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Economic Crisis Avoidance Deus ex Machina - Part I: Active Asset Price Inflation - Eric Janszen

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  • Re: Economic Crisis Avoidance Deus ex Machina - Part I: Active Asset Price Inflation - Eric Janszen

    Originally posted by BK View Post
    There seems to be a lot of new construction in Cities that is more about wealth storage than homes.
    For example this story about Boston https://www.wbur.org/news/2018/09/11...-luxury-towers

    Or 2017 story about New York https://www.theweek.com/articles/736...rk-real-estate

    Absolutely. So many high-end apartments in Manhattan are merely portfolio investments for the global wealth elite. Occupancy rates at these top-drawer developments are very low. The gallery I work for is in a starchitect designed residential tower in Chelsea, and its occupancy is less than 40%. We seldom see residents coming in and out of the building.

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    • Re: Economic Crisis Avoidance Deus ex Machina - Part I: Active Asset Price Inflation - Eric Janszen

      Originally posted by BK View Post
      There seems to be a lot of new construction in Cities that is more about wealth storage than homes.
      For example this story about Boston https://www.wbur.org/news/2018/09/11...-luxury-towers

      Or 2017 story about New York https://www.theweek.com/articles/736...rk-real-estate
      I suspect this explains all of the multi-million dollar condos being built in Chicago's loop, too. Wealthy elite investors want to park their cash in something real, and developers are providing the goods for them.

      Comment


      • Re: Economic Crisis Avoidance Deus ex Machina - Part I: Active Asset Price Inflation - Eric Janszen

        When you think of expensive houses and condos as a store of wealth, it's a rather poor one.
        The costs of maintenance, association fees, and real estate taxes are substantial. That kind of bank account has negative interest rate that erodes the capital.

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        • Re: Economic Crisis Avoidance Deus ex Machina - Part I: Active Asset Price Inflation - Eric Janszen

          Originally posted by thriftyandboringinohio View Post
          When you think of expensive houses and condos as a store of wealth, it's a rather poor one.
          The costs of maintenance, association fees, and real estate taxes are substantial. That kind of bank account has negative interest rate that erodes the capital.
          The kinds of people who use real estate as a store of wealth are often from places like China or Russia. When you look at their history of currency devaluations and government seizures of assets, losing 3% per year looks like a pretty good return. That's not even considering the fact that U.S. real estate is one of the best places in the world to launder large quantities of money and not run the risk of the money laundering agent absconding with your money. That's why housing is expensive in these types of transactions: these people need to move a lot of money and they don't want to have to buy hundreds or thousands of $100,000 homes. A $100M penthouse apartment in NYC fits the bill perfectly.

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          • Re: Economic Crisis Avoidance Deus ex Machina - Part I: Active Asset Price Inflation - Eric Janszen

            Whatever's going on, the deed record shows it has very little to do with traditional property purchases.

            Just looking at Boston (suffolk county deeds) on Monday:

            Boston Hides & Furs LTD sold 200 Marginal St. to Marginal LLC 200 for $2.23 million. Looks to me like a vacant lot, Boston Hides and Furs is down the road at #150, so selling off land.
            The Richard A Campagna Revocable Trust sold 680 Mass Ave to Mass Ave LLC 680 for $2.9 million. Typical of the upscale area.
            Maverick LLC 20-22 sold 20 Maverick Street to Marverick LLC 20 for $850,000. Eastie special.
            James and Mary Tranfaglia sold 678 Winthrop Ave to Brothers LLC 596 for $650,000. Typical Revere.

            You get the idea.

            These are all but certainly not owner-occupancy situations. Big money's moving around. But you don't want it in an LLC if you want any income tax benefit from ownership. So it's either foreign or domestic buyers parking money, people developing or flipping them, or some other arrangement that has nothing to do with buyers living in homes.

            The difference is sharp too. Almost all the transactions you see below, say, half a million, are named people. Almost all the transactions over half a million have shell LLCs on the deed.

            Comment


            • Re: Economic Crisis Avoidance Deus ex Machina - Part I: Active Asset Price Inflation - Eric Janszen

              Sorry to change the subject: Does anyone know some trustworthy, dependable place to sell bullion in Miami. Talking about some 1kg. bars.

