All You Need To Know About Today’s Bitcoin Futures Contract

CBOE Global Markets Inc and CME Group Inc will launch futures contracts on bitcoin on Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 respectively. Here are some of the differences between the products to be offered by the exchange operators.

CONTRACT UNIT

  • The CBOE Bitcoin Futures Contract will use the ticker XBT and will equal one bitcoin.
  • The CME Bitcoin Futures Contract will use the ticker BTC and will equal five bitcoins.

PRICING AND SETTLEMENT

  • Both Cboe’s and CME’s bitcoin futures contracts will be settled in U.S. dollars, allowing exposure to the bitcoin without actually having to hold any of the cryptocurrency.
  • Cboe’s contract will be priced off of a single auction at 4 p.m. Eastern time (2100 GMT) on the final settlement date on the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange.
  • CME’s contract will be priced off of the CME Bitcoin Reference Rate, an index that references pricing data from cryptocurrency exchanges, currently made up of Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken.

TRADING HOURS

  • Cboe’s XBT contract will trade on CFE, with regular trading hours of 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Eastern time on Mondays and 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m Tuesday through Friday. Extended hours will be 6 p.m. Sunday to 9:30 a.m. Monday, and 4:30 p.m. Monday through to 9:30 a.m. Friday.
  • CME’s BTC will trade on CME Globex and CME ClearPort Sunday to Friday from 6 p.m. – 5 p.m. Eastern time with a one-hour break each day beginning at 5 p.m.

MARGIN RATE AND CLEARING

  • Cboe’s contract will clear through the Options Clearing Corporation and a 44 percent margin rate will apply.
  • CME’s contract will clear through CME ClearPort and will have a 35 percent initial margin rate.

CONTRACT EXPIRATIONS

  • Cboe said it may list up to four weekly contracts, three near-term serial months, and three months on the March quarterly cycle.
  • CME said it will list monthly contracts for the nearest two months in the March quarterly cycle (March, June, Sept., Dec.) plus the nearest two serial months not in the March quarterly cycle.

PRICE LIMITS AND TRADING HALTS

  • Cboe will halt trading in its contract for 2 minutes if the best bid in the XBT futures contract closest to expiration is 10 percent or more above or below the daily settlement price of that contract on the prior business day.
  • Once trading resumes, if the best bid in the XBT futures contract closest to expiration is 20 percent or more above or below the daily settlement price of that contract on the prior business day, the futures will be halted for 5 minutes.
  • CME will apply price limits, also known as circuit breakers, to its bitcoin futures of 7 percent, 13 percent, and 20 percent to the futures fixing price. Trading will not be allowed outside of the 20 percent price limit.

Sources: ZeroHedge | Reuters, CBOE and CME

Advertisements

California Is Running Out Of Prisoners To Fight Their Wildfires

While many on the left have celebrated California’s push to legalize marijuana as a victory for a progressive, harm-reduction approach to combating addiction and crime, the pullback in the number of low-level prisoners entering the state’s penal system is leaving the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Court mandates to reduce overcrowding in the state’s prisons – combined with the legalization of marijuana, the most commonly used drug in America (aside from alcohol, of course) – have led to a sharp drop in the number of prisoners housed at state facilities in recent years. Interestingly, one byproduct of this trend is it’s creating headaches for the state officials who are responsible for coordinating the emergency wildfire response just as California Gov. Jerry Brown is warning that the severe fires witnessed this year – the most destructive in the state’s history – could become the new status quo.

To wit, since 2008, the number of prisoner-firemen has fallen 13%.

https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/11/20/2017.12.10firefightersprison.JPG

As the Atlantic reports, California has relied on inmates to help combat its annual wildfires since World War II, when a paucity of able-bodied men due to the war effort forced the state to turn to the penal system for help. More than 1,700 convicted felons fought on the front lines of the destructive wildfires that raged across Northern California in October.

While communities from Sonoma to Mendocino evacuated in the firestorm’s path, these inmates worked shifts of up to 72 straight hours to contain the blaze and protect the property residents left behind, clearing brush and other potential fuel and digging containment lines often just feet away from the flames. Hundreds more are on the fire line now, combating the inferno spreading across Southern California.

