TownSpeaks War on Small Business

Government Wages War on Small Business

Goodbye America!

The increased minimum wage will do a lot of damage to small business, but many owners will replace people with automated systems which, in the long-run will do more harm than good. That is overt war on small business and business owners expect this type of hostile treatment even though it should be a symbiotic relationship, but at least they can see it coming. There is another battle going on though behind the scenes and it is a life or death battle in the covert war government wages against entrepreneurs.

Fox News just announced that San Fransisco city officials have finally succeeded in legislating the last gun store in San Fransisco out of business as the city wages war on small business. City Supervisor Mark Farrell claims that the gun shop, High Bridge Arms, has ‘long been a thorn in the side of the city’s aggressive advocates of gun control’.

This is a perfect example of what happens when government begins to listen to special interest groups and we the people do nothing to fight back. According to the story, High Bridge Arms has done everything legally and above board to comply with ever-increasing requirements imposed by the city. The most recent legislation would require the shop to now film delivery of any gun to the purchaser, even after they have passed the background check and not taken delivery until after the waiting period.

The gun shop, around for 50 years in the Mission District, is not willing to take it anymore. Officials claim the gun shop has made it too easy for people to obtain guns even though the owners follow the letter of the law, have 17 cameras on location and tape nearly every aspect from sales to purchase. Now they want delivery on camera and the gun shop said enough is enough. The owners implied that they are not treating their customers, many of them law enforcemnt, like criminals.

Spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Ladd Everitt, obviously has the ear of the City Supervisor and places his interests above the State Law, “If High Bridge Arms is so scared of implementing such a practice, my first question would be, ‘What do you have to hide?’.” What he fails to mention is that the store implemented measure after measure on city request to the point where the straw has broken the camel’s back.

It has gotten so pervasive in our political system that these special interest groups have begun to gain control and influence over governmental officials at all levels which continues to increase the impact and influence of governmental control over our personal lives. All you have to do is look at the lobbyists and special interest groups at every tier of government from municipal to state to federal.

The special interest epidemic has reached a point where it directly opposes our Constitution, including our right to bear arms. The time has come for Constitutional Americans to stand up for our rights and to protect American’s and their right to be entrepreneur’s without bullying tactics by municipal, state or federal government.

We at TownSpeaks strongly urge you to contact the City of San Fransisco Board of Supervisors to voice your concerns regarding the influence special interest groups have over city legislation. Their contact information;

San Francisco City Hall
Address: 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl #244
San Francisco, CA 94102
http://www.sfbos.org/
Phone:(415) 554-5184

Also, please reach out to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and let them know that criminals don’t obey the law and will purchase weapons with or without regulations in place. It is time we quit legislating our citizens to death. Where was the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence when Kate Steinle was shot to death by an illegal immigrant on the pier with a gun not obtained legally. As you can see by their address, they are a DC lobby group. Ladd Everitt is their Director of Communications and here is their contact information;

Coalition To Stop Gun Violence
805 15th Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 408-0061
csgv@csgv.org

Magical Economy - TownSpeaks

The Magical Economy

As in life, we always look for miraculous events along with rainbows and unicorns. The state of our nation is no different and most importantly, we rely on our magical economy to keep us afloat. $20+ trillion (with 12 zeroes) in debt but no problem. In our magical economy, we can just print more money. Need a boost in the stock market? Let’s send it soaring in our magical economy by printing so much money that we can pay our own debt with the money we print. How magical is that?

The Magical Economy and Football

I am a big fan of football. I am giving away my age but my team used to be the Houston Oilers. In fact, the last year Earl Campbell played for the University of Texas was my first year at my old Alma Mater. Then the unthinkable happened. Bud Adams moved the Oilers to Tennessee and renamed them the Titans. That was a sad day for me and basically left me teamless since, as a diehard Oiler fan I was not able to switch to the Dallas Cowboys.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I moved to the San Diego area and was able to change my allegiance to the San Diego Chargers (sigh). I will admit thought that, since they hired Mike McCoy, the seasons have looked a bit more promising, but if we are looking at the economy the we are off topic. Or are we?



