I just finished reading Benn’s post on Does This Yun Make You Look Fat? and started a comment that grew and grew. In Benn’s view the NAR public relations problem is Lawrence Yun the current Chief Economist for NAR. My view is that shooting zombies in the head feels good at the time, but ultimately the zombie causing virus remains out there. (Pro Tip: Never shoot zombies at close range with your mouth open)Listen – Yun is just doing the same job that Lereah was doing before Lereah started getting freaked out by bloggers posting his home address on the Internet and watching his every move. The NAR Chief Economist job description probably reads like “Spin the most Pollyanna slant on the housing market possible without actually bursting into fits of laughter”. Since leaving his position Lereah has pretty much disappeared from public view by going into the x-NAR Chief Economist Protection Program at Move.com.
Alright friends and fans, buckle up for safety as I make up a word to explain it all in one simple concept…
Spin + Sinister = Spinister
Spinister: A presented research thesis so chock full of knowingly misleading information presented as fact to support a outcome desired by the person or group funding the research. Also it’s probably evil.
The fact is NAR has been quite purposely spreading propaganda that fueled the housing bubble. As chief NAR economist Lereah published a couple books underscoring that the housing boom 2001-2007 was a historic market expansion and not a bubble of any kind. Think about that for a second. Prices are soaring through the roof and this guy is yelling “THE MARKET WILL NEVER CORRECT, BUY BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE AND YOU ARE SHUT OUT FOREVER” at the top of his voice. That’s what was passing as official “objective analysis” for years on end.
You would think that a national agency that is the self proclaimed “voice of real estate” in America would have said something about the ever increasing sub-prime lending problem before it started blowing up like the Death Star. Either they were completely clueless about it going on, or they knew it was bad and decided to not mention it to anyone. Either way… shameful.
You would think that someone at NAR would have thought that the last $40 Million advertising campaign saying the market at the time was a good time to buy AND sell was contradictory bullshit that could damage their reputation. But no.
While local realtor associations actually perform meaningful work benefiting the consumer through managing the Multiple Listing Systems and electronic lock boxes etc, the National Association of Realtors acts like nothing more than a special interest group for lobbying government and spinning the public perception of the real estate market. Anyone that views anything NAR says about real estate with an eye any less critical than they view a Big Tobacco funded report on the effects of smoking is an idiot.
So my long winded comment to Benn is this…
NAR simply will not fire Yun as they believe he is doing the job they are asking him to do. Plus they truly believe they are doing the job that REALTORS are asking them to do – paint a picture of a rosy real estate market so REALTORS can turn commissions more easily. Frankly I’m not sure if I feel comforted or disturbed that they also drink the Kool-Aid they are handing out
I think NAR’s market cheer leading has played a minor part in the creation of the real estate bubble and the fallout from it. There are real consequences to this. People are losing jobs, homes and their entire net worth.
That’s pretty spinister.
Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?
NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination
When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”
At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?
The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.
In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…
Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement
The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.
Job openings hit a high point
To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.
The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.
Good news, bad news, depending on your profession
That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.
Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.
If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.
If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.
Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.
Gas prices are down, so are gas taxes about to go up?
Do low gas prices mean higher gas taxes are on the way? Budgeting for 2015 just got a bit more complicated, if some politicians have their way.
Gas taxes and your bottom line
Many industries rely heavily on time in their vehicle, not just truck drivers and delivery trucks. Sales professionals hop in their vehicles throughout the day, as do many other types of professionals (service providers like plumbers, and so forth). For that reason, gas prices and taxes are a relevant line item that must be budgeted for 2015, but with politicians making the rounds to push for higher gas taxes, budgeting becomes more complicated.
Gas prices are down roughly 50 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, which some analysts say have contributed to more money in consumers’ pockets. Some believe that this will improve holiday sales, but others believe the timing is just right to increase federal taxes on gas. The current tax on gas is 18.40 cents per gallon, and on diesel are 24.40 cents per gallon.
Supporters and opponents are polar opposites
Supporters argue as follows: gas prices are low, so it won’t hurt to increase federal gas taxes, in fact, those funds must go toward improving our infrastructure, which in the long run, saves Americans money because smoother roads mean better gas mileage and less congestion.
Gas taxes have long been a polarizing concept, and despite lowered gas prices, the controversial nature of the taxes have not diminished.
While some are pushing for complete abolition of federal gas taxes, others, like former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell (D) tell CNBC, “Say that cost the average driver $130 a year. They would get a return on that investment” in safer roads and increased quality of life, he added.
The Washington Post‘s Chris Mooney points out that federal gas taxes have been “stuck” at 18 cents for over 20 years, last raised when gas was barely a dollar a gallon and that the tax must increase not only to improve the infrastructure, but to “green” our behavior, and help our nation find tax reform compromise.
Is a gas tax politically plausible?
Mooney writes, “So, this is not an argument that a gas tax raise is politically plausible — any more than a economically efficient tax on carbon would be. It’s merely a suggestion that — ignoring politics — it might be a pretty good idea.”
Rendell noted, “The World Economic Forum, 10 years ago, rated us the best infrastructure in the world,” adding that we “need to do something for our infrastructure, not in a one or two year period, but over a decade.”
Others would note that this rating has not crumbled in just a few years, that despite many bridges and roads in need of repair, our infrastructure is still superior to even the most civilized nations.
Regardless of the reasons, most believe that Congress won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, especially leading up to another Presidential campaign season starting next year.
“I think it’s too toxic and continues to be too toxic,” Steve LaTourette (the former Republican congressman best known for his close friendship with his fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner) tells The Atlantic. “I see no political will to get this done.”
Whether the time is fortuitous or not, and regardless of the positive side effects, many point to a fear of voters’ retaliation against any politician siding with a gas hike, so this matter going any further than the proposal stage is unlikely.
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