Category Archives: Uncategorized

Seattle Has Most Cranes In Country For 2nd Year In A Row — And Their Lead Is Growing

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With about 150 projects starting this year or in the pipeline just in the core of the city, construction is as frenzied as ever.

(The Seattle Times) For the second year in a row, Seattle has been named the crane capital of America — and no other city is even close, as the local construction boom transforming the city shows no signs of slowing.

Seattle had 58 construction cranes towering over the skyline at the start of the month, about 60 percent more than any other U.S. city, according to a new semiannual count from Rider Levett Bucknall, a firm that tracks cranes around the world.

Seattle first topped the list a year ago, when it also had 58 cranes, and again in January, when the tally grew to 62.

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The designation has come to symbolize — for better or worse — the rapid growth and changing nature of the city, as mid-rises and skyscrapers pop up where parking lots and single-story buildings once stood.

And the title of most cranes might be here to stay, at least for a while. The city’s construction craze is continuing at the same pace as last year, while cranes are coming down elsewhere: Crane counts in major cities nationwide have dropped 8 percent over the past six months.

During the last count, Seattle had just six more cranes than the next-highest city, Chicago. Now it holds a 22-crane lead over second-place Los Angeles, with Denver, Chicago and Portland just behind.

Seattle has more than twice as many cranes as San Francisco or Washington, D.C., and three times as many cranes as New York. Seattle has more cranes than New York, Honolulu, Austin, Boston and Phoenix combined.

At the same time, Seattle’s construction cycle doesn’t look like it’s letting up. Just in the greater downtown region, 50 major projects are scheduled to begin construction this year, according to the Downtown Seattle Association. An additional 99 developments are in the pipeline for future years. And that’s on top of what is already the busiest-period ever for construction in the city’s core.

“We continue to see a lot of construction activity; projects that are finishing up are quickly replaced with new projects starting up,” said Emile Le Roux, who leads Rider Levett Bucknall’s Seattle office. “We are projecting that that’s going to continue for at least another year or two years.”

“It mainly has to do with the tech industry expanding big time here in Seattle,” Le Roux said.

Companies that supply the tower cranes say there’s a shortage of both equipment and manpower, so developers need to book the cranes and their operators several months in advance. It costs up to about $50,000 a month to rent one, and they can rise 600 feet into the air.

Most cranes continue to be clustered in downtown and South Lake Union, but several other neighborhoods have at least one, from Ballard to Interbay and Capitol Hill to Columbia City.

By Mike Rosenberg | The Seattle Times

 

You Can Now Buy Weed-Infused Wine In CA

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(True Activist) As consumers become more educated on the benefits of marijuana — both recreational and medicinal, it continues to be decriminalized at an increasing pace. So far, 29 states (and DC) in the United States have legalized cannabis for medicinal use and eight for recreational. With the freedom to cultivate the herb and utilize it in numerous ways, entrepreneurs have started experimenting with cannabis and infusing it into a variety of edibles — such as baked goods, candies, soda and now… wine.

That’s right, cannabis-infused wine (otherwise known as Canna Vine) is finally available for sale in California. According to the Los Angeles Times, the beverage is made from organically grown marijuana and bio-dynamically farmed grapes. Because the product is low in THC — the primary psychoactive compound found within cannabis — it delivers a mellow “body high” without large effects.

The innovative wine was developed by cancer survivor Lisa Molyneux, who owns the dispensary Greenway in Santa Cruz, and Louisa Sawyer Lindquist, who owns Verdad Wines in Santa Maria. Molyneux, particularly, was inspired to invent the wine to aid fellow cancer survivors.

 

There’s a reason Canna Vine costs anywhere from $120 to $400 for half a bottle. The process to make the product begins with one pound of marijuana. After the weed is wrapped in cheese cloth, it is added to a barrel of wine where it sits for approximately one year to ferment and repose.

Though the concept of cannabis-infused wine is nothing new (in ancient China, it was prescribed for pain relief), the fact that it can be legally procured in the modern age is.

