Saturday, June 27, 2015
It had to happen sooner or later... in the new normal of yield-reaching, collateral-shortage-ing, money-printing economalypse, the Swiss government has become the first ever to issue a 10Y sovereign bond at a negative yield. As WSJ notes, while several European countries have sold government debt at negative yields up to five years of maturity - which means investors effectively pay for the privilege of buying it - no other country has previously stretched this out as long as 10 years. Mission Accomplished Central Bankers?
The Alpine country sold a total of 377.9 million Swiss francs (about $391 million) of bonds maturing in 2025 and 2049. On the 10-year slice, the yield was -0.055%, compared with 0.011% on its most recent similar bond two months ago.In the post-issuance secondary market, Swiss bonds maturing up to 11 years in the future already trade with yields under 0%. But such low yields at the initial point of sale “illustrate well the world we live in,” said Jan von Gerich, chief strategist at Nordea, referring to collapsing yields on debt amid widespread stimulus from central banks around the world.In January, Switzerland’s central bank scrapped its upper limit on the value of the franc and cut deposit rates to -0.75%. Swiss bonds are likely to remain attractive to investors as long as yields stand above that level.“The combination of deflationary fears and aggressive central-bank action has caused investors to accept the reality of negative-yield bonds,” said Jeffrey Sica, chief investment officer of U.S.-based Circle Squared Alternative Investments.
at 9:58 PM
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Monday, June 22, 2015
WASHINGTON — More than one in four U.S. renters have to use at least half their family income to pay for housing and utilities.
That's the finding of an analysis of Census data by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that helps finance affordable housing. The number of such households has jumped 26 percent to 11.25 million since 2007.
Since the end of 2010, rental prices have surged at nearly twice the pace of average hourly wages, according to data from the real estate firm Zillow and the Labor Department.
"It means making really difficult trade-offs," said Angela Boyd, a vice president at Enterprise Community Partners. "There are daily financial dilemmas about making their rent or buying groceries."
The crisis reflects one of the shortcomings of the recovery from the Great Recession: Income has failed to match rent increases. At the same time, construction has failed to keep pace with demand from renters. The recession pushed more millennials, former homeowners who faced foreclosure and low-wage workers into rental housing.
A result is that 2.3 million more families face pressures that leave them perilously close to homelessness. It's a reality faced by Lisette Duarte, a 37-year-old living in a two-bedroom apartment with her family in northeast Los Angeles.
Duarte's husband lost his job as an electrician more than three years ago. With both their son and daughter on the autistic spectrum and in need of care, he chose to stay at home while she worked a job requiring a 90-minute commute each way. The lost income forced them out of a three-bedroom house and eventually into a hotel, where vouchers over the course of five months helped them save for a security deposit for an apartment.
About a year ago, the family moved into a two-bedroom apartment in the Highland Park neighborhood where Duarte had grown up. Two-bedrooms in that gentrifying community rent for an average of about $1,600 a month, according to the online service Apartment List. The expense, along with utilities, consumes half of Duarte's paycheck. The government defines housing costs in excess of 30 percent of income as burdensome.
The family relies on prepaid cellphones. They don't dine out or go on vacations. Whatever extra income they have often goes for health care.
More than 30 percent of renters in California, Florida, New Jersey and New York state devote at least half their incomes to housing and utilities, according to the analysis. Other than Alaska, South Dakota and Wyoming, at least 20 percent of renters in every state face similarly high costs relative to income.
The analysis was developed for a "Make Room" awareness campaign sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners. As part of the campaign, pop stars such as Carly Rae Jepsen of "Call Me Maybe" fame, who sang for the Duartes, are performing concerts in the homes of financially distressed tenants.
Enterprise Community Partners' analysis dovetails with findings from other organizations. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has estimated that 12 million renters and homeowners spend at least 50 percent of their income on housing.
And Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies found in a 2013 report that roughly 27 percent of renters were devoting half their incomes to rent. Those levels were "unimaginable just a decade ago," the report said.
Average hourly wages have risen just 2.1 percent in the past 12 months, according to the Labor Department, while rental prices have climbed 3.7 percent, Zillow said last week.
