My Feed: Global Gig Slog, Syph Babies, Thai Visas, Freight Rail

Here’s the past week’s foursome from Newsfeed – Tim W. Ferguson (timwferguson.com) –my mini-commentaries off the recent media. This assortment includes: A review of the plight of “gig”-app drivers and delivery people around the world that forgets what these souls were doing before; a startling look at an upsurge in births from mothers with syphilis, which considers just about every social remedy except preventing such pregnancies; an effort by Thailand to lure the global “remote economy” with 10-year visas, and the underappreciated virtues of America’s freight-railroad sector. Surely something there for you!

3 At Feed: DHS & TSA, China’s Richest and Food Labeling

This week, Newsfeed – Tim W. Ferguson (timwferguson.com) hosts a trifecta of mini-commentaries plucked from the pages of our working press. Any anniversary of Sept. 11 would not be complete without a pass at its bureaucratic legacy, the Department of Homeland Security. As well, there’s a thought about the future tycoons of China, now that Xi Jinping seems intent on there not being any such amassing of wealth (at least outside of the Communist Party). And on the domestic front, what of the lawyers who are intent on seeing that animal proteins are properly labeled for human consumption? My unapologetic assortment is ready for your consideration.

At the Feed: Ida’s Rebuild, ‘Traffic Violence,’ Gen-Z Invests, Vax Cards, Dailies in Distress

This week at Newsfeed – Tim W. Ferguson (timwferguson.com) are *5* brief comments from items in the current press. Of course, the post-Ida storm response is one–should we keep tempting fate by restoring communities? Also: the alleged injustice of “traffic violence,” the reassuring aspect of Gen-Z’s bent toward equities (as opposed to equity), the tricky business of enforcing against vaccine-card fraud, and the quickening demise of some U.S. daily newspapers. Take a look and take your best shot below:

At My Feed: Trains, Planes, Hospitals, Wall St. Touts

At Newsfeed – Tim W. Ferguson (timwferguson.com) this week, you can read my quick observations on current topics: Commuter-train counts show how dreadfully slow is Manhattan office districts’ rebound from the pandemic pounding; airports such as LAX are rich public assets just waiting to be turned into funding sources to rescue indebted municipalities like Los Angeles; “nonprofit” hospitals are already money machines that don’t get the attention they deserve for absorbing health-care dollars; and, Wall Street brokerages are similar to sports-talk jocks: full of opinions not likely to win you a bet. Let me know what you think.

Week’s Feed: Henri Blows, Asian Negation, NYC Crime

This week at Newsfeed – Tim W. Ferguson (timwferguson.com) is a trio of items touching on what the latest big storm (Henri) to hit the East Coast should remind us about living and building on the edge of cruel nature; on the latest disappointments in Covid-wracked Southeast Asia, which are not just economic; and on what a street-by-street breakdown of crime statistics tells us about New York City. Have a look and then have a say below.

Housing Boom? Not in Land of Lincoln

You’d think housing prices are rising everywhere in America, the way the current boom is discussed. And that’s nearly true, for lots of reasons: the low interest rates on mortgages; the bidding up of asset prices at a time of loose money; the desire for bigger and more distanced properties in the pandemic, and  the swallowing up of thousands of tract homes by investment outfits looking to rent them.

But even with those influences, not everywhere is rising by double-digit percentages annually. People can only live—or own—in so many places at once. And so it is that in a good 10 metropolitan areas, according to realty data site CoreLogic, you’ve barely seen any price appreciation in the five years to June 2021. So, nearly no gain for existing homeowners, and no frightening increases for affordability migrants.

Keep in mind that even in the years just before Covid, real estate was hot.  That includes major cities such as New York, which then softened as virus-conscious residents departed for greener pastures.  Thus a five-year period captures both mini-cycles. Where were buyers not looking, pre- and post-lockdown?

For one thing, in the oil-and-gas belts. Fossil fuel prices were weak for most of those five years. So, no surprise that Louisiana and Oklahoma locales (in Census terms, metropolitan statistical areas) have lagged, with Houma-Thibodaux showing a cumulative price rise of only 9%. (No MSA had a decline, and for the overall U.S. the increase was 42%.) 

If you had to pick a state of general torpor, however, that state would be Illinois. It occupies four of the 10 spots, and was one of only three states to show a 10-year population decline in the 2020 Census.

And let’s give special notice to Peoria, IL. Turns out that Peoria figured in a 2014 Kiplinger’s list of 10 markets where housing had fallen the most since its 2006 peak—about 10%. That means at least a 15-year spell for homes there with a flat net.

That’s either good or bad news, depending  on whether you’re a seller or buyer. Will the news be changing? Illinois has a particular problem with public-pension indebtedness, and taxes have been trending up. Maybe the economy will rally regardless. But it’s safe to say that, for now, the idea of a universal residential rush will not play in Peoria.

CUMULATIVE CHANGE IN HOUSING PRICES, June 2016-June 2021 (Source: CoreLogic*)

Houma-Thibodaux LA 9%
Peoria IL 10%
Lawton OK 10%
Springfield IL 10%
Bloomington IL 10%
Shreveport-Bossier City LA 10%
Carbondale-Marion IL 11%
Lafayette LA 11%
Enid OK 12%
Beckley WV 12%

*These rates are calculated using a CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index. In some small metro areas, differences in modeling techniques can make results volatile. The Case-Shiller model smooths the index to deal with this volatility.

At My Feed: Coffee Jolt, Gen-Z Blues, Ozark Immigration, Newsletters

This week’s quartet of mini-commentaries at Newsfeed – Tim W. Ferguson (timwferguson.com) addresses the latest coverage of increases in coffee-bean prices; the costly lives of Millennials and Gen-Z (not just their joes!) and whether parents aren’t helping; the missing politics of an economic look at immigration in the Ozarks, and the popularity of digital “newsletters” (spoiler: they’re edited). Please take a look and leave any comments right here.

This Week at Feed: Student Debt, Homeless, Convention Centers

At Newsfeed – Tim W. Ferguson (timwferguson.com) are three new items this week, all on matters of big looming taxpayer obligations: The $1.7 trillion in U.S. post-secondary student debt, the seemingly intractable problem of people from living on America’s urban streets, and the vast convention centers that municipalities erected to try to attract a very different sort of person: the visitor with dollars to spend. The trio of mini-commentaries may shed a little light if not offer even that much hope! Return to this post with any comments you have.

Newsfeed: Gas Hookups, Influencers, Seat Belts, Jakarta

At (Newsfeed – Tim W. Ferguson (timwferguson.com) you’ll find new mini-commentaries on these items from current media: An effort to prevent gas hookups for new construction in Massachusetts, in order to curb fossil-fuel use; a push (again in the Northeast) to further criminalize failure to wear seat belts as road deaths are rising; the rising receipts of social-media influencers, which soon may exceed newspaper ad revenues; and the enormous population challenge of developing-world metros such as Jakarta and Manila. Please take a look and, as always, comment as you wish below this post.

4 New Feeds: GMO, China, Unilever, 187

I’m alerting subscribers here to four new items in recent days at my newsfeed. Please go to www. timwferguson.com/news for the bits and pieces. The four items concern a renewed plea for GMO foods, the risks that mainstream global investors face from Xi Jinping’s crackdown on certain Chinese companies, the conundrum that show-off progressive company Unilever faces when it ventures into (or out of) Palestine, and a chance to hear former California Gov. Pete Wilson address the rap he got 30 years ago on immigration and Prop. 187. Please take a look and respond here with any comments.