).

    Let’s not discount track records and history.

  33.    Economics After Neoliberalism

    This is mostly by rather conservative New Keynesians. Please note their recognition that ideology over facts can cloud the democratic debate.

    Economists still have a strong bias towards market-based policy solutions, and the policy prescriptions endorsed by economists tend to be narrowly focused on addressing precise market failures. For example, to address global warming, economists are likely to support putting a steep price on carbon. But the science of economics has never produced pre-determined policy conclusions. In fact, all predictions and conclusions in economics are contingent: if x and y conditions hold, then z outcomes follow. The answer to almost any question in economics is “it depends,” followed by an exegesis on what it depends on and why. Back in 1975, in a collected volume entitled International Trade and Finance: Frontiers for Research, an economist named Carlos F. Diaz-Alejandro wrote: “by now any bright graduate student, by choosing his assumptions . . . carefully, can produce a consistent model yielding just about any policy recommendation he favored at the start.” Economics has become even richer in the intervening four decades. We might say, only slightly facetiously, that today the graduate student need not even be that bright!

    Moreover, economics research has become significantly more applied and empirical since the 1990s. The share of academic publications that use data and carry out empirical analysis has increased substantially in all sub-fields within economics and currently exceeds 60 percent in labor economics, development economics, international economics, public finance, and macroeconomics. This is important because systematic empirical evidence is a disciplining device against ideological policy prescriptions. The recent empirical bent makes it more difficult to idolize markets because it makes it more difficult to ignore inconvenient facts. Recent empirical findings, for example, have found that international trade produces large adverse effects on some local communities; minimum wages do not reduce employment; and financial liberalization produces crises rather than faster economic growth.

    Which labor market institutions minimize job insecurity without jeopardizing employment creation? How do we best provide social protection without blunting economic incentives? What kind of financial regulations ensure financial stability without blocking financial innovation? What kind of monetary and fiscal rules are best for an open economy? Economics does not provide a fixed answer to these questions. Instead, it highlights the potential consequences of different arrangements.

  34.    AI is reinventing the way we invent

    … AI’s chief legacy might not be driverless cars or image search or even Alexa’s ability to take orders, but its ability to come up with new ideas to fuel innovation itself.

    Why do people say “might not be” where they should say “won’t be”? How could anyone not know that AI is the whole show?

    AI is an extension of our intelligence. It’s an augmentation-enhancement of our own gift of intelligence. We are AI in that it comes out from us naturally. Of course it’s going to do everything we imagine and more. That’s the whole point.

    The one and only issue is the spirit that brings forth the given AI segment until all AI is one. If the spirit is self-enrichment rather than the general welfare, that AI segment will be bad. That’s what we need to be intelligent enough now to avoid. Are we? There isn’t endless time to make the right choices.

    AI is not inherently evil! Let’s not allow AI that does evil to be brought forth. Let’s bring forth AI that will only do good.

  35.    There’s No Good Reason to Trust Blockchain Technology [I couldn’t agree more!]

    This is the best article concerning blockchain tech I’ve ever read. I specifically endorse it here.

    If your bitcoin exchange gets hacked, you lose all of your money. If your bitcoin wallet gets hacked, you lose all of your money. If you forget your login credentials, you lose all of your money. If there’s a bug in the code of your smart contract, you lose all of your money. If someone successfully hacks the blockchain security, you lose all of your money. In many ways, trusting technology is harder than trusting people. Would you rather trust a human legal system or the details of some computer code you don’t have the expertise to audit?

    Blockchain enthusiasts point to more traditional forms of trust—bank processing fees, for example—as expensive. But blockchain trust is also costly; the cost is just hidden. For bitcoin, that’s the cost of the additional bitcoin mined, the transaction fees, and the enormous environmental waste.

  36.    Fed Will Probably Change Its Approach to Inflation, Dudley Says

    I’ve been advocating this since the Great Recession, not that I’m for monetarism.

  37.    Amazon pays no federal income tax for 2018, despite soaring profits, report says

    Carry-forwards don’t explain much.

    I’m not opposed to the basic concept of ordering online and having things delivered. Let’s not let anyone get breaks others can’t get or shouldn’t, and let’s not let anyone end up with a monopoly in the sector.

  38.    Unemployment Rate and Recessions

    Has the Fed backed off enough soon enough? Was the Fed gauging labor slack closely enough the whole time? Will the tariff-war end properly in time? Will the corporate-tax cuts result in enough timely reinvestment in the right areas? What will happen as the standard deduction is rolled back to where it was? Will people not save but spend of necessity?

