Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Real Estate

Obamacare May Close Another Large Company

Westgate Resort

Westgate Resort (Photo credit: Alexis Fam Photography)

After 42 years of building an immense real estate and time share company, with 7,000 employees and revenues of $1 billion, its owner is close to giving it all up and, in his words, “calling it a day.” David Siegel, the owner of Westgate Resorts, started his company out of his garage in the early 1970s and, working full time including weekends and holidays, slowly built the company into a powerhouse which, in 2007, just before the real estate crash, employed more than 12,000 people and served more than 3 million customers a year.

So well off was the company that it embarked on projects in Las Vegas and the construction of a private home for himself that was so large that it was featured in the film The Queen of Versailles that opened in theaters in July.

But the start of the Great Recession left Siegel and his company with nearly $1 billion in debt which forced him to give back the Las Vegas project to lenders and stop work altogether on his massive 90,000-square-foot home.

Business is better now, but Siegel is nervous about the election and what it means to his company if President Obama is reelected. So he decided to send an email to his employees warning them of what he might do if Obama does win in November. In a conversation with Robert Frank of CNBC Siegel said if Obama is reelected and ObamaCare remains in place, he might just let his 7,000 employees go and shut down the company: “The combination of ObamaCare and taxes [the coming “fiscal cliff”] would be a disaster. I would probably just call it a day and that would be a disaster.”

Before doing so, however, he decided to give his employees his thinking along with a lesson in entrepreneurial economics from the point of view of

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Obama Moving to Hawaii if He Loses

English: President Barack Obama signs H.R. 847...

President Barack Obama in Kailua, Hawaii, January 2, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to World News Daily Obama has real estate agents working on a $35 million property in the “high rent” district in Kailua, the Beverly Hills section of Hawaii. And author Corsi thinks it’s because Obama expects to lose in November:

Very quietly, Obama’s chief financier, Penny Pritzker, has entered the Hawaii housing market to buy a retirement home for the president and his family that will be available not in 2016, but in January 2013, according to a confidential source within Pritzker’s Chicago organization.

Pritzker is a rich liberal, heiress to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, and she’s having trouble with

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A Former Fed Official Goes Rogue

CATO – The Fed’s New Round of Quantitative Easing

By introducing another program to buy MBSs [mortgage-backed securities], to the tune of $40 billion per month, the FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee, headed by Fed Chairman Bernanke] is supporting the long-standing federal policy of special aid to housing, real estate and mortgage interests.

These federal policies were the largest single contributor to the financial crisis. Why would the Federal Reserve want to encourage continuation of these federal policies?

Modern-day meeting of the Federal Open Market ...

Modern-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee at the Eccles Building, Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My, my, the landscape does look a little different from the outside, doesn’t it, Mr. Poole?

He is about my age. He attended Swarthmore (I attended Cornell) and received a BA degree in 1959 (I got mine in 1963). He got his MBA from the University of Chicago in 1963 (I got mine in 1964, also from Cornell), and then went on to get his PhD in economics at the University of Chicago. (I didn’t. I went to work in the private sector.)

He started his career in government by working for the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors from 1964 to 1974. Then he joined the faculty at Brown University, chairing the economics department there.

Fast forward: in 1998 he served as CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and left in 2008, and now is a Senior Fellow at Cato(!).

Somewhere along the way he got religion. I have great respect for Cato and they wouldn’t hire a fool. Nor would they bring in a Keynesian to undermine their efforts to expose that fraud unless he was an escapee from the reservation.

But listen to what Poole said:

The Federal Reserve says that it is apolitical but this decision is directly supportive of continuation of the current status of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This action is not monetary policy but fiscal policy, extending credit to a favored industry. This policy is crony capitalism, whether practiced by the federal government or by the Federal Reserve.

This is perfect: “crony capitalism” – “extending credit to a favored industry” – “not monetary policy but fiscal policy.” Amazing!

My questions for Mr. Poole: how long did it take you to overcome your Keynesian mindset and enter the real world? Are you a “recovering Keynesian?” Are you just an opportunist? When and how did you see the light? Is there hope for others still on the reservation?

I’d sure like to know.