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The founders of Canna Vine are presently experimenting with the green wine (literally) to find the best balance of Sativa and Indica. Their ultimate aim is to sell a wine that creates “uplifting and relaxing sensations.”

Said Molyneux,

“What’s nice about it is how subtle it is. There’s a little flush after the first sip, but then the effect is really cheery, and at the end of the night you sleep really well. It really is the best of both worlds; you get delicious wines with medicinal benefits.”

Melissa Etheridge, — a prominent advocate of Canna Vine — credits the beverage with helping her through chemotherapy. She said,

“When I was in my deepest, darkest, last throes of chemo,” says Etheridge, “I couldn’t smoke or use a vaporizer — and I was never really an edibles eater; I didn’t want to be ‘out of it.’”

“It lands in a really beautiful place,” she added.

What’s the catch?

First of all, the infused wine is only legal to purchase in California. Second, one needs a medical marijuana license to purchase the product.

California is presently the only place one can procure alcohol infused with weed. Even states like Washington, Oregon, and Colorado don’t allow the combination to be produced or sold.

Presently, both Molyneux and Lindquist seek to refine the wine to position themselves in the market of high-quality cannabis-infused products. Said Lindquist,

“Cannabis wine has been so effective as a stress reliever, as a mood elevator, and as a medicineI have no idea what the market will be like for it, but whatever I make I want to be safe, made from pure ingredients and, hopefully, delicious.”

Source: New World Order Report

Ethereum Forecast To Surpass Bitcoin By 2018

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Back on  February 27, when bitcoin was trading in the mid-teens, we wrote Step aside bitcoin, there is a new blockchain kid in town.”

In recent days, the world’s second most popular digital currency, Ethereum, has been surging (despite its embarrassing hack last June when some $59 million worth of “ethers” were stolen forcing the blockchain to implement a hard fork to undo the damage), prompting many to wonder if some big announcement was imminent. It appears that yet again someone “leaked” because on Monday, an alliance of some of the world’s most advanced financial and tech companies including JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Intel and more than two dozen other companies teamed up to develop standards and technology to make it easier for enterprises to use blockchain code Ethereum – not bitcoin – in the latest push by large firms to move toward the holy grail of a post-central bank world in which every transaction is duly tracked: a distributed ledger systems.

Commenting on the sharp – for the time – rise in ETH price (which had moved from $13 to $15), we said “the move may be just the beginning if most corporations adopt Ethereum as the distributed ledger standard: Accenture released a report last month arguing that blockchain technology could save the 10 largest banks $8 billion to $12 billion a year in infrastructure costs — or 30 percent of their total costs in that area.” Since then most corporations have indeed adopted Ethereum as the distributed ledger standard.

* * *

Three months later, and with Ethereum 15x higher at $230, Bloomberg today writes: “Step aside, bitcoin. There’s another digital token in town that’s winning over the hearts and wallets of cryptocurrency enthusiasts across the globe.”

It’s not just the lede that is familiar, it’s everything else too, especially the forecast.

The value of ether – the digital currency linked to the ethereum blockchain – could surpass that of bitcoin by the end of 2018, according to Olaf Carlson-Wee, chief executive officer of cryptocurrency hedge fund Polychain Capital who was interviewed by Bloomberg.

What we’ve seen in ethereum is a much richer, organic developer ecosystem develop very, very quickly, which is what has driven ethereum’s price growth, which has actually been much more aggressive than bitcoin,” said Carlson-Wee, in an interview on Bloomberg Television Tuesday.

As we previously reported, while Ethereum suffered an embarrassing hack last summer resulting in the theft in millions of ether, the cryptocurrency has drawn the interest of industries from finance to health care because its blockchain does far more than let bitcoin users send value from one person to another. “Its advocates think it could be a universally accessible machine for running businesses, as the technology allows people to do more complex actions in a shared and decentralized manner.

Which is why ethereum is gaining increasingly more converts. Carlson-Wee wasn’t the first to forecast a bright future for ethereum. Fred Wilson, co-founder and managing partner at Union Square Ventures, laid out an even more ambitious timeline for the cryptocurrency in an interview earlier this month.

