Aug 20

Absolute Bubble Insanity: For Nearly Half A Billion Dollars, Here Is The World’s Most Expensive Penthouse (ZeroHedge, Aug 19, 2014):

Forget Hong Kong, London and New York: when it comes to the pinnacle in absolute real estate insanity – perhaps in all of history – look no further than James Bond’s favorite gambling mecca, Monaco. It is in this tiny Riviera principality where we find the Tour Odeon, a double-skyscraper being built by Groupe Marzocco SAM near Monaco’s Mediterranean seafront, which will contain a 3,300 square-meter (35,500 square-foot) penthouse with a water slide connecting a dance floor to a circular open-air swimming pool. The description is nice, but it is the bottom line that is mindblowing: Bloomberg reports that the apartment may sell for more than 300 million euros ($400 million) when it goes on the market next year, French magazine Challenges reported. That would make it the world’s most expensive penthouse, according to broker Knight Frank LLP.

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Aug 13

- Here Is The Average Cost To Rent A 2-Bedroom Apartment In Your City (ZeroHedge, Aug 12, 2014):

With record rental expenses already forcing millions of Americans to have far less disposable income for everything else once the monthly bill for the roof above one’s head is paid, here is a breakdown of 25 selected US metropolitan areas, ranked from most to least expensive, how much it costs to rent a two-bedroom apartment (one can only assume the $1,440 price listed for New York is based on some non-GAAP, magical numbers that exclude reality).

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Jul 18

- Housing Starts Tumble, Miss Most Since January 2007; Permits Have Biggest Two-Month Plunge Since Lehman (ZeroHedge, July 17, 2014):

“Epic disaster.” Those two words best explain what just happened with US housing starts and permits in June.Those who want a slightly more detailed narrative of what the Department of Commerce just reported here it is: in June housing starts were expected to print at a solid 1020K, to validate the sustainable “recovery.” Instead, what happened was that the May downward revised number of 985K, which was a consensus beating 1001K last month, crashed to 893K, a drop of 92K which was the biggest since the January “polar vortex” effect, the biggest miss to permaoptimistic expectations since January 2007, and which brought the total number of starts to the lowest level since September 2013. Was it the harsh weather’s fault this time too?

 

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Jul 17

wicked-witch-of-the-east

- Did the Other Shoe Just Drop? Big Banks Hit with Monster $250 Billion Lawsuit in Housing Crisis (Washington’s Blog, July 16, 2014):

By Ellen Brown

For years, homeowners have been battling Wall Street in an attempt to recover some portion of their massive losses from the housing Ponzi scheme. But progress has been slow, as they have been outgunned and out-spent by the banking titans.

In June, however, the banks may have met their match, as some equally powerful titans strode onto the stage.  Investors led by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and PIMCO, the world’s largest bond-fund manager, have sued some of the world’s largest banks for breach of fiduciary duty as trustees of their investment funds. The investors are seeking damages for losses surpassing $250 billion. That is the equivalent of one million homeowners with $250,000 in damages suing at one time. Continue reading »

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Jul 15

- The Next Domino: Espirito Santo Holding Company Preparing To File Bankruptcy (ZeroHedge, July 15, 2014):

While Banco Espirito Santo continues to exist on fumes and life support (that last ditch equity injection by Baupost a week ago may not have been Seth Klarman’s wisest investment), a key link in the Espirito Santo Holding Company structure is preparing to default. According to Reuters:

  • ESPÍRITO SANTO GROUPS HOLDING COMPANY RIOFORTE PREPARING TO FILE FOR CREDITOR PROTECTION IN LUXEMBOURG – SOURCES

For those confused, “creditor protection” =  bankruptcy.

Which one is RioForte again? We showed this handy org chart a few days ago, here it is again. Continue reading »

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Jul 15

Flashback:

- Inflation, Hyperinflation and Real Estate (Price Collaps)


- Phoenix Housing Market Hit By Unprecedented Plunge In Demand (ZeroHedge, July 14, 2014):

The Phoenix housing market has a special place in the heart of housing bubble watchers: together with Las Vegas and various California MSAs, this is the place where the last housing bubble was born and subsequently died a gruesome death which nearly brought down the entire financial system. Which is why the monthly WP Carey report on the Greater Phoenix Housing Market is of peculiar interest for those who want to catch a leading glimpse into the overall state of the bubble US housing market. As hoped, this month’s letter does not disappoint. What we find is that while equilibrium prices have been largely flat month over month, and are up 6% on an average square foot basis from a year ago, something very bad is happening with a key component of the pricing calculation: demand has fallen off a cliff.