The Unintended Consequences of Low Interest Rates

Interest rate vs money balance

Interest rate vs money balance (Photo credit: RambergMediaImages)

Complaints from savers about low rates of return on their money have reached the business page of the New York Times. According to the Times, when Bill Taren, a retiree living near Orlando, Florida, learned that his credit union would pay just 0.4 percent interest on his savings, he decided to take the money out of the bank and put it into his mattress because, he said, “at least there we can see the cash.”

It was worse for Julie Moscove of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Over the last four years, she has watched her interest income drop from $2,000 a month to $400 a month. She said, “It’s ridiculous. I cut coupons now.”

And Dorothy Brooks has been forced to go back to work in order to supplement what’s left of her retirement income, after being retired for the last 10 years:

I got hit a couple of years ago pretty badly in the stock market, so now my savings are weighted mostly toward bonds. Now both investments are terrible. And I can’t put my money in a money-market account because that’s crazy. That just pays nothing.

Keynesian economic policies allegedly designed (and sold to the American people) to stimulate the economy are actually having the perverse effect of

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Clinton: No president could have fixed this?

Mark Murray – Clinton: No one could have restored economy to full health in 4 years

What I [Clinton] can do….is explain why I think his approach is right and it’ll pay off if we renew his contract. [What I can do is] explain why the economy he faced was much weaker and different than the one I faced, so that there’s no way any president, no president could have restored it to full health in just four years.

Bill Clinton Returns to Yale

Bill Clinton Returns to Yale (Photo credit: altopower)

This is jaw-droppingly ignorant of history, both recent and past. Some commentators have referred to Reagan’s “recovery” as one example of a rapid recovery from a recession. But that example is highly flawed. And it assumes that Reagan had anything to do with any such recovery at all. It is an argument that is flawed as well.

The economy when Jimmy Carter took over in 1976 was stagnant. Remember “stagflation” and Carter’s use of the word “malaise?” It was because of regulations, poor foreign policy decisions, and lack of certainty about the future that was holding the economy back. Inflation was eating away at people’s purchasing power, and Carter was quickly discerned to be weak and ineffective.

By 1979 inflation was running at 13 percent per year. At that rate, prices would double every four years (this is the rule of 72: divide the inflation rate into 72 and you get a doubling of the price level every 4 years.)  That was frightening.

I was operating an office in Aspen, Colorado, at the time as an investment advisor. For a brief time I had my office inside a realtor’s office and was privy to what was happening in the Aspen real estate market at the time. Some of the realtors had put together price projections of where real estate prices would be if an investor would just buy now. It didn’t matter that prices were so high – so very high – that they had little basis in reality. Don’t look back, they said. Look forward! And out would come the charts: if you bought now, you’d be rich in 10 years!

It was the classic sign of a bubble.

And then along came Paul Volcker who decided – against the wishes of many – to raise interest rates to rinse out such inflationary expectations from the economy. He knew that such increases in the price level could destroy the economy and set the country (and the banks, especially the banks) back at least one generation.

He forced interest rates to over 20 percent, and quashed those expectations. But in so doing he set the stage for an economic recovery that just happened to take place when, guess who – Reagan – happened to be in the White House.

So let’s not hear any more nonsense about how a president can’t “fix” the economy in four short years. The president can do little about the matter at all.

How Harry Reid Milks the System

Betsy Woodruff: How Did Harry Reid Get Rich?

Try this thought experiment. Imagine that someone grows up in poverty, works his way through law school by holding the night shift as a Capitol Hill policeman, and spends all but two years of his career as a public servant. Now imagine that this person’s current salary—and he’s at the top of his game—is $193,400. You probably wouldn’t expect him to have millions in stocks, bonds, and real estate.

Harry Reid - Caricature

Harry Reid – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

If he’s a politician, of course you would. I remember someone saying that Lyndon Johnson went to Washington “intending to do good, and wound up doing very well indeed.” Harry Reid must have watched and learned from LBJ.

Here’s how it’s done:

In 2004, the senator made $700,000 off a land deal that was, to say the least, unorthodox. It started in 1998 when he bought a parcel of land with attorney Jay Brown, a close friend whose name has surfaced multiple times in organized-crime investigations and whom one retired FBI agent described as “always a person of interest.”

Three years after the purchase, Reid transferred his portion of the property to Patrick Lane LLC, a holding company Brown controlled. But Reid kept putting the property on his financial disclosures, and when the company sold it in 2004, he profited from the deal—a deal on land that he didn’t technically own and that had nearly tripled in value in six years.