“The market cap of ethereum will bypass the market cap of bitcoin by the end of the year,” said Wilson, who is also chairman of the board at Etsy.

In fact, if one looks at the relative market share of various cryptocurrencues, and extrapolates current trends, ethereum could surpass bitcoin in just a few months.

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Bitcoin currently dominates a little less than half of the digital currency market, down from almost 90 percent three months ago, according to Coinmarketcap.com data. Meanwhile, ethereum has quadrupled its share, which now represents more than a quarter of the pie.

Indicatively, as of this moment, the market cap of Bitcoin is $37 billion, 75% higher than Ethereum. If the optimsitic forecasts are accurate, Ethereum, which is currently offered at $230, will cost roughly $400 next time we look at  it, if not more. What is more interesting is that while bitcoin hit an all time high of approximately $2900 one week ago, it has failed to recapture the highs, even as ethereum has continued surging ever higher, perhaps a sign of a broad momentum shift from the legacy “cryptocoin” to the “up and comer.”

“We’re absolutely still in the infrastructure building phase,” Carlson-Wee said. “But I do think within one to two years, we’ll start to see the first viral applications that are user facing.”

In any case, for readers interested in putting money into either extremely volatile crypto, be prepared, in fact assume, a complete loss of your investment as chasing such speculative manias rarely has a happy ending. Then again, trying to time the peak of any bubble is a fool’s endeavor. Just look at the S&P.

Bitcoin’s growth has started to catch up to its fundamentals, which is likely what has been driving its astronomical gain as of late, he said. Others have attributed the surge to speculation, as well as increased interest in Asia and adoption by established companies.

Impressive performance aside, more than $150 has been knocked off bitcoin’s price since late last week amid concerns about transaction speed, safety and a possible price bubble.

Source: ZeroHedge

Arizona Passes Bill To End Income Taxation On Gold And Silver

https://s15-us2.ixquick.com/cgi-bin/serveimage?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kitco.com%2Fnews%2F2016-05-09%2Fimages%2F0509016NC_dollars_Gold_001.jpg&sp=0129c0b6b0e488a962759a385e0c6bf5Sound money advocates scored a major victory on Wednesday, when the Arizona state senate voted 16-13 to remove all income taxation of precious metals at the state level. The measure heads to Governor Doug Ducey, who is expected to sign it into law.

Under House Bill 2014, introduced by Representative Mark Finchem (R-Tucson), Arizona taxpayers will simply back out all precious metals “gains” and “losses” reported on their federal tax returns from the calculation of their Arizona adjusted gross income (AGI).

If taxpayers own gold to protect themselves against the devaluation of America’s paper currency, they frequently end up with a “gain” when exchanging those metals back into dollars. However, this is not necessarily a real gain in terms of a gain in actual purchasing power. This “gain” is often a nominal gain because of the slow but steady devaluation of the dollar.  Yet the government nevertheless assesses a tax.

Sound Money Defense League, former presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul, and Campaign for Liberty helped secure passage of HB 2014 because “it begins to dismantle the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money” according to JP Cortez, an alumnus of Mises University.

Ron Paul noted, “HB 2014 is a very important and timely piece of legislation. The Federal Reserve’s failure to reignite the economy with record-low interest rates since the last crash is a sign that we may soon see the dollar’s collapse. It is therefore imperative that the law protect people’s right to use alternatives to what may soon be virtually worthless Federal Reserve Notes.” In early March, Dr. Paul appeared before the state Senate committee that was considering the proposal.

“We ought not to tax money, and that’s a good idea. It makes no sense to tax money,” Paul told the state senators. “Paper is not money, it’s a substitute for money and it’s fraud,” he added, referring to the fractional-reserve banking practiced by the Federal Reserve and other central banks.

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After the committee voted to pass the bill on to the full body of the Senate, Dr. Paul held a rally on the grounds of the state legislature, congratulating supporters of the measure and of sound money.

Paul told the crowd that “they were on the right side of history” and that even though those working to restore constitutional liberty to Arizona and all the states “had a great burden to bear,” there are “more than you know” working toward the same goal.

