Nashville’s Star Rises as Midsize Cities Break Into Winners and Losers – The New York Times

Forty years ago, Nashville and Birmingham, Ala., were peers. Two hundred miles apart, the cities anchored metropolitan areas of just under one million people each and had a similar number of jobs paying similar wages. Not anymore. The population of the Nashville area has roughly doubled, and young people have flocked there, drawn by high-paying jobs as much as its hip “Music City” reputation. Last month, the city won an important consolation prize in the competition for Amazon’s second headquarters: an operations center that will eventually employ 5,000 people at salaries averaging $150,000 a year.

Birmingham, by comparison, has steadily lost population, and while its suburbs have expanded, their growth has lagged the Nashville area’s. Once-narrow gaps in education and income have widened, and important employers like SouthTrust and Saks have moved their headquarters. Birmingham tried to lure Amazon, too, but all it is getting from the online retail giant is a warehouse and a distribution center where many jobs will pay about $15 an hour.

Amazon’s announcement has been widely described as a rich-get-richer victory of coastal “superstar cities” like New York and Washington, regions where the company plans to employ a total of at least 50,000 workers. But the company’s decisions also reflect another trend: growing inequality among midsize cities.

Nashville and the other Amazon also-rans, like Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, are thriving because of a combination of luck, astute political choices and well-timed investments. At the same time, Birmingham and cities like it, including Providence, R.I., and Rochester, are falling further behind.

Source: Nashville’s Star Rises as Midsize Cities Break Into Winners and Losers – The New York Times

The Biggest Emerging Market Debt Problem Is in America by Carmen M. Reinhart – Project Syndicate

Likewise, for those procuring corporate borrowers and bundling corporate CLOs, volume is its own reward, even if this means lowering standards for borrowers’ creditworthiness. The share of “Weakest Links” – corporates rated B- or lower (with a negative outlook) – in overall activity has risen markedly since 2013-2015. Furthermore, not only are the newer issues coming from a lower-quality borrower, the covenants on these instruments – provisions designed to ensure compliance with their terms and thus minimize default risk – have also become lax. Covenant-lite issues are on the rise and now account for about 80% of the outstanding volume………

Like the synchronous boom in residential housing prior to 2007 across several advanced markets, CLOs have also gained in popularity in Europe. Higher investor appetite for European CLOs has predictably led to a surge in issuance (up almost 40% in 2018). Japanese banks, desperately seeking higher yields, have swelled the ranks of buyers. The networks for financial contagion, should things turn ugly, are already in place.

 

Source: The Biggest Emerging Market Debt Problem Is in America by Carmen M. Reinhart – Project Syndicate

Is the global economy just a giant debt scam? What the financial elite doesn’t want you to know | Salon.com

Let’s restate that, because it gets more shocking the more you think about it. The bailout money came from the European Central Bank and the IMF, largely meaning the taxpayers of France, Germany and other prosperous nations of Western Europe. Exactly none of it went to restore social services or repair roads in Greece. All of it was used to make payments on the Greek government’s existing debt — most of which was to banks in Western Europe. So Angela Merkel and François Hollande (then the French president) and other political leaders extorted money from their own taxpayers, on the pretense that they were helping out a small, struggling nation on Europe’s southern fringe, and siphoned it directly to the biggest European banks, largely in their own countries. It was a direct wealth transfer from ordinary people to the financial elite.

Source: Is the global economy just a giant debt scam? What the financial elite doesn’t want you to know | Salon.com

Opinion | A New Map for America – The New York Times

From 2016 but even more salient today. Compare to Trump’s Infrastructure Plan once released and see where the plan misses the key points.

Congress was once a world leader in regional planning. The Louisiana Purchase, the Pacific Railroad Act (which financed railway expansion from Iowa to San Francisco with government bonds) and the Interstate System of highways are all examples of the federal government’s thinking about economic development at continental scale. The Tennessee Valley Authority was an agent of post-Depression infrastructure renewal, job creation and industrial modernization cutting across six states….

What would this approach look like in America? It would start by focusing not on state lines but on existing lines of infrastructure, supply chains and telecommunications, routes that stay remarkably true to the borders of the emergent super-regions, and are most robust within the new urban archipelagos…

Where possible, such planning should even jump over international borders. While Detroit’s population has fallen below a million, the Detroit-Windsor region is the largest United States-Canada cross-border area, with nearly six million people (and one of the largest border populations in the world). Both sides are deeply interdependent because of their automobile and steel industries and would benefit from scaling together rather than bickering over who pays for a new bridge between them. Detroit’s destiny seems almost obvious if we are brave enough to build it: a midpoint of the Chicago-Toronto corridor in an emerging North American Union.

