Hot off the .PDF maker is the new Case Shiller/S&P Housing report:
“New York, March 27, 2012 – Data through January 2012, released today by S&P Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed annual declines of 3.9% and 3.8% for the 10- and 20-City Composites, respectively. Both composites saw price declines of 0.8% in the month of January. Sixteen of 19 MSAs also saw home prices decrease over the month; only Miami, Phoenix and Washington DC home prices went up versus December 2011. (Due to delays in data reporting, the January 2012 index values for Charlotte are not included in this month’s release). Eight MSAs and both Composites posted new index lows in January. The 10- and 20-City Composites recorded marginal improvements in annual returns over December 2011 when they each posted -4.1%. In addition to the Composites, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa and Washington DC saw their annual rates improve compared to December; while nine of the MSAs saw their annual returns worsen compared to what was reported for December 2011. Denver, Detroit and Phoenix were the only cities to post positive annual growth rates of +0.2%, +1.7% and +1.3%, respectively. Atlanta again posted the lowest annual (and only double-digit negative) return at -14.8%.
The chart above depicts the annual returns of the 10-City and the 20-City Composite Home Price Indices. In January 2012, the 10- and 20-City Composites recorded annual returns of -3.9% and -3.8%, respectively.
“Despite some positive economic signs, home prices continued to drop. The 10- and 20- City Composites and eight cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa – made new lows,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “Detroit and Phoenix, two cities that have suffered massive price declines, plus Denver, saw increasing prices versus January 2011. The 10-City Composite was down 3.9% and the 20-City was down 3.8% compared to January 2011.
“Due to delays in reporting for Mecklenburg County, we did not publish a January index level for Charlotte, North Carolina. There was not enough January data to publish an accurate index level this month. We are not sure of the reasons for the delays, but do expect to see the data with next month’s release. We did include data we received from Gaston County, NC, and York County, SC, in the calculation of the 20-City Composite.
“Atlanta continues to stand out in terms of recent relative weakness. It was down 2.1% over the month, and has fallen by a cumulative 19.7% over the last six months. It also posted the worst annual return, down 14.8%. Seven of the cities were down by 1.0% or more over the month. With the new lows, both Composites are now 34.4% off their relative 2006 peaks.”
The home prices are now back to 2003 levels, so tomorrow morning in Peoplenomics so go-forward thinking on real estate investing…
No Point to Elections
The BIG Story this morning, and it’s one that none of the MSM will come out and tell you is this: The elections are irrelevant (Obama is a shoo-in), the market is likely going on to new highs, and modest, though controlled inflation, seems likely to keep markets in check long enough that economic disaster should be held at bay until after the election this fall. Nice.
OK, you’re thinking, what has prompted George to become bullish – which is often exactly the wrong thing to do when he gets to feeling this way? Well, let’s run through the data, shall we?
Obama: Good as Reelected.
Yes, the right is making all kinds of noise about the story “President Obama asks Medvedev for ‘space’ on missile defense – ‘After my election I have more flexibility…”
While it’s true that places in Eastern Europe – like Poland – might be a bit rattled, the Obama administration seems willing to accept that the Cold War might actually be over and that the idea of a Middle East country or Southwest Asia country coming up with enough ballistics missiles to attack Europe is – from any rational analysis – pretty much a non-starter. Yes, some of the ABM work has been ongoing, but with major Muslim populations having moved to Europe (and still moving at a couple of thousand per week from North Africa among other places, the possibility of a Muslim country launching missiles at (fellow Muslims in some number/relatives in others) doesn’t stand up.
Moreover, the Obama administration knows that it will be pressured on jobs and employment creation and (like Pappy used to say) “You can only spend it once…”
So from a policy standpoint, do we build massive defense pork projects for a handful of defense contractors, or do we pass things like transportation improvement packages which create middle-class jobs? Remember, you can only spend it once.
On the domestic side, the American public has pretty well figured out that both the republicorps and democorps are at the same (corporate-funded) money trough (thanks, Citizens United!) and anytime a fresh face, or a Libertarian comes along, they get marginalized, so that what we’re left with is an opposition party which is hopelessly fractured and on the wrong side of literally dozens of issues yet still listening to Cold War era saber-rattlers.
Obama’s reelection is a virtual certainty.
Don’t get mad at me…I’m just telling you how the cards have been dealt and stories like “Sarah Palin praises Rick Santorum for ‘bill—’ jab” is to my way of thinking a waste of the public’s mental bandwidth. What should be on the table are reviews of Obama’s performance, soundly presented alternatives, and a long-term model of the future.
What America needs about now is a Ross Perot kind of guy to roll out the PowerPoints and Spreadsheets and tell it like it is. Perot was, in retrospect, exactly right, but because he was what? 20 years early? That kind of factual presentation was just too far ahead of what was then a computer-ignorant electorate.
Obama owns Facebook and his backers “get” social media. Think the old schoolers do? Not a chance. Ron Paul gets it, but realistically his hair is the wrong color for the under 30 crowd, although I will vote for him anyway, just as a matter of principle.
Healthcare in Court
Whatever the US Supreme Corps come out with in the way of a healthcare decision on Obamacare, the bottom line for most of us is pretty simple: We’re all going to need doctoring, all doctoring is overpriced, there is no consistent pricing because of all the insurance games, and sometime it’s going to have to get real.
There are two possibilities here: One is the court says the individual mandate is out, in which case the differential pricing nightmare continues, or Two, the court says it’s in and everyone’s going to have to play.\
What gets lost is that Obama didn’t write and pass national healthcare reform on his own no matter that the coverage may leave as an impression. It came out of Congress and what goes into congress? Money. And money comes from? The industry.
