Sunday, February 07, 2016

Investment Returns vs Homeownership

The average person thinks that when they pay off the mortgage, they live in their home for free. This is semi correct. Sell the house and put the money in the bank and in the past, the interest was what you would pay to rent the house. So with a half million-dollar home today, the money in the bank pays about .05 percent. That comes out to $2500 a year or $250 a month. Something is wrong here. If you buy the same property as an investment, you will probably get a rental investment return of $2,500 a month which is $30,000. That’s a 6% return on your investment. So being a paid off home owner gives you a better return on your savings than what the bank could offer by a mile.

The statement hidden behind the data is that if interest rates remain low, the average blue collar worker can ill afford the house payments for a very overpriced home. If bank interest rates were to reach 8%, the monthly payment would be $3,660 a month, whereas at 5% they would be $2680 a month. The neat thing about the high sales price, is that it locks in the property tax assessment which is 1% in California. Even at the lower amount, the buyer with no money down needs about 50K a year just for the house payment, taxes and utilities

What is missed here, is that retirement funds or people with cash, can buy a home with an expected rental return of 6%. This in turn puts stress on the starter home prices. They go up in price to a level to where, starter homes are no longer starters.

There is a conundrum here; low bank interest rates, high rental return rates, and unrealistic house valuations. The real loser here is the homebuyer with very little down. He will be broke the rest of his life paying off the home. If you think about it for a few minutes, you will realize that everyone rents the home they live in. Your lifespan determines the rental length. A man in Oxnard made millions leasing 100 acres of land from the city for 100 years. He built rental condominiums on the acreage. After 20 years, he had them paid off and I think he lived to realize another 40 years of income off of them. So after another 40 years, when the lease expires, the relatives will give the land back to the city of Oxnard.

So until the cost of money gets back to more realistic levels. Everyone will be forced to park their savings in real estate investments, not home ownership, there is a difference. This is the definition of a bubble, the miss allocation of resources. The investment return, not the value of the asset, justifies the price paid.

The real reality of the situation is that when the housing prices double, you pretty much double the number of people occupying the house. And it is only noticeable when you come home late and can’t find a parking space for your car. Go figure.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Everything’s GREAT!

Did you ever notice, people that wake up with a feeling of gloom seem to spread it to others? Now imagine if the country was in a major depression. Do you think government is going to point out the fact?

Depressions are self-fulfilling. The acceptance of the fact that you are in one, tends to exacerbate it. One tends to save more and spend less in anticipation of bad times that may lie ahead. Most politicians are doing the correct thing by not acknowledging the economic mess, it would only make things worse.

Obama in Detroit today shown in a car plant, said sales were up and things were getting better. Detroit is a city where they are tearing down so many houses that they want to rezone 60 acre portions into farm land. I not sure how true that is, but the Paul Bunyan folklore story tellers are known to be from around there and they tend to stretch the truth a bit.

So, everything is just great. The only problem is that the rest of the world is on life support. And it is getting worse. Europe could barely afford to finance their health care plans for their populations. Now they have 20 million immigrants that have no place to go. The support institutions of Europe will not be able to meet the demands put upon them. And nobody will believe that until it happens.

We have unrest in several Middle Eastern countries and with the price of oil falling out of bed, there is no support for the poor. Farmers can’t plant in war torn areas. People are fleeing to areas where there are so many refugees that there is a guaranteed impossibility of employment.

The only part of the global economy that governments cannot really control is the stock market. This world market has kind of taken on a mind of its own lately. We are not sure of where it is going tomorrow, but it doesn’t look good for the long run. We do know one thing, in 1929 most of the investors were individuals. In today’s market, most of the investors are fund managers. They need to keep in the market, to have a reason to keep their job, as a fund manager. For that reason, I don’t see a panic, just a very continuous steep sell off into oblivion. Plus, your stock fund manager isn't old enough to have ever experienced a bear market. And naturally, there will be one or two spectacular "recoveries" on the way to the bottom. Where to from here? Not sure. We have been here before in history, I’m sure of it. The only trouble is; you can only see the outcome from the rear view mirror.

