Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Central Florida Real Estate

Description: Construction and service economy. No manufacturing. No natural resources. No strategic location. We went to a timeshare presentation. More on that later. Maybe. The location a few miles from the Disney complexes. The first of supposedly seven resort towers got built and then 2006 happened. There's an eight lane bridge that never opened. A weathered sign selling 150 acres. A single entrance that passes two traffic circles that go nowhere but to the one structure. There are two sources of revenue. Selling services to tourists and fees. Toll roads. Resort surcharges. Handling fees. If aviation fuel and gasoline ever get too expensive this place will implode again. Despite this I suspect the area is getting ready to overheat again.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Change the World 3v at a time

Chemists Seek to Desalt the World To achieve desalination, the researchers apply a small voltage (3.0 volts) to a plastic chip filled with seawater. The chip contains a microchannel with two branches. At the junction of the channel an embedded electrode neutralizes some of the chloride ions in seawater to create an “ion depletion zone” that increases the local electric field compared with the rest of the channel. This change in the electric field is sufficient to redirect salts into one branch, allowing desalinated water to pass through the other branch. Inexpensive fresh water from seawater is literally changes the world. Pound sand Malthus.

Systemic Skim

Goldman Sachs is at it again. From the NYT: A Shuffle of Aluminum Using special exemptions granted by the Federal Reserve Bank and relaxed regulations approved by Congress, the banks have bought huge swaths of infrastructure used to store commodities and deliver them to consumers — from pipelines and refineries in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas; to fleets of more than 100 double-hulled oil tankers at sea around the globe; to companies that control operations at major ports like Oakland, Calif., and Seattle. In the case of aluminum, Goldman bought Metro International Trade Services, one of the country’s biggest storers of the metal. More than a quarter of the supply of aluminum available on the market is kept in the company’s Detroit-area warehouses. ----- Vertical integration in the financial sector is too dangerous to exist.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Metals squeeze

Just an overnight thread.  Noticing silver and gold bumping up.