  39.    … tackling one of the hardest, unsexiest [sex?] parts of climate policy: Decarbonizing buildings

    … climate policies live and die in the details, the prioritization, the accounting, the execution.

  40.    Where Real Estate Investors Should Look In 2019

    Many times, list like these end up a waste of your reading time. This one actually gives some good advice. It’s not the list I’d have created; but, after reading it, there are things in it I would now include.

  41.    Bill Gates Says Taxing Capital Gains Is the Best Way to Tap ‘Big Fortunes’

    America’s national debt is projected to keep rising, surpassing an annual $1 trillion by 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office, fueled in part by President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax-cut package and government spending increases.

    The Trump administration and Republican lawmakers who passed the 2017 tax plan said the measures would boost economic growth, offsetting the loss of tax revenues.

    And they were wrong or lying.

  42.    Time to restore the revolutionary Keynes [or go even further]

    Keynes’s most important breakthrough was the realization that the “price” of money, or rate of interest, was determined not as the classical theory dictated, by the demand for savings, but by the demand for assets – safe, secure or risky assets. This revolutionary theory — his Liquidity Preference Theory — is still considered too radical to be acceptable today. Keynes understood that those with a surplus — savings, capital gains or profits — can decide whether to store those savings short-term as cash; long-term for security; or to use them for speculative purposes. He argued that by managing the supply of safe assets (bonds or gilts) to financial markets, central bankers could meet savers’ demand for assets in which to store their savings for these three purposes: as cash, for security, or for speculation. By providing these assets at different rates of interest, central bankers could effectively manage and influence interest rates on all borrowing — across the spectrum of lending — short- or long-term, safe or risky, and in real terms. (Central bankers currently only manage the Bank Rate, which has little influence over market rates fixed by commercial bankers for loans over different terms, and at different risk rates.)

    The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war, is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous — and it doesn’t deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed.

    Now that decadent capitalism is back with a vengeance, as is the public’s distaste for it. But whereas in 1933 society was “perplexed” about what to put in its place, that cannot be argued today. We have the experience of the ‘golden age’ and knowledge of the monetary theory and macroeconomic policies that “delivered the goods”: by stabilizing t he global economy, and helping to build periods of social and political stability.

    Neglect of Keynes’s monetary theory and policies since then has come at the price of increasingly frequent international financial crises. It is time to restore the revolutionary Keynes.

    I think we can go further than Keynes. I think he would now, given what we’ve been through.

    As I’ve written before, but which seems almost always ignored by academic and business economists, Keynes was for fiscal policy as much or more than he was for monetary policy to balance things. MMT stresses this, even though it’s called post-Keynesianism.

  43.    How Fiscal Policy Works

    Fiscal policy is based on the theories of British economist John Maynard Keynes. Also known as Keynesian economics, this theory basically states that governments can influence macroeconomic productivity levels by increasing or decreasing tax levels and public spending. This influence, in turn, curbs inflation (generally considered to be healthy when between 2-3%), increases employment and maintains a healthy value of money. Fiscal policy plays a very important role in managing a country’s economy. For example, in 2012 many worried that the fiscal cliff, a simultaneous increase in tax rates and cuts in government spending set to occur in January 2013, would send the U.S. economy back into recession. The U.S. Congress avoided this problem by passing the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 on Jan. 1, 2013.

    That’s what MMT emphasizes. Taxes are used in fiscal policy as interest rates are used in monetarism. Increase fiscal spending. If inflation starts going up too much, increase taxes enough to cool things off. That’s simplistic. There are many other factors in MMT’s book.

    I wouldn’t use interest rates at all or taxes, per se, but bank-account balances.

  44.    Are We Heading towards a Synchronised Global Slowdown?

    Using the old definition of global recession, we’re already in one.

    The ratio of total nonfinancial sector debt to GDP in jurisdictions with systemically important financial sectors stands at an all-time high of 250 percent, asset valuations remain stretched across several sectors and regions, and underwriting standards are deteriorating, including in many segments of market-based finance.

    … if a global recession hits sooner than the IMF expects, who knows what may happen to the banking systems in the Eurozone and China—in the case of China, also to the shadow banking system—or to the global stocks, in general, and the US stocks, in particular, or to all of these, as financial crises tend to be contagious? Alternatively, if a financial crisis originates from any of these and spreads, who knows what may happen to the global economy?