I think we have time to go back to the snack bar and get a refill on the popcorn, you won't miss much of the movie even if you really wanted to watch it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Who Is Financing Real Estate Loans?

The question arises, what bank is nuts enough to write home loans at even 4% for 30 years. The answer absolutely none. The savings and loan fiasco of the 1990’s was caused by Savings institutions loaning long and paying short term depositors interest. They loaned money for 30 years at 5%. When short term rates went to 6% their depositors move their funds to a bank paying higher rates and we had massive failures of Savings and Loans.

The banks could do 4% loans, but why bother with the potential risk, when you can make 12% to 36% on credit card loans.

The invisible banker in this whole mess is the Federal Reserve. They are financing the current real estate bubble. It’s kind of a peculiar arrangement. The Federal Reserve can keep a loan on the books for 30 years at zero percent interest and when it gets paid off, they get their money. Now if an investor has a 100k 30-year Treasury at 1% interest and rates go to 8% the current value of that bond is reduced to about $12,500. If they need cash, they will be eaten alive. If they can wait like the government can, they get every penny back in 30 years. Receiving interests on a loan is a human gratification, not a governmental expectation.

Most home loans end up being for about 5 years, the buyer sells (moves gets divorced, etc). So a loan written for 30 years, ends up being a 5 year loan after the home is sold and repurchased by a new owner. The Federal Reserve has amassed about 3 to 6 trillion dollars’ worth of real estate debt. The interest rate is really irrelevant to the Federal Reserve, they are not a bank, and do not have to show a profit. Time is an option that they don’t have to bother with. But the financing pool of money has to be very large. So when a bank writes a loan, they farm it out to a buyer like the Federal Reserve. The Fed has to buy all loans offered in order to keep interest rates low, just like what they are doing with T-Bills. If they don’t, prices rise until a buyer appears and purchases the note.

If you are following retirement funds and other investment operations, many are becoming involved in rental real estate. Notice the zero overhead of purchasing renting real estate for the Investment funds. They have the purchase money and need an investment return, plus they get to depreciate the investment. The base line return can be as high as 15% and most appear to be around 8%. In bad economic times projecting an 8% return just might not float the boat. But right now, the investment funds have a 4 percent hedge on potential home buyers; whose cost of funds is at 4 percent and no depreciation.

If we reduce it down to a personal level, for every dollar the Fed loans out, it will get one dollar back (if it waits long enough). Where you and I depend on the interest generated on loaning out dollars to create investment income for our retirement.

The real problem starts when the Federal Reserve stops buying real estate loans. The question now being asked, “Do they dare?” The questions of a lot of bystanders, is, “How can these crap shacks be worth so much?” Zero interest rates have distorted real estate values.

Just maybe, the Feds will be forced to take possession of the bad crap shack loans--- If this real estate bubble pops, they own it all, the only problem is the "they" bit; its you and me, AKA Taxpayer.

Reality might have “left the building” 20 years ago, but it will return. Stocks, bonds and real estate will return to historic norms. Once government influence drops from the equation, the mis-allocation of resources will stop. Just how this will happen is up for debate, but the drop in the world stock markets and the fall of oil prices seem to point to an uncertainty that could speed up the process a bit.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Readers Perspective

"The Mortgage Guy” put this letter in the remarks section of my last post. He spent some effort writing it, and it may be a refreshing break to my murder of English grammar and punctuation. Here is his letter:

Jim I've been a lurker here since 2008. I stumbled upon your site while searching for truth in a desert of deliberate media obfuscation at the least and out right propaganda at worst. Your site was one of the many oases of veracity that I came upon both back in 08 and presently.

I had a front line seat to the financial devastation of that time, these times, and early on I might add. I owned a mortgage origination company back then having migrated from the financial planning field. The earliest signs of things to come became apparent shortly after 9/11, a time that witnessed unwarranted easy monetary policy that helped inflate the ill-fated bubble. The initial easing was warranted in light of the terrorists attacks. There was no reason however not reverse that easy policy a couple of years later.