Some of the disturbing findings from the report: Continue reading »

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Jul 11

china butterfly

A money-laundering butterfly flaps its wings in China… and the US housing market crashes?

- Did China Just Crush The US Housing Market? (Zerohedge, July 10, 2014)

 

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Jul 10

Why Housing Will Crash Again – But For Different Reasons Than Last Time (OfTwoMinds, July 9, 2014)

 

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Jun 28

- China’s Replica Of Manhattan Results In Yet Another Ghost City (ZeroHedge, June 27, 2014):

While the growth of China’s ghost cities of entirely derelict and unlived-in residential real estate have become anathema; the story of the nation’s ‘if we build it they will come’ commercial real estate bubble has been less exposed but is no less incredible. As Bloomberg reports, China’s project to build a replica Manhattan is taking shape against a backdrop of vacant office towers and unfinished hotels, underscoring the risks to a slowing economy from the nation’s unprecedented investment boom. Stunningly, the development has failed to attract tenants since the first building was finished in 2010 leaving one commercial real estate investor to proclaim, “Investing here won’t be better than throwing money into the water… There will be no way out – it will be very difficult to find the next buyer.”

China’s own Big Apple may be rotting from the core. A new central business district modeled after New York City is going up in Tianjin…but the nation’s slowing economy is exacerbating the risks from its unprecedented credit binge…and that’s putting China’s Manhattan project in jeopardy. Bloomberg TV’s China Correspondent Stephen Engle reports.

As Bloomberg explains, Continue reading »

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Jun 17

- London’s Whopping 18.7% Home Price Surge Means UK’s Housing Bubble Slams China’s (ZeroHedge, June 17, 2014):

A month ago, using the latest UK housing data from Rightmove, we asked a simple question: whose housing bubble is bigger: China’s, or the place where increasingly more of China’s $25 trillion in bank assets are being parked: the UK (specifically London). Using then available data, the answer was still a toss-up, even if the divergence in directions was quite clear.

Earlier today, we finally got the official data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics, and we politely retract our question, as rhetorical as it may have been. The reason: there is no contest – the UK’s housing bubble has officially slammed China’s, and the result is nothing short of a knock out.

From the FT: Continue reading »

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Jun 17

- Bill And Hillary Clinton Support The Estate Tax… They Just Don’t Want To Pay It (ZeroHedge, June 17, 2014):

“Do as we say, not as we do” continues to be the policy of the ruling elites in America (and around the world). Having claimed in her book that the Clintons were ‘dead broke’ after leaving The White House and that she understood the financial struggles of Americans, Bloomberg reports that the Clintons are using financial planning strategies befitting the top 1% of U.S. households in wealth, creating residence trusts and shifting ownership. Crucially, this is all designed to shield their assets from the estate tax (that now tops out at 40% of assets upon death) – a tax that Bill and Hillary Clinton have long supported. “The estate tax has been historically part of our very fundamental belief that we should have a meritocracy,” Hillary Clinton said at a December 2007 appearance, as long as she doesn’t have to pay it, it seems.

20140616_estate

As Bloomberg reports,

Bill and Hillary Clinton have long supported an estate tax to prevent the U.S. from being dominated by inherited wealth. That doesn’t mean they want to pay it.

Continue reading »

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Jun 04

- Half of Americans can’t afford their house (Market Watch, June 4, 2014):

As the housing market slowly recovers, a majority of homeowners and renters are finding it hard to meet rising rents and mortgage payments, new research finds.