But over the course of the last decade, their ranks have begun to thin. As drought and heat have fueled some of the worst fires in California’s history, the state has faced a court mandate to reduce overcrowding in its prisons. State officials, caught between an increasing risk of wildfires and a decreasing number of prisoners eligible to fight them, have striven to safeguard the valuable labor inmates provide by scrambling to recruit more of them to join the force. Still, these efforts have been limited by the courts, public opinion, and how far corrections officials and elected leaders have been willing to go…

With dry conditions expected to persist for the foreseeable future, California will need to adjust to this new reality. Meanwhile, the fate of the inmate-firefighting program lies in the balance between two trends: the increasing need for cheap labor, and the pending decline in incarceration.

The push to reduce overcrowding is a reaction to the rising incarceration rates of the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton declared gangsters and criminals “superpredators” and authorized stiff penalties for relatively minor drug offenses.

For inmates, the reduction in state prison populations that first nudged that balance was long overdue. In the 1990s and 2000s, increasingly severe overcrowding in California prisons compromised medical services for prisoners and led to roughly one preventable death each week. A federal court ruled in 2009 that the inadequate health care violated the Eighth Amendment’s embargo against cruel and unusual punishment, and ordered the state to reduce its prison population by just shy of 27 percent – a cut of nearly 40,000 prisoners at the time of the ruling. California appealed the decision, but the Supreme Court upheld it in May 2011.

As one might expect, the push to reduce overcrowding has had the greatest impact on the population of inmates in minimum security prisons. Typically, state officials prefer to recruit minimum security inmates who are already serving relatively light sentences and thus have the most incentive to cooperate and not cause problems (like disappearing into the wilderness).

Also, state guidelines prohibit the recruitment of certain violent criminals and, of course, sex offenders.

The pool of potential recruits was limited long before the courts’ mandate. It comprises only inmates who earn a minimum-custody status through good behavior behind bars and excludes arsonists, kidnappers, sex offenders, gang affiliates, and those serving life sentences. To join the squad, inmates must meet high physical standards and complete a demanding course of training. They also have to volunteer.

“But,” cautioned David Fathi, the director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, “you have to understand the uniquely coercive prison environment, where few things are clearly voluntary.” In the eyes of criminal-justice reformers, corrections officials recruit inmates under duress. “In light of the vast power inequality between prisoners and those who employ them,” Fathi continued, “there is a real potential for exploitation and abuse.”

Aside from the shrinking inmate population, a handful of inmate deaths this year while battling the NorCal wildfires is causing some low-level offenders to reconsider whether the incentives being offered by the state – credit toward parole, and a generous wage (at least by prison standards) – are really worth the risks.

Many inmates join the force to escape unpalatable prison conditions. In doing so they take on great personal risk, performing tasks that put them in greater danger than most of their civilian counterparts, who work farther from the flames driving water trucks and flying helicopters, among other activities. By contrast, inmates are often the first line of defense against fires’ spread, as they’re trained specifically to cut firebreaks—trenches or other spaces cleared of combustible material—to stop or redirect advancing flames. The work can be fatal: So far this year, two inmates have died in the line of duty, along with one civilian wildland-firefighter. The first, 26-year-old Matthew Beck, was crushed by a falling tree; the second, 22-year-old Frank Anaya, was fatally wounded by a chainsaw.

“Obviously this is not something that everyone is willing to volunteer for,” said Bill Sessa, a CDCR spokesman. “We’ve always been limited by the number of inmates who were willing to volunteer for the project.” Even when state prisons were at their most crowded, the camps where inmate firefighters live weren’t filled to capacity. And as the pool of qualified prisoners has contracted, he said, corrections officials have had to “work harder now than we did before to bring the camp to the inmates’ attention.”

In an effort to entice more recruits to join up, state officials are trying to emphasize the benefits of volunteering to fight the blazes: Volunteer firefighters can receive visits from family out in the open, instead of behind a thick pane of glass. It also allows them to escape the confines of the prison – for a brief time at least.

But with legal marijuana rapidly draining the ranks of low level offenders, a sizable shortfall will likely to persist in the years to come.

And after the death and devastation wrought by this year’s fires, many inmates have good reason to reconsider.

After all, you can’t enjoy visits with family and friends when you’re dead.