It was around 2003 when we started to see our wholesalers buying ridiculous mortgage paper. Our wholesalers wanted to buy loans that didn't require proof of a job, proof of income or proof of assets. The only things required was a 620ish credit score and a solid appraisal. We also saw demand for 100% loan to value loans, on both a first and second mortgage basis. Purchase money mortgages were equally ridiculous with 103% loan to value loans as well as a plethora of similar offerings.

On a number of occasions, I would come right out and ask my wholesalers "what are you guys doing buying this garbage paper?" The most common answer was "we're not holding it" or "we sell the loans to Wall Street" (Bear, Lehman, etc.). It became apparent that the proliferation of these toxic time bombs was due not to consumer demand necessarily but due to Wall Street's ravenous appetite to securitize debt. It's interesting to note, that had Glass Steagall not been repealed by the signature of Bill Clinton, these toxic loans could not exist and what is erroneously referred to as the Bush recession, would not have happened. It is equally interesting that these loans could not have proliferated without their fraudulent securitization, which is the second biggest reason after Clinton, for the economic meltdown of 2008/09.

Having provided some background, let me state that not only has "depression grade" financial devastation been inflicted all along, very little if anything has changed. That is because nothing has been done to address the problems at hand, rather all efforts taken were to paper over the damage.

The mirage of economic expansion is primarily due to a leftist media meme that brainwashed masses to believe the stock market is the economy as is the unemployment rate. Anyone with any financial acumen will tell you that the stock is one of the poorest economic indicators in existence. They will also tell you that the stock market's precipitous rise isn't due to economic or business fundamentals but to an unprecedented printing of trillions that were funneled into the market via insolvent banks. Thus benefiting the very entities that created the economic woe while starving Main Street of any trickle down.

As for the unemployment rate, that is a statistic rendered useless by its historically skewed shrinkage in the labor force. By some estimates, 80% to 85% of the unemployment rate drop isn't due to job creation but rather labor force shrinkage. This phenomenon is due to the way the unemployment rate formula works. Based on the way the formula works, it is possible to lower the unemployment rate to zero without creating a single job. This is accomplished through the labor participation rate falling to the necessary degree. One can duplicate this phenomenon with the jobs calculator on the Federal Reserve of Atlanta website.

Taking away the two most used economic indicators used by the media to present a false sense of prosperity, we are faced with a majority of indicators that present are more sobering view of the economy. Even the highly touted 298,000 jobs (supposedly) created in the latest jobs report is a sham. All of the jobs were created by the BLS through voodoo seasonal adjustments; and not by actual businesses. The raw numbers show a loss of in excess of 60,000 jobs.

Since the end of Clinton's great recession, job creation has failed to keep up with population growth, an important metric that only lost its importance since the advent of the state owned media. The jobs that have been created are part time and low paying. The kind of jobs you can't buy a house with, as evidenced by the historically low home ownership rate. Not only are these jobs so bad that people cannot afford to buy homes, over half of all U.S. twenty-five years olds live in their parent's basement.

For the first time in history, the middle class is a minority in America. For the first time in history business failures out number new business creation. Half of the working people in the United States earn less than $30,000. Not only are incomes down on a purchasing power basis but wealth is down as well. 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.

Add to this that one in five children are on food stamps and UNICEF ranks the U.S. 35 out of 41 wealthy countries for percentage of children living below poverty. One in three children do. In 1950 80% of American men held jobs. Today only 62% hold jobs.

We still have the QE time bombs to deal with, bank solvency (papered over now but not in the impending meltdown) as well as the pension plan deficiencies. All of which will rumble through the economy on the days of reckoning.

What you/our detractors fail to realize is that the absence of bread lines (due to ebt and mail) and the lack of tanks in the streets doesn't mean we have not and are not in a depression. Even in Greece, there are no tanks in the street.

Jim, you and I were right all along. Take comfort in former Federal Reserve Governor, Richard Fischer's confession as to what they did to paper over the apocalyptic destruction to our economy. Please keep your sanity when encountering the masses that have been brainwashed with a concerted media effort in order to hide our sad reality and please keep up the fine work.

A Happy and Prosperous New Year to you and your readers.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Great Depression of 2006 never happened?