  45.    Dirty Sock vulnerability lets attackers gain root access on Linux systems

    I’m not comfortable (yet) reposting things where a patch isn’t available. This one has a patch.

    I guess my main concern is not teaching the general public how to hack. If you are interested, get into ethical hacking. It can even be lucrative.

    I realize many people use Windows and Apple systems, but Linux is a huge deal too. I use it, along with Windows.

  46.    Inflation: Stress-Testing the Phillips Curve

    The U.S. economy is running well above long-term sustainable growth according to many measures. The Congressional Budget Office says output “is projected to grow slightly faster than its maximum sustainable level this year” (CBO 2019). This higher growth means that resource constraints are likely to place increasing limits on the expansion. The unemployment rate is also near historic lows, averaging just 3.8% in the second half of 2018 as the growth in job openings outpaces the number of people seeking work. Together these measures indicate that there is limited economic slack. This situation would usually be associated with inflationary pressures on prices and wages. Yet, core inflation measured using personal consumption expenditures without food or energy, or core PCE, was 2% in the third quarter of 2018—the Federal Reserve’s inflation target. Moreover, recent labor compensation measures are consistent with this level of inflation and current measures of productivity, suggesting that wage pressures are well contained. So where is inflation headed?

    That’s a good paragraph, but I don’t like the balance of the article at all. They are putting way, way, way too much stock in “expectations.” The vast majority of middle and young adults have simply never been through high inflation and, therefore, do not react to “possible” inflation the way my generation did. I said “did” because most of us can see that “expectations” are simply not the driver so many academic economists still seem to think it is.

    Anyway, way too many people now can see the headwinds. Data is greater and comes to us much faster and in more digestible and interpreted ways. We don’t wait for the Fed as much. Many of us are way out in front of the Fed.

  47.    Do [vat] tax increases always contract economies?

    … nonlinear findings strongly suggest that the recent growing consensus pointing to large negative tax multipliers in industrial countries, particularly in industrial Europe (e.g.,
    Alesina, Favero, and Giavazzi), is mainly driven by high initial tax rates in these countries and that large negative multipliers are not a robust empirical regularity, especially when considering the developing world. In fact, and based on Figure 2, for about half the world (or 88 out of 175 countries) the tax multiplier is statistically zero (i.e., light blue color).

    Okay, but they’re talking about a vat rather than an income tax. Vat’s hit consumers more. Income tax increases on the rich do not. Therefore, spending on consumer goods actually can go up with higher income taxes on the rich, as it gives and leaves more money with the poorer classes who spend it back into the real economy, driving up growth and even tax revenues: a virtuous cycle.

  48.    Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence

    Are you still using Glyphosate, such as Roundup?

  49.    Monsanto Roundup Attacks Healthy Gut Bacteria, Lawsuit Says

    Monsanto Co. has been sued by thousands of farmers and others who blame their cancers on its massively popular Roundup weedkiller. Now Germany’s Bayer AG, which bought the agriculture giant last year, faces a claim that it deceived home gardeners about Roundup’s impact on their gut bacteria and their health.

    The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, claims that labels on products such as Roundup’s Weed & Grass Killer falsely assured consumers that they target an enzyme not found “in people or pets.”

  50.    Rate cut calls grow as home loans fall at their fastest rate since GFC

    Why did the report avoid the term “bubble”? They must know that Chinese slowdown is irreversible under Xi’s policies and practices and that Australia has been entirely too dependent on China for inflated growth: unsustainable.

  51.    Debt guarantee tangle: China’s private firms hit by default contagion

    The collapse in China of a complex web of debt guarantees involving several private firms highlights risks in its financial system and opens up a potentially hazardous front for an economy in the grip of its slowest growth in nearly three decades.

  52.    (Video) ‘I want you to panic’: 16-year-old issues climate warning at Davos

    Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist, has told world leaders: ‘I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day and then I want you to act.’ In an impassioned warning to act now on climate change, Thunberg told her audience at Davos: ‘Either we choose to go on as a civilisation or we don’t.’

  53.    ‘The beginning of great change’: Greta Thunberg hails school climate strikes

    These children, Greta in particular, are inspiring college students and older adults to take action now! They are engaged in risk-management action. They know that to manage the risk means to reduce and eliminate it not later but right away: to go into crisis-intervention mode, to go on a war footing against carbon burning: emissions.

