Housing

U.S. News & World Report Ranks Chicago Metro Area 83rd ‘Best Place To Live’

From a U.S. News & World Report press release on February 7:

U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and consumer advice, today unveiled the 2017 Best Places to Live in the United States. The new list ranks the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas based on affordability, job prospects and quality of life…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Predictably, the Chicago metro area made the list.

Somewhat surprising is how far down it was:

Chicago, IL
#83 in Best Places to Live
6.1 Overall Score
5.9 Quality of Life
6.1 Value

Scores are out of a possible 10.

Nearby metropolitan areas that ranked higher than the “Second City” included:

#18 Madison, Wisconsin
#19 Grand Rapids, Michigan
#47 Milwaukee, Wisconsin
#55 Indianapolis, Indianapolis

According to the press release:

The 2017 Best Places to Live were determined in part by a public survey of thousands of individuals across the U.S. to find out what qualities they consider important in a home town. The methodology also factors in data from the United States Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as U.S. News rankings of the Best High Schools and Best Hospitals…

You can see the full rankings list here on the U.S. News website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 Employment, Housing Comments Off on U.S. News & World Report Ranks Chicago Metro Area 83rd ‘Best Place To Live’

Reuters: ‘Chicago/Cook County’ Risks Losing $526.4 Million Annually In Federal Funds For ‘Sanctuary City’ Stance

It’s being reported U.S. President Donald Trump is serious about blocking federal funds to “sanctuary cities” like Chicago (first blogged about here).

A recent Reuters analysis of federal data determined “Chicago/Cook County” risks losing $526.4 million in annual funds for shielding illegal aliens.

Rory Carroll, Robin Respaut, and Andy Sullivan noted Thursday on Reuters.com:

The numbers do not include federal money for law enforcement, which was excluded in the executive order, and programs like Medicaid, which are administered by state governments.

Though details remain vague, the order could jeopardize billions of dollars in housing, health, education and other types of federal aid.

Carroll, Respault, and Sullivan reported $2.27 billion in annual funds from the feds for the nation’s 10 largest “sanctuary cities” (Chicago included) are threatened.

To see the breakdown by city/county, check out the Reuters graphic here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Carroll, Rory, Respaut, Robin, and Sullivan, Andy. “Top 10 U.S. sanctuary cities face roughly $2.27 billion in cuts by Trump policy.” Reuters. 26 Jan. 2017. (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-sanctuarycities-idUSKBN1592V9?platform=hootsuite). 27 Jan. 2017.

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Friday, January 27th, 2017 Crime, Education, Government, Health, Housing, Immigration, Public Safety Comments Off on Reuters: ‘Chicago/Cook County’ Risks Losing $526.4 Million Annually In Federal Funds For ‘Sanctuary City’ Stance

More Wisconsin Welfare Reform Coming?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is pushing for additional welfare reform in the state. Reid Wilson reported Monday afternoon on The Hill website:

Twenty years after a Republican governor of Wisconsin spearheaded an ambitious welfare reform package, the current governor is trying to build momentum for a new round of reforms.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Monday said he would ask the state’s Republican-led legislature to undertake one of the most aggressive welfare reform packages since a wave of new measures passed in the mid-1990s.

Walker’s plan, “Wisconsin Works for Everyone,” would impose new work requirements on both able-bodied adults with school-age children who receive state food assistance and those who receive housing assistance. Both work plans, which would be tested on a pilot basis, would require recipients to be employed for at least 80 hours per month, or to be enrolled in job training programs. Those who do not meet work requirements would see part of their benefits cut…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Food stamp work requirements for abled-bodied adults without dependents have existed in Wisconsin since April 2015.

As for it’s neighbor to the south, critics contend the food stamp program in Illinois is ripe for abuse. A work requirement does not exist for even abled-bodied adults without dependents. According to the Illinois Department of Human Services:

“We expect people who can work to try and do so.”

Hmm.

Head on over to The Hill website here to read the entire piece.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 Employment, Government, Housing, Political Parties Comments Off on More Wisconsin Welfare Reform Coming?

Inflation Rises At Fastest Pace In 5 Years

It’s been some time since a Survival And Prosperity post focused on inflation.

I suspect I’ll be blogging about it more in the coming months.

Jeffry Bartash wrote on MarketWatch this morning:

Inflation rose in 2016 at the fastest pace in five years, as rising rents and medical care and higher gas prices put a squeeze on consumers.