After football (and being the gracious husband that I am) my wife and I watched a little of the 2015 Emmy’s. I have to admit that I was moved by Tracy Morgan’s speech, his down to earth approach and his determination to work at rehabilitation. The Emmys 2015 version was littered with the political rhetoric and innuendo that I am not fond of, but I do recognize there is a great deal of entertainment value and comedy in the current political environment. Where it departs from entertainment however, is in the promotion of one ideological value over another which has no place in either the 2015 Emmys or in the entertainment industry as a whole.

So what does all of this have to do with our economy? Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rogers looked great by the way), New England Patriots, Emmys 2015, Scorch Trials vs Black Mass. What do any of these have to do with our economy and the general health of our nation? Answer: They are distractions from reality. Just like any good magician, he or she takes our focus off of what is going on in the right hand so that we do not see what is happening in the left. Let’s take a closer look at our magical economy.

The Magical Economy and Minimum Wage

Football salaries. Venture to guess what the minimum salary is for an NFL rookie? If you guessed almost a half a million dollars then you would be right, that is minimum wage. Being a fan of football, I get the entertainment value, but as fans, we support salary levels for people who play sports while the educators of our children don’t typically make enough to live on individually and they even get attacked with little to no recourse for the aggressors? To me, this is short-sighted and inexcusable. Even our college professors have been herded into the adjunct space which means that they are transient for the most part and less likely to get tenure track. But football is shiny so let’s focus on that.

We have become a nation of distracted individuals working harder and harder to keep up with the pace of life to the point where we only have time to react. In fact, millennials have gotten so ingrained in the immediacy approach to life that they find it rude if they text and don’t receive a response back right away. It is ridiculous that others, including our bosses, now have 24/7 access and expectancy.

The same is true in business. Once the world’s technology powerhouse, companies in the US and even the US government have reduced R&D spending year over year for at least the last 10 years. How can we be expected to innovate when we decrease the budget for research? A perfect example of the shift in ideology is portrayed by this Harvard Business Review article (https://hbr.org/2015/01/sometimes-cutting-rd-spending-can-yield-more-innovation) which points out that Cisco is better off utilizing exploitation and acquisition as primary innovation strategies rather than actually innovating.

The chart that they present for Cisco clearly shows a drop in patents based on a 3 year lag time, yet the authors argue in the first half of their article that exploit based R&D yields better returns. Fortunately, in the latter half of the article the authors back-peddle and concede that a mixed approach between exploitation and exploration is necessary for R&D growth. They further acknowledge that exploitation is a means to acquire and monetize innovation rather than create long-term value by innovating. So then we have to ask why.

Why shift focus from longer-term R&D benefits to a shorter term, bottom line approach to innovation. Simple answer is that CEO’s are now only as good as this year’s net profits. There is no longer any room for R&D as CEO’s raid this business segment in hopes of squeezing every drop of revenue from operations and sales so they can continue to show improved performance in the bottom line to keep their jobs and get their bonuses. Why? Because stockholders demand it. In fact, with diminished regard for future value, R&D along with long-term employment appears to now be the first to go. Because we have decided to put all of our eggs in a short-term basket, we have become a transient, service-based and immediacy focused economy depending on short-term results rather than long-term growth. The magical economy.

This is true in business and it is true in government and politics as well. Stock prices rise with no basis, national debt is a bank account that we don’t have to pay for, politicians are focused on re-election rather than health of the economy and strength of our nation. We are a country whose entire political system is based on Judeo-Christian values, but that doesn’t serve our politics today so we discard them without a second thought. Why? Because those in power don’t want you looking at the left hand. They wave the right hand harder and harder to get you to look at it, but there is change in the air and hopefully, the middle class will wake up before it is too late. It is time to open our eyes and look behind the curtain at the travesty and damage this magical economy has inflicted on us individually and on our nation.

