Tag Archives: affordable housing

US Home Prices Hit Peak Unaffordability ─ Prospective Buyers Are Better Off Renting

With unaffordability reaching levels not seen in decades across some of the most expensive urban markets in the US, a housing-market rout that began in the high-end of markets like New York City and San Francisco is beginning to spread. And as home sales continued to struggle in August, a phenomenon that realtors have blamed on a dearth of properties for sale, those who are choosing to sell might soon see a chasm open up between bids and asks – that is, if they haven’t already.

While home unaffordability is most egregious in urban markets, cities don’t have a monopoly on unaffordability. According to a report by ATTOM, which keeps the most comprehensive database of home prices in the US, of the 440 US counties analyzed in the report, roughly 80% of them had an unaffordability index below 100, the highest rate in ten years. Any reading below 100 is considered unaffordable, by ATTOM’s standards. Based on their analysis, one-third of Americans (roughly 220 million people) now live in counties where buying a median-priced home is considered unaffordable. And in 69 US counties, qualifying for a mortgage would require at least $100,000 in annual income (Assuming a 3% down payment and a maximum front-end debt-to-income ratio of 28%). As one might expect, prohibitively high home prices are inspiring some Americans to relocate to areas where the cost of living is lower. US Census data revealed that two-thirds of those highest-priced markets experienced negative net migration, while more than three-quarters of markets where people earning less than $100,000 a year can qualify for a mortgage experienced net positive migration.

Rising home prices have played a big part in driving home unaffordability, but they’re not the whole story. Stagnant wages are also an important factor. The median nationwide home price of $250,000 in Q3 2018 climbed 6% from a year earlier, which is nearly twice the 3% growth in wages during that time. Looking back over a longer period, median home prices have increased 76% since bottoming out in Q1 2012, while average weekly wages have increased 17% over the same period.

Instead of fighting to overpay for existing inventory, one study showed that, for now at least, most Americans would be better off renting than buying a residential property. According to the latest national index produced by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University faculty, renting and reinvesting will “outperform owning and building equity in terms of wealth creation.”

However, with the average national rent at an all-time high, American consumers are increasingly finding that there are no good options in the modern housing market. Which could be one reason why millennials, despite having more college degrees than any preceding generation, are increasingly choosing to rent instead of buying, even after they get married and start a family.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/National-Average-Rent-August-2018_0.png?itok=fj1XraDi

Source: ZeroHedge

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New York Millennials Paying $1800 Per Month To Cram Into 98-Square-Foot Rooms

Millennials in New York are known for living in a state of perpetual brokeness – between student loans, $20 nightclub drinks and $15 avocado toast, it’s easy to understand why 70% of millennials have less than $1,000 in savings. 

Now we can add expensive, glorified closets to the mix, as the Wall Street Journal reports.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/98%20sqft.jpg?itok=rlCCvxi2

30-year-old marketing manager Scott Levine lives in an $1,800 per month, 98-square-foot room in a postage-stamp of an apartment – “basically, a kitchen” – with two roomates. Every week, someone from Ollie – his property manager, stops by to drop off towels and toiletries. 

A “community-engagement team” at Ollie helps plan Mr. Levine’s social calendar. A live-in “community manager”—sort of like a residential adviser for a college dorm—gets to know Mr. Levine and everyone else living on the 14 Ollie-managed floors of the Alta LIC building, known as Alta+, and finds creative ways to get them engaged in shared activities, like behind-the-scenes tours of Broadway shows or trips to organic farms. –WSJ

“Life in general can be a bit of a headache,” says Mr. Levine. Thanks to Ollie, he adds, “Everything is done for you, which is convenient.”

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https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/alta3.jpg?itok=Rj8LFD1D

Ollie’s business model is all about convenience and roommates – usually single people in their 20s and 30s who have all amenities provided for them, while sharing a kitchen and common area. 