Referring to the bill’s elimination of capital gains taxes on gold and silver, the sponsor of the bill, State Representative Mark Finchem, said, “What the IRS has figured out at the federal level is to target inflation as a gain. They call it capital gains.”

Shortly after the vote in the state Senate, the Sound Money Defense League, an organization working to bring back gold and silver as America’s constitutional money, issued a press release announcing the good news.

“Arizona is helping lead the way in defending sound money and making it less difficult for citizens to protect themselves from the inflation and financial turmoil that flows from the abusive Federal Reserve System,” said Stefan Gleason, the organization’s director

As a reminder, in 1813 Thomas Jefferson warned, “paper money is liable to be abused, has been, is, and forever will be abused, in every country in which it is permitted.” This is also why the men who drafted the Constitution empowered Congress to mint gold and silver, sound money, and why they included not a single syllable authorizing the legislature to “surrender that critical power to a plutocracy with a penchant for printing fiat money.”

Slowly, states may be summoning back the days when money was actually worth something. At least 20 states are currently considering doing as Arizona is about to do and remove the income tax on the capital gains from the buying and selling of precious metals: some state legislatures, including Utah and Idaho, have taken steps toward eliminating income taxation on the monetary metals.  Other states are rolling back sales taxes on gold and silver or setting up precious metals depositories to help citizens save and transact in gold and silver bullion.

Source: ZeroHedge

The Way Out of Debt-Serfdom: Fanatic Frugality

Debt is serfdom, capital in all its forms is freedom.

If we accept that our financial system is nothing but a wealth-transfer mechanism from the productive elements of our economy to parasitic, neofeudal rentier-cartels and self-serving state fiefdoms, that raises a question: what do we do about it?

The typical answer seems to be: deny it, ignore it, get distracted by carefully choreographed culture wars or shrug fatalistically and put one’s shoulder to the debt-serf grindstone.

There is another response, one that very few pursue: fanatic frugality in service of financial-political independence. Debt-serfs and dependents of the state have no effective political power, as noted yesterday in It Isn’t What You Earn and Owe, It’s What You Own That Generates Income.

There are only three ways to accumulate productive capital/assets: marry someone with money, inherit money or accumulate capital/savings and invest it in productive assets. (We’ll leave out lobbying the Federal government for a fat contract or tax break, selling derivatives designed to default and the rest of the criminal financial skims and scams used so effectively by the New Nobility financial elites.)
The only way to accumulate capital to invest is to spend considerably less than you earn. For a variety of reasons, humans seem predisposed to spend more as their income rises. Thus the person making $30,000 a year imagines that if only they could earn $100,000 a year, they could save half of their net income. Yet when that happy day arrives, they generally find their expenses have risen in tandem with their income, and the anticipated ease of saving large chunks of money never materializes.
What qualifies as extreme frugality? Saving a third of one’s net income is a good start, though putting aside half of one’s net income is even better.
The lower one’s income, the more creative one has to be to save a significant percentage of one’s net income. On the plus side, the income tax burden for lower-income workers is low, so relatively little of gross income is lost to taxes.
The second half of the job is investing the accumulated capital in productive assets and/or enterprises. The root of capitalism is capital, and that includes not just financial capital (cash) but social capital (the value of one’s networks and associations) and human capital (one’s skills and experience and ability to master new knowledge and skills).
I cover these intangible forms of capital in my book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.
Cash invested in tools and new skills and collaborative networks can leverage a relatively modest sum of cash capital into a significant income stream, something that cannot be said of financial investments in a zero-interest rate world.
Notice anything about this chart of the U.S. savings rate? How about a multi-decade decline? Yes, expenses have risen, taxes have gone up, housing is in another bubble–all these are absolutely true. That makes savings and capital even more difficult to acquire and more valuable due to its scarcity. That means we have to approach capital accumulation with even more ingenuity and creativity than was needed in the past.
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Meanwhile, we’ve substituted debt for income. This is the core dynamic of debt-serfdom.
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As Aristotle observed, “We are what we do every day.” That is the core of fanatic frugality and the capital-accumulation mindset.

