Homes are Still the Best Investment

Just out:  S&P CoreLogic, Case-Shiller Housing press release.  Think of this as an “extra present” if you own a home:

“NEW YORK, December 27, 2016 – S&P Dow Jones Indices today released the latest results for the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices. Data released today for October 2016 shows that home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months. More than 27 years of history for these data series is available, and can be accessed in full by going to Additional content on the housing market can also be found on S&P Dow Jones Indices’ housing blog: 
YEAR-OVER-YEAR  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 5.6% annual gain in October, up from 5.4% last month. The 10-City Composite posted a 4.3% annual increase, up from 4.2% the previous month. The 20-City Composite reported a year-over-year gain of 5.1%, up from 5.0% in September. 
Seattle, Portland, and Denver reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities over each of the last nine months. In October, Seattle led the way with a 10.7% year-over-year price increase, followed by Portland with 10.3%, and Denver with an 8.3% increase. 10 cities reported greater price increases in the year ending October 2016 versus the year ending September 2016…

At a time when banks are paying essentially nada it’s nice to see the recovery from the 2009-2011 bottoming process continue:


Stock futures haven’t reacted much  although part of that could be because we are into the period when the last sales of the year (for claiming a tax loss) is upon us.  Most firms have 3-day settlement of funds for us lil guys.

Mall Brawls?

While our own media play it down a bit, we find the UK Daily Mail reports of mall brawls here in the Colonies a hoot.

America, always willing to improve on things has turned Boxing Day into Boxing, Kicking, Screaming, Shooting, and Taser Day.


Maybe we can do Emergency Room coupons as stocking stuffers next year?

Outlook for 2017

Great time with George Noory on Coast-

To-Coast AM last night. To briefly summarize some of the 2017 outlook:

We have three potential market breaks in the coming year.

  • January, right after inauguration might be a peak because it ought to become clear that the next “free lunch” out of Washington is likely to cost something. Or, it may already have.
  • Next window is middle of March while the third will be around August.  ANY of this could be the capper all-time-high date.
  • Those “Affordable” Healthcare hikes are arriving and even though Obamacare may be whittled down, look for there to be serious reluctance on the part of politicrats to actually give up some tax revenue..

Second – and tied into this – it will leave people with less “consumer disposable” (income) and that may put a big brake on business as sales numbers get missed in Q1.

As I noted last night, Tax Freedom Day best I could figure did not seem to include mandatory contributions to a healthcare scheme even although I seem to recall Justice Roberts calling it a “tax” when it was at the Supremes.

The website notes over here that you can take tax deductions for medical and dental that exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) but the point I was getting to is that this mandatory medical expense ought to figure into when Tax Freedom Day falls this coming year. Last year it was April 24th and that’s something like 12 days later than 2011’s date.

As one of the callers to George’s show last night pointed out, with a decent income the best he could find were plans that would cost him as much as $14,000 as deductibles.

All this stuff gets us thinking about 2016 bankruptcy rates – which we won’t know about with precision until almost August of 2017.

Killed a bunch of sugar-plum fairies for us, though.

Will Bankruptcies Rise in 2017?

What we DO know is the bankruptcy rate was down 6.9% last year according to the United States (Federal) Courts.  This is a June to June data set.

In the most recent stats (i.e. last summer) the number of American’s filing bankruptcy hit 819,159. But whether the healthcare (et al) will increase that rate is questionable, since there are so many things don’t qualify for discharge via bankruptcy. While income taxes can be discharged, other taxes may not be. How it all works out might be found by reading every link in this Google Search result, but the bottom line is I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tax Freedom Day closer to May 1 (or beyond) this year. And that means effectively that on average, America is close to a 33.3% EFFECTIVE TAX rate.

Happy New Year? We will be awaiting word as 2017 rolls out when the Tax Foundation updates their numbers this spring.  I might call and ask about mandatory medical, though..

All this gets us into a musing-mood about just how high tax rates can be raised on a population before there is simple open rebellion.

There’s a .PDF that the Tax Foundation has (over here) that is a dandy course in American financial history and shows equivalent modern-day incomes and rates.

As you will read, there was no federal income tax until 1862 and then the maximum rate was 5% and that was pictured as a war tax. In 1864 the top rate went to 10%.

By 1870, the rate had dropped to 2.5% on incomes over $2,000, but when the Long Depression (1873- arguably 1898) got organized, there was again no income tax until 1893.

A 2% tax was imposed on incomes over $4,000 in 1894, but from 1895 to 1912 there was again – no income tax!

1913 saw the world moving into War and late that year the Federal Reserve was born as Congress abdicated on its Constitutional role in a laydown to the Banks. The $100,000 income level paid 5% until 1916 when war costs pushed the rate up to 7%.

Now all this may seem like odd (minutia) to be rolling around on a Tuesday after a nice relaxing holiday weekend… but around this time of year we like to sit down and ask some hard questions which drive us to get out of bed the rest of the year.

1.How many hours a week do I work and for what rate?

2.Out of that “top line” how much do I actually get to KEEP after the assorted adjustments, taxes, gunpoint participations, and so forth?

3.Of the remainder, what kind of lifestyle can I REALLY afford?

Not so many new Denali’s as optimism might suggest, eh?

Mr. Cynical’s view is that the reason Gold hasn’t burst to new highs *(yet) is that people are still “trusting of the system” and not willing (or able) to become more self-sufficient.

With few apparent options, and a sense of inventiveness being bred out of us (except for the Makers in the Millenials) we are left mostly with deep ponders among scattered hangovers.

Anything to Sell Gold?