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              • Re: Economic Crisis Avoidance Deus ex Machina - Part I: Active Asset Price Inflation - Eric Janszen

                That is great! I'd like to teach at a place like that. Not exactly a "liberal education", but the universities themselves
                destroyed that by monetizing the whole thing.

                Comment


                • Re: Economic Crisis Avoidance Deus ex Machina - Part I: Active Asset Price Inflation - Eric Janszen

                  Originally posted by Polish_Silver View Post
                  That is great! I'd like to teach at a place like that. Not exactly a "liberal education", but the universities themselves
                  destroyed that by monetizing the whole thing.
                  I hope it works, and I'm in favor of the idea. The cap worries me a bit if it expands, it's low, and it's a great and brilliant thing in the early days when they take 50 students per year and can manage things and takes some risk out. I worry about scaling because there will always be a number of students, not an insignificant percent, of any training program who can't hack it and wash out, and the percentage of them will grow as it expands. Easy to work around that in the startup phase, but a fact of life at scale. Still, seems like a good program. Part of me wouldn't mind taking a test drive if I could carve out the time. Been playing with python a bit, and been playing with basic and c since I was a tike. But never was a software guy. Probably run laps around most of them with certain corners of math. But never tried playing the game commercially other than a couple one-off things back in the shareware day that took little time and brought in little money.

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                  • how much is enough?

                    Originally posted by jk View Post
                    1.
                    3. once upon a time there was no free education. then there were tax supported primary schools. then there were tax supported secondary schools. it's about time for tax supported tertiary education, maybe 2-4 years of public u., maybe apprenticeship programs. and we've got to drop the idea that everyone is supposed to learn calculus. [if anything it should be statistics, anyway.] there are a lot of useful and well paying trades.
                    There are already tax funded universities, as well as tax paid student aid. But the college costs keep rising way beyond that.
                    How do you figure out how much a year should cost?

                    If you give the universities what they want, the costs will rise without limit.
                    That is the way organizations work.

                    Canadian colleges charge a fraction of what US universities do.

                    It is precisely when the degree has become "essential" that the cost became ridiculous. If the culture went back to thinking of the
                    bachelor's degree as an optional luxury, perhaps the cost would come down as well.

                    Comment


                    • Re: it's the zoning

                      If it was up to me, I'd be renting a dog house in Norwalk. But it's not up to me. And it's more like 25 minutes to Bridgeport.
                      If my job was not in Wilton, I would not have a thing to to with a place like this.

                      I think you are right that the towns want to be exclusive to the rich, and the zoning is one way they do it.
                      The "nearby population" is constrained by the zoning,
                      which therefore increases the commute time. It's as simple as that.
                      Darien prices are higher than Wilton, and there are many small lots and walkable streets. Whether we could afford to live there is quite
                      a separate question!

                      My wife wants good schools and a short commute. We both want a walkable neighborhood. That puts a lot of constraints on.
                      I just got back from Ann Arbor michigan. The lots are much smaller than Wilton, the prices much lower, and the schools are very good,
                      the town is emminently walkable. (Neighborhoods and schools the quality of Darien at half the price)

                      In Wilton, you pay $700k for a house, and you still don't have a sidewalk. There are towns, like Shelton, where the schools are good with walkable neighborhoods and the price is much lower. But that is far from my work.
                      The nearest solution is Bethel, but my wife won't even consider it.

                      There is a separate problem with schools, which may be a combination of too many immigrants, wrong policies, and unrealistic expectations.

                      Comment


                      • Re: it's the zoning

                        i also live in ct and one year i got curious about the relationship between educational spending and educational achievement. i used what data i could find and identified about 10 communities with housing prices +/- 10% of the town i lived in, as a proxy for socio-economic status. i then looked at per pupil spending and what achievement measures i could find. no relationship for spending. totally dependent on family's socio-economic status.

                        this little survey was not science by any means, but it was suggestive.

                        Comment


                        • Re: how much is enough?