I got a comment last week about this blog being wrong for 10 years. And the writer went further by adding

“The point of all this is to say, that yes we will have ups and downs in markets, that's what markets do. But to sit on your hands for a decade and wait for a depression, and when it doesn't materialize after a decade, not admit flaw in your assumptions, is bullheaded.”
The following is not directed at my readers, but to Anonymous Dec 19, 5:21

I’d like to clarify a few things. During the years 2007, 8, 9 and 10 no one referred to those years as “the greatest recession since The Great Depression.” They do now. Janet Yellen in her address the other day stated, the bail out in 2007 was to confront “the greatest recession since the Great Depression.” No government employee is going to wave a flag and say we are currently in a depression. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury confronted the Congress in 2007 and said bluntly, to do a bailout or kiss the economy goodbye. And by the way the bail out failed to accomplish anything except spend money. We have 45.4 million people in the US on food stamps— so the telltale soup line kitchens of the 1930’s are not there.

The 100K, my wife and I have in savings, did not double in value over the last 10 years, it did nothing. We were effectively taxed by the government $100,000; our investment earnings were confiscated.

From 2006 to 20015 people have gone back to school to further their education because they couldn’t find a job. It didn’t do much, other than stimulate the economy and build up debt among young people. Over 60 percent of these loans will never be paid off, and they will linger around and hound the borrower until they die.

The national debt has increased 10 trillion dollars and the size of it means absolutely nothing to anyone. The US government has probably borrowed all of the saving in banks in the US and the entire amount in our retirement funds. They will have no problem paying you back, but will it be in your lifetime? Or will the entire amount paid to you have very little purchasing power?

There was the Great Invisible Displacement of Jobs because of the computer revolution that has been glossed over,(one person now had 10 times the productivity) and they were good paying jobs, gone forever. The largest loss of jobs has been to Asia; cheaper labor and lower corporate taxes. Most of those were minimum wage jobs.

There are absurd levels of unemployment in Europe. When Spain reports 20 percent, is it any more believable than any other government report? We can safely assume that they are not exaggerating. Banks in Europe are now “paying” negative interest rates. So with T-bills paying a quarter of a percent, a lot of foreign savings deposits will be headed to the US. ---Congress will have more money to borrow and spend.

You need a car; the car companies offer the new 8-year loan for those that can’t afford the 5 year one. The neat thing about this, is that it pushes the buyer’s insolvency out an extra 3 years into the future and at the same time stimulates the economy. Let’s face it, if it wasn’t affordable in 5 years, you shouldn’t have bought it in the first place.

Plus, look at what you purchase, everything has shrunk in size. There is no inflation unless you have a tape measure. Bleach and Ammonia used to be about a dollar a gallon. Guess what, they now sell half gallons at a dollar. Kind of looks the same, but there was a switch made you just didn’t catch it.

So from looking at this Great Depression, there is only one conclusion I can make. If you have money in the banks or in retirement funds, the interest on your savings have been confiscated for the last 10 years and prices have doubled. People with no savings thought that they had nothing to lose until they got a student loan, a wide TV and a new SUV. Add to that health insurance premiums cable and a couple of cell phones. They are living paycheck to paycheck. And if they are not working, they have moved home with mom and dad who are in their 80’s.

The real question: “Is the Great Depression over?” The answer is “No, it’s about to get worse.” Starvation in the Middle East. The collapse of the Euro in Europe. The collapse of oil prices could end most wars being fought (which might be a good thing). Stock market values are hypothecated on thin air. Bond prices are so low as to be deemed unreasonable as credible financial investment instruments. Speculative bubbles in rental real estate are rampant.

For people my age, the consensus is,keep working and don’t retire; it can’t be as painful, as retiring to suffer the future financial downfalls of fixed retirement benefits. We know something is about to change. Wall Street and the Federal Reserve have stirred the pot and no one is sure of the results. We do know one thing for sure, it is not going to be something that was planned or expected to happen.

This Great Depression started in 2006 and the end date is still not in sight. The only mistake I made in 1980 was to assume the interest rate would be around 7 percent up through my retirement. The changes over the last 10 years have been so gradual, they have been absorbed without being observed.

Here is hoping that the New Year will be better.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and here is I my wish to all of you, for a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Media The Phony Window To The World.