Source: ZeroHedge

What’s Hot: Home Trends in the Pipeline for 2018

Every industry tracks innovations in its field, and housing is no different. As a real estate pro, here are the need-to-know products and services promising to transform homes and your clients’ lifestyles over the next year or so.

https://i2.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/imagecache/400xY/dec17_HD_trends.jpg

The big-picture view on housing trends in 2018 center around integrating technology and creating healthy and connected living environments. That’s why building materials, systems, and products that speak to these concerns are expected to generate greater buzz in the coming year. And with more generations living under the same roof, home-related features that provide an extra pair of hands or calming—even spiritual—influence are also being enthusiastically embraced. Here’s a sampling of coming trends that are important to understand and share with clients.

The Rise of the Tech Guru

https://i0.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_guru.jpg

Why now: Smart homes are getting smarter, with homeowners increasingly purchasing devices and apps that perform tasks such as opening blinds, operating sprinkler systems, and telling Alexa what food to order. But not all these helpers speak the same language, nor do they always work together harmoniously. “Even plugs and chargers aren’t necessarily universal for different appliances and phones,” says Lisa Cini, senior living designer and author of The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined (iUniverse, 2016). Also, with more devices competing for airtime, Wi-Fi systems may not be strong enough to operate throughout a home, which results in dead spots, she says. “What many homeowners need is a skilled tech provider who makes house calls, assesses what’s needed, and makes all the tech devices hum effortlessly at the same time.”

What you should do: More buyers want to see listings updated to take advantage of all technological possibilities from the moment they move in. Add a home technology source to your list of trusted experts. You might even be able to offer a free first visit as a closing gift.

* * *

Smart Glass Adds Privacy, Energy Savings

https://i0.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_tint.jpg

Why now: As more homes feature bigger and more numerous windows, homeowners will naturally look for ways to pare down the energy costs, lack of privacy, and harmful ultraviolet rays that can accompany them. Next year, glass company Kinestral will begin offering a residential option to their line of windows and skylights. Called Halio, the technology allows users to tint glazing electronically up to 99.9 percent opacity. The company claims this can eliminate the need for blinds, shades, and curtains. “You’ll be able to tell Alexa to tint your windows, which will also provide privacy,” says Craig Henricksen, vice president of product and marketing for Halio. He notes that previously, the commercial version only offered the choice between yellow, brown, or blue casts, but that they’ll now add in an appealing gray tint to the mix. Windows come in a variety of sizes, and contractors can install the cable and low voltage system required to change the tinting. Homeowners can control the tint by voice command through an app, manual operation with switch, or with preset controls. Henricksen says Halio can save homeowners up to 40 percent off their energy bill, and that while the initial cost is around five to six times greater than similar low-E glass, the fact that traditional window treatments won’t be needed means the investment gap narrows.

What you should do: This is an important option to keep in mind if buyers are unsure about big, long runs of windows in a listing. It may make sense to price out options for your particular listing to help home shoppers understand how much it might cost to retrofit the space with such technology.

* * *

Spiritual Gardens That Lift the Soul

https://i1.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_garden.jpg

Why now: Homeowners have long seen their gardens as a place for quiet reflection, so choosing plants and designs that have a physical tie to spirituality is a natural next move. The trend may have started with Bible gardens, which use any number of the more than 100 plants mentioned in the Christian text to populate a restful repose. “So many are good choices because they are hardy, scented, edible, and can withstand harsh climates and environments,” says F. Nigel Hepper, with the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, and author of Illustrative Encyclopedia of Biblical Plants (Inter-Varsity Press, 1992). But people of all faiths, or even those simply drawn to botanical history, can appreciate such spaces. “Around for generations, they feed the body and the soul,” says landscape designer Michael Glassman, who designed such a garden in the shape of a Jewish star as a meditative spot at one of Touro University’s campuses. He filled it with mint, pomegranate trees, sage, and other plants that are mentioned in ancient religious texts. Hepper says labeling and providing detailed context to plantings can transform a miscellaneous, obscure collection into an instructive experience.

What you should do: Find out if your local area has a peace garden that could provide examples of this trend. Homeowners might also find inspiration on the grounds of hospitals and assistance care facilities, which often create healing gardens for patients and family members.

