Feb 09

Today’s News 9th February 2018

  • Manhattan, London Housing Markets Are Suddenly Reeling

    When the latest reading on the Case-Shiller 20-City Composite printed within 1% of its record highs from 2006 a little more than a week ago, we asked a question that’s seemingly on every real-estate investors’ mind: Is this a “top” or a “breakout”?

    Case

    And with the effects of the Trump tax reform plan – which is expected to hammer real-estate markets, particularly in high-tax blue – having yet to take effect, already states – one early indicator that softness might be entering one of the country’s most iconic (and expensive) real estate markets was reported by Bloomberg today. To wit, the trend of landlords handing out rental concessions continued to intensify in January, as landlords are increasingly being pressured to hand out incentives like rent-free months or gift cards to entice potentially renters to sign on the dotted line. Concessions jumped to a record in January, with 49% of newly signed leases coming with some kind of incentive, according to appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

    Manhattan

    That share surpasses the previous peak of 36% set just a month earlier.

    All of these concessions have caused the median rent to drop 3.6% from a year earlier to $3,141 – the biggest decline since October 2011 – interrupting six years of near-constant growth.

    “Landlords have finally realized, ‘OK, we have to adjust these prices because the concessions aren’t doing as much,'” said Hal Gavzie, who oversees leasing for Douglas Elliman. “Customers are looking past the concessions being offered and just looking for the best deals they can find.”

    Rents fell last month in almost every Manhattan neighborhood, including some of the borough’s priciest, Citi Habitats said in its own report. On the Upper West Side, the median was $3,450, down 2.8 percent from a year earlier. Rents in the West Village dropped 4.5 percent to $3,700, while on the Upper East Side, they declined 5.3 percent to $3,185, the brokerage said.

    “The dynamic has shifted,” with Brooklyn, Queens and the New Jersey waterfront becoming viable options to many renters,” said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. “Tenants are looking for value, and they’re open to suggestions.”

    While these data strictly apply to the rental market, we pointed out last year, the commercial real-estate market is having problems of its own: In September, we noted that sales of commercial real-estate plunged 50%, bringing commercial property purchases to their lowest level since 2012. And that problem isn’t isolated to NYC: Sales of commercial real estate are plunging across the US, and have been since peaking at $262 billion nationally in 2015.

    And of course this was before HNA announced this morning that it would be liquidating $4 billion in US commercial real estate across New York City, San Francisco and Chicago and Minneapolis.

    * * *

    But Manhattan isn’t the only high-end luxury market showing signs of softness. In London, according to the Financial Times, the gap between what sellers are asking and buyers offering for high-end homes is greater than it was in either 2008 or 2009.

    But according to one real-estate market analyst, reality is beginning to set in for sellers.

    Marcus Dixon, head of research at LonRes, said buyers were becoming more confident in demanding discounts and sellers were ore likely to accept lower offers. “People are going in with relatively cheeky offers, and sellers are accepting them,” said Mr Dixon. “There’s a bit of realism creeping in about what properties are worth.”

    LonRes’s data cover London’s most exclusive districts, including Kensington and Chelsea, as well as prime parts of the capital extending from Canary wharf in the east to Richmond in the west and Hampstead in north London.

    Outside the most expensive “prime central” areas, discounts to initial asking price stood at just over 9% – the highest level since 2009.

     

    In a phenomenon that’s also manifested in some of America’s toniest zip codes – namely, Greenwich, Connecticut – some sellers are opting to take their homes off the market to wait for another day.

     

    Many sellers have resisted dropping the prices of their properties, instead choosing to withdraw them from the market. Transaction volumes fell across central London in 2017, with the number of properties sold down 3.6% over the year as fewer homes were put to the market.

    LonRes said people were still taking their homes off the market if they could not achieve their desired price. More than half the homes leaving the market in the fourth quarter of 2017 were withdrawn rather than sold.

    To be sure, some sellers are still accepting lower offers – but the post-crisis boom times are over, one real estate analyst said. And, as of now, there are few signs to suggest an imminent return.