Pick up a newspaper, turn on the media and the world is all roses (except for a few minor wars and a world depression). Their investment advice and economic news is showing everyone how to invest their millions\billions. The media is no longer about who, what, why, where, and when; it's all about the rise to prominence and then the fall from grace.

The media is pandering to the masses. Feed them what they want to hear. Some news announcer tells me that Trump is not qualified to be President, I kind of wonder what school the announcer went to (The qualifications for President of the United States is 35 years or older and a born US citizen). Then we have Hillary Clinton not a day over 68 looking like she is 45 years old. On closer examination, Trump has balls and Hillary has (Bill’s) testicals (he lost them because of Monica). It’s a fine line defining the two, Trump will stride forward leading, while Hillary will push her group forward with an email.

I don’t really mean to be political, Hillary is depending on getting elected because she’s a woman. The country is already tired of the Democrats and Obama. A woman president, what a novel idea, but will it happen? The irritating thing is that I know people that will vote just for that, because it would be, “Such a great thing to have happen.” Political candidates are no longer being judged by their grit and gristle, but rather by what is deemed by the media as being politically correct.

We need to realize that we have a media that feeds on impropriety, and being politically incorrect. The media works on silly assumptions like black people can’t be racists because they are black. And if you are white and oppose their views, you are automatically deemed a racist and a bigot. Tell a racial joke and your political career is over. This is no longer a nation of tolerance and free speech, it is one of intolerance. The media feeds on this intolerance of being politically incorrect, until the person spotlighted resigns. It’s not about morals, it is about the media’s intolerance of imperfection.

Maybe Donald Trump knows something. The rest of the Republican Party contenders look like a bunch of wimps and pussies, too scared to talk, waiting to pounce on their opponents gaff. The media is running on the premise, "How can Trump represent the Republican Party and get elected?" He fails their litmus test of not being “Politically Correct.” Maybe the American public is tired of the media setting the standards for politicians running for office.

The real reality in the world is this, the media is setting standards that no real person could honestly meet. It is they who have set the standards of political correctness that everyone has to live up to. The media has set the bar too high for politicians (not to mention for everyone else). You have to be a godlike in character to get their blessing. Let’s face it, there are very few of us left that that can measure up ;>)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

“Placate the Masses” An Old Roman Game

Notice how lately the protests over citizenship and a 15 dollar minimum wage revolve around demands from people who feel they are entitled. People are not asking for $15 an hour, they are demanding it with the reasoning that you can’t raise a family on $15 an hour. Sex beer and drugs are great, the responsibility that goes with its reality, sucks.

The real problem with the $15 hour wage is a little hidden. Entry level workers need minimum skill sets. High school dropout comes to mind. For the employer, he has his choice of employees. A high school grad or better; or maybe a chick with a knock out body that likes the “late shift.”

Then if it is only part time, you’ll be working two 3 hour shifts twice a day, 5 days a week. At that point you are not making $15 per hour, maybe only $10 per hour. The employer in the past could afford an 8 hour work day at $10 an hour on the assumption that it came out ok with coffee breaks, lunch breaks and bathroom breaks. 2 hours of pay would be wasted on non-necessary busy work. By switching to part time employees, the unsupervised coffee breaks, lunch breaks and bathroom breaks, health insurance and unemployment insurance, drop out of the equation. The employee gets two three hour shifts with a 4 hour break in between, a 10 hour day with 6 hours pay.

Economics actually dictates the price for labor, by using the government’s regulations, to the employers benefit. 40 hour work weeks, demand employer health insurance, 30 hour weeks don’t. Part time employees don’t have to be paid $15 dollars an hour.

Legislation may appear to placate the masses, but in the long run it acerbates the problem. Our State legislatures are a collection of the dumbest of the dumb when it comes to practicality. The thought that a law raising wages can change the economic livelihood of people in poverty is a little bit presumptuous-- great vote getter though.

A person with two kids thinking that $15 dollars an hour will help them out, knows absolutely nothing about real life. They will know poverty for their lifetime. I have a quote taped to my desk that reads, “The easiest way to teach your children about money, is for you not to have any.”