* * *

Kitchens That Do More Than Just Look Pretty

https://i1.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_kitchen.jpg

Why now: An emphasis on eating fresh, healthy foods may mean more frequent trips to grocery stores and farmers markets, but it could also change the architecture of our kitchens. Portland, Ore.–based designer Robin Rigby Fisher says many of her higher-end clients want a refrigerator-only column to store their fresh foods, installing a freezer or freezer drawer in a separate pantry or auxiliary kitchen. The container-gardening industry is vying for counter space with compact growing kits that often feature self-watering capabilities and grow lights. Fisher is also getting more requests for steam ovens that cook and reheat foods without stripping them of key nutrients, though she notes that these ovens can cost $4,000 and have a steeper learning curve than conventional ones. Homeowners also want to be able to use their kitchen comfortably, which means having different or variable counter heights that work for each member of the family, ample light for safe prepping, easy-to-clean counter tops, and flooring that’s softer underfoot, such as cork.

What you should do: Be able to point out the beneficial elements of appliances and features in your listing, such as the antimicrobial nature of surfaces like quartzite and copper.

* * *

Home Robots to the Rescue

https://i0.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_robot.jpg

Why now: With lifestyles that seem busier by the day and many families inviting elders who require assistance to live with them, robots that can perform multiple services are gaining in popularity. IRobot’s Braava robots mop and vacuum floors, while Heykuri’s Kuri robot captures short videos of key life moments, including pets’ antics when owners are away. Some robots offer health benefits that mimic real pets, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, says Cini. She says Hasbro’s Joy for All line of furry robot dogs and cats can provide companionship for the elderly with dementia.

What you should do: Ask buyers about pain points in their current homes that might be mitigated by these new interactive technologies.

* * *

Black Is the New Gray

https://i2.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_black.jpg

Why now: Palettes change all the time, and some feel the interest in black is a welcome contrast after years of off-whites, grays, and beiges. The hue is coming on strong in every category—appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting, metal finishes, hardware, and soft goods, according to commercial interior designer Mary Cook of Mary Cook Associates. She appreciates black’s classic, neutral, sophisticated touch and notes it can be a universal mixer. “Black is a welcome accent in any palette,” she says. Marvin Windows and Doors launched its Designer Black line this year, incorporating a hip industrial vibe. Designer Kristie Barnett, owner of the Expert Psychological Stager training company in Nashville, loves how black mullions draw the eye out toward exterior views more efficiently than white windows can. Kohler has released its popular Numi line and Iron Works freestanding bath in black. Even MasterBrand cabinets are available in black stains and paints. For homeowners who prefer to step lightly into the trend, Chicago designer Jessica Lagrange suggests painting a door black.

What you should do: Suggest black accents as an option for sellers looking to update their homes to appear more modern.

* * *

Air Locks Preserve Energy, Increase Security

https://i1.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_air.jpg

Why now: Incorporating two airtight doors has become a popular way for homeowners to cut energy costs. The double barrier helps keep outside air from entering the main portion of the house and provides a better envelope seal. “We rarely design a house nowadays without one,” says Orren Pickell, president of Orren Pickell Building Group in Northfield, Ill. It’s not just energy homeowners save, though; Pickell says it also supports the trend of more people shopping online. “It keeps packages safer than being left in full view” because delivery services can leave them inside the first door. Homeowners will need a minimum area of five feet squared in order to make this work. Costs vary by project size but it could run homeowners as much as $10,000 to add a small space beyond a front or back door. This usually costs less in new construction or as part of a larger remodeling project, Pickell says.

What you should do: If homeowners are thinking about making changes to their main entryway, be sure to alert them to this trend so they can decide if it makes sense to incorporate it. It may be expensive, but it’s not likely to go out of fashion anytime soon.

* * *

Maximized Side Yards

https://i1.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_side.jpg

Why now: As a national trend toward smaller lot sizes combines with surging interest in maximizing outdoor space, one area that’s often neglected is the side yard. But designers are beginning to pay attention, transforming these afterthoughts into aesthetically pleasing, functional places that buffer a home from neighbors, says Glassman. He suggests growing plants such as star jasmine, climbing roses, and clematis vertically along the siding or a fence. He has created a pleasant pass-through to a backyard, with meandering walkways flanked by ornamental grasses or honeysuckle. Homeowners who have extra space here might consider adding a small recirculating water feature or a tiny sitting area.

