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Pierce County passes 2-year budget with $200M to address housing needs

Much of the funding will come from the county’s $175.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 24th, 2021

Mississippi banned most abortions to be the "safest state" for the unborn. Meanwhile, one in three Mississippi kids live in poverty

Mississippi will defend its abortion ban before the Supreme Court on December 1. Back home, one in three Mississippi kids live in poverty. Drusilla Hicks, a single mom in Mississippi, with her two youngest kids.Rory Doyle for Insider Mississippi lawmakers said the ban on most abortions after 15 weeks would make Mississippi 'the safest state in the country' for the unborn.  The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to Mississippi's abortion law on Dec. 1. Advocates say Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, offers little support for children 'once they're here.' Brandon, Mississippi – Drusilla Hicks sinks into her couch. A week ago, she and her three young kids moved into their new home. After unloading the moving truck herself, unpacking all the boxes, and hanging photos on the wall, she's exhausted. All around her, stacks of folded laundry are perched on every available surface. Hicks wakes at five o'clock every morning and doesn't get home from work until dark. Between her daughter's cheerleading practice, her son's homework, and the baby's bath time, she rarely gets time to herself. The only reason she was home alone on a late October morning was because she'd been in a car accident the day before. Her body aching, Hicks, who's 28, was supposed to be resting. But the laundry won't fold itself. As a single mom with no child support, Hicks struggles. Her mother and the kids' grandmothers help out with childcare when they can. But the salary she earns from her job as an office manager for the county isn't enough to cover her bills. Her income is just a bit over the threshold for her to qualify for state aid. After trying repeatedly to request some kind of assistance, she's stopped asking. Instead, a friend helps her pay the bills each month. Without him, she's not sure where she and her children would be living. Right now, she's worried about how she will pay the $1,000 deductible to repair her car from the accident. To provide for her children, she often "pinches," or goes without."I'm trying to give my children a better life than I had," Hicks says. "It's hard because I'm trying to make sure they do the extra stuff they want to do, as well as make sure my bills are paid. If I don't have something, I go without and they'll just never know."After a moment, she gets up again. Soon, it will be time to pick up the kids. The children that are hereIn March of 2019, Mississippi drew national headlines when Governor Phil Bryant signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, making Mississippi – as backers of the bill frequently put it – "the safest place in the country for unborn babies." A challenge to the law, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks, has made it to the US Supreme Court and oral arguments are scheduled for Dec 1. It will be the first major challenge to abortion rights that the court has heard since Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Trump appointee, was seated. Drusilla Hicks walks with her son.Rory Doyle for InsiderIn the meantime, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has been making the rounds on the national Christian media circuit—she rarely speaks with media in the state—touting the "empowering" options and opportunities that would stem from overturning Roe v. Wade.  "You have the option in life to really achieve your dream and goals, and you can have those beautiful children as well," Flynn said in September. But community leaders and organizers left with filling in the gaps left from the absence of state aid tell another story. They point to past legislative sessions where Mississippi leaders have repeatedly passed laws that make it harder for families to access aid, while stonewalling on bills that are designed to address income gaps. All of this puts Mississippi on the path to forcing women to have children, then providing little to no safety net once the children are born."We've had so many state leaders who have talked about wanting Mississippi to be the safest state in the country for unborn babies. Every time I hear that, I think, 'Oh my god, let's make this state the safest in the country for born babies,'" said Carol Burnette, executive director of the nonprofit Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative. "They're so determined about their anti-abortion stance; there's just no similar match to being concerned about children once they're here."A domino effect Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation. Around 600,000 people here, nearly 20 percent of Mississippians, live in poverty. It's even higher for kids: one in three Mississippi children live in poverty.In Mississippi, maternal deaths occur in 33.2 of every 100,000 births – nearly twice the national average of 17 deaths per 100,000 – and the state has the highest rate of infant mortality. Mississippi classrooms teach abstinence as sex education; there is no promotion of safe sex or contraceptives. The state has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the nation. Additionally, Mississippi is the only state without a law requiring equal pay, which advocates say especially disadvantages Black women and single moms. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a  consistantly lists Mississippi last in its annual state ranking of overall child well-being. The issues facing poor Mississippi families are interconnected, creating a domino effect, so one issue exacerbates another.A wall of family photos at Drusilla Hicks' new home.Rory Doyle for InsiderAccording to Lea Anne Brandon, a former spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Children and Families, the overwhelming majority of children removed from their homes were living in poverty. "It wasn't 'I don't want to take care of this child,'" Brandon said. "It's 'I don't have the resources to or I don't have money to put them in daycare,' or 'I don't have enough money to buy them food or clothes or medicine.'"Based on the thousands of children and families she's seen, Brandon said the state often swoops in to "rescue" children instead of addressing the issue on the front end. "We're pro-birth. Are we pro-life? We want them born but once they're born, what do we do? 