  54.    The Poison Papers [What you don’t know can kill you and yours]

    Corporate concealment is not a new story. What is novel in the Poison Papers is abundant evidence that EPA and other regulators were, often, knowing participants or even primary instigators of these cover-ups. These regulators failed to inform the public of the hazards of dioxins and other chemicals; of evidence of fraudulent independent testing; even of one instance of widespread human exposure. The papers thus reveal, in the often-incriminating words of the participants themselves, an elaborate universe of deception and deceit surrounding many pesticides and synthetic chemicals.

  55.    Massive restoration of world’s forests would cancel out a decade of CO2 emissions, analysis suggests

    Replenishing the world’s forests on a grand scale would suck enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to cancel out a decade of human emissions, according to an ambitious new study.
    Scientists have established there is room for an additional 1.2 trillion trees to grow in parks, woods and abandoned land across the planet.
    If such a goal were accomplished, ecologist Dr Thomas Crowther said it would outstrip every other method for tackling climate change ….

    If coupled with soil enhancement, we could actually not just slow but stop and reverse global warming. We can and should do it.

  56.    UK plans to make plastic packaging producers pay for waste disposal

    Britain is to set out plans to overhaul its recycling system on Monday, including making plastic packaging producers pay the full cost of dealing with their waste and introducing a deposit return scheme for cans and bottles.

  57.    [gender-bending] Plastic chemicals discovered inside bird eggs from remote Arctic

    Chemicals from plastics have been found inside the eggs of seabirds living in remote Arctic colonies, in the latest sign of pollution contaminating the furthest reaches of the planet.

    Scientists were concerned by the traces of phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals that have been banned from children’s toys due to their potential [actual] “gender-bending” effects.

    These substances are routinely applied to many plastic products, and probably came from the bottle tops and cigarette butts these seabirds often eat after mistaking them for food.

  58.    British lawmakers call on government to put an end to throwaway fashion

    Wow! Interesting stuff …

    “‘Fast fashion’ means we over-consume and under-use clothes,” said Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh ….

  59.    Global Slowdown Leaves Growth Weakest Since Financial Crisis

    China car sales dropped in January, and data last week showed U.S. retail sales posted their worst drop in nine years in December. In Europe, where the slowdown has been particularly marked, sentiment indicators continue to weaken, and the latest OECD leading indicator has also declined.

  60.    Mississippi Lawmakers Consider Bill Limiting Liability of Property Owners

    I don’t know what side the insurance industry comes down on this in general, but I oppose the proposed legislation. Insurance premiums are mostly high due to property-owner negligence and poor carrier-underwriting. Be vigilant, document it, and choose a smart carrier that will properly reward you for it..

  61.    Georgia Apartment Fire Damages 15 Units, Displaces 30 People

    No injuries were reported in the fire that damaged 15 units.

  62.    EPA Prepares Chemical PFA Safety Plan Amid Calls for Tougher Action

    The chemicals are found in consumer products ranging from fabrics, rugs and carpets to cooking pots and pans, outdoor gear, shampoo, shaving cream, makeup and even dental floss. Increasing numbers of states have found them seeping into drinking water supplies.

    … Democratic and Republican lawmakers have pressed Wheeler to establish mandatory limits for PFAS in public water systems.

    We have to do much better than that.

  63.    Californians Lose Homes, Cars to Mudslides, Floods from Winter’s Wettest Storm

    Motorists swam for their lives and residents were rescued from homes sliding downhill as the wettest winter storm of the year triggered floods and mudslides across California ….

  64.    What is biometrics? And why collecting biometric data is risky

    This is a relatively long but extremely well-written and thought out article. I do recommend it even if you’re not “into” computer security.

  65.    Linux container bug could eat your server from the inside — patch now!

    What if the container bursts open?

    Unfortunately, a serious security flaw dubbed CVE-2019-5736 was found in runc.

    This bug means that a program run with root privileges inside a guest container can make changes with root privilege outside that container.

    Loosely put, a rogue guest could get sysadmin-level control on the host.

    This control could allow the rogue to interfere with other guests, steal data from the host, modify the host, start new guests at will, map out the nearby network, scramble files, unscramble files…

    …you name it, a crook could do it.

  66.    7 Ways to Protect Your Building

    Excellent article … some of it can be used concerning nearly any property: apartment complexes, etc.

  67.    New Astaroth Trojan Variant Exploits Anti-Malware Software to Steal Info

    “distributed through spam campaigns”:

    This Astaroth variant is distributed through spam campaigns just like previous versions, and the infection starts with a .7zip archive delivered to the target in the form of an e-mail message attachment or hyperlink. The malicious archive contains a .lnk file which will spawn a wmic.exe process that will “initialize an XSL Script Processing attack.”