    “There have been some transactions – but it’s not boom time,” said Mr. Scarisbrick. “It’s becoming obvious that you don’t set foot in the London market unless you really need a London house.”

    Foreign buyers, who are attracted by favourable exchange rates between sterling and most currencies, were an exception, he said.“You can do well if you roll your sleeves up and get involved in a proper negotiation,” he added.

    “But I can’t see any catalyst for a resurrection in the market.”

    Some sellers are opting to cut their losses.

    “Sellers are saying, ‘if I get a buyer at a reasonable level, I’ll do a deal,'” said Charles McDowell, who runs a prime London estate agency.

    “There are deals being done- quite big ticket deals – but this is certainly a market where buyers perceive value.”

    If there’s value to be found now – just wait another 14 months until April 2019, when the UK’s departure is expected to be complete.

    And with cryptocurrency prices tanking after last year’s bubble, the great crypto-fueled property boom has seemingly fizzled before it even began.

  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson Mused That "The Purge" Could Really Happen… And He's Not Wrong

    Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

    The Washington Post recently published an article about Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. It started off mockingly, describing Carson’s theory that the movie The Purge could easily become really given a specific set of circumstances.

    If you aren’t familiar with it, The Purge franchise is a series of movies that take place in a dystopian not-so-distant future. In that future world, things are pretty similar to how they are right now – there aren’t any flying cars or AI robots serving breakfast – except for one night a year.

    And on that night, people can commit any crime without worry of punishment. Anything they do that night is legal, there are no first responders to save the victims, and there won’t be any court cases later.

    It was Christmastime in Washington, and Ben Carson couldn’t stop talking about the apocalypse.

    “Did you know,” the secretary of housing and urban development asked his acting chief of staff, Deana Bass, at a Capitol Hill holiday party, “that if North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon into our exosphere, it could take out our entire electrical grid?”

    Bass shook her head.

    “What’s that movie where there’s complete lawlessness and anarchy for one night a year?” Carson said, calmly resting his right hand over his left. “ ‘The Purge’! It will be like ‘The Purge’ all the time…” (source)

    And honestly, he’s not wrong. There are a lot of people out there who seem like they’d salivate at the chance to off their neighbors without any repercussions. One of the movies, The Purge: Election Year, seems particularly timely after the vitriol of the last presidential race.

    Crimes are becoming more shocking and brutal

    We have reached an era of extreme brutality and virulent hatred that I certainly haven’t seen in my lifetime. Recently, I wrote an article based on the essay of Sir John Grubb about the end of empires and discussed unfathomable crimes.

    Crimes are becoming more horrific and mindboggling. A 17-year-old girl was trying to walk home through a “no-go zone” in the UK and was sexually assaulted 3 separate times in one hour. A man in Pennsylvania tried to strangle his girlfriend to death because she changed the passcode to the IPad. A Georgia woman murdered her two toddler sons by putting them in the oven and then video-chatted their father.

    A Hollywood fixture has been accused of assaulting and harassing dozens of women, which led thousands of other women to share their horror stories with a #MeToo hashtag on Twitter. I have seen report after report recently of teachers having sex with their high school students.

    And things have become even more horrifying since then.

    Just in today’s headlines, I saw:

    And those crimes are a drop in the bucket. There are awful tales of such severe animal cruelty that I can’t get the headlines out of my mind. Tales of child abuse so mindblowing that it seems like they can’t possibly be real pop up every single day.

    Complete disrespect for the political beliefs of others is now not only the norm, but it’s praised. People can lose their jobs because they voted for the “wrong” candidate. Cars with certain political stickers get targeted for vandalism. People are actually killing one another over politics. This is no longer about discourse – it’s about shouting over the people with different views.

    In light of this environment, if it was totally legal to do away with people who were vocal about their different political philosophies, how far of a stretch is it to think that Dr. Carson is right about the potential of a Purge? Good people love to say how they would not participate, but if someone came for you and your family, you’d have no choice but to commit acts every bit as brutal as your attackers in order to survive.

    When will it end?