'Here's a pack of diapers' and 'Isn't your child cute?'" Brandon said. Nakeitra Burse, a maternal health advocate who works with pregnant women and mothers, has a unique vantage point of seeing both the administrative hurdles and the myriad of consequences that stem from a patchwork of care. Hospital closures in rural areas, and funding issues at hospitals across the state, for example, puts pregnant women at greater peril, she said.Burse points to a recent tragedy, where a young pregnant woman suffered a heart attack. The family lived in a rural part of the state that doesn't have a county hospital, and so the woman's husband attempted to drive her to a neighboring county. They didn't make it. The husband performed CPR on his dying wife on the side of the road. She and the baby died four days before her due date. "When you think about rural Mississippi, those access and quality issues are a big problem," Burse said. She continues: "Mississippi is so small, I know people that know her."A brigade of helpersThe tight group of activists, organizers and policy experts who work in this area come together to provide, in many instances, what the state does not. Born out of necessity, they've formed a unique brigade. Cassandra Welchlin with the Black Women's Roundtable is the voice in the room when it comes to equal pay and how the disparity impacts Black mothers. She'll defer to Burse when it comes to maternal health; Burse rattles off statistics with barely a breath in between, and can talk for hours about the importance of doulas. Cassandra Overton Welchlin (right) at a 2018 event to boost voter participation in Mississippi.Rogelio V. Solis/AP PhotoAnd childcare once those babies are born? That's Burnette's wheelhouse. If childcare isn't available or a mom needs help paying her bills that month, it's over to Laurie Bertram Roberts, co-founder of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund and executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama, which also advocates for abortion access. Each of the women has dedicated their life to helping Mississippi women and families. Each of them also express frustration that the state isn't doing more, and, they feel in some instances, making it harder for women to get the help they so desperately need. Republican lawmakers in the state say their thinking comes down to responsible and sustainable budgeting. Burnette says that she spends a lot of her days navigating the red tape that state lawmakers have put up that makes it more difficult for Mississippians to access federal services. Take the Child Care Certificate Program, a federal block grant. More than 100,000 Mississippi children should be eligible, but in 2019 – the most recent year for which there's data – just 20,900 benefited from the program. The federal program is most commonly used by single mothers, but the state added an additional requirement: single parents have to cooperate with child support enforcement in order to enroll, meaning they have to provide information about the children's father so the state can track him down. Many are reluctant to do so. Laurie Bertram Roberts, left, confronts an abortion opponent blocking the driveway at Jackson Women's Health Organization in 2013. It's the sole abortion clinic in the state.Rogelio V. Solis/AP PhotoPrudent spending and a fair sliceWhile those on the ground have no shortage of suggestions to help push the state forward, on the top of almost everyone's wish lists is expanding access to Medicaid, a federally funded health care program for the poor. But it remains a major, if unreachable, priority for state Democrats. Currently, low-income women in the state can qualify for Medicaid coverage during their pregnancy and for 60 days after the birth of the child, and two thirds of births in the state are covered by Medicaid.Under the Affordable Care Act, states could opt-in to expand Medicaid coverage. But Mississippi lawmakers opted against it, joining 11 other states to date. In the 2021 legislative session, a proposal to expand Medicaid coverage to mothers for one year after the birth of the child postpartum failed to make it out of committee. From the top down, Mississippi Republican leaders have repeatedly spoken out against Medicaid expansion, including the state's current governor, Tate Reeves, and Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn. In his budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year, Reeves said, "I remain adamantly opposed to Medicaid expansion in Mississippi. I firmly believe that it is not good public policy to place 300,000 additional Mississippians on government-funded health care."His spokesperson Bailey Martin told Insider, "Governor Reeves remains opposed to the expansion of Obamacare and Medicaid in Mississippi."Other issues impact affordability, too. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Mississippi is short 42,000 affordable housing units for families in need. Single-mother households with children under the age of 18 are in the most danger of facing eviction within the next few months, according to Matthew Carpenter of the NAACP. "We see the linkage between quality affordable housing and pretty much everything," he said. "The state being a low-income, low wage state, that impacts housing prospects for a lot of people, and it impacts the well-being of the kids.In Mississippi, eight out of ten Black women are heads of household, and many of the state's problems, from poverty to bad health outcomes, would be made more manageable if women's work – and especially Black women's work – was made more valuable, Welchlin said.Drusilla Hicks collects her youngest child from the car.Rory Doyle for InsiderTo push that debate along, every year members of the Black Women's Roundtable take slices of pie to the state legislature and leave them on the desks of representatives and senators. The message: we want our slice of the pie.For Burnette, The resistance to bolstering the state's social safety net is "inextricably tied to race" and a false narrative of the "welfare queen.""Mississippi has a long history of resisting federal programs and federal funding that comes in with the intent to improve things for poor people," she said. In fact, she said, "single moms have incredible work ethic." But they have to make ends meet with minimum wage jobs, while navigating the lack of affordable housing and affordable and flexible childcare. "They're working, they're just working in jobs that pay too little and because they're a single mom and the sole earner, they're hampered – not only by low wages but being the only wage earner," Burnette said.A full house Back in Brandon, it's been a week since Hicks' car accident. After work, she picks up the kids, and a pizza for dinner. Settled at the kitchen table, each of the older children grab a plate. Hicks does not, feeding the baby instead. Hicks has been in her new house for a week but already it has a warm, lived-in look, like they've been there for years. There are framed photos of the children on the wall, mirrors are hung just so, and a pumpkin is arranged on the front porch for fall. They clear the plates. In the living room, Hicks' daughter practices a cheer routine, which Hicks videos on her phone. Her son circles them on his skateboard. He's energetic, a showman. Later, as she helps him with homework, she worries about his grades.The worrying never really goes away. Hicks wonders if she's doing enough as a mom, and what more she can do to provide for her kids. Dinnertime at the Hicks home.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks making a cellphone video of her daughter's cheer routine.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks with her three kids.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks gives her youngest kid a bath while her daughter looks on.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks putting her son to bed.Rory Doyle for InsiderDrusilla Hicks getting a rare moment to herself.Rory Doyle for InsiderThe night winding down, she bathes the baby in the kitchen sink and tucks her son into bed in his Spiderman sheets. For a moment, it's quiet and Hicks takes a minute to herself, sitting with her phone in the dark. Hicks is stressed, but she's too exhausted at the end of each day for it to keep her awake at night. "I go to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow," she says. She has to sleep sometime. In just a few short hours, it starts all over again. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 26th, 2021

