Category Archives: Housing

TrumpAscenscion™ sparks an Israeli land grab


Inspired by their new friend in Washington, the Israeli government decided to grab more Palestinian land.

And a direct beneficiary is a settlement backed by Trump’s choice for the Israeli ambassadorship.

From the Washington Post:

Israel approved the construction of 2,500 housing units in Jewish settlements in the West Bank on Tuesday, just two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with President Trump.

Netanyahu and members of his right-wing government have bristled at the harsh condemnations of settlement growth by the Obama administration, which condemned the Jewish communities as “illegitimate” and “an obstacle to peace.”

Trump, however, has signaled more accommodating policies toward Israel and has called for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a city claimed as the capital of both Israel and a potential future Palestinian state. The Jewish settlements have grown to house more than 400,000 Jewish residents in the West Bank.

“We’re building — and will continue to build,” Netanyahu said following the announcement.

There was no initial reaction to the announcement by the Trump White House or the State Department.

>snip<

But the potential sites could carry deep political resonance in the United States. Jeremy Ben- Ami, head of the liberal Washington-based group J Street, noted that about 100 of the possible new units are in Beit El, a West Bank settlement supported by David Friedman, Trump’s selection to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.

UPDATE: More from the Guardian:

Israeli politicians have rushed to exploit what they see as a pro-Israel and pro-settlement US administration.

The announcement of 2,500 new housing units in the West Bank is one of the largest in years and marks a comprehensive rejection of December’s UN security council resolution, which described settlement building as a “flagrant violation” of international law and an obstacle to peace.

The decision, approved by the rightwing Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, seems certain to further increase tensions with Palestinians and the wider Middle East, already high over the Trump administration’s proposal to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the move would have “consequences”. “The decision will hinder any attempt to restore security and stability; it will reinforce extremism and terrorism and will place obstacles in the path of any effort to start a peace process that will lead to security and peace,” he added.

Bubble alert: The housing bubble reinflates again


Cheap adjustable rate loans plus an insane derivates market brought the global economy crashing down nearly a decade ago, and now the housing market is reinflating, fueled in large part by more of those adjustable rate mortgages.

Those cheap loans triggered a massive housing price inflation, as loan officers signed off virtually all buyers, thanks to those robosigning machines [which are still very much in use].

And given that President-elect Trump has stocked his cabinet with Wall Street banksters, an Associated Press news story should send chills down our collective spine:

U.S. home prices rose again in October as buyers bidding for scarce properties drove prices higher.

The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, rose 5.1% in October from a year earlier after climbing 5% in September. Prices for the 20 cities are still 7.1% below their July 2006 peak.

The broader Case-Shiller national home price index was up 5.6% in October and has fully recovered from the financial crisis.

Prices rose 10.7% annually in Seattle, 10.3% in Portland and 8.3% in Denver. New York registered the smallest year-over-year gain: 1.7%. Los Angeles prices rose 5.7%.

From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, a look at the course of the housing bubble through the end of July:

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And it’s not just home prices that are soaring. Rents are rising dramatically as well, another bad sign of a developing crisis:

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Chart of the day: Renters lose financial ground


As home ownership rates fall, mortgage interest rates rise, and the housing bubble reinflates, America’s growing numbers of renters are falling behind, with all but the oldest and the wealthiest [often the same folks] losing financial ground.

From a new report on housing and household finances from the Pew Research Center:

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Headline of the day II: Daily life in Trumplandia™


From the East Bay Express:

Oakland Landlord Evicts Tenant, Then Hangs Pro-Trump Billboard on Building

‘On Christmas Day I’m being evicted. Can you believe that?’

Economy: Spain’s Millennials live with parents


While Eurocrats have hailed Spain’s “recovery” from the Great Recession, lauding themselves for accomplishing a miracle with bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank, the reality is quite different.

The draconian austerity regime dictated by the by the financial oligarchs effectively destroyed the futures of millions of young Spaniards.

From El País:

For the first time in 12 years, less than 20% of people aged between 16 and 30 are living outside the family home. In the second quarter of 2016, the figure was 19.6%, a 4.84% increase on the period in 2015, says Spain’s Youth Council. It adds that of those who have managed to leave their parents, only 16.7% are living alone.

The official unemployment rate among the under-30s is 34.4%, but the reality is that only two out of every 10 under-24s is working, and more than 55% of them are on short-term contracts, while 60% are earning less than €1,000 a month.

Victor Reloba, of the Youth Council, says that while unemployment has fallen slightly, young people are unable to leave the family home because even if they are in work, they will likely be on zero-hours contracts, short-term contracts, or earning money from a number of different activities. “One in four young people is poor,” he explains.

Most under-30s who have managed to leave home are living in shared accommodation with two or more other people.

Headline of the day II: More Trumplandia troubles


From the Guardian:

Trump’s name to be removed from New York buildings to appeal to renters

  • Owner of Upper West Side ‘Trump Place’ buildings, developed by the businessman, aims for ‘more neutral building identity’
  • Donald Trump’s name will be permanently removed from a series of New York City buildings on Wednesday, in an apparent repudiation of his divisive presidential campaign
  • The name “Trump” has been displayed prominently on 140, 160 and 180 Trump Place, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, for more than a decade. Trump developed the apartment buildings in the 1990s
  • But Equity Residential, which owns the building, told the Guardian that the Trump signage would be removed – and the actual street names changed – because it would make the apartments more appealing to renters

Equity Residential is a company we know well, having written extensively about the firm and its boss, Sam Zell, during our years at the Berkeley Daily Planet. and the subject of numerous of our reports.

Zell, who styles himself the Gravedancer for his ruthless business style, is the embodiment of the predatory capitalist type, buying up troubled companies, conducting mass layoffs, and looting their assets.

Our interest in Zell was sparked by two things: His buyout of Berkeley’s largest bloc of privately owned apartments and his brief ownership of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and the other newspapers owned by the Tribune Co.

His purchase, bankrolled by looting the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan [a pension plan bankrolled by company stock shares]. ended in bankruptcy and massive layoffs of some of California’s best journalists.

Here’s a classic Zell clip, show during a meeting with the staff of the Tribune Co.’s Orlando Sentinel, when he was explaining his plans for the paper in 2008. Notably, when a reporter questions his plans to cut back public service journalism, Zell responds with a “Fuck you.”

Literally:


Zell also bankrolled $100,000 of anti-Obama ads in the 2012 election, monies raised, in part, from the exorbitant rents paid by University of California students for his apartments near a campus which no longer builds affordable student housing.

Zell is a flamboyant character in many ways similar to Donald Trump. But that said, he was notably silent during this year’s presidential campaign, and his remarks about Trump during a Bloomberg interview last December — in which he reveals he turned down a Trump offer to become his partner — are interesting:

Billionaire Sam Zell: Donald Trump Asked Me to Be His Business Partner, and I Said No

Program notes:

Equity Group Investments Founder Sam Zell discusses his politics and outlook for the 2016 Presidential election.

Chart of the day II: Greek immiseration deepens


As the financial overlords of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and the European mandate ever deeper cuts in payrolls, healthcare,  and pensions, Greeks are cutting back still more on all but the basic essentials of life as costs paying more than ever for housing, hospitals and drugs, and now-privatized public transit systems.

In turn, Greeks have cut back on spending for education, fuel, and home appliances.

From the Hellenic Statistical Authority:

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