Over half of Americans (52%) have had to make at least one major sacrifice in order to cover their rent or mortgage over the last three years, according to the “How Housing Matters Survey,” which was commissioned by the nonprofit John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and carried out by Hart Research Associates. These sacrifices include getting a second job, deferring saving for retirement, cutting back on health care, running up credit card debt, or even moving to a less safe neighborhood or one with worse schools. Continue reading »

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May 24

- China Has A Housing Bubble In “Some Cities”, PBOC Admits (ZeroHedge, May 23, 2014):

While US central bankers shudder at the idea of admitting their could be a bubble in real estate or stocks (unless its obvious in hindsight); and England’s Bank of England explains ‘if there is a bubble, it’s not their fault, but there isn’t so there’; it appears the Chinese are more comfortable with the truth. As Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, China’s central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said, China may have a housing bubble only in “some cities,” – an issue that’s difficult to resolve with a single nationwide policy. As concerns mount of dramatic over-supply on the back of extrapolated urbanization dreams, Zhou notes, “The economy has slowed down a bit, but not very much,” adding that “we should keep vigilance on whether it continues to slow down.” Which is odd because US talking heads have made up their minds that China is fixed…

 

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May 14

- What Can Possibly Go Wrong: In China Homes Are Offered “Zero Money Down” (ZeroHedge, May 14, 2014):

How is China, which as we explained yesterday just completed a very bearish “head-and-mutated-shoulders” formation in its “gloomy” housing market and where the entire economy is threatened with imploding into a hollow house of cards (built in one of the Chinese ghost cities no less) because according to SocGen “the aggregate exposure of China’s financial system to the property market is likely to be as much as 80% of GDP“, dealing with the threat of a housing market, and thus economic, and thus global depression? Here’s how.

From Global Times:
Continue reading »

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May 13

Flashback:

- Prince Charles Says His Ancestry Can Be Traced Back To Vlad The Impaler, The Inspiration For Dracula:

The last thing I expected was for Prince Charles to crack a joke about being descended from Dracula.

But when I spoke to him for my new TV show Wild Carpathia, he told me he can trace his ancestry back, through his great-grandmother Queen Mary, to the half-brother of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula. Prince Charles seemed quite amused by his dark lineage.


Dracula's Castle2

- Europe’s Luxury Home Bubble: People Are Dying To Own Dracula’s Castle (ZeroHedge, May 12, 2014):

With 560,000 visitors a year, Dracula’s Castle may not be the ideal seclusion spot for the uber-wealthy European real estate magnate, but, as the realtor notes “n the right hands it has the potential to generate far more revenue than we could ever imagine,” – we suspect followed by an echoing ‘mwuahahahahaha’. Construction on Bran Castle (for it’s not actually Vlad The Impaler’s residence of old but he was imprisoned there briefly) began in 1377 and as HuffPo notes, the 57-room manor on 22 acres has been on the market several times in recent years, with investors at one point hoping to get $135 million. As the firm running the castle noted, “If someone comes in with a reasonable offer, we will seriously entertain the idea.” We suspect people will be dying to buy this and with rates so low, it won’t bleed you dry either...

But it doesn’t look so scary…

Dracula's Castle1

Actually more bond villain than blood-sucker…

Dracula's Castle2

Not so sunny courtyard…

Dracula's Castle3

Inside is a little more spooky

Dracula's Castle4

Wardrobes are full…

Dracula's Castle5

And a spacious living room…

Dracula's Castle6

The property comes with a long list of previous owners: everyone from Saxons to Hungarians to Teutonic knights. And although the facilities may not be exactly state-of-the-art (the plumbing is reported to require some work), there’s no questioning the detachedness of the property. It stands on top of a hill, and is most definitely not overlooked by neighbours….

And yes, we all know that the bloodsucking vampire Count Dracula was a purely fictional character, invented by the British writer Bram Stoker, and made famous in films starring sharp-fanged Christopher Lee. But the fearsome real-life Vlad “The Impaler” Tepes famously operated in this area in the 15th century. Indeed, he is said to have been imprisoned in Bran Castle for a couple of months. On top of which, Transylvanian legend and folklore are full of characters called strigoi. These ghostly beings leave their corporeal bodies when darkness falls and roam the surrounding valleys searching for sleeping villagers to terrify….

There’s enough land to build a small hotel, he adds. “And we’re also installing a glass elevator that will lead to a tunnel in the mountain, with a light show featuring Dracula and the whole history of the place.