The magical economy is short-term and our focus must swing back to a longer-term view and we have to quit kicking the can down the road. Single term limits for politicians, pay them what the average American makes and forget the health care and perks. The magical economy creates establishment politics and career politicians, but if they are going to be a career politician, then they can work 40 hours a week at their job. Let them clock in and out.

I am thankful for those who serve our nation as public servants and who are working toward a better America. Those people do exist but they are few and far between in our political system. History has proven one thing – we can change voluntarily or we can continue to abuse the system until it is no longer bearable and change happens whether we like it or not. Time to put the distractions aside and remember how to be the greatest country in the history of mankind.

European Migration Crisis

European Migration Crisis

The people fleeing Syria in the recent days, weeks and months has reached a flash point in the European Union, but what does the European Migration Crisis have to do with the United States and should we get involved? From a humanitarian perspective, we have performed our courtesy gesture of accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US with the Dems wanting more and Obama pushing for the increase to 10,000, but this is not the real issue and is yet another deflection by the US government in our abysmal foreign policy tactics and efforts worldwide.

Why Are Syrians migrating to Europe?
Under our current administration, few can argue that we have been weak and reactionary. Once again we are dealing with fallout rather than being proactive and doing what is necessary to protect our interests around the globe.




A Brief Timeline of the Syrian conflict and what is happening in Syria;

  • 1979 – List created and Syria added as a State Sponsor of Terrorists. US creates a list of state sponsors of terrorism and Syria is characterized as providing safe haven to multiple terrorist groups as well as providing political and tactical support such as arming Hezbollah force with SCUD missiles.
  • 1990 to 2000 – Syria improved relations with the US by securing the release of hostages in Lebanon and by opening bilateral negotiations with Israel. President Hafez al-Assad sought accord with Israel, the US and the multi-national community.
  • 2000 – President Bashar al-Assad takes power and reverses progress made by Syria. As a Shia, al-Assad operates as a dictator to enforce his regime including torture, abduction and murder.
  • 2010 – Obama appoints Ambassador and resumes political relations with Syria.
  • 2011 – Arab Spring protests. Sunni’s begin to protest on a large scale against the al-Assad regime. Conflict escalates and force is used in violent crackdowns against protestors.
  • 2012 – Protests turn into civil war and government begins military assault on civilians focusing on the Sunni population.
  • 2013 – Sunni states Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others back Sunni fighters in Syria. Iran, as a Shia country, backs al-Assad in his war on the Sunni population.
  • The Syrian government, under Assad, has targeted its own civilians and estimates are between 200,000 to 300,000 innocents have been killed while an estimated 3.5 to 4.5 million have fled the country. This is the source of the refugee exodus into Europe.

    So where is the risk for the US?
    Flashback to the Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula where Russia invades utilizing military disguised in plain clothes and with equipment and weapons that they don’t even bother to hide. The purpose? To acquire and maintain a strategic foothold in a port that is critical to supply lines for both Europe and Russia. This is an overt land grab with little resistance other than lip service by the US and the United Nations. What were the consequences to Putin and the Russians? Nothing.

    With little challenge from the West, Putin is now more emboldened to reach out and lay claim where other opportunities exist. The primary deterrent in the past has been the US and threat of military action to keep aggressionist tactics in check, but now there is no counter balance and these acts will become more and more aggressive.

    Fast-forward and we have the Arctic Circle land grab with zero challenge and we now have the Syrian push by Putin with the political and military backing pledge from Russia to Assad. Make no mistake, Russia has zero interest in the Sunni / Shia conflict. Russia is after Syria for strategic purposes and if you examine all of their movements into external sovereignty, you will see that their targets are highly tactical. Their focus appears to be strategic points should the need arise to control points of entry or have access to resource rich environments in times of conflict.

    This is most likely on the radar screen of the intelligence agencies and, if it is not already, should be a priority for the intelligence community. Is there a risk for the US with the most recent events in Syria? Absolutely there is, but we also need to keep focus on the European migration crisis at the same time.

