Landmark Links June 30th – Atonement

i-eat-trash

Lead Story… I’ve been at PCBC in San Diego this week so my time to write has been somewhat limited. However, I wanted to take a few minutes to highlight a newly-discovered subscription resource that has been incredibly valuable for writing this blog.

First off, I have a confession to make: I’ve been mooching off of the Wall Street Journal for for a while.  For years, the way around the Journal’s porous paywall was one of the worst kept secrets in journalism.  As originally conceived the paywall was a way to ensure that only actual subscribers had access to articles but there was a fatal flaw to that business plan: Google Search results.  An article that sits behind a paywall gets pushed further down in Google Search which is one of the main generators of web traffic, resulting in less page clicks and lower rates with advertisers.  The WSJ didn’t want to deal with this so they came up with a way of splitting the baby: if someone Googled the article title or URL, they could bypass the paywall and get access to articles.  This means that cheap, lazy people (me) could take advantage of the system and get access without paying.   Earlier this year, the Journal acknowledged that they had made it way too easy for people to get content for free via Google so they changed it.

I finally subscribed to the Journal earlier this year and wish that I did sooner.  Not only is the content excellent but it also gives you access to email newsletter services only available to subscribers.  I’ve become a particularly big fan of The Daily Shot, their morning email that illustrates major financial stories of the day in 30+ charts.  It’s now my first read of the morning and also has become a go-to resource for blogging.  In closing, if there is a newspaper or site that you enjoy reading, a subscription is a great investment.  Not only are you supporting good journalism but there are also side benefits like email newsletters that you wouldn’t otherwise discover.  If you are interested in financial journalism, there is no better place to start than the Wall Street Journal.  I’ll get off of my soapbox now.

Economy

All is Well: Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that the banking system is much stronger due to Fed supervision and higher capital levels and another financial crisis is unlikely “in our lifetime.”  While it is certainly stronger now than before the crash this has some strange echoes of her predecessor Ben Bernanke saying that problems in the mortgage market were “contained.”

Trashed: What happens if Illinois’ bond rating gets cut to junk status?

Bouncing Along the Bottom: Weekly initial unemployment claims increased last week but are still extremely low by historical standards.

Commercial

Shocking: Mall vacancy increased in the second quarter.

Residential

Excluded: Why California’s housing element law is a 50-year farce.

Miscalculation: There is a very strong case to be made that housing affordability metrics should take transportation costs into account.

Long Way Down: There were two foreclosures this past weekend on units in One57 along Manhattan’s so-called Billionaires Row on loans of $35.3MM and $20.9MM respectively.  Both were to shell companies.  This raises the question: who in their right mind would lend that type of money against a home (spoiler: foreign private banks, apparently)?  See Also: In the “this shit is stranger than fiction” category, a money-laundering Nigerian oil magnate was behind the shell company in default on the larger of the two foreclosures.  I guess he was a bit more successful (at least for a while) than the Nigerian princes trying to send me $500k via email.

Profiles

Paradigm Shift: Fixing busted iPhone screens is the new mowing neighbors’ lawns for enterprising high school kids.

Backstory: Here is the full story behind why Amazon acquired Whole Foods (hint: it was about more than just groceries).

Special Delivery: How the opioid epidemic has turned unsuspecting mailmen into drug dealers.

Chart of the Day

New home sales came in slightly above expectations amid persistently low inventories.

To put the inventory trend into perspective, the chart below shows the number of new homes for sale per 10,000 non-institutionalized civilians in the US. While we are off the lows, the supply is still meager by historical standards (going back to the 1960s).

The median new home price in the United States hit a record high of $346k.

Part of the reason for the jump in the chart above is the dip in the number of “lower-end” homes sold.

At the same time, sales of new luxury homes ($750k and above) rose to the highest level in a decade.

Source: The Daily Shot

WTF

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: A woman killed her boyfriend by shooting at a book he was holding over his chest.  They thought that the book would stop the bullet and were looking for viral youtube fame.  This has Darwin Award written all over it.

I Hate it When That Happens: An elderly flight passenger from Shanghai threw coins into engine for ‘luck’, which delayed take-off for hours.

Wasn’t this a Steven Seagal Movie? Venezuelan cop steals a police helicopter and drops grenades on country’s supreme court.

Landmark Links – A candid look at the economy, real estate, and other things sometimes related.

Visit us at Landmarkcapitaladvisors.com

Landmark Links June 30th – Atonement

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