Many renters lack the income to pay the cost of maintaining and operating these buildings, said Barry Zigas, director of housing policy at the Consumer Federation of America and a trustee at the nonprofit Mercy Housing.
Mercy Housing has a portfolio of 12,000 units for low-income people and senior citizens. It costs an average of roughly $500 a month to manage each unit, Zigas said. A monthly rent of $500 would mean that anyone working full time for a minimum wage would devote more than a third of his or her income to housing.
Either the tenants must fork over a greater share of their pay each year or landlords may let buildings fall into disrepair.
"Low-income renters are getting caught in a total squeeze play, as are the owners of the properties," Zigas said.
The Great Recession caused waves of foreclosures and layoffs that pushed more Americans into renting. More than 36 percent of people now rent, compared with 31 percent before the recession began in late 2007. The increased demand has yet to be matched by construction and renovations.
In March, the National Low Income Housing Coalition reported a shortage of 7.1 million apartments for low-income renters. The shortages are most pronounced in Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, Colorado and Utah.
Construction firms are building apartment complexes at an annual pace of roughly 321,333 this year, according to the Commerce Department. The rising rental prices suggest that construction hasn't kept pace with demand, according to economists.
For renters such as Duarte, the plan is that her husband can eventually return to work as their children reach adulthood, easing some of their financial pressures.
"I hope that we never encounter homelessness again," she said.
Read more at http://www.wral.com/more-americans-spending-at-least-half-their-pay-on-housing/14616616/#84TtmtU7lP4rp7E4.99
at 4:37 PM
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Thinking of dropping off the grid? If you’ve become more and more skeptical of the economy, the stability of the country, or you just want to become more self-reliant, there are ways to go about withdrawing yourself from society in a healthy way and reducing your dependence on others. Here’s how to avoid the mistakes others have made and become self-reliant in a year or less.
Focus Less On Appearance
There’s always a compromise when you choose to be self-reliant. One of those compromises is aesthetics. You can’t be as concerned about your appearance unless you pick up sewing and become a master tailor. But, for most people, you will end up having used clothes, and will have to adopt a policy of buying more functional or practical clothing that’s durable, and forgo fashion. Ditto for the home. High-maintenance places don’t work when you’re a prepper because they’re a lot to keep up, especially when you have other, more important things to worry about – like eating.
Get a Bug Out/In Bag
A bug out or bug in bag is basically an emergency kit. A bug out bag is for times when you might have to leave your home due to an emergency situation – a flood, fire, or maybe some serious weather or an evacuation or state of emergency.
The bug out bag should include some food rations, a way to filter non-potable water, a way to sterilize water for other uses, bandanas, a wool blanket, antibiotics, antiseptic, a flare gun, a Faraday-style flashlight, first aid kit, two ways to make fire (three, ideally), and some simple tools like a pick axe and collapsible shovel.
The bug-in bag is similar in concept, but it’s designed to help keep you safe when you have to barricade yourself in your house. It should contain everything a bug out bag contains, but more of everything with a focus on non-perishable food and water and a power generator of some kind.
Save Money and Commodities
Save some hard cash and put it somewhere safe in the house. Also, consider some “hard commodities” (i.e. gold, silver, platinum, palladium). While your aim is to self-sufficient, realize that, during an emergency situation, you may need cash for things and in a worst-case scenario, you might need something of intrinsic value, like silver or gold.
Get Rid Of Debt
Pay off as much of your debt as possible. Debt makes you dependent on a bank for survival. Not good. Pay down debt any way you can and start building up your savings.
Keep Expenses Low
Keep your ordinary and regular expenses to a minimum. That means ditching your expensive cell phone and getting a cheap TracFone, or something similar. It also means getting rid of cable T.V., and relying on Internet for any access to news. You could hypothetically get rid of Internet too if you wanted to, but then you’re limited to radio for news, which isn’t ideal in this day and age.
Get a Power Generator
Companies, like 4 Patriots sell solar generators that don’t require gasoline. This is a very good idea because gas generators aren’t portable and have limited functionality. Eliminate this handicap by using something that’s a little more portable and provides near infinite energy.