    How do we resolve this? There is no magical answer, but when the Syrian citizens feel safe in returning to their homeland, then the migration crisis will be over. If that is not the primary focus of the international community, then it should be. We have to deal with the immediate needs at hand, but we have to look beyond that into the longer-term resolution of replacing the dictatorial regime in Syria. The alternative is that both Iran and Russia will have a strategic foothold in the Middle East that will be nearly impossible to retake in the future.

    Finally, while there are implications for the US, including our foreign policy and strategic footprint in areas around the world, this is not just a US problem. Left unchecked, these incursions have the potential to become more aggressive and will impact other nationalities directly. Examples so far include the countries of Ukraine and Syria with a severe indirect economic impact on many of the European countries.

TownSpeaks Real Estate US Housing Supply and Demand

Economic Indicators

Courtesy of our friends at Trading Economics
The following economic indicators represent a snapshot of our economic health at any given point in time. Economists utilize varied economic indicators to track metrics such as GDP, Debt to GDP and more to determine not only where we are, but statistically where we are headed as the world's largest economy. If you would like to look at other economic indicators, please visit tradingeconomics.com.



One item worth note is that economic data in the past held fewer variables so it was, by its simplistic nature, more factual. When evaluating data today, you have to take into consideration the many variables that have been introduced to measure these economic indicators. The most prevalent example is the data on unemployment. Currently, values are not provided for underemployed and even those who have given up on looking for work and are not collecting unemployment. Adding these relevant statistics can often double the real numbers. What we are looking for in the data presented are trends in equal measurements, so take care when forming your opinion from these economic indicator snapshots.

United States GDP Growth Rate 1947-2015
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the United States expanded an annualized 2.30 percent in the second quarter of 2015 over the previous quarter. First quarter GDP, previously reported to have contracted at a 0.2 percent pace, was revised up to show it rising at a 0.6 percent rate. GDP Growth Rate in the United States averaged 3.26 percent from 1947 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 16.90 percent in the first quarter of 1950 and a record low of -10 percent in the first quarter of 1958. GDP Growth Rate in the United States is reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The United States has one of the most diversified and most technologically advanced economies in the world. Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, leasing, health care, social assistance, professional, business and educational services account for more than 40 percent of GDP. Retail and wholesale trade creates another 12 percent of the wealth. The government related services fuel 13 percent of GDP. Utilities, transportation and warehousing and information account for 10 percent of the GDP. Manufacturing, mining, and construction constitute 17 percent of the output. Agriculture accounts for only 1.5 percent of the GDP, yet due to use of advance technologies, the United States is a net exporter of food. This page provides the latest reported value for - United States GDP Growth Rate - plus previous releases, historical high and low, short-term forecast and long-term prediction, economic calendar, survey consensus and news.


source: tradingeconomics.com

Interest Rates
The Federal Reserve left its target range for the fed funds rate at 0 to 0.25 percent on July 29th, 2015. “The labor market continued to improve, with solid job gains and declining unemployment,” and “The housing sector has shown additional improvement” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement. The Fed will tighten policy when it sees “some further improvement in the labor market,” and is “reasonably confident” inflation will move back to its 2 percent goal over the medium term. Interest Rate in the United States averaged 5.95 percent from 1971 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 20 percent in March of 1980 and a record low of 0.25 percent in December of 2008. Interest Rate in the United States is reported by the Federal Reserve. In the United States, the authority for interest rate decisions is divided between the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (Board) and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The Board decides on changes in discount rates after recommendations submitted by one or more of the regional Federal Reserve Banks. The FOMC decides on open market operations, including the desired levels of central bank money or the desired federal funds market rate. This page provides the latest reported value for - United States Fed Funds Rate - plus previous releases, historical high and low, short-term forecast and long-term prediction, economic calendar, survey consensus and news.