“That’s why we’d like whoever buys the castle to continue running it as a tourist destination. This isn’t just a national monument, it’s the largest and most significant attraction in Romania.”

Obama-Bush-Cheney-heredity

 

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May 11

- Bizarro Housing Bubble Spills Over Into “Overbid Madness”, $10 Million “Flips” In 24 Hours (ZeroHedge, May 10, 2014):

While the housing bubble for anything but the ultra luxury segment has long since popped with $1.1 trillion of student loans playing a significant role in the burst, (as explained in “Stick A Fork In The “Housing Recovery“), as can be seen in the chart below which shows that the only increase in existing home sales from a year ago is that for the $500 and over price range (which accounts for only 10% of all actual transactions)….

Houses by price range_0

… when it comes to the luxury segment, things have moved beyond the simply bizarre and have entered outright surreal territory. Continue reading »

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May 03

- Implosion of Housing Bubble 2 Hits Six Cities in the West (Testosterone Pit, May 1, 2014)

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Apr 30

- Real Overpriced Counties of America: Orange County named most overpriced county in the entire United States. Fitch Ratings and Trulia point to a bubble in the OC with prices overvalued by 30 percent. (Dr. Housing Bubble, April 29, 2014):

When it comes to real estate, we know that Californians enjoy drinking from the gold cup of mania. Lusting over real estate seems to be as common as traffic on the 405. People in California have a deep rooted cultural and economic amnesia. I bet half the population has very little idea regarding the history of many cities in Southern California. Heck, most don’t even know where their drinking water comes from. So trying to discuss Fed policy, skewing based on investors, or market manipulation with a large portion of people is like talking to your dog about Hemmingway. Some people only understand “real estate goes up!” and when it doesn’t, they only understand “buying is bad!” California real estate is overvalued by most economic measures. Sure, people are willing to pay insane prices but they did this as well in 2006 and 2007 and people also paid crazy prices for tech companies in a previous delusion based boom. Investors are pulling back because they simply don’t perceive value at current prices. We are now seeing more reports putting a price on how overvalued the region is. Fitch Ratings and Trulia both point to SoCal as being massively overpriced. In fact, Fitch Ratings has Orange County overvalued by a whopping 30 percent. Congratulations to Orange County for being the most overpriced county in the entire United States. Continue reading »

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Apr 30

- A mortuary of 7,000,000 foreclosures and counting: Nation still faces 9.1 million properties that are seriously underwater. (Dr. Housing Bubble, April 20, 2014):

If a foreclosure happens in the wilderness, does it make a sound? It seems like people have conveniently forgotten that since the housing crisis hit we have witnessed more than 7,000,000+ foreclosures. Do you think these people believe the Fed is almighty and can stop a speeding train or turn water into wine? Apparently some people forget that the Fed failed to prevent the tech bust or the housing bust in the first place. Now, the Fed is somehow the cult leader and the leader will not let housing values fall. The nation still has 9.1 million seriously underwater homeowners on top of the more than 7 million that have gone through foreclosure. It is abundantly clear that the mindless drivel of “buying is always a good decision” is just that. Investors are starting to pull back in expensive states because value is harder to find. I see the lemmings at open houses and you can see the drool at the side of their mouths hoping for a morsel of real estate. The Fed, for better or worse, has turned us all into speculators. Simply putting your money in a bank is a losing battle because inflation is eroding your buying power. Yet wages are not keeping up. What you have is people competing with investors, foreign money, and a market with low inventory and trying to guess the next move from the Fed. Yet the tech bust and housing crash (keep in mind these happened only since 2000) were major events not prevented by the Fed. Continue reading »

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Apr 06

- Zillow Study Shows 1 in 3 Homes are Unaffordable, Meanwhile Vacation Home Sales Soar (Liberty Blitzkrieg, April 5, 2014):

In a further demonstration of the socially destructive and ever widening gap between the haves and have nots, we see that the affluent are buying second homes at an ever increasing clip (up 30% last year), while first home buyers recede into the abyss as private equity and Chinese buyers make purchasing a home unaffordable for the average American.