No, gold is not $4-thousand an ounce in India and any changes in Sharia law about Muslims owning gold has been priced into the market and I’m still expecting gold in the next couple of years to bust below the $1,000 per ounce level, though I’d love to be wrong for a change.

But on the demand side check this out: People are EATING gold now so maybe this will pump demand, huh?

Filet with Maple Leaf –peppercorn sauce, dear?”

Slop-Shot News

Since we have a zillion blogs, a vast 10,000 channel digital video wasteland (not counting Vimeo and YouTube which makes it almost uncountable) some of the damnedest things pass as news today.

Turn on the BS detector as “Kerry to outline Middle East peace plan.”   How many bad reruns do the neocons get?

<Meantime> India tests nuclear-capable ICBM.

And in ongoing presidential (dick-measuring) “President Obama says he could have beaten Trump — Trump says ‘NO WAY!’

All that’s left is to see is who gets pardoned \by Obama on the way out. The official U.S. Department of Justice listing is here.

We’re anxious to see if anyone gets a preemptive “get out of jail free” card on the way to the exit…but like the board game, maybe we won’t know until the card is played…

Leftover eggnog?

17 thoughts on “Homes are Still the Best Investment”

  1. George:

    Why in the Hell does Obama waste his power of a full pardon on offenders who have already served their time and/or made full restitution? Take a good look at that DOJ list and you’ll soon see what I mean. This whole procedure seems pretty pointless when there are hundreds of innocent people still incarcerated who ended up in the slammer due to flaws in judicial proceedings.

    My point is this: most of the people who received Obama’s pardons have already had ample opportunity [most spanning several years, if not decades] to restore their lives to some semblance of social normalcy while other more-deserving “criminals” continue to be a financial burden on DOC’s nationwide. And, beyond that- for those who are truly innocent a moral obligation exists to exonerate them so they too may finally be granted full and equal justice.

    Presidential pardons have LONG been granted to further political agendas and it’s just about time that this particular wrong is righted once and for all.

  2. How much can a laborer be taxed.
    In my world raise the general expenses a hundred dollars means I have to cut my spending a hundred dollars.
    With the afordable care act our monthly insurance cost eas actually going to increase above our level of income.
    If you look at statistics the average wage earnrrmakes better than twenty dollars an hour yet if you read the paper increasing minimum wage to ten dollars an hour will bankrupt our economy.
    So how much can the government effectively raise taxationI of the average laborer.
    Before 1913 the usa was able to pay off the debt through tarifs today we give breaks on tarifs and tax the worker.

  3. Rather than simple tax rebellion, there is another way that has been known and utilized by some for decades, which is do just enough work to provide minimal living expenses and keep tax rate low or nearly non existent. It means being poor on purpose. You have meager lifestyle, but lots of time to do what you want. I am close to that living on Social Security. Not being on the “hamster wheel” and constantly prodded to do more, has been truly beneficial to my health.

  4. George, You’ve got your teams and players mixed up. Kerry is NOT a neocon. You may recall that the Righty team, your team, wanted nation building in Iraq and awakening the Middle East to democracy. The Lefty team, Obama, Kerry, etc., were against intervention. But ‘Support the Troops’ and ‘Freedom Fries’ carried the day.

    Of course, $8 trillion later, the Middle East is a complete mess, Iran was the only winner, and apparently your side is mad at Obama because he did not keep the troops in there for 8 his years (of your side’s projected 50 more years).

    Why can’t you Righty guys just fess up to your catastrophic screw ups? Why all the games?

    And watch for another War. When the same dumb Righty economic policies, your policies George, land us in another Great Recession, the Righties will need another war to distract the voters. Get them angry about something else.

    It’s your world now, George. Your side won. Own it.


    • I wonder how much of the 8 trillion is just compounding interest.. then we spend more money in the ruse of providing security for other countries to bring democracy and freedom to their people..More than we ever do for our own country or people.
      In my peanut sized brain I would imagine that keeping our country strong would be the first choice then in our strength help those weaker..

  5. If it’s found that Obama is actually illegally seated as president anything he signs or pardons should be out the window.

      • Obama, because he is not a legal standing president, and not even a USA citizen, cannot be charged with treason. His authority as president was given to him by the electoral college and the congressional acceptance of the electoral college vote.

  6. The super solar eclipse of Aug.21-the first to go coast to coast and exclusive to the USA in several hundred years-is of the same series as was the one in 1999 over Southern Europe that brought a HUGE earthquake to Turkey.One can only hope that the New Madrid fault doesn’t activate.

  7. Homes best investment? Not so sure about that. A lot of people don’t understand the math. Folks think, ‘wow I paid 150K and it’s now worth 200K’ so good investment.

    The problem is that unless they paid cash they didn’t pay 150K. Because of the wonders of amortization chances are they paid much more than what they think they paid for the house. Then add in taxes, maintenance, insurance, PMI. Even at 4-5% it’s pretty tough to look at owner occupied residential real estate as an investment. With a 150K mortgage your still talking about tens of thousands of dollars in interest in the first three years. How do you dig out of that? Forced savings maybe. Investment not so much.

    • But do remember this: If you do not own your own home, you are making the payments for someone else.

      Further, in a period of declining interest rates, there have been multiple opptys to refi at much lower rates. Since y6ou have to live somewhere…

      Also try to remember that most of us bought that $44,000 home in 1973 (*which is now worth $750k) with only #5,000 down and an underlying 7.25% So my point is still valid: If you can commit to a locale for a decade or longer it’s hard not to come out way ahead buying than renting.

      YMMV o course

    • Starter homes can be had and paid off in less than three years ,then off to the next one with income coming in for renting first one, many people have made an early retirement and many today can still repeat that process

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