source: tradingeconomics.com

United States Inflation Rate 1914-2015
The inflation rate in the United States was recorded at 0.10 percent in June of 2015. Inflation Rate in the United States averaged 3.32 percent from 1914 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 23.70 percent in June of 1920 and a record low of -15.80 percent in June of 1921. Inflation Rate in the United States is reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the United States, unadjusted Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers is based on the prices of a market basket of: food (14 percent of total weight), energy (9.3 percent), commodities less food and energy commodities (19.4 percent) and services less energy services (57.3 percent). The last category is divided by: shelter (32.1 percent), medical care services (5.8 percent) and transportation services (5.5 percent). This page provides - United States Inflation Rate - actual values, historical data, forecast, chart, statistics, economic calendar and news.


source: tradingeconomics.com

United States Unemployment Rate 1948-2015
Unemployment Rate in the United States remained unchanged at 5.30 percent in July from 5.30 percent in June of 2015. Unemployment Rate in the United States averaged 5.83 percent from 1948 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 10.80 percent in November of 1982 and a record low of 2.50 percent in May of 1953. Unemployment Rate in the United States is reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the United States, the unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labor force. This page provides the latest reported value for - United States Unemployment Rate - plus previous releases, historical high and low, short-term forecast and long-term prediction, economic calendar, survey consensus and news.


source: tradingeconomics.com

United States Government Debt to GDP 1940-2015
The United States recorded a Government Debt to GDP of 101.53 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product in 2013. Government Debt to GDP in the United States averaged 60.81 percent from 1940 until 2013, reaching an all time high of 121.70 percent in 1946 and a record low of 31.70 percent in 1974. Government Debt to GDP in the United States is reported by the U.S. Bureau of Public Debt. Generally, Government debt as a percent of GDP is used by investors to measure a country ability to make future payments on its debt, thus affecting the country borrowing costs and government bond yields. This page provides - United States Government Debt To GDP - actual values, historical data, forecast, chart, statistics, economic calendar and news.


source: tradingeconomics.com

United States Balance of Trade 1950-2015
The United States recorded a trade deficit of 43840 USD Million in June of 2015. Balance of Trade in the United States averaged -12987.51 USD Million from 1950 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 1946 USD Million in June of 1975 and a record low of -67823 USD Million in August of 2006. Balance of Trade in the United States is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. The United States has been running consistent trade deficits since 1976 due to high imports of oil and consumer products. In recent years, the biggest trade deficits were recorded with China, Japan, Germany and Mexico. United States records trade surpluses with Hong Kong, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Australia. This page provides the latest reported value for - United States Balance of Trade - plus previous releases, historical high and low, short-term forecast and long-term prediction, economic calendar, survey consensus and news.


source: tradingeconomics.com

TownSpeaks Real Estate US Housing Supply and Demand

US Follows Greece in Default

Is the USA next in line for debt default?

In an interview hosted by Matt Welch, radio host and economic / investment expert Peter Schiff warns of the indicators found in the US economy and how they are going to take us down the same road as Greece who has recently teetered on the brink of being ejected from the European Union and facing financial collapse, "What's happening in Greece and what's happening in Puerto Rico is going to happen in the United States," 

Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital notes, "Once the Greek creditors began to question the solvency of Greece they demanded higher interest rates. The minute our creditors figure out we are in the same position as Greece or Puerto Rico, they're going to demand higher interest rate from us and we can't pay either."




When people discuss default, this is what it means - that we are not able to service the interest rate on the debt that we have outstanding and that we are not able to pay creditors who have 'loaned' us the money that we borrow. It is interesting to note that Quantitative Easing was the process of printing money for the purpose of buying our own Treasury Notes. In other words, it is like spending money on your Visa, then going home and printing money so that you can borrow more. The problem with the analogy is that in our economy, we do not pay the debt down, we only accumulate more.

Further, we have enjoyed world currency status meaning that our cash is good everywhere and is used as the primary currency in the world. This is true because it is the primary currency used to purchase oil. We have abused that power though and it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when the world will no longer tolerate our abuses. With a debt ratio of more than 100% compared to the GDP, if any other nation were were in this situation, there would not be any question that we would be forced into default.