                          Originally posted by Polish_Silver View Post

                          If you give the universities what they want, the costs will rise without limit.
                          That is the way organizations work.

                          Canadian colleges charge a fraction of what US universities do.
                          how do the canadian schools control their consts?

                          Comment


                          • Re: it's the zoning

                            Oh yeah. I wasn't trying to give you hell. Just being a bit familiar with the area, I figured I'd throw it out there. You must know as well as I that folks on the casino side of the state think of Fairfield County as a bunch of rich Yankees fan who work for hedge funds, whether it's true or not. Seems to me the reverse is true too, and nobody in Greenwich is impressed with the broke swamp yankees up in the quiet corner.

                            If you ask me though, the easiest solution to the problem is to have corporate execs just spread the damn high end jobs out and stop jamming them into one spot or another. Ann Arbor's gotta be closer to Detroit than Wilton is to Manhattan. Detroit really really coulda used some of the high end jobs that NYC, Boston and San Francisco are drowning in. And if a few ever moved in, I'm sure the prices in Ann Arbor would come up some to compensate. But as it is now, it's pretty much the university keeping that town afloat. And I can't think of a bigger disasterous story of capital flight than Detroit, which just got totally wrecked by the auto industry leaving.

                            I mean, Flint went from the wealthiest city in America 30 years ago to the poorest today with lead poisoned drinking water. I mean it, young people used to flock to Detroit not so long ago. Just look at the median income shift for kids under 35:





                            One thing to notice is that in most of the USA, median income has dropped by a lot between generations. The only places it hasn't are the bay area, seattle, parts of new york and boston, and DC. But in most of the country, that $35k is the norm where $40k was in 1980 (in 2013 dollars). And even with all the tech money, the median income in San Jose is just barely over what the median income in Flint was in 1980. Talk about a place that fell hard and fast. Even in the last 20 years they lost about 20% of their civilian employment. Parts look like Grozny after the Russians bombed the hell out of it. I mean, some parts literally like somebody dropped a thousand bombs on it. And all from capital flight.

                            One thing about New England that drives lots of businesses and business-folk mad is the power that our little town governments have. And they screw up plenty. But I think they also make it a bit harder to end up a one-industry monoculture where one man or a small handful of men in a boardroom can make an arbitrary decision to cripple the entire region. San Jose and Seattle seem to me to be super vulnerable to that sort of thing, even if they're riding high on the hog at the moment. There are plenty of luxury homes built in the 70s in Detroit or Flint that have been stripped to the studs for scrap.

                            And this is my main beef with the YIMBY market urbanist cycling software bro crowd. Their solution is to strip local democratic power and let "The Market" (read: developers) take the wheel. And developers will build luxury units to the moon if you let them. But capital moves faster than labor. And both move faster than housing. In the time it takes to pay down a 30 year mortgage, homes in Flint went from some of the more expensive in the country to worthless burned out shells stripped for copper.

                            Because when people, especially young people without kids, move to a place for a job, they don't really have roots there. And as soon as the job dries up, they leave. It ain't like they cared about the local schools or elks club or church or whatever. And what happens to all these high-priced luxury units and Michelin Star restaurants in a place where few have roots like San Jose if someone takes a sledgehammer to the FAANGs? Or what happens if a new trade deal breaks and they move all the jobs to Bangalore? The more high end stuff you build now, the harder the hangover's gonna be. Just ask Japan. They're still sleeping off the real estate party from the 80s. Does anyone really believe the median home price will stay over a million forever?

                            I think that's sort of the strength of our little region of the US, and part of what has kept it the wealthiest region in the country overall for 400 years. People who control big capital rarely have the patience to wade through a dozen town meetings on building a thing. And there's no county commissioner to just wave a wand and make it so. So you have to sell the people on why they should pay more taxes for sidewalks. And on water lines. And sewer lines. Etc. etc. And they will eat the mil rate bump and build them when they feel they're ready. And they do. But you have to sell them.