Shinny up close to a shady character, and go along for the ride. Not close enough to be indicted, you understand, but close enough to triple your money without getting dirty. What a game!

From the article:

Here’s another example: The Los Angeles Times reported in November 2006 that when Reid became Senate majority leader he committed to making earmark reform a priority, saying he’d work to keep congressmen from using federal dollars for pet projects in their districts. It was a good idea but an odd one for the senator to espouse.

He had managed to get $18 million set aside to build a bridge across the Colorado River between Laughlin, NV, and Bullhead City, AZ, a project that wasn’t a priority for either state’s transportation agency.

His ownership of 160 acres of land nearby that stood to appreciate considerably from the project had nothing to do with the decision, according to one of his aides. The property’s value has varied since then. On his financial-disclosure forms from 2006, it was valued at $250,000 to $500,000. Open Secrets now lists it as his most valuable asset, worth $1 million to $5 million as of 2010.

It’s all about being in the right place at the right. It’s also nice if you can arrange things so that you’re in the right place at the right time.

Good job, Harry!

Economy Tipping Over Into Recession, Again

English: Yellow hard hat. Studio photography.

When shipping and supply managers were quizzed about their current outlooks by two separate reporting agencies, their answers were the same: Orders are slowing and so is production of manufactured goods. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), released in late June, and the Report on Business of the Institute of Supply Management (ISM), which was released on Monday, each showed significant slowing. The PMI’s manufacturing index came in at its lowest level since last July, while new orders for durable goods (autos and appliances) fell sharply in June, continuing a trend downward since early spring. It also showed a decline in the backlog of orders, the first since last September.

According to the ISM, its index fell below 50 for the first time since July 2009, indicating continuing contraction in the manufacturing sector of the economy and echoing the PMI’s report. What was startling in the ISM’s report was the decline in new orders: down by an astonishing 12.3 percentage points in the month of June. ISM’s production index also declined severely, by 4.6 percent, and was down by 10 percent since the end of March.

Retailers’ inventories are climbing as well, indicating lack of demand by consumers. More troubling was

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American Families Lose 40% of Net Worth to Housing Bubble

The Harvey family

The release last week of the Federal Reserve’s much-anticipated three-year study of America’s finances, its Survey of Consumer Finances, confirmed what many families already know: Between 2007 and 2010 the average family’s net worth declined by nearly 40 percent, mostly because of the decline in housing prices. The Fed study also confirmed that their incomes also fell significantly in real terms, by nearly eight percent.

It was during this period that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropped by more than five percent between the third quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2009 while unemployment jumped from 5 percent to 9.5 percent. But the seeds of the decline in net worth had been sown decades earlier as politicians, aided by the media, successfully persuaded Americans that home ownership was to be desired greatly.

By reducing interest rates, giving tax breaks on the deductibility of interest paid on home mortgages, and encouraging (some would say forcing) banks to reduce lending standards, the stage was set for

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Eric Fehrnstrom is Behind Romney Campaign’s Tactics

Romney

Eric Fehrnstrom joined Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2002 when he was running for governor of Massachusetts. Today he is not only the most experienced member of Romney’s current staff, he is also the one closest to the candidate.

Fehrnstrom is usually referred to as a “Romney spokesman” or “strategist” while Romney himself refers to him as his “communications director,” but those close to the campaign call him Romney’s “consigliere”—an intimate counselor or advisor—whose job is not only to give advice and counsel to his patron, but to shield him from attacks and present him as something different than what he is: a mild-mannered patient man with little experience or interest in street fighting. That’s where Fehrnstrom comes in.

Before getting the call from Romney in 2002 Fehrnstrom was a reporter working the police beat for the yellow journal paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, the Boston Herald. When he showed some talent for going for the jugular in local politics, he moved into political reporting where, as his mentor at the paper Howie Car put it: “The Herald was like the schoolyard bully. We were all about finding people and kicking them when they were down. And then we’d laugh about it.”

Ben Coes, Romney’s campaign manager in 2002 said: 

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Boom and Bust in Stockton, California

A view of Stockton's city center and waterfront.