There is this "New Age" mentality of, “I want it now!” The concept of saving over time and earning ones way to wealth appears to be a waste of time (Janet Yellen can confirm it). We are now a nation that gives money back to people willing to spend and consume. Some major car company yesterday had an ad offering 20 percent back in a cash bonus for buying a car. Are we really placating the masses; or has the game gotten out of control? Reality is not a factor as long as the consumer has a credit card to abuse. Responsibility is for losers. Hmmm 100K student loan, and 100K in credit card debt, but earn 5 percent back for all of the credit card purchases. Why save at .05 percent when you can spend and get 5% back. Am I missing something here?

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Wealthy, The New Inflation Sponge

Common sense suggests that as the government prints more dollars, inflation should become more apparent. But here is what is happening each month: Cell phone companies are withdrawing $10 more from circulation for services, Cable Sports providers probably withdrawing from the economy $40 for every sport fan now. Figure $300 in interest to the banks for credit card interest, and another $300 for health care and car insurance. It is not being plowed back into the financial economic churn, it is being saved.

Food may have doubled in price but few notice it, everyone eats out, and those prices are out of sight. Plus if you can't cook, why screw up the food? Inflation is invisible to almost everyone.

As the wealthy get richer, their lifestyle doesn’t really increase in spending, the extra goes into the bank. Notice at this point, the money never “trickles down” to the poor people. So in effect the government prints a billion dollars trying to stimulate the economy with inflation and it goes into some rich guy’s bank account and will never see the light of day again, or for that fact circulate in the economy. I could be shot again for oversimplification, but a tremendous amount of printed dollars never make it back into the economy. We use to just have millionaires, now we have billionaires. It takes 1,000 millionaires to make one Billionaire. The sponge inflation factor is being seriously overlooked as if it doesn't exist. The way the cash has been taken out of the economy is probably what has saved the country from massive inflation so far. These people are far too rich to be able to consume at a level that would lead to product disappearing from the shelves. That is a good thing.

Poor people have no savings, they live paycheck to paycheck. Rich people, let the dollars collect. If there was a better method of delivering dollars to the poor, the economic condition of the poor would have improved years ago. An outright gift to the poor would discourage working for a living.

But what if the country stopped printing dollars? No socialism and a balanced budget. If you’re poor, the cable and the phone drop out of the equation. With welfare and Food stamps gone, you are going to work or starve, drugs become unaffordable as do credit card debts and new cars. The money taxes the rich get off of the poor are now gone. Hmmm

Let's get government salaries back into line. Why pay them more, if they are now more valuable in private sector, because of training? Let’s endure the inexperience of youth and train government employees on the assumption that if they are any good we will lose them, they will move on to private employment. Keep government wages realistic. And while we are at it, give everyone an equal 35k retirement plan. If you make more, contribute it yourself. I see no reason for a person making 100k a year get a retirement plan geared to his salary. You make more, save more, equal retirement plan for all. Of course that’s probably appears to smack of socialism, but more likely it is just plain common sense. Sadly we seem to be very short of common sense now days, it's not practical anymore, --How times have changed!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Investment Misdirection

Most all bubbles are a misallocation of resources. We build more houses than we need, we bid stocks up to unsupportable levels. What it really works out to, at the height of the bubble the end purchasers pay too much for an overvalued item and lose everything. At the time they have comfort in the fact, that everyone is doing the same thing.

Our government has manipulated interest rates to almost zero (ZIRP). Using the rule of 72 which states dividing the interest rate into 72 yields the years to wait for your bank savings to double. Right now that is about 144 years. So if you want to invest your savings, why put it in the bank? The government is forcing people away from saving money in the bank to other forms of investment, the biggest two are the stock market and real estate rentals. Plus if the bank gives you zip on your savings, why not spend it now and enjoy it, there is no reward for saving—not in my life time or even my sons.

At some point in the future, when both the workers and the government are spending with no tomorrow in sight, there will be a shortage of product to consume. With a shortage of product, prices have to rise for those who really want to have it.