                            The cities that have councils and lost all that are different. Boston Proper is busy building luxury condos to the moon. The new seaport district is soulless as hell. Just cold glass and steel. Yuppie coffee shops with brick facades charging $5 per cup when a walk over the bridge takes you to an old city built with real bricks charging $2. This is what they destroyed the northeastern-most major metro seaport in the United States for. And in 30 years time, when the manufacturing industry of the world moves to Nigeria or something, and world trade in goods is not so concentrated on the Pacific, you think maybe they'll want a seaport again rather than a bunch of overpriced condo towers that sling craft beer burritos on the first floor?

                            I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing to build nothing ever. But the luxury condo fad has gotten way outta hand in a few places. If I gotta read any more three word sentences that end with periods and walk into sterile white rooms with nothing on the goddamn walls for 30 more years I'll shoot myself. It's like the whole place is turning into a ******* apple store. They even advertise the condo developments as such. "Small spaces, big ideas. Experimental and experiential." Puke. Food redefined.


                            And so the market urbanist folks get mad and call people NIMBYs or whatever. But to me, it's as if they're asking: "What? You mean you don't want to pay $125 to buy a shitty hat made by Peruvian slaves from a cold sterile white store called "Shit that I knit" in a cold sterile white condo tower called "The Current: A Pop-Up Village?" You don't actually think we need 100 more of these things? What's wrong with you?"

                            So anyways, that's Boston's Seaport now. Rough and tumble southie. Nothing but trust fund kids selling overpriced hats out the apple store and blonde kids selling "street tacos." And this is where GE wanted to leave Fairfield for. ******* Disneyland South Boston. Literally the worst neighborhood in New England. The last place I would tell anybody vacationing here to stay or visit. May as well be an airport in Nebraska. Just has no personality at all. No flavor. Like dry chicken with no rubs or marinades. Not even a pinch of salt or pepper. They didn't even use the harbor for anything. Look at this garbage:



                            It needs a university quadrangle of grass that nobody uses because everything has to be spaced out like it's ******* Silicon Valley. And everything's built out in a boring square grid like it's New York. The architecture's disgusting. Doesn't fit the city at all. Wouldn't even be at home in Back Bay. You can't take a subway to it, not really, you can walk across the bridge from South Station and oggle Old Ironsides or whatever, but most kids probably just take Ubers driven by people paid shit who clog up all the roads. It's the type of place where Hopsters Brewing Company is right next door to Trillium Brewing company across the street from the Craft Beer Cellar. Because Sam Adams wasn't good enough for these people. They need "double-dry-hopped IPA" that goes for more than $20 a 4 pack. Get the feeling their customers aren't the types going to Chinatown for cold tea at 3am, if you catch my drift.

                            So that's where we are. This is what gets built now. There's not a local I know living in the damn thing. Not one. I got a lot of relatives in the neighborhood. Cousin was a priest right down the road. Aunts & uncles all over the place. Not one of them knows anyone who knows anyone in the thing. I mean, I know people working for big software companies nearby. I even know somebody working at Reebok right in there. And none of them live there. Strain your ears, you won't hear a single "R" dropped. Even the accent may as well be at an airport in Nebraska. Cold, neutral, TV anchor accents everywhere. You could probably order a hero and a pop and ask "what's cap-a-cola" in the process without anyone batting an eye. The spuckies and tonics are long gone.

                            And whatever. Times change. Lots was shitty about the way it used to be. Lots. It sucked. But the whole long drawn-out point was to say that the people there have no roots. None. Zero. And they'll leave as fast as they showed up when things go to shit. They don't got the place in their blood. It ain't in their bones. They didn't grow up singing m-a-s-s-a-c-h-u-s-e-double-t-s. They don't got strong opinions on Dukakis. Moakley's just the guy all the shit's named after. Wasn't Ted Williams the oil billionaire? And who the fuck is Bobby Orr? These folks ain't in it for the long haul. And they got the money to get out whenever they want. So they'll never bother to learn the flavor of the place and make their mark on it the way other immigrants do.

                            But that's who we're building for. That's what we're building. Even in the burbs. It's this garbage:












                            Those are all Massachusetts images. Except one's Round Rock Texas and one's Toronto Ontario. And it doesn't matter. Because it's all the same. And the real crime of it isn't just right in Boston. It's when they slap these silly things in a small town right on the coast. Nothing says New England like a big metal and glass iCube on the coast filled with landlubbers that looks like the ******* Borg assimilated Steve Jobs. Just half-a-mil for a one bed, one bath condo in the iCube. With granite counters, it's a steal!