Add to that artificially low interest rates and you have a recipe for disaster. Many do not correlate the interest rate of 0 and our ability to service our national debt. Right now we can make payments but what happens when interest rates go to even 3%, which is still extremely low? Then we have to pay much more to service the nearly $20 trillion we have in liquid debt (not even overall debt). That number becomes astronomical.

The Feds have been able to keep these rates down by printing more money and they are under the misguided belief that they can control the interest rates we pay, but there is a stark reality awaiting the policy makers. There is a point where pressure for interest rates to rise exceeds the ability for Feds to contain it and, just like the housing collapse, the more you keep the lid on pressure, the more that pressure builds and the bigger the explosion.

This is a great video interview lasting about 3 1/2 minutes.

Real Estate Supply and Demand Curve

Residential, Commercial & Real Estate Supply and Demand

Real Estate Supply and Demand. There are several indicators that can portend the health of the housing market. From this we can derive a sense of the health of the markets in general since housing is a large portion of our economy.

Residential Real Estate Supply and Demand

In the residential world, we are most concerned with the investor category for several reasons. The reason the investor category is so critical is that this segment of the real estate market is the gauge for residential real estate trends. Investors are very sensitive to end user demand and they buy and price homes accordingly. So real estate investors are a primary focus of this article.




Commercial Real Estate Supply and Demand

The second division is commercial. From a real estate supply and demand perspective, this segment is a two-year lagging indicator behind residential real estate as a rule of thumb. So goes the residential market, so goes business which is why commercial real estate has a lag. Well if we know the main indicator of commercial real estate is the residential market, then logic questions why we even follow the commercial market.

There are several key factors in this market that can help us understand more clearly, how deep a trend is but more importantly, the velocity of the trend. How is this possible? In the real estate supply and demand equation, residential real estate is a mass of money based strictly on demand. Commercial real estate is a mass of money based not only on demand, but on demand projected in the future.

Comprised of purchases and leases, commercial real estate is executed by a more 'intelligent' market member. Not that they are smarter, just that they do much more research into projected demand curves prior to executing a purchase or a lease. They are more careful not to extend into a cycle without reasonable assurance that they will be able to sustain both top and bottom of a cycle.

This brings us to our final point, the cycle. Historically ten years top to top (or bottom to bottom), a real estate cycle has a tendency to consistently repeat which helps us trend where we are headed both economically and historically. The challenge lately is that the swings have become more violent and pronounced with a greater dependency on external events on our economy.

TownSpeaks Real Estate US Housing Supply and Demand

This is one factor in globalization, but that is for a different discussion. Additionally, in this discussion we are not factoring employment or economic dynamics as drivers of demand. We are simply delineating residential real estate and commercial real estate to fundamentally understand the correlation between the two.

Subscribe to TSWeekly for more in-depth examination between supply and demand.

Stockholm Terror Attack

TFlash – Stockholm Terror Attack

TFLASH
Subject – Stockholm Terror Attack

A man suspected of driving a carjacked truck into a crowd of shoppers at a local department store has been arrested and has confessed to local authorities. Police have confirmed that at least 4 people have been killed and 15 people injured (9 seriously) in the Stockholm Terror Attack. Images of the man were distributed by police as the short manhunt came to conclusion.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven stated that the attack appeared to be terror related and this was later confirmed by police. Sweden and neighboring countries are attributing the spike in crime to the influx of refugees from states known to have radical terrorist ties. The Stockholm Terror Attack is another in the wave of so called Lone-Wolf attacks in the region.

Stockholm Terror Attack occurred at approximately 3:16PM local time.

Stockholm Terror Attack

Swedish Police release images of the suspect later arrested in the horrific attack at a local department store

Stockholm Terror Attack

Police release images of man suspected and later apprehended in Stockholm Terror Attack

Stockholm Terror Attack

Scene outside the local department store where a carjacker used a truck to run over shoppers. Courtesy AFP