    Certainly, no time soon if we keep lumping people together because of who they voted for and assuming that we know everything about them based on the sticker on their back bumpers. We’ve had deeply controversial elections before and we managed to get past it, but when we generalize, we take away the humanity of the people we criticize.

    When all we do is group people into “evil Republicans” and “crybaby Democrats” we miss the finer qualities of these people. And there ARE good qualities in just about every person, no matter what their political beliefs are. Even if you think someone is delusional, it’s important to try to understand the position from which they developed that perspective.

    One has to wonder what it will take to bring us together. Dr. Carson strikes again with a movie reference.

    …“There’s never been a time in the history of the world where a society became divided like this and did well,” Carson said as a crowd — including an off-duty New York Times reporter, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, a slew of representatives from housing nonprofit organizations and old friends from his presidential campaign — circled him. “And we don’t really have a reason to be fighting each other. There was a movie some years ago, a Will Smith movie called ‘Independence Day’ . . .”

    With his soothing, story-time cadences and heavy-lidded gaze, Carson proceeded to hold forth on how Earth’s near-annihilation laid bare the superficiality of all the world’s strife. If only, he argued, people realized that the fate of humanity hung in the balance, then Palestinians and Jews, or even the United States and Russia, could be “like best friends.” (source)

    How can we help each other from a place of scorn and derision? How can we come together when we deliberately divide ourselves every single day?

    Let’s hope it doesn’t take an alien invasion or epic disaster to make us mend fences. The time is coming when we’re going to need our neighbors and they’re going to need us. Hatred breeds nothing but more hatred and it’s only a matter of time before Dr. Carson is right about that whole Purge business.

  • FBI Sued Over Docs Related To Comey's $2 Million Book Deal

    Watchdog group Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the DOJ in order to obtain records from the FBI connected to former Director James Comey’s $2 million book deal, after the agency failed to respond to an August 14, 2017 FOIA request.

    In particular, the FOIA request concerns communications between Comey and the FBI leading up to his controversial June 2017 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The group seeks:

    • All records of communications between the FBI and Comey prior to and regarding Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 8, 2017.
    • All records of communications between the FBI and Comey relating to an upcoming book to be authored by Comey and published.
    • All records, including but not limited to forms completed by Comey, relating to the requirement for prepublication review by the FBI of any book to be authored by Comey with the intent to be published or otherwise publicly available.

    Comey reportedly received an advance in excess of $2 million for his bookHigher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, reportedly set for publication on April 17th. Former FBI agents and officials intending to write books concerning their tenure are customarily required to submit the entire transcript for pre-publication review.” – Judicial Watch

    Following Comey’s firing on May 9, 2017, the former FBI director sat down with Senate Select Committee investigators for a highly controversial testimony which covered, among other things, the circumstances surrounding his dismissal. 

    Also covered in testimony was the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. 

    Comey admitted to leaking his “memos” to the Senate Select Committee in order to kick off the Special Counsel headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller III.

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    “Mr. Comey seems to have protected status for any misconduct and we want to know if he had a special deal for his book from his friends in the FBI,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

    “The Deep State is in cover-up mode. The FBI, DOJ, and the Special Counsel are stonewalling our requests for Comey documents.”

    Comey moved up the date of his memoir “Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” from May 1 to April 17, according to publisher Flatiron Books – due to the FBI coming under “intense scrutiny.”

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    Flatiron president Bob Miller and publisher Amy Einhorn said there was demand for Comey to be heard amid an “urgent conversation” about the FBI, just one week after Comey blasted “weasels and liars” for pushing for the release a memo which alleges that top officials in the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) misled a federal surveillance court in order to obtain a spy warrant against a former Trump campaign adviser.Daily Caller

    The book is said to feature “yet-unheard anecdotes from his long and distinguished career,” according to Flatiron Books, which describes the book as an exploration of, get this: “what good, ethical leadership looks like and how it drives sound decisions.”

    “Throughout his career, James Comey has had to face one difficult decision after another as he has served the leaders of our country,” Flatiron Books publisher Bob Miller said, who added that the book will be an “unprecedented entry into the corridors of power, and a remarkable lesson in leadership itself.”