What you should do: Pay special attention to side yards when evaluating a home that’s about to go up on the market. Sellers don’t need to spend much to make this space stand out, and any little thing is better than the feeling that the space has been “thrown away, since real estate is so valuable,” Glassman says.

* * *

Battery Backup Systems Offer Resilience

https://i0.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_power.jpg

Why now: Any home owner who’s experienced a weather-related disaster, such as hurricanes, forest fires, and torrential downpours, understands the peace of mind that comes from having systems in place to help withstand Mother Nature’s worst punches. One example of this is a battery backup that integrates into a home’s electric system and operates during power outages, says architect Nathan Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture + Planning in Chicago. The backup batteries can store either electricity from the grid or renewable energy generated onsite by solar panels or other means. A key advantage is that the system doesn’t create the noise and pollution you get with an old-school generator, because it doesn’t use natural gas or diesel fuel. While they’re generally more expensive than traditional fossil fuel systems, prices do continue to drop.

What you should do: Understand the difference between a battery backup system and a typical generator, even if you’re not working in an area that sees frequent extreme weather events.

* * *

Missing Middle Housing

https://i1.wp.com/realtormag.realtor.org/sites/realtormag.realtor.org/files/rmo_files/images/2017_dec/DEC17_AC_housing-r.jpg

Why now: Architect Daniel Parolek, principal at Opticos Design in Berkeley, Calif., sees a solution emerging for the mismatch between demand and the housing that’s actually been delivered over the last 20 to 30 years. “Thirty percent of home buyers are single, and their numbers may swell to 75 to 85 percent by 2040, yet 90 percent of available housing is designed for families and located in single-family home neighborhoods,” he says. Parolek says builders must fill in this demand with smaller housing of 600 to 1,200 square feet, usually constructed in styles such as duplexes and cottages communities, and preferably in walkable areas. He cites Holmes Homes’ small townhouses at Daybreak in South Jordan, Utah, as an affordable transit-oriented development that follows missing middle principles.

What you should do: Know where existing missing middle housing may be hiding in your community, so you can help buyers of all ages seeking smaller homes. Also, look for opportunities to invest, either for yourself or your clients, in a type of housing that will likely see more demand than supply in the coming years. 

By Barbara Ballinger | RealtorMag

Danish Mortgage Rates Drop to Negative 0.2%

In the land of negative rates, yet another record has been set

https://i1.wp.com/www.trafoodel.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/CopenhagenView-1024x562.jpg

The best time to visit Copenhagen is Summer—June, July, and August—when the days are long and relatively warm and outdoor cafes are crowded.

(Reuters – COPENHAGEN) – Interest rates in Denmark’s mortgage bond market, one of Europe’s largest, are hovering around their lowest ever levels due to strong international appetite for the top-rated bonds.

30 year fixed for 1.5%

The country’s largest mortgage lender Nykredit on Friday began issuing 30-year mortgage loans with a fixed rate of just 1.5 percent, revisiting a 2015 record-low.

“The low risk of these triple-A rated papers combined with interest rates of 1.5 to 2.0 percent is attractive in international comparison,” chief analyst Jeppe Borre of Totalkredit, a unit of Nykredit, said.

“Therefore we’ve seen foreigners increase their share of ownership in these bonds significantly”.

Most European bonds have rallied over the past month after the European Central Bank extended asset purchases until September 2018 and left it open-ended beyond that.

Investors are paying Danes to finance negative rates

Danske Bank, the second-largest mortgage lender, on Friday concluded the latest batch of auctions over ‘flex-loans’, one-year adjustable rate-loans, with an interest rate of negative 0.20 percent, the lowest ever for that bank.

“The economic developments in Denmark and Europe are pushing interest rates to these extremely low levels. It looks as if it will continue for some time to come,” senior economist Sonia Khan of Danske Bank’s mortgage unit Realkredit Danmark, said.

Some investors may also be choosing to place their money in Danish bonds rather than German ones due to the political uncertainty stemming from the prolonged coalition talks in Berlin, Khan added.

The main owner of Nykredit late on Thursday decided to go ahead with the sale of a 10.9 percent stake to five pension funds, putting an end to plans to publicly list the company.

Even A $1 Million Retirement Nest Egg Isn’t Enough Anymore

  • With more retirees responsible for their own financial security, even a $1 million nest egg isn’t nearly enough.
  • Considering the looming retirement savings shortfall, experts say there are only two ways out: Earn more or spend less.