  68.    TrickBot variant steals credentials for remote computer access

    Detected as TrojanSpy.Win32.TRICKBOT.AZ and Trojan.Win32.MERETAM.ADnew, the new TrickBot was discovered this past January as part of a spam campaign that distributes emails disguised as tax incentive notifications from Deloitte. Attached to the emails are a malicious Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, featuring with a malicious macro that, upon activation, downloads the malicious payload.

  69.    Shlayer Malware Disables macOS Gatekeeper to Run Unsigned Payloads

    … fake Adobe Flash Player installer ….

    Regardless, Adobe Flash Player is quite vulnerable to exploits. Most security experts refuse to have it installed on their systems.

  70.    Emotet Uses Camouflaged Malicious Macros to Avoid Antivirus Detection

    Emotet (also known as Geodo or Heodo) is a modular Trojan developed by the Mealybug threat group and used by attackers to infect targets via spam e-mails, leading to the theft of financial information such as bank logins or cryptocurrency wallets.

  71.    The Best Free Password Managers for 2019

    Everyone Needs a Password Manager

    Authentication via password is a system designed to protect your online accounts from misuse by others, but half the time it seems to protect against your own access. Was that password Tr0b4dor&3? Or Tr0m30nE#8? You might be tempted to give up and just use the same simple password everywhere, but really, that’s a very bad idea. A hacker who finds your email address (whether in a data breach or a public post) can run a brute-force attack, trying thousands of common passwords, to break into your account. And if all your accounts use the same password, exposing one exposes them all. You need to use a unique, strong password for every site, and the only way to accomplish that is by using a password manager.

  72.    It’s Time to Kill Your Eight-Character Password

    … a penetration tester (someone who’s paid by companies to break into their own systems) on Twitter named Tom Ervin did the math and figured out that for $25, you could rent enough Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing number-crunching power to crack an eight-character NTLM password hash in about 12 minutes.

  73.    Multi-Stage Rietspoof Malware Drops Multiple Malicious Payloads

    Oh, this one is nasty: “… delivered through instant messaging clients, such as Skype or Messenger ….”:

    Our data suggests that the first stage was delivered through instant messaging clients, such as Skype or Messenger. It delivers a highly obfuscated Visual Basic Script with a hard-coded and encrypted second stage — a CAB file. The CAB file is expanded into an executable that is digitally signed with a valid signature, mostly using Comodo CA. The .exe installs a downloader in Stage 4.

  74.    Windows 7 and Server 2008 Updates to Require SHA-2 Support Starting July

    It’s about time!

  75.    Before a Flood

    Sometimes floods develop slowly and forecasters can anticipate where a flood will happen days or weeks before it occurs. Oftentimes flash floods can occur within minutes and sometimes without any sign of rain. Being prepared can save your life and give you peace of mind.

  76.    San Diego advances proposal to nix parking requirements

    Parking mandates, which typically require one to two parking spaces per housing unit, have not been met with much demand in San Diego, particularly in the downtown area. The San Diego Planning Department found through testing that 100% of its sample sites had lower parking demand than one space per unit, and high parking ratios have resulted in astronomical costs — most notably $40,000-$90,000 being added to the cost of each housing unit and $300 million in parking currently being constructed.

    Of course, San Diego typically has better weather allowing people more easily and comfortably to walk to mass transit.

  77.    Trump’s Tax Cuts Are Already Hurting Americans

    The preliminary IRS data backs up Harris’s claim: The average tax refund is down 8 percent (or $170) from last year. Why? Trump’s tax plan did increase the standard deduction, but it also eliminated major personal and dependent exemptions (as well as capping deductions for state, local, and real estate taxes). And per the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, “The size of the tax refund has no bearing on whether a person’s taxes rose or fell. A person might end up giving less of their income to the IRS—and still end up with a smaller tax refund.”

  78.    Lawmakers consider far-reaching rent control bill

    … one-quarter of Illinois renters pay more than 50 percent of their household income in rent.

    That’s too high.

  79.    Humboldt Park’s ambitious homeless center opens in former screw factory

  80.    Neuroscientist: How Our Brains DEHUMANISE Homeless People

    We speak to author and neuroscientist Lasana Harris, he discusses how our brains have learned to dehumanise homeless people and how Western perceptions of homeless people differ to perceptions around the world.