The consumer price index jumped 0.3% in December, the government said Wednesday…

A string of sharp gains since late summer helped drive up inflation by 2.1% for the full year, marking the biggest increase since a 3% gain in 2011

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Bartash added:

For now it doesn’t look like inflation will wane soon. Gas prices rose again in January and many economists predict that aggressive stimulative measures by the new Trump administration could lead to even higher inflation

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Jeffrey Sparshott added over on The Wall Street Journal website late this afternoon:

The latest figures- driven in part by an uptick in energy prices- suggest a four-year stretch of historically low inflation could be ending

While details remain uncertain, the president-elect has pledge lower taxes and more infrastructure spending. That could lead to faster economic growth and accelerating inflation

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As to what this might mean for interest rates, Fed Chair Janet Yellen spoke to the Commonwealth Club of California this afternoon. Ann Saphir reported on the Retuers website:

With the U.S. economy close to full employment and inflation headed toward the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent goal, it “makes sense” for the U.S. central bank to gradually lift interest rates, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday…

The Fed chief said that she and other Fed policymakers expected the central bank to lift its key benchmark short-term rate “a few times a year” through 2019, putting it near the long-term sustainable rate of 3 percent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Bartash, Jeffry. “Inflation climbs at fastest pace in 5 years, CPI shows.” MarketWatch. 18 Jan. 2017. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/inflation-climbs-in-2016-at-fastest-pace-in-5-years-cpi-shows-2017-01-18). 18 Jan. 2017.

Sparshott, Jeffrey. “U.S. Inflation Gauge Tops 2%, Supporting Fed’s Plan to Raise Rates.” The Wall Street Journal. 18 Jan. 2017. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-consumer-prices-up-2-1-in-december-from-year-earlier-1484746534). 18 Jan. 2017.

Saphir, Ann. “Fed’s Yellen says ‘make sense’ to gradually raise interest rates.” Reuters. 18 Jan. 2017. (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-fed-yellen-idUSKBN1522VH). 18 Jan. 2017.

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Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 Commodities, Employment, Energy, Federal Reserve, Government, Health, Housing, Inflation, Infrastructure, Interest Rates, Monetary Policy, Stimulus, Taxes Comments Off on Inflation Rises At Fastest Pace In 5 Years

Robert Shiller On Trump, Economy: ‘He Might Do Something Good’

Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller was on CNBC TV’s Squawk Box yesterday talking about the state of the U.S. economy and the potential impact President-elect Donald Trump might have on it. The Yale University professor- who correctly called the dot-com and housing busts of the last decade- told viewers:

Well, the economy is looking strong. But at the expense of still near-zero interest rates. So it’s not normally healthy. And it relies on an institution, and Janet Yellen, that’s none too friendly with Donald Trump. So, I think it’s just a very uncertain time…

Regarding a “Trump Effect,” Dr. Shiller observed:

I think Trump is for many people an inspiration. He’s pro-business. Think big. Live large. That’s Trump. And to some extent that communicates to homebuyers as well as other investors… We’re in a revolutionary time. We don’t know what Trump is going to do. We know one thing- he’s got tremendous self confidence. And he doesn’t believe experts. Or he doesn’t just routinely believe them. So we’re going to see some big changes. It’s not just monetary- whether they raise interest rates another 50 basis points. It might be something more fundamental that comes up about how the Fed is even designed…


“Trump exciting ‘animal spirits’ in housing: Robert Shiller”
CNBC Video

Shiller also added this:

I didn’t vote for Trump. We’ve got him. Let’s hope for the best. He might do something good.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Thursday, January 12th, 2017 Banking, Business, Crash Prophets, Federal Reserve, Government, Housing, Interest Rates, Investing, Monetary Policy Comments Off on Robert Shiller On Trump, Economy: ‘He Might Do Something Good’

Chicago Tribune Letter: ‘Chicago, And Its Surrounding Areas, Have Become Hell on Earth’

This morning I headed over to the Chicago Tribune website to see what’s cooking locally. On their homepage was a “story” link with the following headline:

“Letter: I’m leaving Chicago and I’m never coming back”

Figuring this should make some “entertaining” reading while I finished my coffee, I checked out the proclamation. The author sure didn’t pull any punches. Here’s a snippet:

I’ve come to understand that Chicago, and its surrounding areas, have become Hell on Earth for any thinking person with a modicum of self-respect.

The caustic combination of corrupt politicians with nothing but contempt for the public; a police force so broken down in spirit it visibly resents interaction with even law-abiding citizens; a criminal underclass empowered by the incessant drone of liberal rhetoric wandering the streets posing clear and present danger to everyone around them; and the enablers, who are everywhere, to say nothing of the ugly, decaying infrastructure, poor economy and joyless entertainment and leisure opportunities – it is for these reasons I have made the decision to disconnect forever…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know, I am one of those who left Chicago (Northwest Side) only three-and-a-half years ago due to concerns over increasing government mismanagement, crime, and costs of living- in no particular order. Besides, even though I really liked the neighborhood I had lived in for eight years, it was time for a new pad and home prices were just too damn high!