For city-dwellers accustomed to living cheek-by-jowl with people whose names they’ll never bother to learn, this might seem strange. But for young people still forming their postcollege friend groups—in an era when participation in civic life is down and going to a bar can mean huddling in a corner swiping on Tinder—it makes sense. So much sense that people put up with apartments so small they’re called “micro.” But hey, free shampoo. –WSJ

Meanwhile, startups such as Ollie and Common are competing with big-city real-estate developers. Common manages 20 co-living properties in six cities where roommate situations are more common, such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC. They have approximately 650 renters according to CEO Brad Hargreaves. 

“Our audience is people who make $40,000 to $80,000 a year, who we believe are underserved in most markets today,” Mr. Hargreaves says.

Other startups are managing existing homes and apartments, “Airbnb-style” as the WSJ puts it. 

Bungalow, which just announced $64 million in funding, wants property owners to offer space to “early-career professionals” looking for a low-maintenance place to stay. It charges rent that’s “slightly higher” than what it pays those owners, a company spokeswoman says. It currently maintains over 200 properties—housing nearly 800 residents—across seven big cities, says co-founder and CEO Andrew Collins.

As with Common and Ollie, Bungalow advertises that it furnishes the common areas in its homes, installs fast free Wi-Fi, and cleans them regularly. The company also organizes events and outings to help you “build a community with… your new friends.” –WSJ

One of the underlying aspects of the co-living startup models is a technology platform that both advertises to prospective tenants and takes care of their needs once they’re living on-site. Ollie’s “Bedvetter” system, for example, shows apartments to potential tenants – and shows who’s already signed up to live there with links to their personal profiles in order to match roommates. Bedvetter also matches people into “pods” of “potential roommates” before they begin an apartment hunt. 

“It’s like online dating,” says Levine – while his roommate, Joseph Watson, 29, compares it to eHarmony or Match.com vs. Tinder, as it’s designed for long term pairings.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/hey%20bud.jpg?itok=uERNlT0U

“Micro Economics” 

While millennials in New York and other urban areas scramble to make ends meet, developers are making hand over fist on the co-living movement – even though the renters themselves are paying less than they would for a private studio. 

The Alta LIC building also has conventional apartments, but the co-living units are filling up faster, says Matthew Baron, one of the Alta LIC building’s developers. What’s more, he adds, he can get more than $80 a square foot for Ollie units compared with around $60 a square foot for the others, even though the Ollie ones are on the lower, less-desirable floors. –WSJ

Another complication with co-living arrangements is tricky community management. L.A.’s PodShare, for example, vets potential tenants beforehand – however issues with problem tenants are unavoidable. “We’ve hosted 25,000 people at this point, so there’s bound to be some problems,” says founder Elvina Beck. 

Common building tenant Teiko Yakobson said that the “community vibe broke down after Common eliminated the paid “house leader,” complaining that “We all just became strangers, and it was no better than living in any other apartment.” Common instead replaced the program with “centralized” community managers at the corporate level – which Hargreaves says is “more coherent” for them. 

It’s not all bad, however…

When it does work, co-living can re-create the kind of communities tenants seek online—ones grounded in common interests and shared socioeconomic status.

Mr. Levine, who not only lives in a co-living building but also works in a co-working space—and in whose social circle most people do either one of those or the other—is aware that, while this isn’t for everyone, he is hardly a standout. “One thing I’ve heard before is that I’m a stereotype of a New York millennial,” he says.

Just make sure you have earplugs in case your roommate is able to get laid in their respectively expensive, tiny room. 

Source: ZeroHedge

The Millennial Crisis

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There is a serious economic crisis brewing that few seem to be paying attention. According to a new survey from Zillow Group Inc. (ZG  Get Report), approximately 22.5% of millennials ages 24 through 36 are living at home with their moms or both parents, up nine percentage points since 2005  which was 13.5% and the most in any year in the last decade. Between the student loans which cannot be discharged thanks to the Clintons (to get the support of bankers) even after they find that degrees are worthless when 60% of graduates cannot find employment with such a degree and the fact that taxes have escalated to nearly doubling over the last 20 years that is predominantly state and local, the affordability of buying a home has been fading fast. Despite the fact that millennials are eager to enter the real estate market, they’re bearing the brunt of the challenge directly caused by the combination of taxes and non-dischargeable student loans.