A cool $1 million has long been considered the gold standard of retirement savings. These days, it’s only a fraction of what you will really need.

For instance, a 67-year-old baby boomer retiring now with $1 million in the bank will generate $40,000 a year to live on adjusted for inflation and assuming a sustainable withdrawal rate of 4 percent, said Mark Avallone, president of Potomac Wealth Advisors and author of “Countdown to Financial Freedom.”

It’s worse for a 42-year-old Gen Xer, whose $1 million at retirement will only generate an inflation-adjusted $19,000 a year when all is said and done. And a 32-year-old millennial planning to retire at 67 with $1 million would live below the poverty line.

That’s called “million-dollar poverty.

For most Americans, there’s been a serious lack of proper investment income and planning, Avallone said. That, coupled with inflation, a looming pension crisis and longer life expectancy, is “a toxic formula for successful retirement,” he said — one that will result in a dramatic drop-off in lifestyle for retirees.

“Today’s generation of working people grew up in an era where their parents went to a mailbox, and a check appeared. But pensions are almost extinct,” Avallone said. “People have to self-fund their retirement, and the enormity of that challenge is underestimated.”

WalletHub conducted a study this year to determine how long a nest egg of $1 million would really last. The personal finance site compared average expenses for people age 65 and older, including groceries, housing, utilities, transportation and health care.

Naturally, depending on where in the U.S. you live, the longevity of a $1 million nest egg varies. Those dollars stretched furthest in states like Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee, where retirees could live a life of leisure for at least a quarter of a century.

However, in Hawaii, where residents pay roughly 30 percent more for household items across the board, that same amount will only get you just shy of a dozen years — largely because of that higher cost of living and pricey real estate.

Considering that many families spend more than 100 percent of their income after taxes on monthly expenses alone, there are only two ways to overcome million-dollar poverty, Avallone said: Earn more or spend less.

For those nearing retirement, Avallone suggests getting a side gig, or “hobby job,” and then saving 100 percent of that income.

“The key is to automatically deposit that money in a savings or investment account,” he said.

Alternatively, take a hard look at your expenses and differentiate between what’s necessary and what’s discretionary. Then identify expenditures that can be cut back — which involves making some very tough decisions.

“Some are small, like lunches, but they add up,” he said. “Others are big, like private school.”

By Jessica Dickler | CNBC

California Residents Increasingly Ditching Their Massive Tax Bills And Unaffordable Housing For Las Vegas

https://timesofsandiego.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Newport-Beach.jpg

Newport Beach looking north toward Los Angeles. Photo by Ramey Logan via Wikimedia Commons

Los Angeles residents have apparently had just about enough of their city’s excessive home prices, un-affordable rents, crushing personal and corporate tax rates, overly burdensome regulations, polluted air, etc. and are increasingly leaving for a better life in Sin City.  As Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez puts it, “the rent steals so much of your paycheck, you might have to move back in with your parents, and half your life is spent staring at the rear end of the car in front of you.”

As Jonas Peterson points out, his family made the move from LA to Las Vegas in 2013 and were able to double the size of their house while lowering their mortgage payment all while enjoying the added benefits of moving from one of the most over-taxed states in America to one of the lowest taxed.

Las Vegas is one of the most popular destinations for those who leave California. It’s close, it’s a job center, and the cost of living is much cheaper, with plenty of brand-new houses going for between $200,000 and $300,000.

Jonas Peterson enjoyed the California lifestyle and trips to the beach while living in Valencia with his wife, a nurse, and their two young kids. But in 2013, he answered a call to head the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, and the family moved to Henderson, Nev.

“We doubled the size of our house and lowered our mortgage payment,” said Peterson, whose wife is focusing on the kids now instead of her career.

Part of Peterson’s job is to lure companies to Nevada, a state that runs on gaming money rather than tax dollars.

“There’s no corporate income tax, no personal income tax…and the regulatory environment is much easier to work with,” said Peterson.

Of course, while many residents of metropolitan areas like Los Angeles get addicted to the ‘large’ salaries they can earn in big cities, others, like Michael Van Essen who recently made a move from LA to Mason City, Iowa, realize that the purchasing power of your income is far more important that the nominal dollars printed on the front of your paycheck.