My girlfriend and I did what was right for us at the time and in advance of what we suspect lies ahead. But Chicago is still a great city with fantastic people (minus the criminal element), so much so not only do I understand why one might still choose to reside there, but even I won’t go so far as to proclaim “I’m never coming back.”

I remain optimistic about the long-term prospects for the “Windy City.” That being said, I do believe conditions in the city will erode before improving again. For those dead set on remaining in town, please do yourself a favor and take a good, hard look at your financial and personal safety capabilities for successfully navigating any “storm” that may lie ahead. For example, how do your finances look with the real prospect of future tax hits down the road?

More later. And to read that entire letter sent to the Chicago Tribune, head on over to their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Thursday, January 12th, 2017 Crime, Debt Crisis, Essential Reading, Fiscal Policy, Government, Housing, Infrastructure, Political Parties, Public Safety, Security, Self-Defense, Taxes Comments Off on Chicago Tribune Letter: ‘Chicago, And Its Surrounding Areas, Have Become Hell on Earth’

Robert Shiller: ‘There Might Be A Trump Boom Coming’ In U.S. Housing Market

Earlier this month, I blogged about Yale University Economics Professor Robert Shiller discussing a “Trump Rally” in stocks. Tuesday morning, the Nobel Prize winner- who correctly-called the dot-com and housing busts of the last decade- spoke to Bloomberg TV about a potential “Trump Rally” in the U.S. housing market. He told viewers:

Existing home sales are high. New home sales are high. There might be a Trump boom coming. I’m not forecasting that. I’m wondering…

Later, Dr. Shiller talked about home price gains going forward:

I could easily see a continuation of the trend that we’ve been having in recent years- the five percent nationwide- going on. That’s one scenario…

The other scenario is the “Trump Boom” scenario. And I just don’t know. The Fed is showing tightening. But Janet Yellen is not apparently a big Trump supporter. So there’s a little tension going on. But I think the “boom” might win out. It’s a possibility. It’s a scenario…


“Yale’s Robert Shiller on U.S. Housing Market”
Bloomberg Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Thursday, December 29th, 2016 Crash Prophets, Government, Housing, Monetary Policy Comments Off on Robert Shiller: ‘There Might Be A Trump Boom Coming’ In U.S. Housing Market

Robert Shiller: ‘Neither Farmland Nor Housing Has Been A Great Place To Invest Money Over The Long Term’

Yale University Economics Professor Robert Shiller just torpedoed long-held notions about farmland and residential real estate in this country. The Nobel Prize winner, who correctly-called the dot-com and housing busts of the last decade, penned the following on The New York Times website on July 15:

Despite solid price increases over the last few years, land and homes have actually been disappointing investments. It’s worth considering why.

Let’s start by looking at the numbers. The best long-term data on land in the United States is for farmland, which is valuable in its own right and can also be considered a great reservoir that can be converted to housing and other purposes at opportune times.

Over the century from 1915 to 2015, though, the real value of American farmland (deflated by the Consumer Price Index) increased only 3.1 times, according to the Department of Agriculture. That comes to an average increase of only 1.1 percent a year– and with a growing population, that’s barely enough to keep per capita real land value unchanged.

According to my own data (relying on the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which I helped create), real home prices rose even more slowly over the same period — a total increase of 1.8 times, which comes to an average of only 0.6 percent a year.

What all that amounts to is that neither farmland nor housing has been a great place to invest money over the long term…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Neither farmland nor housing has been a great place to invest money over the long term”

Obviously, this goes contrary to what many Americans have believed all along.

However, the fact that farmland can produce income from crops should not be ignored.

Residential real estate may also offer benefits beyond property value. In my case, the single-family dwelling in the Chicago suburbs which my girlfriend and I own is a significant improvement in such areas as security and food production, for example, compared to our previous rental unit in a multi-family building on the city’s Northwest Side.

An interesting piece from Dr. Shiller, which you can read on the Times’ website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 Agriculture, Crash Prophets, Farming, Food, Housing, Income, Investing, Security Comments Off on Robert Shiller: ‘Neither Farmland Nor Housing Has Been A Great Place To Invest Money Over The Long Term’

Jeremy Grantham: ‘Still No Signs Of An Equity Bubble About To Break’

Right before the weekend, Jeremy Grantham, the British-born investment strategist and founder/former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (currently overseeing $99 billion in client assets), penned an article on the Barron’s website entitled “Jeremy Grantham Warns on Immigration, Brexit.” As part of this piece Grantham, whose individual clients have included former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, talked about U.S. stock prices. He wrote:

Despite brutal and widespread asset overpricing, there are still no signs of an equity bubble about to break, indeed cash reserves and other signs of bearishness are weirdly high.