When Ann Johnston, Mayor of Stockton, California, informed the city council in March that Stockton was about to go bankrupt, making it the largest municipal bankruptcy in history, it took her six hours to explain why. The primary reason was overborrowing, overspending, and thinking that the good times would go on forever. They didn’t.

Between 1998 and 2005 prices of real estate in Stockton, about 75 miles from Sacramento, tripled. For a time Stockton was attractive as a lower-cost bedroom community alternative to Sacramento as home buyers were priced out of that market. Revenues from builder fees and sales and property taxes soared, and then-Mayor Gary Podesto took advantage. First was a luxury downtown sports arena anchored by a Sheraton hotel followed by the redevelopment of the waterfront into a marina and riverwalk. Then came the inevitable expansion of government and generous pensions, including “Lamborghini” benefits for city workers: if someone worked for the city for one month he (and his spouse) became eligible for retiree healthcare benefits for life. To house its burgeoning payroll, the city purchased a high-rise municipal office building at the top of the market for $35 million.

All that has changed. The office building is now vacant, homes in the high-end Weston Ranch development that sold for $450,000 are now listed for sale at $100,000 with few buyers. Unemployment is at 16 percent, and crime has soared. Forbes ranks Stockton as one of the three worst cities to live in in the country.

Johnston told the council that they couldn’t make the interest payment on their indebtedness, that the city’s deficit is approaching

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Appeals Court Refuses to Rule on Laptop Encryption Case

English: Gavel

When Ramona Fricosu’s attorney, Phil DuBois, promised to appeal a lower court’s ruling that she be forced to open encrypted files that may have incriminating data in them and assist the prosecution’s case against her, he never expected the appeals court to deny the appeal until after she had complied with the lower court’s demands.

But on Tuesday, February 21, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver did just that. It said that the defendant in a real estate scam must provide the prosecution with the data from encrypted files on her laptop computer, possibly containing incriminating evidence against her, before they would hear the appeal. In essence, she may be proven guilty long before she has a chance to be proven innocent by invoking protections under the Fifth Amendment. Said DuBois, this establishes “a very dangerous precedent that a person may be forced to assist in her prosecution in a way the law has not seen before.”

In order for the appeal to proceed, Ramona Fricosu would be compelled to meet with federal agents who will then wait until she opens the encrypted files, copies the contents onto an unencrypted disk, and hands it over.

The judge sidestepped the real issue by claiming that she was supplying only the key to the “vault” where the information was kept rather than the encryption password that she keeps in her mind. DuBois initially claimed, to no avail, that the password in her mind was protected by

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Fed’s “Independence” Threatened by Bernanke?

English: A frame from a screencast from the US...

With the publishing of a “white paper” about the housing market, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has rankled some Republicans that suggestions made appear to have transgressed some line of propriety that separates monetary policy, fiscal policy, and the Fed’s “independence.”

The study, prepared by his staff and signed by the chairman, decried the inability of the housing market to get back on its feet despite continued efforts by both Congress and the Fed to restart it. Bernanke wrote:

The challenge for policymakers is to find ways to help reconcile the existing size and mix of the housing stock and the current environment for housing finance. Fundamentally, such measures involve adapting the existing housing stock to the prevailing tight mortgage lending conditions—for example, devising policies that could help facilitate the conversion of foreclosed properties to rental properties—or supporting a housing finance regime that is less restrictive than today’s, while steering clear of the lax standards that emerged during the last decade. Absent any policies to help bridge this gap, the adjustment process will take longer and incur more deadweight losses, pushing house prices lower and thereby prolonging the downward pressure on the wealth of current homeowners and the resultant drag on the economy at large.

This crossed the line, according to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who wrote a scathing letter to the Fed chairman: “I worry that…your…housing white paper…treads too far into fiscal policy, and runs the risk of being perceived as advocacy for

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Foreclosure Settlement Bails Out the Big Banks

English: Wells Fargo Center

The report from The New York Times on Wednesday about the foreclosure settlement reached between five big banks and 49 states’ attorneys general made it appear that justice was being served. The $26 billion to be paid out to some 2 million homeowners (former and current) “could provide relief” to them under the terms of the settlement. It would also remove a cloud of uncertainty from the banks’ liability and might help in “halting the housing market’s downward slide.”