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Now 63% of millennials under the age of 29 cannot even afford the cost of home ownership, according to a CoreLogic and RTi Research study. The expense, in fact, is their number one reason for remaining a renter. In their research, they concluded that one-third of millennial renters reported feeling they cannot afford a down payment to buy a home. This is a sad response that is not being taken into consideration by governments.

Where home prices have not risen sharply, taxes have. First-time home buyers face ever-growing challenges to find and buy affordable entry-level homes as the economics of inefficient governments at the state and local levels have refused to reform and raise taxes to meet pension costs they promised themselves. Politicians from London to Vancouver have increased taxes to try to bring home prices down rather than looking at the problem objectively. All they are accomplishing is punishing people who have owned homes and destroying their future when home values were their retirement savings.

California and Illinois are just two major examples at the top of the list of grossly mismanaged state governments. It is this net affordability factor that has begun to encumber sales of real estate, softening prices and turning many millennials into renters rather than home buyers. Then add the rise of interest rates and we have an economic cocktail of taxes that is beginning to kill the real estate market in a slow death drip by drip. Depressions take place when the debt and real estate markets collapse – not equities and commodities. The amount of money invested in debt markets dwarfs equities, It is ALWAYS the debt market that you undermine when you want to destroy an economy.

Taxes and the rise in interest rates will further erode affordability and is beginning to slow existing-home sales in many markets already. As this trend continues, home prices and mortgage rates over the next couple of years will likely dampen sales and home price growth. There was another study conducted by Freddie Mac which also found that affordability challenges are contributing to a downtrend in young adult home ownership. Long-term, real estate prices will decline as taxes and interest rates rise. The next crop of buyers is being culled and as that unfolds, real estate cannot rise when banks also begin to curtail the availability of mortgages.

Source: by Martin Armstrong | Armstrong Economics

Millennials Are Flocking To Cheap Rust Belt Cities

Educated, but poor, millennials are transforming neighborhoods in several Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin in search for affordable communities.

Since the end of the American high (the late 1960s), the Rust Belt had experienced decades of de-industrialization and a mass exodus of residents. Manufacturing plants closed down, jobs disappeared, and communities disintegrated, as this once vibrant region is now a symbol of decay and opioids.

However, this trend has reversed in recent years, as some millennials have abandoned big cities for Rust Belt communities, in hopes to catch the falling knife and invest in real estate that could be near its lows.

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It is a massive risk, and the narrative behind this “attractive investment bet” are affordable communities, unlike the Washington Metropolitan Area, San Francisco, New York, San Diego County, and Boston.

Yet this revitalization of the Rust Belt economy could not have come at the worse time: Last week, Bank of America rang the proverbial bell on the US real estate market, saying existing home sales have peaked, reflecting declining affordability, greater price reductions and deteriorating housing sentiment.

While it is difficult to say what exactly happens in Rust Belt communities in the next downturn, one should understand that housing prices in these regions will probably stay depressed for the foreseeable future. So, if the millennial who was hoping for a Bitcoin-style like move, they should think again as investing in Rust Belt communities is a long-term strategy.

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Constantine Valhouli, Director of Research for the real estate research and analytics firm NeighborhoodX, told CNBC that millennials are flocking to these areas not just for home ownership, but rather rebuilding these communities from the bottom up.

“It is about having roots and contributing to the revival of a place that needs businesses that create jobs and create value.”

According to Paul Boomsma, president and CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE), some of these formerly blighted towns are gradually coming back to life. The latest influx of millennials view these regions as financial opportunities and places to construct new economies – especially with real estate prices far below the Case–Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index.