    As the House and Senate home in on bad actors in the FBI and DOJ, and career officials peel out of the agencies left and right – we eagerly await the blind boyscout’s book…

  • Exposing America's Hypocrisy On "Political Intervention" In Elections

    Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

    The United States government has interfered with more elections than any other government on the face of the earth. 

    But suddenly, the US is grandstanding and pretending it matters that other nations use the exact same tactics.

    “Ah, the peddler propaganda!” says Joe Joseph with The Daily Sheeple while reading a headline declaring that Russians penetrated U.S. voter systems. “Say it ain’t so! A clandestine operation by a foreign government here in the United States? No. Couldn’t be!” he said sarcastically.

    The overly biased and left-leaning media attempted to portray this “interference” as a big deal. But as always, propaganda is easy to break down.

    The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.

    In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said she couldn’t talk about classified information publicly, but in 2016, “We saw a targeting of 21 statesand an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.” –NBC News

    Reading between the lines, all this means is pretty much nothing, other than the US government blatantly displaying their hypocrisy while interfering in the elections of other countries. Of course, the media is going to make a big story out of this. “We’re going to turn back the clock a little bit,” says Joseph.

    “The US is no stranger to interfering in the elections of other countries. So, since we’re into this whole Russia thing and Russia’s so bad and ‘shame on you, Russia’...well, let’s take a look at all the ways that the United States has interfered.”

    According to data gathered by the LA Times, the U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries. The United States government has tried to manipulate as many as 81 elections between 1946 and 2000. According to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University, that number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.

    Levin defines intervention as “a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides.” These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning, or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements, or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.

    “There’s plenty of history here to show that we’ve been involved in intervening in foreign elections. We did it more than anybody else! So, why should we be surprised when other countries do it to us,” says Joseph.  Again, keep in mind, the election interference was incredibly menial in comparison to the US’s previous manipulations.

    You need to be able to “see and understand the propaganda coming from NBC and the mainstream television media.” In case you haven’t figured it out yet, most of the mainstream media is straight up propaganda with the minds of Americans and public opinion being manipulated every second. This has been admitted by the media, yet the public continues to be largely unaware that they are being controlled.  In fact, the US media tried very hard to manipulate public opinion in the 2016 election.  It’s become more than obvious unless you’re one who has been manipulated.

    “It’s easier to fool people than convince them that they’ve been fooled.” -Unknown, but often attributed to Mark Twain

  • Here Is Goldman's Annotated Chart Showing The History Of Bitcoin

    Goldman has long had a love, hate relationship with bitcoin: while JPM’s Jamie Dimon was slamming it and threatening anyone caught trading it with termination, Lloyd Blankfein was planning the rollout of a cryptotrading desk. While other brokerages were shunning futures trading, Goldman told clients “your money is welcome here.” On the other hand, from a purely fundamental standpoint, Goldman was more ambivalent, unwilling or unable to embrace the currency, yet laying out under what conditions it may succeed as money, which nonetheless was a far cry from JPM’s blanket determination that bitcoin is a pyramid scheme.

    Then, this morning, the market awoke to a Goldman report that was released on Monday evening, in which as we reported earlier, Steve Strongin – Head of Goldman’s Global Investment Research – said that the current generation of cryptocurrencies is unlikely to survive even if blockchain technology endures:

    Whether any of today’s cryptocurrencies will survive over the long run seems unlikely to me, although parts of them may evolve and survive…. To my eye, they still seem too primitive to be the long-term answer.

    Asked if the market is accurately pricing the likelihood that several—if not most—of the current cryptocurrencies will ultimately fail?, his answer was surprisingly pessimistic:

    I don’t believe it is. People seem to be trading cryptocurrencies as though they’re all going to survive, or at least maintain their value. The high correlation between the different cryptocurrencies worries me. Contrary to what one would expect in a rational market, new currencies don’t seem to reduce the value of old currencies; they all seem to move as a single asset class. But if you believe this is a “few-winnerstake-most” situation, then the potential for retirement depreciation should be taken into account. And because of the lack of intrinsic value, the currencies that don’t survive will most likely trade to zero.

