Monday, August 17, 2015

Why are your wages down and your housing costs up?

Donald Trump has been garnering a lot of contention with his rhetoric on immigration.  He promises to enforce immigration laws and revoke "anchor baby" citizenship.  Whether you agree with the boisterous Trump or not, he is the only candidate vociferously addressing the economic consequences of unlawful and unregulated immigration.  Since 2007 the US has added 2.3 million "foreign-born" workers, offset by just 727K "native-born".  As a longtime resident of the San Gabriel Valley suburbs of Los Angeles I have observed the slow motion 30 year invasion by ethnic Chinese.  What began in the 1980s with wealthy Taiwanese immigrants to Monterey Park has morphed into cash buying buy Chinese Nuveau Rich whose children are receiving automatic citizenship via birth tourism.  The most recent wave of Chinese all cash property purchases have been a huge part of the low volume price skyrocket that has been Housing Bubble 2.0.

Why should I, or any other American citizen be forced to compete with this foreign capital?  Capital that was derived from the purposeful destruction of American manufacturing jobs?  Why should American workers be forced to compete with an extreme and unregulated influx of foreign labor? 

For decades Federal and local governments along with the various chambers of commerce have worked for towards the dual goals of higher asset prices and lower wages.  This was and is wholly unsustainable.  The tech bubble crash should have been the beginning of a moderate/harsh correction in which wages, asset prices and consumer credit reached an equilibrium.  Instead Alan Greenspan created the Housing Bubble.  An army of Mexican and South American workers were imported to help build inventory.  Credit was expanded to hide the loss of American wages.  Everything was excellent.  Until it wasn't...  Ben Bernanke doubled down on Greenspan's folly.  Yet all the consumer demand that could be pulled forward had already been.  There could be no wage inflation in the face of foreign pressures, both from exported manufacturing and imported labor.  All that was left was a world awash in liquidity that could push asset prices beyond any sane valuation.

Should you happen to live in one of the areas where real estate has been bid up by foreign buyers, remember it's your governments policies that have allowed this.  I'm not aware of any province in China where I could settle and comfortably live out the rest of my days without learning Mandarin and assimilating to the culture.  Yet American home buyers are being forced to compete with Chinese who can own property and businesses here while still remaining first and foremost Chinese.  This demographic change has forced many local businesses that thrived when the communities were of an American culture to close.  The remaining non Chinese residents are forced to move or drive further to buys the same goods and services.  The total lack of assimilation fosters ethnic divides and is the opposite of the grand melting pot America is portrayed as.  I've had conversations with longtime Chinese residents who fled the communist dystopia decades ago who are equally disturbed with this new influx of wealthy "Party Members".

The trade and immigration policies of the last 30 years have lowered the standard of living for the vast majority of Americans.  This is government of, for and by the oligarchy.  To them borders have no meaning nor should they.  However adverse the affect on American citizens is of no concern to them.  As Donald Trump said so succinctly yesterday "We either have a country, or we don't have a country".  There can be no real recovery nor can housing be affordable to working people if our horrible trade and immigration policies are not reversed.  We have been in The Matrix for so long that what once would have been considered common sense is now portrayed by the media as radical.  Whatever you think of "The Donald" he is the only candidate addressing why you are making less money while paying ever more for goods and services.

Friday, August 14, 2015

What Does Your Dream Home Look Like?

How big is your American Dream?  Mine is pretty modest.  I'm a SoCal lifer who lived pillar to post for a few of my teenage years.  I've got a significant other and a couple of family members to share a space with.  A 4/3 with 2500 sqft like the one above is right in my wheel house.  I've always liked the scenic views of Mt Baldy offered by Upland and Rancho Cucamonga.  The home above is listed for $655,000. Meets all my needs, yet I wouldn't dream of buying at that price.  Zillow had this home at $462,000 during the 2011 trough. And Zillow tends to skew on the high side.  What in the hell happened in the last for years to legitimately ad $200k to the value of this house?  Sure you can point to dollar devaluation, but with no inflation in WAGES there is nothing to justify this increase.  Rents and higher RE prices have a destructive symbiotic relationship that along with food and energy inflation is destroying consumer purchasing power.

The bubble can expand no further.  The FED will try to front run the mayhem with rate increases.  Some will foolishly blame the coming hikes for the correction when in fact not being caught at the zero bound when the SHTF is the only way the FED can maintain the illusion of control.

How far away has the FED's easy money policies taken you from affording your dream home?  A return to 2011/2012 prices is a minimum for me.  Share some Redfin links in the comments.  We can all share our dreams of a better RE future...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rents are Soaring But So are Vacancies???

Chart provided by

Another great article from the blog  This time the topic is rents vis-a-vis home prices and the circular argument for increases in each.  Yet again we can point to the FED as the source of market manipulation.  Multi-family unit construction is on the rise.  All that fiat seeking returns is fueling an apartment building boom that isn't justified by vacancies.  Just as hot money cash buyers drove speculation in SFH's, it seems larger institutional investors are driving multi-family construction based on suspect math.  Increasing rental costs are forcing more and more people to take on roommates and quadruple up in 2 bedroom apartments.  Working people are maxed out.  If this new apartment inventory is reliant on those benefiting from the current mega-bubble then add multifamily housing construction loans to the list of problems that will be faced when the unwinding begins.  Who would have known apartment builders would be the new sub-prime?