In my opinion, the economy still has some spare capacity to grow moderately for a while. All the great market declines of modern times- 1972, 2000, and 2007- that went down at least 50% were preceded by great optimism as well as high prices. We can have an ordinary bear market of 10% or 20% but a serious decline still seems unlikely in my opinion. Now if we could just have a breakout rally to over 2300 on the S&P 500 and a bit of towel throwing by the bears, things could change. (2300 is our statistical definition of a bubble threshold.) But for now I believe the best bet is still that the U.S. market will hang in or better, at least through the election

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“2300 is our statistical definition of a bubble threshold”

2,300 on the S&P 500 was the same bubble threshold Grantham indicated in his last quarterly investment newsletter contribution. He wrote in May:

2) that we are unlikely, given the beliefs and practices of the U.S. Fed, to end this cycle without a bubble in the U.S. equity market or, perish the thought, in a repeat of the U.S. housing bubble; 3) the threshold for a bubble level for the U.S. market is about 2300 on the S&P 500, about 10% above current levels, and would normally require a substantially more bullish tone on the part of both individual and institutional investors; 4) it continues to seem unlikely to me that this current equity cycle will top out before the election and perhaps it will last considerably longer…

As I type this Monday afternoon, the S&P 500 stands at 2,167.

An interesting article by Grantham, which you can read in its entirety here on the Barron’s website.

By the way, I noticed there’s a comment attached to that piece from “Christopher Hill.” That is not from me.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Monday, July 18th, 2016 Bubbles, Crash Prophets, Federal Reserve, Housing, Investing, Monetary Policy, Stocks Comments Off on Jeremy Grantham: ‘Still No Signs Of An Equity Bubble About To Break’

City Of Chicago’s Total Unfunded Liabilities Grew To Nearly $24 Billion In 2015

It’s been a while since I last blogged about the Illinois Policy Institute, a Chicago-based non-partisan research organization “generating public policy solutions aimed at promoting personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois.” Yet earlier this week, Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner published a sobering piece on the Institute’s website about Chicago’s mounting financial woes that just needs to be disseminated. From their article:

Chicago property owners concerned about their future property-tax bills have had plenty to worry about over the past year- but a new report on the city’s crumbling finances has all but ensured that property-tax hikes will continue to be a painful reality for local homeowners.

The city already passed a $700 million hike in October 2015 to help plug the hole in police and firefighter pensions, and the city is expected to raise property taxes by another $250 million to fund ailing Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, pensions. And with billions more in other health care and pension shortfalls still unfunded, more hikes are on the way.

But the newest debt numbers in the city’s 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR, show that without massive pension reforms, the city’s tax hikes are just beginning. The report found that the total city debt Chicagoans are on the hook for has more than tripled since 2014.

Chicago’s total unfunded liabilities have jumped by over $17 billion, growing to nearly $24 billion in 2015 from $6.5 billion in 2014. The increase is mostly due to new accounting standards and the fact that in March the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the city’s recent attempt to reform its broken municipal-workers and laborers pension funds.

Add to that their share of sister-government and Cook County pension and health care costs and long-term debt, and Chicagoans are on the hook for over $65 billion

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Disturbing stuff. But that’s reality for you.

You know, last week I read an “interesting” anonymous comment on the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop. From the July 7 post entitled “And There it is….”:

Millennials as they are called are falling over themselves to move here. Look at Ukrainian village, Buck town south loop West loop, Lincoln Park. The city is becoming gentrified. Major companies are moving their headquarters here. City is on the upswing like it or not.

“City is on the upswing like it or not.”

Never mind its financial cancer that’s bound to metastasize in due time…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Dabrowski, Ted and Klingner, John. “Chicago’s Total Debt More Than Triples To Over $24B In 2015.” Illinois Policy Institute. 11 July 2016. (https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicagos-total-debt-more-than-triples-to-over-24b-in-2015/). 14 July 2016.

SCC. “And There it is…” Second City Cop. 7 July 2016. (https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicagos-total-debt-more-than-triples-to-over-24b-in-2015/). 14 July 2016.

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Thursday, July 14th, 2016 Debt Crisis, Education, Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Health, Housing, Legal, Public Safety, Taxes Comments Off on City Of Chicago’s Total Unfunded Liabilities Grew To Nearly $24 Billion In 2015
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