“Millennials are swiping up properties for next-to-nothing prices near downtown city areas that have completely revitalized,” Boomsma said. LendingRE has listed a three-bedroom Victorian home in Mansfield, Ohio, with an asking price of $39,900.

The median home value in Mansfield is $60,300, now compare that to the median home value of nearly $700,000 in New York City and a whopping $1.3 million in San Francisco, and it is obvious why millennials are flocking to the Rust Belt. Experts add that there is more to consider than discounted prices.

“There is a community-mindedness with millennials that attracts them to the smaller Rust Belt towns,” said Peter Haring, president of Haring Realty in Mansfield, Ohio.

“We are seeing an intense interest in participating in the revitalization of our towns and being a part of the community. It’s palpable, and it’s exciting,” he added.

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Haring said affordable homes in Mansfield comes with a significant drawback: distance. The closest large cities, Cleveland and Columbus, are each an hour’s drive, and amenities are lacking.

“For people working in those cities, they are sacrificing drive time,” Haring said. “In some cases, they are sacrificing the convenience of nearby shopping and restaurants.”

But for millennials that is a little concern: they have the luxury of working remotely and ordering consumable goods from Amazon.

“More and more people are now working virtually, which means they do not need to be in their office and can work from almost anywhere,” said Ralph DiBugnara, senior vice president at Residential Home Funding. “So why not find somewhere to live where your city dollars can go a lot further?”

CNBC points out that some large corporations are moving back into these areas, the same areas that they left decades ago for cheap labor overseas. One example is home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool, whose corporate headquarters are in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

“It helped revitalize surrounding areas with new lifestyle and cultural amenities,” said LendingRe’s Boomsma. “This type of corporate commitment draws a young workforce, who are attracted by the lifestyle, paired with the relative affordability.”

Todd Stofflet, a Managing Partner at the KIG CRE brokerage firm, said for the millennials who still cannot afford to buy a home, the Rust Belt also has a robust rental market. Millennials who are heavily indebted with student loans, auto debt, and high-interest credit card loans could discover that these low-cost regions are perfect strategies to break free from the debt ball and chain and start saving again. Restore capitalism and say goodbye to creditism, something the Federal Reserve and the White House would not be happy about.

Millennials are creating demand for new apartments, which is a “a catalyst for retail, grocery and office development,” Stofflet added. “As downtown populations experience a resurgence, so does the dining, entertainment and lifestyle of the area.”

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Although discounted real estate prices in Rust Belt regions are appealing in today’s overinflated Central Bank controlled markets, Daniela Andreevska, a marketing director at real estate data analytics company Mashvisor, cautioned millennials to learn about the dynamics of why these communities have low prices.

“One should keep in mind that many of the homes there are foreclosures or other types of distressed properties,” she said. “You should analyze and inspect the property well in order to know how much exactly you will have to pay in repairs before buying it.”

These migration trends indicate both positive and negative shifts: on one hand millennials are fleeing unaffordable large cities to Rust Belt regions, in an adverse reaction to failed economic policies to reinflate the housing market. On the other hand, for millennials with insurmountable debt, migrating to these low-cost regions could be the most viable solution to get their finances under control.

Source: ZeroHedge

 

Existing Home Sales Tumble As Home-Buying Sentiment Hits Lehman Lows

After June’s dismal US housing data, hope was high for a rebound in July but it was crushed as existing home sales tumbled 0.7% MoM (against expectations of a 0.4% jump). This is the longest streak of declines since the taper tantrum in 2013.

  • Single-family home sales fell 0.2% MoM (-1.2% YoY) to annual rate of 4.75 million
  • Purchases of condominium and co-op units dropped 4.8% MoM (-3.3% YoY) to a 590,000 pace

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-08-22_7-02-18.jpg?itok=ikw0qyBD

As lower-priced home sales collapsed…

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This is the weakest SAAR existing home sales (5.34mm) since Feb 2016…

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The median sales price increased 4.5% YoY to $269,600, but dipped MoM (seasonal norm)

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Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the continuous solid gains in home prices have now steadily reduced demand.

Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million,” he said.

“Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out, or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market.”

“In addition to the steady climb in home prices over the past year, it’s evident that the quick run-up in mortgage rates earlier this spring has had somewhat of a cooling effect on home sales,” said Yun.

“This weakening in affordability has put the most pressure on would-be first-time buyers in recent months, who continue to represent only around a third of sales despite a very healthy economy and labor market.”

Total housing inventory at the end of July decreased 0.5 percent to 1.92 million existing homes available for sale (unchanged from a year ago). Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace (also unchanged from a year ago).

And finally a glance at the following chart shows that the US housing market is in freefall – not what record high stocks would suggest…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-08-22_6-52-35.jpg?itok=n8a_zlvy

Perhaps this helps explain it – Sentiment for Home-Buying Conditions are the worst since the infamous Lehman Brothers collapse

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-08-22_6-57-10.jpg?itok=9ODxJqdm

Source: ZeroHedge

Affordability Crisis: Low-Income Workers Can’t Afford A 2-Bedroom Rental Anywhere In America

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The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) annual report, Out of Reach, reveals the striking gap between wages and the price of housing across the United States. The report’s ‘Housing Wage’ is an estimate of what a full-time worker on a state by state basis must make to afford a one or two-bedroom rental home at the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) fair market rent without exceeding 30 percent of income on housing expenses.

With decades of declining wages and widening wealth inequality via the financialization of corporate America, and thanks to the Federal Reserve’s disastrous policies (whose direct outcome is the ascent of Trump), the recent insignificant countertrend in wage growth for low-income workers has not been enough to boost their standard of living.

The report finds that a full-time minimum wage worker, or the average American stuck in the gig economy, cannot afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S.

According to the report, the 2018 national Housing Wage is $22.10 for a two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 for a one-bedroom rental. Across the country, the two-bedroom Housing Wage ranges from $13.84 in Arkansas to $36.13 in Hawaii.

The five cities with the highest two-bedroom Housing Wages are Stamford-Norwalk, CT ($38.19), Honolulu, HI ($39.06), Oakland-Fremont, CA ($44.79), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($48.50), and San Francisco, CA ($60.02).

For people earning minimum wage, which could be most millennials stuck in the gig economy, the situation is beyond dire. At $7.25 per hour, these hopeless souls would need to work 122 hours per week, or approximately three full-time jobs, to afford a two-bedroom rental at HUD’s fair market rent; for a one-bedroom, these individuals would need to work 99 hours per week, or hold at least two full-time jobs.

The disturbing reality is that many will work until they die to only rent a roof over their head.

The report warns: “in no state, metropolitan area, or county can a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour week.”

The quest to afford rental homes is not limited to minimum-wage workers. NLIHC calculates that the average renter’s hourly wage is $16.88. The average renter in each county across the U.S. makes enough to afford a two-bedroom in only 11 percent of counties, and a one-bedroom, in just 43% .

FIGURE 1: States With The Largest Shortfall Between Average Renter Wage And Two-Bedroom Housing Wage

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Low wages and widespread wage inequality contribute to the widening gap between what people earn and mandatory outlays, in the price of their housing. The national Housing Wage in 2018 is $22.10 for a two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 for a one-bedroom, the report found.

FIGURE 3: Hourly Wages By Percentile VS. One And Two-Bedroom Housing Wages 

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Here is how much it costs to rent a two-bedroom in your state:

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Case Shiller House Prices have continued to surge to bubble levels with growing demand for rental housing in the decade post the Great Recession.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DeaHhBBVAAAeXNU-1-768x822.jpg?itok=YoWejOTe(Click here for larger image)

The report indicates that new rental construction has shifted toward the luxury market because it is more profitable for homebuilders. The number of rentals for $2000 or more per month has more than doubled between 2005 and 2015.