Not like it hasn't happened before.  Time Magazine

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Decoding Progressivism


11 Phrases Progressives Use to Obscure Their Agendas

(1). Big Business: (Also referred to as: Corporate America; Multinationals; Corporate Interests) When we use any of these words, we automatically sound pie-in-the-sky liberal. People think, “what’s wrong with that?” After all, they’d like their own businesses to get “big” and have no negative associations with the words “corporate” or “multinational” — which actually sound kind of exciting and worldly. Instead, try: Unelected Government. This puts them in their proper context as unelected entities with unprecedented powers, whose actions have immense impact on our lives, and which we are powerless to hold accountable.
(2). Entitlements: I keep hearing reporters from National Public Radio and other liberal news outlets use the word “entitlements” and it makes me froth at the mouth. They’re not “entitlements” — which sounds like something a bunch of spoiled, lazy, undeserving people irrationally think they should get for nothing. Instead, try: Earned Benefits. This term not only sounds better for the progressive cause, it’s also more accurate. Programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment are all forms of insurance that we pay into all of our working lives — via a percentage of our income — and then collect from when the time comes.
(3). Free Market Capitalism: (Also referred to as: Capitalism, Free Markets, and Supply-Side Economics) Like “Fascism” and “Communism,” “Free Market Capitalism” is a 20th-century utopian ideal that has amply been proven an unworkable failure, and damaging to society. Instead, try: Socialized Risk, Privatized Profits. This best describes the dramatically failed experiment in unfettered capitalism, as practiced in the late 20th century and early aughts.
(4). Government Spending: (Also referred to as: Taxes, Burden, and Inconvenient) Conservatives talk about “government spending” like it’s this awful thing, but the fact is, communities across America benefit from U.S. tax dollars, especially supposedly anti-government red states, which receive way more federal tax money than they contribute.  Instead, try: Investing in America. Because, that’s what our federal tax dollars do. They invest in education and infrastructure that wouldn’t prove profitable for businesses, but which still benefit society in the long-run.
(5). Gun Control: Yikes! That sounds like you want to control people, and all those “freedom loving” folks who want to bully gays and people of color into staying in their place will use that word against you. Instead, try: Gun Safety. It sounds so nice, non-coercive, and reasonable … plus, it’s true. Most of us aren’t against guns, we just want them used safely.
(6). Illegal Aliens: It’s easy to support draconian laws against people we refer to by such a scary and impersonal term as “illegal aliens.” It’s way harder to act against our neighbors, friends, the families of our children’s classmates, or the nice lady who sells those plump, fragrant tamales on the corner. Plus … are they really “illegal?” If
Big Business… Ooops … I mean “Unelected Government” … didn’t want them here — for their easily-exploited, low-cost, skilled labor (yes, our neighbors from south of the border do offer specialized skills for which U.S. agribusiness refuses to fairly compensate) — they’d be gone. Instead, try: Undocumented Residents. Why not? They already do much of what we officially-recognized U.S. citizens do, plus they’re having more kids than Anglos are. Seems like immigration provides an ideal way for us to avoid the demographics crisis hitting Western Europe and Japan.
(7). Pro-Life: Ugh. They are NOT pro-life. Once a child takes its first breath, these supposed conservative “pro-lifers” couldn’t care less about the quality of life for the child or mother. Let’s call them by their true name for once. Instead, try: Anti-Choice. Because, that’s what they really are about. They don’t care about “life.” They only seek to deny choices to women. Not just the choice of whether or not to have a child, but whether a woman can — like a man — embrace her full sexuality without having to worry about pregnancy, and whether she can make related choices about her body, her career, and when to have children, as men always have.
(8). Right-To-Work: Who came up with the phrase “right-to-work” ANYway? It’s total B.S. and doesn’t give you the right to do anything, unless you want to reject unions and earn less money than you would in a pro-union shop. In “right-to-work” states, non-union workers in union shops can decline paying union dues. Which sounds fair, but is not, because union shops pay better wages to their employees, and hence should receive dues accordingly. Instead, try: Anti-Union: It’s far more accurate, and — as unions increasingly gain favor — will make conservatives look bad. Because “right-to-work” really does mean: Right to choose amongst sucky wages and benefits packages.  Several readers have also suggested: Right-To-Fire (without just cause).
(9). The Environment: When people talk about “the environment,” they often sound annoyingly self-righteous, as if lecturing people with dubious hygiene practices. Unfortunately, you can’t count on people to make environmentally friendly choices — especially when people are struggling financially and these choices cost significantly more. Instead, try: Shared Resources. That makes way more sense. We may not care about some  factory dumping crap into the ocean, but we dang-well care about our neighbors up the river not properly maintaining their septic tank.
(10). Welfare: When conservatives talk about “welfare,” they make it sound like this pit people wallow in forever, rather than a source of help that’s available when we need it – and that we pay for through our taxes. The majority of us need help at one time or another. Instead, try: Social Safety Net: When people think of a safety net, they’re more likely to think of a protection of last-resort, and one that they can instantly bounce out of like circus acrobats. And if we continue to grow the middle class — instead of cutting taxes for the rich and allowing companies to pay sub-living wages — perhaps the latter will be true again.
Special bonus 11th Phrase:
(11). Homophobic: People who oppose equal rights for gays, lesbians, and gender atypical individuals are not “afraid,” as the “phobic” suffix implies. They are mean, bigoted @ssholes. Instead, try: Anti-Gay.

Similar Historic Observation:

“It is one of the saddest spectacles of our time to see a great democratic movement support a policy which must lead to the destruction of democracy and which meanwhile can benefit only a minority of the masses who support it. Yet it is this support from the Left of the tendencies toward monopoly which make them so irresistible and the prospects of the future so dark.”
Friedrich A. von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

Bountiful Harvest

The Promise:

The Reality:
Any resemblance to our economy is purely deliberate. 