    To be sure, Goldman did highilight some of the notable highlights of bitcoin, chief among which is the unprecedented value storage density, which is why Goldman’s commodity chief proposes calling them not cryptocurrencies but rather cryptocommodities.

    Despite being called cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and other digital assets are better described as “cryptocommodites.” A financial security—currencies included—has a claim or liability attached to it, as it is “secured” to an underlying real asset. Just as equity is secured to the future earnings of a real company, a dollar bill is secured to the US government and its tax revenue. In contrast, commodities have no obligation or liability to any government, company, or other entity. Given that bitcoin has no liability to any entity, it is a good like any other commodity. Bitcoin just happens to be the first digital commodity—in contrast to financial assets and money, which have long been digitized.

    In most economies, a standard digital bank account provides ease of storage, secure transactions, and a positive carry. However, it is still a claim on a bank, and the funds cannot be concealed and transported without alerting regional authorities. To the extent that this is a problem, bitcoin solves it better than any other commodity (although other cryptocurrencies are starting to offer superior privacy and anonymity). This suggests that black markets and less developed regions without a reliable banking system would be the obvious sources of demand for cryptocurrencies.

    But the most remarkable feature of cryptos: how much value they can concentrate in virtually no physical space.

    Unlike other storage commodities like oil, gold, platinum, diamonds, and even cash, there is no need to hold much physical material to own bitcoin; even a technology as obsolete as the 3½ inch floppy disk can hold almost 30,000 private keys. There is no theoretical upper limit to the value of bitcoins in a wallet, but if we assume each wallet secured by this disk contains as much as the largest wallet today (180,000 BTC), this single disk could “hold” all bitcoins in existence and remain less than 0.5% full. Assuming a bitcoin market cap of roughly $190bn (as of late January), this disk would be the equivalent to either: 95% of the 4,583 tons of gold in Fort Knox, or 1,344 Very Large Crude Carrier supertankers of oil.

    Goldman’s conclusion:

    On net, cryptocurrencies have superior physical attributes relative to other commodities for concealing and transporting large amounts of wealth, which could be valuable in dark markets and some areas that lack reliable banking systems. But a long list of hurdles remains for cryptocurrencies to reach the equivalence of precious metals in financial markets, and these will be difficult to overcome anytime soon. In the meantime, we believe gold still offers the best store of wealth given how institutionalized it has become over 3,000 years of active trading versus five years for bitcoin.

    So bitcoin… or gold? To Goldman that is the question. Meanwhile, for your viewing pleasure, here is Goldman’s chart showing the annotated history of bitcoin’s Rise… and recent fall. The question is what happens next.

  • US Contagion Accelerates – China Big Caps Crash Over 7%, Worst Week Since Lehman

    Update 0950ET: Things went from bad to worst very fast…

    • *CHINA H-SHARE INDEX SLIDES 5%
    • *SHANGHAI COMPOSITE INDEX DROPS 5.3%
    • *CHINA SSE 50 INDEX OF BIG CAPS DROPS 7.5%
    • *TENCENT DROPS 5.1% TO TRADE BELOW HK$400

     

    This is the big caps worst day since the Aug 2015 devaluation crash, and the worst week (unless The National Team steps in) since Lehman…

     

    *  *  *

    After an insane winning streak in December and January, the Hang Seng has plummeted in the last few days and along with the rest of the major mainland China equity markets – has entered correction.

     

    2018 started off so well in China…

     

    But after an almost incessant ramp, China and Hong Kong stocks have crashed back to reality in the last few days…

    Shanghai Composite is now at 7-month lows…

     

    And Hang Seng is down 12% from its highs, back below 30,000…

    The Yuan remains on edge as it tumbles most since the Aug 2015 devaluation…

     

    And across the water, Japanese stocks are down 13% from their highs…

  • "Worst Case" Confirmed: Biggest Weekly Fund Outflow In History

    If it seems like it was just a few days ago  that we reported of the biggest ever inflow into equities, it’s because that’s precisely when it happened. It was then that according to BofA CIO Michael Hartnett, we observed a “non-stop euphoria cabaret” in which markets saw a record $33.2bn inflow to equity funds, record $12.2bn inflow to active funds, $1.5bn into gold (50-week high), as well as record inflows to tech & TIPS.

