home prices

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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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 No Comments

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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Jeremy Grantham Made Commander Of The Order Of The British Empire

Jeremy Grantham, the British-born investment strategist and founder/former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (currently oversees $99 billion in client assets), was recently made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Grantham, whose individual clients have included former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, was awarded the CBE for his philanthropic service.

Regular readers may recall that the last time I blogged about the “crash prophet” (May 12), he warned about U.S. stock prices (“the threshold for a bubble level for the U.S. market is about 2300 on the S&P 500”) and housing prices (“in 12 to 24 months U.S. house prices – much more dangerous than inflated stock prices in my opinion – might beat the U.S. equity market in the race to cause the next financial crisis”).

Survival And Prosperity would like to congratulate Mr. Grantham on his CBE.

Christopher E. Hill
Editor

(Editor’s notes: 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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Robert Shiller On State Of U.S. Housing Market

Yale University Economics Professor Robert Shiller appeared on Bloomberg Television this morning. The Nobel Prize winner, who correctly-called the dot-com and housing busts of the last decade, discussed the state of the U.S. housing market. Dr. Shiller told viewers:

People are needing houses. They’re buying them. There are not enough houses out there- the inventory is low. So they push the price up. And it’s a modest price increase. Nothing scary or exciting. This could go on for some time

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Shiller: Not Enough Houses, Low Inventory”
Bloomberg Video

No mention of another “housing bubble” in the works. Whereas fellow “crash prophet” Jeremy Grantham, the British-born investment strategist and founder/former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., uttered this warning in his latest investment newsletter:

Thus, unlikely as it may sound, in 12 to 24 months U.S. house prices – much more dangerous than inflated stock prices in my opinion – might beat the U.S. equity market in the race to cause the next financial crisis

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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.)

Latest edition of Shiller’s classic…

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Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 Bubbles, Crash Prophets, Housing No Comments

Jeremy Grantham: U.S. House Prices ‘Might Beat The U.S. Equity Market In The Race To Cause The Next Financial Crisis’

Last night I finally got the chance to read the latest quarterly investment letter from “crash prophet” Jeremy Grantham, the British-born investment strategist and founder/former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (currently oversees $99 billion in client assets). Grantham divided up May’s installment (covering the first quarter of 2016) into two parts. Part I, “Always Cry Over Spilt Milk,” was a recap of a paper he wrote six months ago. Part II was entitled “Updates,” in which Grantham provided these investing nuggets:

The tone of the market commentators back in January, when I was writing my last quarterly letter, seemed much too pessimistic on global stock markets, particularly the U.S. market, and I said so.

This relative optimism was an unusual position for me and the snapback in these markets has validated, to a modest degree, my thinking at the time. I still believe the following: 1) that we did not then, and do not today, have the necessary conditions to say that today’s world has a bubble in any of the most important asset classes; 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; and 5) the U.S. housing market, although well below 2006 highs, is nonetheless approaching a one and one-half-sigma level based on its previous history. Given the intensity of the pain we felt so recently, we might expect that such a bubble would be psychologically impossible, but the data in Exhibit 1 speaks for itself. This is a classic echo bubble – i.e., driven partly by the feeling that the substantially higher prices in 2006 (with its three-sigma bubble) somehow justify today’s merely one and one-half-sigma prices. Prices have been rising rapidly recently and at this rate will reach one and three-quarters-sigma this summer. Thus, unlikely as it may sound, in 12 to 24 months U.S. house prices – much more dangerous than inflated stock prices in my opinion – might beat the U.S. equity market in the race to cause the next financial crisis

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Note that bit about “the threshold for a bubble level for the U.S. market is about 2300 on the S&P 500.” 2,300 remains the same threshold from the last time I blogged about Jeremy Grantham on Survival And Prosperity (it had been 2,250 prior to this). As I type this, the S&P 500 is at 2,064.

In addition to U.S. stock and housing prices, Grantham talked about crude oil. From the newsletter:

My belief remains that a multi-year clearing price for oil would be the cost of finding a material amount of new oil. This appears to be about $65 a barrel today, and costs are drifting steadily higher as the cheapest old oil is pumped. My guess is that the price of oil will indeed be as high as $100 a barrel again within five years

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Once again, another insightful installment from the British “crash prophet.”

You can read the entire piece on GMO’s website here (.pdf format)

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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Signs Of The Time, Part 100

A milestone has been reached with the “Signs Of The Time” series of posts.

I wasn’t sure what material I’d use for post number 100, when manna from Heaven suddenly appeared in the form of a headline on the home page of my Internet service provider:

Why people won’t say the economy is booming

By most measures, the economy is doing great. So, why are people reluctant to admit it?

Obama: ‘We went through a really scary time’

In the accompanying piece, Sam Ro, managing editor at Yahoo! Finance, wrote Sunday:

By most measures, the economy is doing great. The US labor market is creating around 200,000 jobs a month, which has brought the unemployment rate tumbling to 5%. Meanwhile, home prices are up and stock prices (GSPC) are near all-time highs.

So, why are there so many people so reluctant to acknowledge how good things are today?

One word: trauma.

“Some people are still recovering from the trauma of what happened in 2007-2008,” President Barack Obama said in an interview with Yahoo Finance’s Nicole Sinclair. “You know, we went through a really scary time.”

Trauma has the ability to distort how we perceive our present reality…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Just when you thought you’ve heard everything, right?

It gets better. Ro continued:

Consider the joy that comes from jumping on a trampoline or the thrill one gets from speeding downhill on a bicycle. For many folks, the unexpected and painful reality of a nasty spill and a couple of fractured bones will forever take away the bliss that once came from those activities. The trampoline and bicycle will continue to offer the same experience, but the trauma can be so intense that it can force many to keep their feet on the ground.

Losing your job, getting evicted from your home, and watching the value of your retirement savings crash can be deeply distressing. And so even when you get a new job, move into a new home, and recoup all of your investment losses, that new persistent feeling of uncertainty that followed the traumatic will discount everything you have…

Any readers ever see that iconic sports film The Natural, starring Robert Redford? Is it just me, or does all this kind of remind you of that part in the movie where the club hires a shrink to talk to the players when everything is going wrong?


“Losing is a disease”
YouTube Video

No, not that bit where the ballplayer gets hit in the (g)nards. But that “losing is a disease” speech.

And just like Roy Hobbs rolled his eyes and walked out of the locker room, I wouldn’t blame any of you for moving on from this post after reading that stuff about “trauma.”

“Trauma has the ability to distort how we perceive our present reality”

I suspect the “present reality” is crystal-clear for a growing number of Americans- trauma not needed.

And in more than a few instances, their economic “reality” definitely does not match what’s being peddled by Washington and its allies in the mainstream media these days.

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

Source:

Ro, Sam. “Obama uttered a single word that explains so much about America today.” Yahoo! News. 17 Apr. 2016. (https://www.yahoo.com/news/obama-us-economy-americans-recovering-from-trauma-175254482.html). 18 Apr. 2016.

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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