You can’t get away from it. The media fawn over it. Rational neighbors drool unexpectedly. Ads flood the airwaves. “Learn our simple three-step system on how to flip homes,” the announcer says. Everyone knows: untold riches are waiting for you. “Right here in the Bay Area,” he says. It’s hot, so hot that people will get burned. And banks will get hit (again).
Oaktree Capital and Carrington Mortgage are trying to dump a portfolio of 500 single-family homes they’d bought out of foreclosure. They’re trying to get the heck out of the once hot buy-to-rent trade. Blackstone, which gobbled up 32,000 of these homes, is trying to get its money out. They all are. That trade is turning sour. Trouble in the housing market!
By Chriss Street: The FBI confirmed that a Task Force from the FBI, the IRS, the District Attorney’s Office, and the US Attorney’s Office is investigating political campaign corruption in Orange County, California. A Democrat Attorney General targeting Republican politicians in America’s most Republican county? Um, the District Attorney on the Task Force is a Republican. No, this is real.
A technology that surreptitiously captures data of people out on the street, combines it with other data, and mines it ad infinitum? Local and federal government agencies love it. It’s increasingly sophisticated and cheap. It’s spreading. And it led a professor at West Point to warn: “We don’t have a police state in this country, but we have the technology.”
The last big thing was green tech – from wave-power generators to the smart grid. Hyped in the bipartisan stimulus bill, it promised gobs of jobs, billions in revenues, and untold riches. Private investors plowed in billions too. It ended up in a massive pileup of capital destruction. Fatalities were everywhere.
Contributed by Chriss Street: The Eagles got it right with Hotel California: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!” The San Jose City Council, facing huge budget deficits, tried to terminate life-time pension benefits for Council members. Turns out, ending wildly expensive benefits may be wildly more expensive than staying in the plan.
That state and local government pension funds are going broke isn’t a new problem. That it’s much worse than reported by those pension funds isn’t a new problem either. Last June, Moody’s determined that the already dizzying unfunded pension liabilities were actually three times higher than reported. To top it off, trustees are blowing a bunch of retiree money on an exotic boondoggle.
The California Division of Occupational Safety & Health just slammed Chevron with massive, record-breaking penalties related to the refinery in Richmond—the one that ended up in a fireball last August and caused 15,000 people to seek medical treatment. Purpose: to teach the mega-company an excruciatingly painful lesson. Alas….
Contributed by Chriss Street. With California running new deficits even after raising income taxes to the highest in the nation, homeowners should be prepared for politicians to try to overturn Proposition 13 that for 35 years has limited property tax rate increases.
Contributed by Chriss Street. State Controller John Chiang announced that revenue for November fell $806.8 million, or 10.8%, below budget. Democrats thought they could hammer “the rich” by convincing voters to pass Proposition 30 to create the highest state income tax in the nation. But it appears high-income earners have “voted-with-their-feet”, resulting in a $1 billion shortfall in taxes, and the beginning of a new financial crisis.