For your amusement: a few photos of everyday fanatic frugality (and dumpster-diving).

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The only leverage available to all is extreme frugality in service of accumulating savings that can be productively invested in building human, social and financial capital.

Debt is serfdom, capital in all its forms is freedom. Waste nothing, build some form of capital every day, seek opportunity rather than distraction.

Debt = Serfdom (April 2, 2013)

How Frugal Are You? (August 7, 2010)

By Charles Huge Smith | Of Two Minds

 

Buy One Bitcoin And Forget About It

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Summary

  • For months we have been getting messages and e-mails about Bitcoin.
  • We have long been advocate for buying the BTC dips and riding it out for the longer term.
  • We explain why we think everyone’s BTC strategy should simply be: “Buy one Bitcoin and forget about it”.

By Parke Shall

That is our simple bitcoin advice. “Buy one and forget about it for a while.” Your loss today is going to be capped at about $1400 but, as was said in Back to the Future, “if this thing hits 88 miles per hour, you’re going to see some serious s***.”

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We wanted to take the time to write a small note today about our continued thinking on bitcoin and why we think a small investment in perhaps just one bitcoin could be a prudent strategy for asset diversification for any investor.

Hopefully, our track record on the digital currency also helps our credibility today. In the past, we have advocated for buying any and all dips in the digital currency making the argument time and time again that we believed bitcoin would continue to appreciate regardless of small aberrations that have occurred along the way. For instance in December of last year, we predicted bitcoin would soar through $1200 this year.

The conclusion has generally been the same in each of our bitcoin articles: we expect demand for bitcoin to continue to rise and, with a limited supply, and we expected this demand will push the price significantly higher. This is the dynamic we have seen during the course of bitcoin’s life cycle thus far,

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Many people have been deterred from investing or purchasing bitcoin at these levels because of how much the prices has appreciated so far. This is akin to not wanting to buy a stock while it is on its way up, despite its best years possibly being ahead of it. If you didn’t buy at $700 like we advocated, then yes, you missed out on a double. But who is to say that if you don’t buy here at around $1400 you won’t miss another double? In fact, we think the reality is that an investment in bitcoin today could pay off many multiples in the future as long as, as an investor, you have patience.

We also don’t think owning gold is a bad idea either. We are not sure why this argument of gold versus bitcoin started, but we own both. We like to think of them as our “old-school” and our “new school” hedges. Gold is an “old-school” hedge because it is actually a physical asset that you can reach out and touch that has been intertwined with economics for thousands of years. It has a great track record of demand and comes in finite amounts, therefore making it a great hedge against anything and everything that is “new school” in the market, from Keynesian theory to bitcoin.

Bitcoin obviously has the biggest track for potential appreciation, we believe. While gold may not go up 10 times in the event of a catastrophe or a risk off event, it still may appreciate significantly. We believe bitcoin, on the other hand, actually has the potential to appreciate over 100 times in the future, if it holds up. By that, we mean that there is definitely a theoretical case for the asset to appreciate this much, although there is probably a cautious likelihood of it happening. In other words, and not to sound hyperbolic, Bitcoin going to $1 million may not prove to be a total impossibility.

This appreciation may occur without a catastrophe or without a risk off event. In other words, we like bitcoin not only as an investment in the financial technology and not only as an investment in a digital currency but also as an investment in a hedge against central banks and the markets.

 

To explain:

1. We know that blockchain is at the core of what makes Bitcoin tick. Companies and governments have continued to invest in blockchain, and we believe that owning Bitcoin is another way to invest in one of the earliest and possibly the most well known blockchain project out there. Therefore, an investment in Bitcoin is an investment in Blockchain.

2. Not unlike gold, people use Bitcoin because they want less government and less regulation in their lives. Buying Bitcoin is a way to, at least for now, shore up a method of transacting value outside of the “system”. Gold offers the same benefits and is tangible, which is why we like owning both gold and Bitcoin as hedges against the “system”.