These were actually the result of having too many seeds sprout and having half a flat of seedlings stay in the tray.  Bonsai tomato plants. 

MBS Fed holdings vs Commercial Holdings

Since the end of the recession.  Presented without comment.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sobering Time Lapse

Radioactive Girl from Devient Art. 

Youtube is getting increasingly less useful and exponentially more annoying. For all the evil creeping in via google monetization schemes there are still gems in the manure pile.

A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945 One reason the globe goes quieter towards the end is because the US knows pretty much everything that can be uncovered by live testing and has switched to computer simulations. I suspect the methods have been "adopted" by the Russians and Chinese as well. 

And for you Sci-Fi fans, and there are a lot here, a different Apocalypse. Radioactive Sci-Fi mash up. Sadly I got at least 80% of the video clips the first time through.

Suggestions for the blog

Having seen what happens to blogs that start "mailing it in" I am looking for suggestions to increase the value of Exurban Nation.  

I'd still like to keep my individual real estate observations focused on Ventura County and the Wrightwood /high desert area of San Bernardino.  Lots of rich data to mine there alone but I know other places are just as interesting.  Preferable guest posts could share them.  

One reason I let the blog slide was the same reason I started it in the first place.  There were stories not being told so I told them here.  Then the blogosphere exploded in housing/econ forums.  Now those places are victims of unfettered abuse.  Too bad, it happens.  Some 76,000 comments later I doubt I've deleted a dozen so it can work.  A little restraint and a little self policing is ll it will require.  

This will be a "top post" for a few days to solicit comments. 

Red Team v Blue Team on Inflation

With the Democrats you get inflation. Higher prices for the same things and higher taxes and higher debt. With the Republicans you get inflation. The same prices for inferior things and higher taxes and higher debt. With bipartisanship you get all of the above. With gridlock you get no fiscal policy direction at al and place yourself at the mercy of monetary policy. See illustration above.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tabula Rasa

Microsoft Tablet fail $900m and counting My comment? Zune^2

Why Jobless Claims Declined this Week

Ford Motor Co (F). said it will idle most of its North American assembly plants for one week this summer instead of two, to increase output. Three of Chrysler Group LLC’s assembly plants and all except one of its engine, transmission and stamping factories will skip a summer shutdown this year. Since its 2009 bankruptcy, General Motors Co. hasn’t had a formal summer shutdown, Mark Reuss, president of the company’s North American operations, told reporters in May. ----- The "decline" was nothing but an anomaly due to the BLS formula that assumes auto plant shutdowns in the summer. So. What do the unadjusted numbers say? BLS release.
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 408,710 in the week ending July 13, an increase of 25,350 from the previous week. There were 455,260 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4 percent during the week ending July 6, an increase of 0.2 percentage point from the prior week's revised rate. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,144,838, an increase of 333,812 from the preceding week's revised level of 2,811,026. A year earlier, the rate was 2.6 percent and the volume was 3,360,067. The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending June 29 was 4,519,501, a decrease of 1,903 from the previous week. There were 5,753,820 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012.
The actual bad numbers won't come out until they won't matter. Nota Bene: Running a blog is work. I've picked up the job again with sadness at the passing of hoocoodanode as a viable platform.

Look Who's Smiling Now

It is a well known issue for both companies and municipalities that more fail in the recovery than in the recession. Today Det"riot" declared bankruptcy. $20b in liabilities and 700,000 residents of which easily half are not taxable by any stretch. Whitney wasn't even early. What happened was her warning caused a lot of shuffling of deck chairs to forestall the inevitable. Second the "recovery" took much much longer than she could have predicted. So. Is this it? Probably not. The baby bust is now only two years away from crushing school districts across the nation. Watch them follow this closely. Both Detroit and school districts have much the same problems. Liberal control and outsized employee benefits.