There are people saving like me for retirement, I’m 68. I just learned that by deferring my Social Security to age 70 I get to pay more for Medicare by about 50%. I can’t possibly live off of the interest on my savings. When I started saving, I was counting on a 5% interest rate at retirement. Notice who gets hurt with the low government interest rates, people who have saved money. We are not talking rich people, we are talking people that have managed to save a million dollars over a life time. At 5% interest, that’s about $50,000 a year for two to retire on until you have to be put in a rest home. Right now, that will return about $6,000 a year, not much for a life time of savings.

The real issue that has to be looked at, is that we are no longer a nation of savers, we are a nation of spenders. With both government spending and consumer spending, we will run out of product to buy not dollars. The government can print dollars, but it cannot print product, and the surplus product that will disappear, is the product that was available for purchase only because someone previously decided to save instead of consume. All of the printed money in the world cannot buy a car that was never built.

If 40 million food stamp shoppers want steak and lobster, guess what, chicken becomes a real deal.
And of course, if you want corn in your gas tank instead of in you cattle, steak becomes more expensive.
Notice one thing, almost everything mentioned has to do with government intervention. They can screw up anything and ask for your blessing at the same time.

It is very interesting growing old. Young people have no idea what I am talking about and people that are my age, nobody listens to. A little old lady the other day bought 3 hallmark cards and some expensive prescription drugs, and the total was $175. She put it on a credit card, I wonder if the balance will ever get paid off in her life time?

An FYI nugget
In today’s newspaper two different Investment funds each bought rental complexes in San Diego. A 35 unit one for 5.4 million, rents bumped up from $1,050 to $1,225, many on Social Security are moving out. Then a 208 unit luxury living complex bought for 84 million by Monogram Residential Trust of Texas projects rents on this one being built will be about $2,500 a month. The second one they paid double of what they should have IMHO. Both companies are trying to get a decent return on their investment. The only thing being overlooked is that rental returns are based on vacancy rates. You can charge any rate you desire, but the actual rental rate is determined by the rent collected over 12 months divided by 12 months. If it rents for $2,500 a month and is empty 6 months of the year, the net rental rate is $1,250 per month. The newspapers conclusion was that rental rates were rising, while at the same time in the first building everyone is moving out.

This is what made the Great Depression of the 1930's. What you wanted and expected from your investments, was not what you got. There was a disconnect that no one could comprehend.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Vladimir Putin the Pragmatist

Syria is in the midst of a civil war and you hear stuff like “Bashar al-Assad has murdered thousands.” Kind of wonder what the headline would have been back in 1866 for our Civil War; “Lincoln murders 200,000.”
If the Russians can keep Bashar al-Assad in power, they have an ally in the Middle East that can help defeat ISIS. This guy is not jumping in a plane and leaving the country in fear of his life. Every foreign leader that our country has supported in the past is probably now living somewhere in Virginia.

In this case with Syria, the Russians offer stability and preservation of the political system. It’s not like the US where we invade and promise Democracy and then sneak out. Then we have to give refugee status to all of those who would be executed for collaboration on our exit.

If the civil war can be ended and the region becomes stable, people can move back to Syria. The present projected conditions are tragic. 4 million people are in the process of moving into Europe. When countries say that they can accommodate 20,000 over 5 years, what happens this year to the 4 million when the winter arrives? Logistically, how do you provide food and shelter on such a large scale?

Putin has a realistic approach to the problem. Stabilize Syria and get the refugees back into their own country, stem the emigration to Europe. Bashar al-Assad is not associated with a religious agenda that needs to be implemented which is a good thing.

Obama might not like what the Russians are doing, but the United States created this whole mess and if you have someone who is a strong leader that will fight, I say support them. 4 million people have a home that they would like to come back to, Political ideals like Democracy are for the idle rich, not the poor peasants who can ill afford it. Syria can come back just like Egypt.

Putin has no love for Democracy, maybe he realizes that it is a very ineffective form of government for people who are extremely poor. Move a family in Syria living on $200 a month to Europe and you find that they now need $800 per week to survive. Give the people stability and security in their own country and you recreate an economic engine for survival that will work again and revitalize Syria.

Consider Vladimir Putin as a pragmatist with a realistic solution for Syria. Of course we could step up to the plate, we already have 40 million on food stamps in this country, adding 4 million more to the program might even stimulate our economy.