Policy

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Texas Economic Development Fueled By Taxpayer-Funded Corporate Subsidies

Texas economic development continues to be fueled by taxpayer-funded corporate subsidies. An estimated $1.4 billion in property tax revenue has gone uncollected in Texas from 2005 to 2015 as a result of Chapter 313. These are the findings from the state auditor's report in October 2016. As Texas Observer detailed last year, the free lunch to corporations doing business in the state of Texas has seen steady growth year after year. The Texas Economic Development Act, or Chapter 313 as it's known in the tax code, has now racked up an estimated $7 billion cost [...]

By | 2017-08-19T10:57:02+00:00 February 11th, 2017|Economy, Energy & Utilities, Politics, Texas Property Taxes|0 Comments

Senate Bill 2 Insufficient Fix For A Broken System

After numerous meetings throughout the state taking copious amounts of public input through the Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief, Paul Bettencourt has filed Senate Bill 2 dubbed the Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2017. Among other things, the bill would require cities and counties to ask for voter approval for any property tax hike greater than 4 percent. More interestingly, the bill will not affect school district taxes. School property taxes make up roughly half of the property tax bill for Katy and Houston area homeowners. This bill would do [...]

By | 2017-08-19T11:02:58+00:00 December 10th, 2016|Politics, Real Estate, Spin Cycle|0 Comments

Debt, Deficits & Housing – The Smoke & Mirrors “Recovery”

Many among the status quo have defended the last 8 years as a productive "recovery" from the abyss of financial armageddon unleashed by our criminal banking sector. The efficacy of the recovery depends on the person responding to the question. For the vast majority of the U.S. population, there has been no recovery, but instead a steady decline. If you have been paying attention to the early release of season 5 of 'House of Cards', speaking of the email data dump exposing our corrupt political machine for all to see, the reasons behind the phony [...]

Foreign Investment In U.S. Real Estate Cools In 2016, But China Still Leads List Of Funny Money

The National Association of Realtors has published its latest survey profiling foreign buyers of U.S. real estate, and the latest data is remarkable for a number of reasons. Not surprisingly, China is still the largest source of foreign investment into U.S. homes and property. Something also worth noting is the decline of to total investment dollars reaching its way into the United States. It appears that the latest global central-bank-sponsored asset bubble may be finally popping once again. This will be a particular cause for concern for those wealthy property owners who have bought into [...]

Dallas Fed Chief Calls For Investment In Education While Fed Pays Billions To Banks On Excess Reserves

File this one in the Orwellian chronicles of America. This is the kind of news that writes itself because it is so absurd, such an insult to our collective intelligence that you couldn't imagine a rational human being with a soul offering up such a steeping pile of horseshit. Enter Robert S. Kaplan, the new chair of the Dallas Federal Reserve and by default the chief monetary policymaker in the American southwest. Why is Mr. Kaplan concerned about investments in education in Texas? Perhaps we should educate ourselves to find out. Speaking to an audience [...]

By | 2016-10-05T11:11:14+00:00 May 26th, 2016|Economy, Education, Politics, Spin Cycle|0 Comments

Mortgage Rates Drop As “Recovery” Drowns In The Sea Of Central Bank Market Manipulations

"Anyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction." Barack Obama - SOTU January 2016 2016 has seen one of the worst starts to a year ever for major U.S. stock indices ever, and that means mortgage rates have continued to fall during the first two weeks of the year. For those who were rushing to lock in a sub-4 percent mortgage, there really was no need to rush. It is now easy to get a 3.75 percent fixed rate 30-year mortgage here in the Houston area. Mortgage rates are driven by demand [...]

By | 2017-02-03T23:27:53+00:00 January 16th, 2016|Economy, Housing Policy, Mortgage Rates, Real Estate, Spin Cycle|0 Comments

City of Austin Sues State Of Texas Over Unequal Appraisal System

It appears the City of Austin is taking the bull by the horns in addressing Texas' broken property tax system. The city yesterday announced a lawsuit against the state of Texas over unequal appraisals that continue to burden residential homeowners. The new lawsuit stems from Austin's challenge of TCAD commercial values earlier this summer. In that independent TCAD analysis, commercial property appraisals were shown to be under market value by as much as 50 percent. This of course would contradict the state constitutional mandate that all property be taxed "in proportion to its value". The [...]

By | 2015-08-26T11:40:42+00:00 August 25th, 2015|Housing Policy, Politics, Spin Cycle, Video|0 Comments

Hovnanian Shares Plummet 14 Percent, Homebuilders Standing At The Precipice

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." Shares of Hovnanian Enterprises fell out of bed again today, plummeting 14 percent to close at $1.71 per share. Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) is now down a whopping 50 percent YTD, with no signs of the hemorrhaging ending anytime soon. If anything, the drop in Hovnanian's stock seems to be picking up steam. Other homebuilders were clipped today as well. Beazer Homes (BZH) dropped more than 6 percent today after reporting tepid third quarter results, and several other builders were selling off with Hovnanian's [...]

Why Economists Forecasts Are Less Than Useful

Mish Shedlock has an interesting post titled "Why Are Economists Predictions So Damn Awful?". The chart of the Federal Reserve's GDP forecasts during the last few years is extremely entertaining. Thankfully the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow forecast seems to be tracking real economic activity pretty well, accurately capturing the current weakness in the US economy. The simple answer for why economists' forecasts are supremely awful boils down to this: "It's difficult to get a man to understand something, when is salary depends upon his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair As Mish correctly points out, economists often [...]

By | 2016-02-02T11:47:08+00:00 May 19th, 2015|Economy, Humor, Real Estate, Spin Cycle|0 Comments

March Housing Starts, Permits Disappoint As Builders’ Optimism Gets A Reality Check

The Census Bureau reported that March housing starts and permits were a little lighter than expected. Single-family housing starts for March posted at a rate of 618,000. That was 4.4 percent above February numbers, but nowhere near the liftoff many housing pundits were expecting. Starts of five-unit structures posted at a rate of 287,000. Permits for single-family structures posted at a rate of 636,000, 2.1 percent above revised February numbers. Authorizations for apartments came in at a rate of 378,000 in March. The 926,000 annual rate for housing starts was well shy of the expectations of [...]