States’ attorneys general started an investigation in the fall of 2010 into the mortgage servicing industry when it was discovered that homeowners were being evicted or penalized through improper, incorrect or false paperwork emanating from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Ally Financial (formerly GMAC) with the help of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS).

Over the 14-month investigation the scope broadened and deepened as the extent of the costs and fraudulent abuses was revealed. The settlement means that, on the surface, the money will go to help homeowners affected by the fraud. A million homeowners can expect to have their existing mortgages reduced or their interest rates reduced. Another 750,000 former homeowners will receive, over the next three years, checks estimated to be about $2,000.

The size of the settlement fades into insignificance in light of the fact that there are more than

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Housing: Prices and Ownership Still Correcting

CoreLogic

Just when CoreLogic, the California-based mortgage data provider, began to wax optimistic about the housing market, the Census Bureau and the S&P/Case-Shiller index doused their enthusiasm with some cold facts and daunting data.

CoreLogic noted in its January report that single-family permits and starts rose at a 15-percent annual rate over the six months ending November 2011. In addition, existing home sales appeared to be trending higher as well, increasing by about 12 percent from January to November. The tone in their note to clients was guardedly optimistic:

While we cannot say with a high degree of certainty what 2012 has in store for us, indications based on the latter part of 2011 are that both the broad economy and the housing market are moving toward positive growth in 2012.

And then, on January 31, the Census Bureau released its fourth-quarter report on home ownership: the rate was 66 percent, extending the decline from the 69 percent reached in 2005, just before the housing bubble burst, and rivaling the rate last seen in 1997, 14 years ago. Economist Mark Perry developed a visually stunning graph for his blog and concluded: 

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Judge Rules Americans Can Be Forced to Testify Against Themselves

MSI laptop computer

Judge Robert Blackburn of the U.S. District Court of Colorado ruled on Monday that a defendant must decrypt her laptop computer so that prosecutors can open the files containing data they need to complete building their case against her.

On May 14, 2010, the federal government executed search warrants at the home of Ramona Fricosu in Peyton, Colorado, looking for evidence in a case involving bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering as part of a real estate scam in which she and a partner were allegedly involved. During the search they removed a laptop computer which was encrypted with PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) software. When attempts by the government to open the files failed, they asked her to open the files for them. Following advice from her attorney, Phil DuBois, she turned them down, claiming protection under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

DuBois says that the final deposition of the case will have a major impact on individual privacy in the digital age: The defendant can’t be obligated to help the government interpret those files which could be used against her in court.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, say that inability to obtain data from encrypted files would “harm the public interest” by allowing potential criminals to hide evidence that would defeat their efforts to prosecute them.

In the Fricosu case, the prosecutors claim that

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World Economic Forum in Switzerland: Global Elites Celebrating Hypocrisy

Davos, Switzelrand, Klaus Schwab, Founder and ...

Global elites—many of the 2,500 of them billionaires—are spending a few days in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum (WEF), a group founded in 1971 “committed to improving the state of the world.”

The state of the world doesn’t appear too rosy. The recent downgrades of major economies, the clamor over perceived income inequality, the crisis in the Eurozone, and other concerns are weighing heavily on the participants. Vikas Oberoi, chairman of India’s second-largest real estate developer, observed, “Many who will be in Davos are the people being blamed for economic inequalities. I hope it’s not just about glamour and people having a big party.” Azim Premji, chairman of India’s third-largest software company, was equally somber: “We have seen in 2011 what ignoring this aspect can result in. If we don’t take cognizance of it and try to solve this problem, it can create a chaotic upheaval globally.”

Not just the movers and shakers were expressing concern, either. Mainstream economists were of one mind about the world economy, agreeing with the downbeat report from the International Monetary Fund on January 24 which reduced its economic growth outlook for 2012 significantly, predicting at least a “mild recession” in Europe and the rest of the world to slow further from its current tepid pace.

Carmen Reinhart of the Peterson Institute for International Economics agreed that there will be a “serious economic crunch [with] another sub-par year of stubbornly high unemployment, weak growth and delayed recovery in general in all the advanced economies.” Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, also on the roster of attendees, said that the IMF might be underestimating the projected difficulties and that the crisis will be “all the worse because of the weakness of appropriate government response.”