  81.    Inside China’s High-Tech Dystopia

    In part three of Hello World Shenzhen, Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance heads out into a city where you can’t use cash or credit cards, only your smartphone, where AI facial-recognition software instantly spots and tickets jaywalkers, and where at least one factory barely needs people. This is the society that China’s government and leading tech companies are racing to make a reality, with little time to question which advancements are net positives for the rest of us.

    Some of the video is overkill, and some of it is understated. VPNs are being blocked more and more, and “social credit” will be used to punish people way beyond a small fine or two. You will conform to Xi-think or suffer until you do.

  82.    Renegade Inc: The Finance Curse

    Finance good, big finance better and biggest finance best. This subtle mantra has bounced around developed economies for decades and has almost entirely captured politicians, the media and the public. Countries have fallen over themselves to attract financial corporates to their shores to ‘create wealth’. But recent studies have shown that financialisation actually extracts wealth, hollows out an economy and drives inequality. Host Ross Ashcroft is joined by the author Nick Shaxson to ask if it is finally dawning on us that what has been sold to us as a blessing is actually a curse?

    This is the old debate about finance capitalism versus industrial capitalism. We did vastly better under industrial capitalism.

  83.    … accused of unlicensed practice of public adjusting and grand theft related to Hurricane Irma

    An Orange City woman arrested in January for scamming Hurricane Irma victims was arrested a second time on Monday in Brevard County and accused of committing the same crime, state officials said.

  84.    Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Could Limit Clean Water Act

    “We are confident the Supreme Court will agree with the appeals court that, when Congress passed the Clean Water Act to protect our nation’s waters, it did not give polluters a loophole to use groundwater as a sewer to convey harmful pollutants into our oceans, lakes and rivers,” said David Henkin, a lawyer with Earthjustice, a public interest law firm that represents the environmental groups.

  85.    North Carolina Insurers Request 19% Rate Increase for Mobile Home Policies

    If NCDOI officials do not agree with the requested rates, they will either be denied or negotiated with the NCRB. If a settlement cannot be reached, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey will call a hearing within 50 days.

  86.    Once hailed as unhackable, blockchains are now getting hacked

    Smart contracts aren’t so smart. In fact, they can be downright dumb.

    … a bug in a live smart contract can create a unique sort of emergency. In traditional software, a bug can be fixed with a patch. In the blockchain world, it’s not so simple. Because transactions on a blockchain cannot be undone, deploying a smart contract is a bit like launching a rocket, says Petar Tsankov, a research scientist at ETH Zurich and cofounder of a smart-contract security startup called ChainSecurity. “The software cannot make a mistake.”

    There are fixes, of a sort. Though they can’t be patched, some contracts can be “upgraded” by deploying additional smart contracts to interact with them.

    What happens to trust?

  87.    Password managers have a security flaw. But you should still use one.

  88.    Net-zero energy homes have arrived — and are shaking up the US housing market

    California instituted a new requirement that calls for most new homes and multi-family residential buildings up to three stories high to include solar rooftop panels beginning in 2020. Depending on the specifics of the design and the residence’s energy consumption pattern, solar panels could produce all the electricity needed for the home. The state’s ultimate goal is to produce net-zero energy homes that reduce the state’s carbon footprint and make buildings energy self-sufficient.

    California commissioners anticipate the new mandate will add $40 more to a monthly mortgage payment, but with an $80 return on heating, cooling and lighting over a 30-year term. The upfront cost to a single-family house will be approximately $9,500 with savings of $19,000 over 30 years.

  89.    The battle against bugs: it’s time to end chemical warfare

    Reaching for the fly spray might be easy, but remember you may end up killing friends as well as foes.

  90.    The Economist misrepresents MMT

    You can build policy proposals using the insights of MMT, but then these are not “MMT”. They have “MMT inside” in that they rely on the framing of MMT. Policy proposals based on MMT include The Green New Deal, the Job Guarantee, the Euro Treasury and many more.

    I like that distinction. I haven’t always used it because so many MMTers are ideologues regarding the policy proposals mentioned and more. However, I think I will attempt to always maintain the distinction from now on.

    BTW, MMT is not something uniformly defined by its proponents. There are subtle and not-so-subtle debates within MMT circles.

  91.    Delinquencies Are Surging As $1.6 Trillion Student Loan Bubble Inflates

    I count the change that created this whole wave of students having to borrow to go to college as one of the dumbest things, if not the dumbest thing, domestically the US has done during my lifetime. I have no idea whose idea it was, but that person and those who backed it in its infancy and on through to widespread implementation should be held out as _____. You fill in the blank.