Start Farming and Saving Food
This is one of the most important things you can do to start becoming more self-sufficient: start a hobby farm. A few chickens is a great start. Plant a vegetable garden, and you’ll have eggs from the chickens, vegetables from the garden, and pretty much an endless food supply so you won’t starve.
If you get more serious about it, you can buy a cow and keep it out on pasture for milk and other dairy products. Or, get two cows, breed them, and have an unending source of meat. Expand your farm to include goats, lambs, and whatever else you might want to eat. Over time, you might like it enough to become an actual farmer, sell your surplus for profit and never want for anything ever again. Is it a harder life? You bet, but you won’t be relying on other people for necessities.
at 9:45 PM
Friday, June 19, 2015
If you’re preparing for a catastrophic event in the future, then you will need to know several survival skills for the benefit of you and your family. A total collapse in society often occurs in areas of extreme disaster such as floods, war zones, earthquakes, and more. A prepper can take all the necessary precautions to learn how to stay safe and comfortable during one of these horrific events. Without these skills a prepper isn’t fully prepared anyway.
A variety of skills can help you survive when the time comes, but only a few can make the short list of the most important skills. Without these skills your chances of long term survival diminish greatly. When you begin to prepare for emergencies, you must consider these seven skills that will set you up for success. Other skills may be important, but they won’t enable you to survive on their own like these skills.
- Growing Food
People who grow gardens of food are at an advantage in disasters. When everyone else loots the stores for food in a chaotic mess, the people with gardens can simply walk outside, grab enough food for a week, and walk back inside. Growing your own food helps you keep track of what you eat as well. You won’t have to worry about bad food if you’re the one who grew it. Growing your own food will certainly help your case for survival when disaster hits as you’ll be able to rely off your own food storage instead of looking through the empty shelves of a panic-raided grocery store.
Maybe you won’t be able to grow a garden for a number of reasons. But you’ll still need to eat. You might be content to hunt small game, but you should also look for deer if you can in your area. Deer meat tastes good, and you can get a lot of food from an average doe. If you find a large buck, then that’s even better for you. You can store the extra meat somewhere cold and dry for later consumption.
- Home Defense
You should also get trained on how to defend your home from intruders. If there’s a big disaster, then you’ll definitely want to know how you should proceed with keeping the people out of your home. You might need to shoot and kill someone to defend your family. You already have the gun for hunting anyway. You can’t let someone harm people or steal the resources you’ve collected in your home. It’s up to you to defend your home and keep everything and everyone safe.
- Weapon Maintenance
That gun you have won’t do you any good for hunting or home defense if it doesn’t work. You would need to figure out why it doesn’t work and fix it as soon as you can. You should also invest in spare parts for the weapon so that you can fix any issues that come up. The gun has to stay in working order for you to survive in a chaotic situation and you need it to hunt the animals for food when you can’t find other sources of food to eat.
The local streams and lakes should provide plenty of fishing opportunities in an emergency survival situation. Make sure to stock your house or shelter with plenty of fishing rods, bait, and other accessories. Fishing can also relax you in the midst of the chaotic emergency lifestyle. Some quick research should reveal the local fish that are best for consumption and where they can be found. Fishing might be one of your best options for survival if a disaster occurs.
- First Aid
You or someone in your group will eventually need first aid in a disaster. You should learn how to stop bleeding, apply bandages, splint broken bones, perform CPR, and more. You can sometimes find free first aid courses at local hospitals or other health care facilities. You’ll be glad you spent the time to learn first aid when someone steps on something sharp and gets a deep puncture wound. You may not be able to make it to the hospital quickly, so you’ll need to care for that person as best you can.
Hunting and fishing may not always be the easiest ways of gathering food. You can always try berries, nuts, leaves, mushrooms and other plants, but you have to know how to identify the safest plants for human consumption. Foraging can help you acquire additional food sources if it’s raining and the deer hide. You might not always be able to find lots of fish. But the right plants are always available for food. You would just need to be careful to pick the right ones.
at 3:46 PM