Gee, that’s pretty simple, isn’t it?
Money Printing Deluxe
The stock market is, at least for now, likely to head off to what could be new all-time highs into at least the shorter term. Why? Because governments globally have a couple of clubs they belong to (with names like G8 and G20 and EU) and at the clubhouse, the fix is in to print more money. Simple as that.
The report this morning that the “OECD pushed for $1.3 trillion eurozone crisis fund” should be taken as prima facie evidence that everyone but the middle class investor is in on the Big Secret we’ve been writing about for a long time: Namely that unlike the first Depression, which didn’t get rolling with big Social Programs until 1933, or thereabouts, the US has been rolling into social programs since Johnson kicked things off in 1964, and the spending has ramped up a lot in recent years because people have been kicked out of their homes, gone 99 and in some cases weeks longer on unemployment, and as we pointed out to Peoplenomics.com readers last weekend, AmeriCorps.gov sure shares a lot of program similarities with the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration programs of the first Great Depression.
If you’re a little short of recall (and at this hour, who can blame you?) FDR in the first Depression was often labeled a socialist. Why are we surprised to see the same thing going on now? I expect that AmeriCorps will get more money from Congress because – as in the CCC and WPA prototypes – it was – and AmeriCorps is – a way to get “three hots and a cot” and – for those with student loan debt, a way to work off student load debt, or get credits for school for the young who have not yet put their head in that [financial] noose.
World War vs. Regional War
The world is run through fear which provides for the harvesting of loosh or gold, depending on what level you want to look at things on. The net has been abuzz over the past couple of weeks, based on some internet reports out of China that there has been a coup d’ etat in China’s upper ranks…and with this has come a whole new round of speculation about “coming war with China” and other wild speculations.
Nope, not for five to 10 more years. The fact is the biggest market for Chinese-made goods is where? Right here. And the outlook going forward? On background one of our sources tells us:
“No coup – but internal rumblings, yes. Autumn will see full change over of top figures – much wrangling to see who will get their new “team” into the top slots. Expect lots of kerfluflle via Chinese social media over the course of the year about such things. But be advised – the Party is still FIRMLY in control”
And no one knows yet, who will come out on top, including the players.
Still, that subregional conflict in Syria percolates faster than the coffee and while things seem to be pausing in Syria, looks to have spilled over into Lebanon now.
Rush to Accuse
Despite the Big Picture being pretty well set, we will still see highly emotional stories (the Florida case, for example). Big Picture we have this: A number of civil rights leaders jumped all over this at the get-go, and now (as facts are being pieced together) out come “New claims cast Trayvon Martin as the aggressor.”
We simply don’t know yet…and that’s what due process is about.
Yet the keen observer, reading headlines like “New Black Panther Party offers $10K Bounty for George Zimmerman”. A tragic death turned into polarity marketing?
A review of a similarly charged case (which started with hot racial rhetoric and ended with charges being dropped) (See the Duke lacrosse case, 2006) may be instructive. The term used by NC state AG Roy Cooper in 2006, or so, called it a “rush to accuse.” So we’ll await factual developments and put our faith in the system to sort things out….
Global Gas Gripes
I was telling you the other day about how our Indonesia Bureau has been following gas prices hikes there (we are not alone on this stuff) and this morning we have the follow-up:
Well, the day started with a banner headline in Kompas announcing the Big Demonstration. Indonesians call it “unjuk rasa”, or ‘show feelings’.
President Yudhoyono left town to go visit Korea and Hong Kong, and the vast majority of folks stayed home. The office is virtually deserted today and traffic was surprisingly light. There was an armed soldier at the entrance to the building this morning, since the Big X oil company has a major office three floors below me.
There were in fact several large demonstrations near the main offices of Pertamina and other government agencies, as well as the US embassy. Another sprung up on the west side of town at the location of a major gasoline depot which, coincidentally, caught fire late last week. All the gas stations I passed on the way to work were closed with police standing by. A number of major roads were blocked by people in the downtown area.
As of 3pm, most of the demonstrations have broken up due to rain, as I mentioned yesterday. I have not heard any reports of problems, though my wife is having fits about me getting home early, just in case. On the whole, it seems to have been much calmer than many expected, given the number of folks ‘sicked out’ today. Other cities are reporting mostly peaceful proceedings.
The Jakarta Post summary is here. The paper may be pushng the hyperbole just a bit.
More events are planned all week leading up to the April 1 price hike. I’ll report as events warrant.
Salam dan hormat,
Bernard D. Grover
Managing Editor – Indonesia Bureau
UrbanSurvival News Services
Plagiarism Alive and Well
With our annual meeting of columnists coming up in five weeks, I’ve started following some of the discussions related to the profession of writing. A most interesting item on the Poynter Institute site by Andrew Beaujon which has me thinking under the heading “Humor writer says he’d uncovered another serial plagiarist.”
Not sure what to do about plagiarism, except catch it as best we can, and there have been a fair number of infractions over the years. Look for a “Fair Use” disclosure to be posted for this site in coming days.
Might make things easier for the lawyers, since there are a large number of sites which do nothing more than rip off content of others, without so much as commentary or the added-value of discussion, and build traffic just so they can monetize other people’s content.
There are some who say such is just the nature of the net. I respectfully disagree: Ripping off content without links – basically anything beyond what Google or another search engine might list – is usually a rip.
The defense of “fair use” is best illustrated by comparing it with bank robbery. Short headlines (with links) (or use of press releases) is like asking “Where’s the bank?” Ripping off content wholesale is like a genuine stick-up. In case you’re wondering, yes, sometimes, I use an oddly misspelled word as an ink bomb to be able to easily trace the goods…
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