We have gotten numerous questions over the last year or so about what our strategy would be if we were new to investing in bitcoin. Put simply, the strategy would be to “buy one bit coin and just leave it”. One of a couple scenarios are going to happen.

The first situation is the worst. Let’s assume bitcoin winds up going to zero eventually and is somehow either rejected as a digital currency or disproven as a financial technology. In that case, you take a 100% loss. Sorry. At least your risk was defined.

The second situation is one where bitcoin is adopted in somewhat of the same fashion as it has been adopted of recent. Its use starts to drift from outside the mainstream to inside the mainstream and the price continues to appreciate. This is a case where you’d likely see appreciation in a bitcoin that you purchased today.

Finally, the third situation. We call this the grand slam. Bitcoin is unanimously excepted as the first and only prominent digital currency. It becomes a full-scale hedge, adopted by a significant portion of the population, against central banking systems and finance as we know it today. Given the fact that only about 20 million bitcoin will be issued in total, there will be a severe dry up in supply as billions of people worldwide look to get their share of the digital currency. This is a situation where the currency could appreciate 100 times what its worth now or more. Obviously, this is the most speculative of the three situations but could be a reality if an investor has enough patience to wait it out. This type of situation could take 15 to 30 years and this is why the title of this article is “buy one bitcoin and forget about it“.

 

Again, bitcoin does not come without risk.

Relative to other assets you may hold, like stocks, options and other currencies, Bitcoin is going to be extraordinarily volatile. Due to the fact that it is easily in the digital currency’s life cycle and that it has yet to be proven on a wide scale, investors can expect significant volatility, sometimes 20%+ in one day’s time, for the capital they have invested in Bitcoin.

Also, it is an all digital currency meaning that it needs digital infrastructure to survive. In a catastrophic scenario where our infrastructure is compromised, we have no idea what would happen to bitcoin. It isn’t tangible and you can’t physically hold it, which are two of its major detracting points versus gold. However, we see buying bitcoin at $1400 as a speculative investment that could yield immense results in the future if you have the wherewithal and you have the strength to hold it over time.

By Parke Shall | Orange Peel Investments

Also see How Block Chain Will Revolutionize More Than Money

Auto Sales Puke Again: GM -6%, Ford -7.2%, Toyota -4.4%, Fiat-Chrysler -7.0%

Your job is your credit. Zero down delivers …

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Auto sales are down for the fourth consecutive month. Final numbers are not yet in, but the preliminary year-over-year totals are miserable.

Nearly every company performed worse than expected, and expectations were down across the board.

Boom Over

Reuters reports Automakers’ April U.S. Sales Drop; Wall St. Fears Boom is Over.

  • GM, the No. 1 U.S. automaker, reported a 6% decline in April sales to 244,406 vehicles.
  • Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, reported a 7.2% decline in April. Ford car sales dropped 21% and trucks declined 4.2%, while SUV sales rose 1.2%.
  • Toyota reported a drop of 4.4%. Lexus sales slid 11.1%. U.S. car sales at the Japanese automaker were down 10.4%, while truck sales were up 2.1%.
  • Fiat-Chrysler reported sales were off 7%

“GM said its consumer discounts were equivalent to 11.7 percent of the transaction price. The automaker also said its inventory level rose to 100 days of supply at the end of April versus around 70 days at the end of 2016. Recent levels have worried analysts, and GM has promised inventories will be down by the end of 2017.”

Missed Estimates

Bloomberg reports Auto Sales Fall for Fourth Straight Month

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Quote of the Day

The U.S. market is plateauing, Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said on a call with analysts and reporters.

I’m not discouraged by the number,” he said. “In this kind of industry, there’s going to be these kinds of months.”

Plateauing? Really?

I discussed complacency yesterday in Three Big Red Flags for Auto Sales.

The three red flags according to Automotive News are leasing, incentives, and inventory.  I added a fourth: complacency in the face of falling demand and rising incentives.

Effect on GDP

Auto sales make up about 20% of consumer spending. The big second quarter GDP bounce economists expect is highly unlikely, to say the least.

By Mike “Mish” Shedlock