Here are the Most Expensive Jurisdictions for Housing Wage for Two-Bedroom Rentals

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Here is how your state ranks regarding Housing Wage: 

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Screen-Shot-2018-06-15-at-8.31.40-AM.png?itok=OEREudkr(click here for larger image)

“While the housing market may have recovered for many, we are nonetheless experiencing an affordable housing crisis, especially for very low-income families,” said Bernie Sanders quoted in the report.

The fact is, the low-wage workforce is projected to soar over the next decade, particularly in unproductive service-sector jobs and odd jobs in the gig economy, as increasingly more menial jobs are replaced by automation/robots. This is not sustainable for a fragile economy where many are heavily indebted with limited savings; this should be a warning, as many Americans do not understand their living standards are in decline. American exceptionalism is dying.

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The bad news is that for the government to combat the unaffordability crisis, deficits would have to explode because even more Americans would demand housing subsidies, setting the US debt on an even more unsustainable trajectory. Even though Congress marginally increased the 2018 HUD budget, the change in funding levels for some housing programs have declined.

Changes In Funding Levels For Key HUD Programs (FY10 Enacted To F18 Enacted) 

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But wait a minute, something does not quite add up: consider President Trump’s cheer leading on Twitter calling today’s economy the “greatest economy in History of America and the best time EVER to look for a job.”

Source: ZeroHedge

Rents Surge Most in 16 Months Pressuring Home Buyer Wannabees

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Rents in all unit sizes picked up steam in April. Among the largest cities, Las Vegas, Denver, and Detroit led the pack.

The Rent Cafe’s Monthly Rent Report for the 250 largest US cities shows a 3.2% Y-o-Y surge.

The national average rent in April clocked in at $1,377. This marks the highest annual growth rate since the end of 2016.

By Size

  • Large cities: Las Vegas sees the fastest increasing rents Y-o-Y (6.0%), followed by Denver (5.8%) and Detroit (5.4%). Apartment prices in Brooklyn and Manhattan continue to slide, while rents in Washington, D.C., Portland, and Austin have been steady, growing by less than 1.5%.
  • Mid-size cities: Rents in Sacramento cooled down to 6%, but still lead. At the other end of the spectrum are New Orleans (-2.2%), Tulsa (0.5%), and Wichita (1.0%), where rents are growing the slowest.
  • Small cities see the top 20 most significant rent increases in April. Rents in the Midland-Odessa area skyrocketed for another month, 35.6% and 32.6% respectively. At the bottom of the list sit Norman (-2.5%), Lubbock (-2.5%), and Alexandria (-1.1%).
  • No significant fluctuation in prices was noticed in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, where apartment rents grew slower than 2% over the year.

Significant Changes

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Wages Aren’t Keeping Up

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The above chart was released today by the BLS. For details, please see Jobs Report: Payroll Miss +164K, Nonfarm Wage Growth Anemic +0.1%.

BLS in Agreement

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The BLS also has rent of primary residence up 3.6% (from March).

Median New Home Sales Price

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Median Real Wages

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Home Buyer Wannabee Dilemma

Home buyer wannabees struggle with rents but cannot afford houses.

The most recent data for median wages is from May of 2016. May of 2017 will be out soon and I will update the chart.

New buyers struggle with rent but home buying is not an option.

Real median wages are down seven of the last 11 years while home prices (not even reflected in the CPI), have soared.

How the Fed’s Inflation Policies Crucify Workers in Pictures

Deflationary Bust Coming

The current setup leads to another deflationary collapse as we saw in 2008-2009, not an inflation boom.

If I were trying to create a deflationary bust, I would do exact exactly what the world’s central bankers have been doing the last six years,” said Stanley Druckenmiller, 2018 recipient of the Alexander Hamilton award.

That is precisely what I have been saying for a long time.

For an explanation of the coming deflationary collapse, please see Can We Please Try Capitalism? Just Once?