You’d like to think it will get better, but when? All around you, young and old alike are saying goodbye to California.

“Best thing I could have done,” said retiree Michael J. Van Essen, who was paying $1,160 for a one-bedroom apartment in Silver Lake until a year and a half ago. Then he bought a house with a creek behind it for $165,000 in Mason City, Iowa, and now pays $500 a month less on his mortgage than he did on his rent in Los Angeles.

“If housing costs continue to rise, we should expect to see more people leaving high-cost areas,” said Jed Kolko, an economist with UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation.

https://latimes-graphics-media.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/img/rent-map.gif

Of course, Los Angeles isn’t the only place where residents are increasingly fleeing in search of greener pastures.  As we’ve pointed out before, there is a growing wave of domestic migrants that are abandoning over-taxed and generally unaffordable metropolitan areas like San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Miami in search of better lifestyles in the Southeast and Texas.

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2016/11/03/2016.11.03%20-%20Migration%203.jpg

Not surprisingly, the dark areas on the map above seem to match perfectly with the dark areas on this map which indicate those with the highest state income tax rates.

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2016/11/03/Taxes%20by%20State_0.png

Tack on a rising violent crime rate and things in Illinois have grown so unbearable that the state is losing 1 resident every 4.6 minutes.

https://files.illinoispolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/OUT-MIGRATION_12-2016_4-1024x506.png

Of course, while liberal politicians often bemoan the existence of the Electoral College, these domestic migration trends could spell disaster for their opponents in national elections over the long-term as pretty much every major migratory pattern involves a mass exodus from blue states, like New York and California, into Red or Purple states like Texas, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.

Source: ZeroHedge

Crypto Surge Sparks Establishment Panic: Bans, Crackdowns, & Fatwas As Bitcoin “Undermines Governments, Destabilizes Economies” (video)

The last few months have seen increasing notice being paid to Bitcoin (and the broader cryptocurrency space) by those that control the status quo.

At first it was simple ‘negative’-speak – “you’d be a fool to buy Bitcoin”-esque comments spewed forth from the truly ignorant or intentionally-ignorant (this group included bank CEOs, asset managers, payments systems, and remittance services) but to no avail, those fools saw the value of their bitcoins surge… Like the Winklevoss twins

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/12/01/20171203_btc.jpg

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/12/01/20171202_btc3.jpg

But this week has seen a new group of establishmentarians jump on to the offensive against anti-decentralization, de-control, pro-freedom cryptocurrencies – urging bans, crackdowns, fatwas, taxation, creating their own cryptocurrencies, demanding citizens sell, and outright confiscation (this group includes governments world wide and their mainstream media mouthpieces)

India

India’s finance minister, Arun Jaitley, has clarified that the government does not recognize bitcoin as legal tender. According to the Economic Times, when asked about the government’s plans to regulate the cryptocurrency, Jaitley told reporters, “recommendations are being worked at.” He continued:

“The government’s position is clear, we don’t recognize this as legal currency as of now.”

 Concerned over bitcoin’s anonymity and its potential illicit uses, justices issued a notice to the central bank and other agencies asking them to answer a petition on the matter, reports indicated.

Turkey

Turkey has claimed Bitcoin is in fact “not compatible” with Islam due to its government being unable to control it.

In a statement from a meeting of the state Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), lawmakers said that Bitcoin’s “speculative” nature meant that buying and selling it was inappropriate for Muslims.

“Buying and selling virtual currencies is not compatible with religion at this time because of the fact that their valuation is open to speculation. They can be easily used in illegal activities like money laundering, and they are not under the state’s audit and surveillance,” Euronews translates the statement republished by local news outlet Enson Haber.

Diyanet added that the same principles of “unsuitability” in particular applied to Ethereum.

South Korea

Kim Dong-yeon, South Korea’s deputy prime minister and the minister of strategy and finance, revealed earlier this week that the government is investigating various methods to better regulate the local Bitcoin market and tax Bitcoin users accordingly.

While the South Korean government and its local financial authorities are actively discussing the possibility of enforcing a policy on Bitcoin taxation, at a press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Kim stated that the government does not intend to include any Bitcoin taxation policy in 2018’s amendment of the tax law.

Holland

A Dutch news paper urges its citizens to sell their bitcoins patriotically because cryptocurrencies can undermine government and destabilize the economy.