    Incidentally, that was the day the S&P hit its all time high, and more importantly, the day BofA also said that its euphoria and panic-buying driven “sell signal” was just triggered for the first time in 5 years, and predicted a 12% selloff in the next three months.

    In retrospect, it took just two weeks because that post marked the peak of the market, and it has been non-stop selling since.

    But much more troubling than the selling, is the composition: after all, as we showed earlier, the “worst case scenario” according to both JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley is if the liquidation panic was not just systematic funds and various quants puking as a result of the surge in the VIX, but if ordinary retail investors had also joined in: that would be a nightmare outcome for the bulls, as it would mean that the sharp but concentrated relentless selloff, had spread to the broader investing world, and institutions would have no choice but to join.

    Specifically, this is what JPM said over the weekend when observing the recent record fund inflows:

    If these equity ETF flows start reversing, not only would the equity market retrench, but the resultant rise in bond-equity correlation would likely induce de-risking by risk parity funds and balanced mutual funds, magnifying the eventual equity market sell-off.

    And then there was Morgan Stanley:

    Today’s moves lower are likely not being driven by systematic supply – this appears to be more discretionary selling. Systematic supply from vol target strategies is largely out of the way now, while consensus trades are getting hit:  NDX is underperforming SPX, momentum is down 1%, and the Passive Factor is up, indicating actively held names are underperforming names better held by passive funds.

    Well, we now have confirmation.

    According to the just released EPFR weekly fund flow data, what was just two weeks ago a record equity inflow has become a record equity outflow, as the 10% drop in the US stock market has officially launched a selling panic.

    As Citi writes tonight, “in the week of 2/7/2018, bond funds had an inflow of US$4.0bn and equity funds lost US$30.6bn to outflows. This was the largest outflow on record from equity funds, which just had their record high inflow of US$33.2bn only two weeks ago. The largest outflow had come from US funds which saw US$32.9bn of outflow. “

    Stated simply, this means that one no longer needs the VIX ETN, CTAs or risk pars to launch a liquidation panic: one has already begun, and retail is panicking, desperate to get out of stocks.

    Which means that a full on bear market is now in the hands of just two players: institutions, and corporations. In other words, if hedge and mutual funds dont step up, and if companies don’t unleash a buyback tsunami, it’s about to turn very ugly.

  • Infrastructure Emergency: 50,000 American Bridges Are "Structurally Deficient"

    Last week, President Trump announced his proposal for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure program in his State of The Union address to the American people. He failed to mention that over the next decade, the federal government would provide very little money whatsoever for America’s crumbling bridges, rails, roads, and waterways.

     

    In fact, Trump’s plan counts on state and local governments working in tandem with private investors to fork up the cash for projects.

    In overhauling the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, the federal government is only willing to pledge $200 billion in federal money over the next decade, leaving the remainder of $1.3 trillion for cities, states, and private companies.

    Precisely how Trump’s infrastructure program would work remains somewhat of a mystery after his Tuesday night speech, as state transportation officials warned that significant hikes to taxes, fees, and tolls would be required by local governments to fund such projects.

    To get an understanding of the severity of America’s crumbling infrastructure. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has recently published a shocking report specifying more than 50,000 bridges across the country are rated “structurally deficient.

     

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    If the “structurally deficient” bridges were placed end-to-end, they would stretch 1,216 miles or nearly the distance between Miami and New York City, said ARTBA. Cars, trucks, and school buses cross these 54,259 compromised structures more than 175 million times per day, which it is only a matter of time before another Mississippi River Bridge collapse occurs.

    Here are the highlights from the report: 

    • 54,259 of the nation’s 612,677 bridges are rated “structurally deficient.”
    • Americans cross these deficient bridges 174 million times daily.
    • Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges.
    • One in three (226,837) U.S. bridges have identified repair needs.
    • One in three (17,726) Interstate highway bridges have identified repair needs.
    • Website features listing of deficient bridges by state and congressional district.