To make these things happen requires thinking beyond states. Washington currently provides minimal support for regional economic efforts and strategies; it needs to go much further, even at the risk of upsetting established federal-state political balances. A national infrastructure bank, if it ever gets off the ground, should have as part of its charter an obligation to ignore state lines when weighing

Source: Opinion | A New Map for America – The New York Times

Why cities should stop fighting big banks and create their own – Salon.com

Frack-happy, Trump-supporting North Dakota probably isn’t the first place you would expect to find a working model, but since 1919, the state has used the Bank of North Dakota to finance everything from student loans to sewer upgrades and small business loans. The bank just posted its thirteenth consecutive year of record profits, earning more than $136 million in 2016. And unlike at a big private bank, that money goes right back into investing in the people, rather than into investors’ pockets.

Source: Why cities should stop fighting big banks and create their own – Salon.com

Bank of America confirms Dublin as location for EU hub

Even if the UK reverses and doesn’t Brexit, the genie is out of the bottle. While London may survive as Europe’s premier financial center in a no-Brexit scenario, it will be by a smaller margin and with more competition.
Frankfurt and Dublin will be more important as financial centers with or without Brexit. Paris will gain – especially as high-speed transportation links advance. Just as Wall Street now stretches coast-to-coast, the European financial industry will spread across Europe. And don’t forget, non-financial institutions are also important and also relocating. For a country with strict gun control, the Tories-led UK has amazingly managed to shoot itself in one foot with no-Brexit and both feet with Brexit.

Wall Street giant Bank of America Merrill Lynch has picked Dublin as the preferred location of its EU hub, joining a growing number of international financial groups to outline initial plans for how they plan to deal with the fallout from Brexit.

Speaking to The Irish Times in Dublin on Friday, group chief executive Brian Moynihan said this will result in the bank’s existing Irish subsidiary merging with its current most important EU banking unit, based in London.

It will also involve the group setting up an EU trading operation, or broker-dealer, in the Republic, which will require separate Central Bank approval, he said.

 

Source: Bank of America confirms Dublin as location for EU hub

Putting America’s ridiculously large $18T economy into perspective by comparing US state GDPs to entire countries – AEI | Carpe Diem Blog » AEIdeas

 

It’s pretty amazing how ridiculously large the US economy is, and the map above helps put America’s GDP of $18 trillion in 2015 into perspective by comparing the GDP of US states to other country’s entire national GDP. For example: 1. America’s largest state economy is California, which produced $2.46 trillion of economic output in 2015, just slightly above the GDP of France during the same period of $2.42 trillion. Consider this: California has a workforce of about 19 million compared to an employment ….

Source: Putting America’s ridiculously large $18T economy into perspective by comparing US state GDPs to entire countries – AEI | Carpe Diem Blog » AEIdeas

Three Reasons Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Don’t Work

History shows that bad economic ideas almost never die, especially when they serve the wealthy and powerful. There’s no better example of this truth than trickle-down tax cuts. As we write this, the Trump administration is teeing up a tax plan that slashes taxes for the wealthy and the corporate sector, does little for everyone else (repealing the Affordable Care Act actually raises taxes on some with low and moderate incomes), and stiffs the U.S. Treasury to the tune of $6.2 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center’s estimates.

Source: Three Reasons Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Don’t Work

The shifting global landscape – The Boston Globe

If my view is broadly correct, the great foreign policy challenge of our age will be to manage cooperation among many competing and technologically advanced regions, and most urgently to face up to our common environmental and health crises. We should move past the age of empires, decolonization, and Cold Wars. The world is arriving at the “equality of courage and force” long ago foreseen by Adam Smith. We should gladly enter the Age of Sustainable Development, in which the preeminent aim of all countries, and especially the great powers, is to work together to protect the environment, end the remnants of extreme poverty, and guard against a senseless descent into violence based on antiquated ideas of the dominance of one place or people over another.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is University Professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, and author of “The Age of Sustainable Development.”

Source: The shifting global landscape – The Boston Globe

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan is one big scam – Salon.com

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump's infrastructure plan is one big scam

Trump’s plan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure is really a scheme to enrich wealthy people…..

There is also the fact that private investors will have no interest in building infrastructure that can’t be turned into a profit center. Privatizing these public projects is a gratuitous hand out to select investors, who would be aquiring public assets for “just 18 cents on the dollar, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Source: Paul Krugman: Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan is one big scam – Salon.com

Who’s Moving Into and Out of Washington, D.C. – Next City

Construction workers, cashiers and janitors are moving out of Washington, D.C., while doctors, economists and software developers are moving in. As the cost of housing increases in the city, it’s part of a larger trend, says the District of Columbia’s Office of Revenue Analysis (ORA), which has low-wage workers fleeing for the suburbs, and higher-wage workers flocking to urban cores.

Source: Who’s Moving Into and Out of Washington, D.C. – Next City

Fear Spreads of a Housing Crash in Canada | Alternative Economics

The reading marks a change from almost unbridled consumer optimism in a housing market that has carried the Canadian economy since the 2008 global financial crisis, even as policy makers warn price gains in some cities are unsustainable.