A bitcoin world can destabilize the real economy, a euro is also solidified trust.

First, the bitcoin undermines the government because a lot of transactions are about money laundering and tax avoidance. Another problem is that the profits of new bitcoins that come with it do not benefit the government (as with normal money creation), but are absorbed in heavily environmentally harmful computer power.

Central banks also have less influence on keeping the economy stable. In times of crisis, central banks can, through their influence on ordinary banks, ease credit conditions and encourage people to consume. The bank has no control over the bitcoin economy and an economic crisis can become deeper.

The investor has air in his hands when the bitcoin crashes, but also when the company turns out to produce baked air.

France

Putting money in an empty type of asset is “very, very worrying,” Robert Ophele, chairman of France’s market regulator. Bitcoin has no link to the real economy, Ophele says in a panel discussion at the Paris Europlace Financial Forum, warning that cryptocurrencies are a way to commit cybercrimes, allowing access to illicit goods and services.

If bitcoin was a currency, “it would be a bad one,” Ophel exclaimed, as it poses major challenge for central banks and regulators.

UK

The Telegraph reported just around the time of the big drop, UK “ministers are launching a crackdown on the virtual currency Bitcoin amid growing concern it is being used to launder money and dodge tax.”

Taking a page out of the Chinese playbook, the UK Treasury has announced plans to regulate the Bitcoin that will force traders in so-called crypto-currencies to disclose their identities and report suspicious activity. 

According to the Telegraph, while “until now, anybody buying and selling Bitcoins and other  digital currencies have been able to do so anonymously, making it attractive to criminals and tax avoiders. But the Treasury has now said it intends to begin regulating the virtual currency, which has a total value of £145 billion, to bring it in line with rules on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financial legislation.

John Mann, a member of the Treasury select committee, said he expected to hold an inquiry into the need for better regulation of Bitcoin and other alternative currencies in the new year.

He said: “These new forms of exchange are expanding rapidly and we’ve got to make sure we don’t get left behind – that’s particularly important in terms of money-laundering, terrorism or pure theft.

“I’m not convinced that the regulatory authorities are keeping up to speed. I would be surprised if the committee doesn’t have an inquiry next year. “It would be timely to have a proper look at what this means. It may be that we want speed up our use of these kinds of thing in this country, but that makes it all the more important that we don’t have a regulatory lag.”

The proposed changes come amid increasing fears that Bitcoin is being used by gangs to launder the proceeds of crime while also attracting currency speculators – with the value of the coin soaring in the past 12 months.

In other words, the same reason why the IRS is cracking down on Coinbase clients in the US is also why UK and European regulators are joining China in cracking down on capital flight.

United States

The US Senate Judiciary Committee is currently tackling bill S.1241 that aims to criminalize the intentional concealment of ownership or control of a financial account. The bill also would amend the definition of ‘financial account’ and ‘financial institution’ to include digital currencies and digital exchanges, respectively. According to ranking committee member Senator Dianne Feinstein, the proposed bill is needed to modernize existing AML laws.

The bill would amend the definition of ‘financial institution,’ in Section 53412(a) of title 31, United States Code, to include:

“An issuer, redeemer, or cashier of prepaid access devices, digital currency, or any digital exchanger or tumbler of digital currency.”

If passed, the bill would likely have far-reaching effects for users of digital currencies both in the US and abroad.

Earlier reports also indicate that the White House is actively monitoring cryptocurrencies which could only mean more attempts to regulate the world’s first successful decentralized monetary system. With the growing involvement of Wall Street and the ever escalating media attention, it is not surprising that governments are stepping up their attempts to regulate digital currency.

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/12/01/20171203_panic1.jpg

But as usual, any regulation-related-headline that the machines instantly sell, is bid back up, since it seems the algorithms have not figured out that there is no real way to ‘stop’ Bitcoin… which is exactly why the world’s elite are so desperate.

https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/12/01/20171203_btc1.jpg

Several industry commentators have issued their opinions on the various proposed laws. Tone Vays claimed that he expects a confrontation between the Bitcoin team, including the holders and users, and the US government.

“It’s bad… I think it’s gonna end in a very confrontational way between Bitcoin – even Bitcoin holders and users – and the US Government.”

Source: ZeroHedge