    Dr. Alison Premo Black, chief economist for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), who conducted the analysis, said, “the pace of improving the nation’s inventory of structurally deficient bridges slowed this past year. It’s down only two-tenths of a percent from the number reported in the government’s 2016 data. At current pace of repair or replacement, it would take 37 years to remedy all of them. ” 

    Black says, “An infrastructure package aimed at modernizing the Interstate System would have both short- and long-term positive effects on the U.S. economy.”

    She adds that traffic jams cost the trucking industry $60 billion in 2017 in lost productivity and fuel, which “increases the cost of everything we make, buy or export.”

    Other key findings in the ARTBA report:

    • Iowa (5,067), Pennsylvania (4,173), Oklahoma (3,234), Missouri (3,086), Illinois (2,303), Nebraska (2,258), Kansas (2,115), Mississippi (2,008), North Carolina (1,854) and New York (1,834) have the most structurally deficient bridges. 

    • The District of Columbia (8), Nevada (31), Delaware (39), Hawaii (66) and Utah (87) have the least.

    • At least 15 percent of the bridges in six states – Rhode Island (23 percent), Iowa (21 percent), West Virginia (19 percent), South Dakota (19 percent), Pennsylvania (18 percent) and Nebraska (15 percent)—fall in the structurally deficient category.

    As Staista’s Niall McCarthy notes, U.S. drivers cross those bridges 174 million times a day and on average, a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years old. Dr. Alison Premo Black carried out the analysis for the ARTBA and she has said that if things continue at their current pace, it would take 37 years to repair all of the bridges that need attention. With a total of 5,067 of them, Iowa has the most structurally deficient bridges, followed by Pennsylvania (4,174) and Oklahoma (3,234).

    Infographic: Thousands Of American Bridges Are Falling Apart  | Statista

    You will find more statistics at Statista

    Here are the most traveled “structurally deficient” U.S. bridges in 2017:

    In 2007, the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed during an evening rush hour commute, sending cars and trucks diving into the river. Thirteen people were killed and 145 were injured. The incident served as an eye opener to America’s deteriorating infrastructure. Ten years later, not much progress has been made in America’s bridges.

    President Trump has undoubtedly over-hyped his proposal for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure program, but for the 50,000 “structurally deficient” bridges across America, it is a race against time for the Trump administration, before the next bridge collapses triggers a mass causality event. We are almost positive this administration does not want this on their plate.

    “Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and — where appropriate — tapping into private sector investment to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit,” Mr. Trump said in his State of the Union address.

  • Government Shutdown Now Certain: Next House Vote After Deadline

    For the second time in one month, the US government will be shut down… if only for 3-6 hours, and potentially much longer.

    As we explained earlier, a last minute Senate vote to approve the bipartisan “budget-busting, cap-lifting, debt-ceiling extending” two year budget deal is on hold at the moment as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul prevents its advancement. Furthermore, as discussed earlier, the White House has instructed critical agencies to begin shutdown preparations for a government shutdown should a deal not be reached before midnight when the funding lapse expires.

    This now appears certain because as Bloomberg reports, according to House majority whip Steve Scalies, “At this point, we expect next votes in the House to occur at very roughly 3:00-6:00 a.m.”

    And since midnight is the deadline for a deal, that would guarantee at least a short U.S. government funding lapse, and potentially a protracted one if for some reason the scheduled vote is once again delayed.

    As a reminder, uber-deficit hawk, Rand Paul has been pushing for an amendment to maintain budget caps, but Senate sources say leaders have no plan to give Paul such a concession, meaning that he can continue to prevent a vote until after midnight, when government funding runs out.

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    When the Senate eventually gets to a vote – some time on Friday morning, the measure will likely have enough support to pass. However, and this is where things get tricky, even if the Senate approves the legislation Thursday night, a suddenly divided House, where Nancy Pelosi’s Dreamer stunt has stumped her Democratic colleagues, still needs to pass it and get it to President Donald Trump’s desk.

    In other words, today was bad for the market. Tomorrow could be much worse.

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