Specifically, a recent study from Zillow showed that more than half the homes in seven major American cities are unaffordable based on historical standards. Those cities are: Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, San Jose and Portland, Ore. Nationwide, it found that 1 in 3 homes were unaffordable. The results seem to back up housing analyst Mark Hanson’s recent conclusion that despite low interest rates, housing is even less affordable than the most bubbly year ever, 2006.

This also appears to be a primary reason behind Zillow now actively pitching its U.S. real estate listing to the Chinese, many of whom are corrupt and looking to launder ill gotten gains.

First, from Housing Wire: Continue reading »

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Apr 03

The-United-States-A-Colony-Of-China

- The Chinese Are Acquiring Large Chunks Of Land In Communities All Over America (The Truth, March 31, 2014):

Has the United States ever experienced a time when a foreign nation has attempted to buy up so much of our land all at once?  As you will read about in this article, the Chinese are on a real estate buying spree all over America.  In fact, in some cases large chunks of land are actually being given to them.  Yes, you read that correctly.  China is on the way to becoming the dominant land owner in the entire country, and that is starting to alarm a lot of people.  Do we really want a foreign superpower to physically own so much of our territory?

There are some that are playing down this threat by making a distinction between the Chinese government and Chinese corporations, but things work differently over in China than they do here.  In China, the government is involved in everything.  In fact, 43 percent of all corporate profits in China are produced by companies that the Chinese government controls.  And all of the rest of the companies are very careful to follow the lead and direction of the Chinese government.

Continue reading »

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Apr 03

H/t reader M.G.:

“Another story from the UK Guardian….about Detroit. This is happening all over America while our corrupt leaders fiddle………”


A vacant and blighted home on Detroit's east side
A vacant and blighted home on Detroit’s east side. Photograph: Reuters

- The death of a great American city: why does anyone still live in Detroit? (Guardian, April 3, 2014):

The city’s social contract was shredded long ago and everyone knows time is running out – but some Detroiters have hope

Khalil Ligon couldn’t tell if the robbers were in her house. She had just returned home to find her front window smashed and a brick lying among shattered glass on the floor. Ligon, an urban planner who lives alone on Detroit’s east side, stepped out and called the police.

It wasn’t the first time Ligon’s home had been broken into, she told me. And when Detroit police officers finally arrived the next day, surveying an area marred by abandoned structures and overgrown vegetation, they asked Ligon a question she often ponders herself: why is she still in Detroit?

Continue reading »

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Mar 27

- China’s Credit Pipeline Slams Shut: Companies Scramble For The Last Drops Of Liquidity (ZeroHedge, March 27, 2014):

One of our favorite charts summarizing perfectly the Chinese credit bubble, better than any other, is the following which compares bank asset (i.e., loan) creation in China vs the US.

US vs China Bank Assets

It goes without saying that while the blue line has troubles of its own (namely finding the proper rate of liquidity lubrication to keep over $600 trillion in derivatives from collapsing into an epic gross=net garbage heap), it is the red one, that of China, where $1 trillion in credit was created in the fourth quarter alone, that is clearly unsustainable for the simple reasons that i) China will quickly run out of encumbrable assets and ii) the bad, non-performing loan accumulation has hit an exponential phase, which incidentally is why Beijing is scrambling to slow down the “flow” from the current unprecedented pace of $3.5 trillion per year.

Continue reading »

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Mar 26

- China’s Yuan Drops Most In A Week As Property Developers Tumble (ZeroHedge, March 25, 2014):

When we left China last night, it was all shits and giggles that bad news is great news and a Chinese stimulus plan will be here any minute to save the day. Having realized the sad fact that is not going to happen (as we explained here most recently) and the specter of banks runs looming, this evening’s session has seen property developer stocks tumble – retracing all of last night’s losses – the Yuan plunges by the most in a week back above 6.2150. Copper is holding in for now at the magic $300 level but corporate bond prices are falling once again (worst run in 4 months).