Source: Fear Spreads of a Housing Crash in Canada | Alternative Economics

The Global Real Estate Bubble Is OFFICIALLY Bursting | Seeking Alpha

Bubbly cities like Singapore and Vancouver have started punishing foreign housing investors that have pushed up property prices to unaffordable – and unsustainable – rates. Foreign investors are now being taxed in many of these areas, and as a result, their real estate markets have begun to tank.During this housing burst, the most high-end, desirable locations will be hit the hardest.

Source: The Global Real Estate Bubble Is OFFICIALY Bursting | Seeking Alpha (sic)

Big Wall Street Firms Make Lame Excuse for Volcker Rule Non-Compliance, Ask for Additional Five Year Extension | naked capitalism

Anyone who knows bupkis about finance knows if you can’t sell a financial asset in three years (or more accurately, seven), particularly with public and private market valuations at record levels, the problem is not liquidity. It’s valuation. These banks are carrying these holdings on their books at inflated marks and don’t want to recognize losses……..

“It’s laughable that the biggest, most sophisticated financial firms in the world claim they can’t sell the stakes year after year,” said Dennis Kelleher, CEO of non-profit Better Markets. “Everyone else in America has to comply with the law and Wall Street should also.”

Source: Big Wall Street Firms Make Lame Excuse for Volcker Rule Non-Compliance, Ask for Additional Five Year Extension | naked capitalism

The “New Housing Crisis” – Not Enough Rental Homes? | Zero Hedge

The point here is that while the housing market has recovered – the media should be asking ‘Is that all the recovery there is?’

With 30-year mortgage rates below 4%, we should be in the middle of the next housing bubble with prices and home ownership rising. The question the media should be asking is “why?” Furthermore, what happens if the “bond market bears” get their wish and rates rise?

The housing recovery is ultimately a story of the “real” unemployment situation that still shows that roughly a quarter of the home buying cohort are unemployed and living at home with their parents. The remaining members of the home buying, household formation, contingent are employed but at lower ends of the pay scale and are choosing to rent due to budgetary considerations. This explains why household formation is near its lowest levels on record despite the “housing recovery” fairytale whispered softly in the media.

Housing-NetHouseholdFormation-072516

While the “official” unemployment rate suggests that the U.S. is near full employment, the roughly 94 million individuals sitting outside the labor force would likely disagree. Furthermore, considering that those individuals make up 45% of the 16-54 aged members of the workforce, it is no wonder that they are being pushed to rent due to budgetary considerations and an inability to qualify for a mortgage.

The risk to the housing recovery story remains in the Fed’s ability to continue to keep interest rates suppressed. It is important to remember that individuals “buy payments” rather than houses, so each tick higher in mortgage rates reduces someone’s ability to meet the monthly mortgage payment. With wages remaining suppressed, and a large number of individuals not working or on Federal subsidies, the pool of potential buyers remains contained.

The real crisis is NOT a lack of homes for people to buy, just a lack of enough homes for people to rent. Which says more about the “real economy” than just about anything else.

While there are many hopes pinned on the housing recovery as a “driver” of economic growth in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 – the lack of recovery in the home ownership data suggests otherwise.

Source: The “New Housing Crisis” – Not Enough Rental Homes? | Zero Hedge

Meet the Middle Precariat | naked capitalism

The word Precariat was popularized five or so years ago to describe a rapidly expanding working class with unstable, low-paid jobs. What I call the Middle Precariat, in contrast, are supposed to be properly, comfortably middle class, but it’s not quite working out this way.

There are people like the Floridian couple who both have law degrees—and should be in the prime of their working lives—but can’t afford a car or an apartment and have moved back in with the woman’s elderly mother. There are schoolteachers around the country that work second jobs after their teaching duties are done: one woman in North Dakota I spoke to was heading off to clean houses after the final bell in order to pay her rent.

Many of the Middle Precariat work jobs that used to be solidly middle class. Yet some earn roughly what they did a decade ago. At the same time, middle-class life is now 30 percent more expensive than it was 20 years ago. The Middle Precariat’s jobs are also increasingly contingent—meaning they are composed of short-term contract or shift work, as well as unpaid overtime. Buffeted by Silicon Valley-like calls to maximize disruption, the Middle Precariat may have positions “reimagined.” That cruel euphemism means they are to be replaced by younger, cheaper workers, or even machines.

Source: Meet the Middle Precariat | naked capitalism

Deutsche Bank Chief Economist Joins SocGen Chairman in Trying to Foment Banking Crisis to Get Germany, Brussels to Blink | naked capitalism

Another race to the crash: who goes first Deutsche Bank or Italian Banks? Can bankers get politicians to pull the emergency cord? Who gets screwed? Stay tune for Crash 2.0.

Why bank executives are stoking a banking crisis, with Deutsche Bank in their crosshairs.

Source: Deutsche Bank Chief Economist Joins SocGen Chairman in Trying to Foment Banking Crisis to Get Germany, Brussels to Blink | naked capitalism