Manpower CEO Jeff Joerres admitted, “Twelve months ago we were all looking forward to a pretty good 2011. Twelve months later, here we are in a completely different world.” That was the tone set by the founder of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, in his opening remarks. The problem is that capitalism, according to Schwab, is failing and that

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Keynesian Economists Finally Catch Up and Agree: China to Have Hard Landing

Paul Krugman, Laureate of the Sveriges Riksban...

Mainstream economist Robert Samuelson admitted last week that the case for the ending of the economic boom in China has some substance. Keynesian economist Paul Krugman also confirmed that China is in trouble and questioned its ability to avoid a hard landing.

Samuelson raised rhetorical questions about China’s economic future, all with the same answer: “Could the world’s economic juggernaut, having grown an average of 10 percent annually for three decades, face a slowdown…or a recession?” Yes, it could. “Does it have a real estate ‘bubble’ about to ‘pop?’ ” Yes, it does. Could that have “global consequences?” Yes, it will.

Noting that Nomura Securities is predicting a one-in-three possibility of a hard landing—defined as a drop in China’s GDP to five percent or less—Samuelson said that such a sharp slowdown “would raise unemployment and social discontent” with consequences similar to the start of the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009 in the United States. Samuelson admitted that the Chinese government has created

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Not All Economic News is Bad News

English: There's a light at the end of the tun...

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul noted on Tuesday that efforts to rein in government spending appeared to be in vain, due to an agreement reached with the White House during the recent debt ceiling negotiations. Congress would have to pass a joint resolution to oppose any extension of the debt ceiling, which President Obama is free to veto. Said Paul: “A default is becoming more mathematically unavoidable with…every debt ceiling increase.”

Not only is the word “default” becoming commonplace but also the words “economic collapse.” A study conducted by Leflein Associates and published by EcoHealth Alliance showed that of the 1003 individuals interviewed for the survey, 63 percent—or more than six out of ten of them—feared an “economic collapse” more than a natural disaster, a terrorist attack or a global outbreak of disease. This study was picked up by Michael, the author of his Economic Collapse Blog, who piled on by adding a long list of reasons why concerned citizens should be afraid of such an event: 

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Latest Housing Numbers May be an Aberration

English: Foreclosure Sign, Mortgage Crisis

The spate of good news about the economy, headed up by the National Association of Realtors (NAR)’s report that pending home sales increased by 7.3 percent in November from October, has resulted in improved outlooks by many observers, along with warnings from others not to get overly confident.

Even Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, was cautious in his announcement, perhaps chastened by NAR’s admission last week that they had overstated sales for the past five years: “Housing affordability conditions are at a record high and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who’ve been on the sidelines, but contract failures have been running unusually high.” And to avoid making the same mistake twice, Yun said that some of the increase in pending home sales may be people who couldn’t qualify before who are attempting to make another purchase now.

The pending home sales index hit 100.1, the first time it has been over 100 since April of 2010 when sales were goosed by the expiration of the government’s homeowner tax credit. Actual home sales were up in November as well, hitting a seven-month high, according to the Commerce Department.

New construction activity is inching higher along with builder confidence while the inventory of homes for sale is declining. Aaron Smith, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, was cautious: “It looks like buyers are

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Osama bin Laden: A Critical Look at the AP’s Top Story of 2012

English: Osama bin Laden interviewed for Daily...

The killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in May is the top story of the year according to the Associated Press’s annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors, ABC News announced on Saturday. That story received 128 first-place votes out of 247 ballots cast for the top ten stories. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami was second while the Arab Spring uprisings were third and the financial turmoil in Europe was fourth.

In fifth place was the US economy, the Penn State sex abuse scandal was seventh, Moammar Gadhafi’s death was number seven, the fiscal showdowns in the US congress was number eight, while the Occupy Wall Street protests and the attack on Gabrielle Giffords rounded out the top ten.

The death of Osama bin Laden has generated much controversy as a result of the lack of forthrightness of the Obama administration in answering a number of questions from the very beginning. But the announcement by the AP made no note of such controversy:

He’d been the world’s most-wanted terrorist for nearly a decade, ever since a team of his al-Qaida followers carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In May, the long and often-frustrating manhunt ended with a nighttime assault by a helicopter-borne special operations squad on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden was shot dead by one of the raiders, and within hours his body was buried at sea.

Paul Craig Roberts was one of the first creditable commentators to ask the most pertinent questions

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.