The Yuan is dumping at its fastest rate in a week…erasing all the hope-strewn gains from yesterday

20140325_CHIN1

Property Developers are taking it on the chin…

20140325_CHIN2

And it’s no wonder, as Bloomberg notes… Continue reading »

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Mar 23

- Which Firm Controls “The World’s Most Powerful Address”? (ZeroHedge, March 23, 2014):

For the answer of which firm is responsible, and has the largest number of current and former tenants occupying the building located at 15 CPW which we profiled before, and which Bloomberg TV defines as the “world’s most powerful address” – a location whose residents control nearly half a trillion in assets under management – fast forward to 3:20 in the clip below. Hint: listen for the “dog whistle.” 

(click here if the video does not appear)

For those curious, here are some additional facts about 15 CPW courtesy of Curbed. Continue reading »

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Mar 22

The £250MILLION home - London house set to become UKs most expensive property ever sold as it is put up for sale
The £250MILLION home: London house set to become UK’s most expensive property ever sold as it is put up for sale

- IMF’s Property Tax Hike Proposal Comes True With UK Imposing “Mansion Tax” As Soon As This Year (ZeroHedge, March 22, 2014):

One could see this one coming from a mile away.

It was a week ago that we highlighted the latest implied IMF proposal on how to reduce income inequality, quietly highlighted in its paper titled “Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality“. The key fragment in the paper said the following: Continue reading »

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Mar 20

- Stick A Fork In The “Housing Recovery” (Spoiler Alert: Blame Record Student Debt) (ZeroHedge, March 20, 2014):

The chart below from Bank of America – showing the progression of first-time US homebuyers in recent months – should scare everyone who still believes that there is some sort of “housing recovery” in the US.

First Time Homebuyers

Continue reading »

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Mar 19

- China’s Housing Problem In One Chart (ZeroHedge, March 19, 2014):

The one problem with every Ponzi scheme is that it must constantly grow, in both demand and supply terms, for the mass delusion to continue. The other problem, of course, is that every Ponzi scheme always comes to an end…. which may have just happened in China where as the chart below shows, as of this moment at least, the supply side to the Chinese housing ponzi (and recall that in China the bubble is not in the stock market like in the US, but in housing) has slammed shut.

China housing starts

Source: BofA

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Mar 18

- Yuan Tumbles To 11-Month Lows As China Home Price Growth Slows (ZeroHedge, March 17, 2014):

It would appear that the widening of the daily trading bands (we discussed last night) are having a directional effect on USDCNY as the devaluation continues on the back of forced carry-trade unwinds. At 6.19, CNY is its weakest in 11 months (2.5% weaker than its lows in January) and the last 2 months have seen by far the biggest weakening in the currency on record. This ‘implied’ easing is modestly supporting the stock market and copper for now (though we suspect that is more spillover from risk-on squeezes post-Ukraine). While Goldman and BofA are adamant that widening the bands will not mean a change in trend overall, it seems clear that hot money is outflowing and driving a trend change anyway as corporate bond prices are not rising and home-price appreciation is slowing in the major cities.

USDCNY drops 100 pips to 6.19 – lowest in 11 months…

20140117_cny

Continue reading »

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Mar 16

- If You Are Considering Buying A House, Read This First (ZeroHedge, March 15, 2014):

In September of 2011, when looking at the insurmountable debt catastrophe that the world finds itself (which has only gotten worse in the past several years) we warned that “the only way to resolve the massive debt load is through a global coordinated debt restructuring (which would, among other things, push all global banks into bankruptcy) which, when all is said and done, will have to be funded by the world’s financial asset holders: the middle-and upper-class, which, if BCS is right, have a ~30% one-time tax on all their assets to look forward to as the great mean reversion finally arrives and the world is set back on a viable path.”

Two years later, the financial asset tax approach, in the form of depositor bail-ins, was tried – successfully (as there was no mass rioting, no revolution, in fact the people were perfectly happy to accept the confiscation of their savings) – in Cyprus, further emboldening the status quo, in this case the IMF, to propose, tongue in cheek, that the time has come for the uber-wealthy to give back some (“it’s only fair”), and to raise income taxes through the roof (which of course would mostly impact the middle class as the bulk of current income for the 1% is in the form of dividend income, ultra-cheap leverage extraction on assets and various forms of carried interest).

And now, a new tax is not only on the horizon but coming fast and furious to allow the insolvent global regime at least one more can kicking: one which will impact current and future homeowners across the world.

But first, let’s step back. Continue reading »

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