                            At least the little boxes made of ticky tacky housed people for cheap. There's something to be said for 2X4s and drywall and vinyl siding. The iCube is expensive as hell, unfriendly to children, and a total dog to boot.

                            Is it a dorm building? A luxury condo complex? A corporate office? Who knows? Either way, I bet you can get a shitty latte in it...





                            Is it Boston? El Paso? Singapore? Who cares? And I mean, you can build ten thousand of these and make a city out of it. And it's pretty much I figure what would happen if you take away zoning, since this is the only kinda thing that anybody builds anymore. But nobody loves these things. The buildings themselves got no soul. They got no roots. You can live in something like them in almost any city in the world. And you can go from your iCube to your cubical and work on your iMac and go back to your iCube in perfect 70 degree climate environments anywhere exactly the same. You can do it as easily in Detroit as you can in Boston or San Jose. You can get the same overpriced craft beer and fancy sport cycle and shitty gringo burritos. There's nothing about place that has these things tied down. Nothing at all.

                            So that's what I figure will happen. The tide will go out one day. Always does. Capital will flee. And any residents who live in the iCubes will go right along with it. And local folks hate HOAs and all that nonsense. Even if they didn't, they wouldn't have the money for that nonsense anyways. They're not gonna move into the iCubes. So the iCubes are gonna go feral. At least in some places. They're only tethered to high income jobs created by capital. And capital is mercurial as hell. Here today, gone tomorrow. And all the little $20 4-pack craft breweries and $125 hat shops with cutesy names are gonna go right along with it. As bleak as a mall built in 1980 with 2 empty anchor stores where Macys and Sears used to be.

                            Last edited by dcarrigg; 07-25-19, 10:36 AM.

                            Comment


                            • Re: it's the zoning

                              Originally posted by jk View Post
                              i also live in ct and one year i got curious about the relationship between educational spending and educational achievement. i used what data i could find and identified about 10 communities with housing prices +/- 10% of the town i lived in, as a proxy for socio-economic status. i then looked at per pupil spending and what achievement measures i could find. no relationship for spending. totally dependent on family's socio-economic status.

                              this little survey was not science by any means, but it was suggestive.
                              Yup. Well, if the state mandates you gotta teach Shakespeare to a bunch of Sophomores right off the boat, teach can't spend the year getting them up to speed with the USA Today. Aggregate school-wide achievement stats are the ultimate manifestation of tabula rasa philosophy. Everybody knows there are more of these kids in Hartford than Windsor.

                              Under-investment causes problems in places like West Virginia and Oklahoma. But all that fat Zuckerburg-Oprah-Booker money just wrecked Newark and didn't help.

                              Comment


                              • Re: it's the zoning

                                What a great rant dcarrigg, entertaining an spot-on. I see three neat little topics inside it.

                                First, goofy mal-investment doomed to fail. The textbooks tell us we should expect that when interest rates are zero or less. $125 knit caps are just the tip of that iceberg.

                                Second, the soulless global banality you describe is a side effect of globalized business. Many of my friends think one-world government is the scariest thing they can imagine and the worst evil we should be addressing. I see it differently. Like it or not, we've built a unified global economy. When a typhoon strikes Thailand it knocks down the only factory for certain car parts, and causes a Honda plant in Ohio to cancel the third shift, throwing workers into layoffs. Until we get some sort of coordinated planetary governance the hot money capital will continue crashing around the planet damaging local communities. Here at iTulip we take it as established fact that the root problem for the Eurozone is that they have a single unified currency with a unified trading area, but have individual disconnected national governments with separate budgets. The same problem is unfolding at the global level.

                                Third, you point to wage stagnation and falling income for the 99%. What Joe the plumber calls a "pay raise" is considered "wage inflation" by the central banks, and they work hard to prevent it from happening. They are getting good results driving wages down and keeping them down for a generation now.

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