Babies are increasingly dying of syphilis in the US - but it"s 100% preventable

Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. A newborn baby rests at the Ana Betancourt de Mora Hospital in Camaguey, Cuba, on June 19, 2015. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters The number of US babies born with syphilis quadrupled from 2015 to 2019. Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. Routine testing and penicillin shots for pregnant women could prevent these cases. This story was originally published by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom, in collaboration with NPR News. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.When Mai Yang is looking for a patient, she travels light. She dresses deliberately - not too formal, so she won't be mistaken for a police officer; not too casual, so people will look past her tiny 4-foot-10 stature and youthful face and trust her with sensitive health information. Always, she wears closed-toed shoes, "just in case I need to run."Yang carries a stack of cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show what happens when the Treponema pallidum bacteria invades a patient's body. There's a photo of an angry red sore on a penis. There's one of a tongue, marred by mucus-lined lesions. And there's one of a newborn baby, its belly, torso and thighs dotted in a rash, its mouth open, as if caught midcry.It was because of the prospect of one such baby that Yang found herself walking through a homeless encampment on a blazing July day in Huron, California, an hour's drive southwest of her office at the Fresno County Department of Public Health. She was looking for a pregnant woman named Angelica, whose visit to a community clinic had triggered a report to the health department's sexually transmitted disease program. Angelica had tested positive for syphilis. If she was not treated, her baby could end up like the one in the picture or worse - there was a 40% chance the baby would die.Yang knew, though, that if she helped Angelica get treated with three weekly shots of penicillin at least 30 days before she gave birth, it was likely that the infection would be wiped out and her baby would be born without any symptoms at all. Every case of congenital syphilis, when a baby is born with the disease, is avoidable. Each is considered a "sentinel event," a warning that the public health system is failing.The alarms are now clamoring. In the United States, more than 129,800 syphilis cases were recorded in 2019, double the case count of five years prior. In the same time period, cases of congenital syphilis quadrupled: 1,870 babies were born with the disease; 128 died. Case counts from 2020 are still being finalized, but the CDC has said that reported cases of congenital syphilis have already exceeded the prior year. Black, Hispanic, and Native American babies are disproportionately at risk.There was a time, not too long ago, when CDC officials thought they could eliminate the centuries-old scourge from the United States, for adults and babies. But the effort lost steam and cases soon crept up again. Syphilis is not an outlier. The United States goes through what former CDC director Tom Frieden calls "a deadly cycle of panic and neglect" in which emergencies propel officials to scramble and throw money at a problem - whether that's Ebola, Zika, or COVID-19. Then, as fear ebbs, so does the attention and motivation to finish the task.The last fraction of cases can be the hardest to solve, whether that's eradicating a bug or getting vaccines into arms, yet too often, that's exactly when political attention gets diverted to the next alarm. The result: The hardest to reach and most vulnerable populations are the ones left suffering, after everyone else looks away.Yang first received Angelica's lab report on June 17. The address listed was a P.O. box, and the phone number belonged to her sister, who said Angelica was living in Huron. That was a piece of luck: Huron is tiny; the city spans just 1.6 square miles. On her first visit, a worker at the Alamo Motel said she knew Angelica and directed Yang to a nearby homeless encampment. Angelica wasn't there, so Yang returned a second time, bringing one of the health department nurses who could serve as an interpreter.They made their way to the barren patch of land behind Huron Valley Foods, the local grocery store, where people took shelter in makeshift lean-tos composed of cardboard boxes, scrap wood, and scavenged furniture, draped with sheets that served as ceilings and curtains. Yang stopped outside one of the structures, calling a greeting."Hi, I'm from the health department, I'm looking for Angelica."The nurse echoed her in Spanish.Angelica emerged, squinting in the sunlight. Yang couldn't tell if she was visibly pregnant yet, as her body was obscured by an oversized shirt. The two women were about the same age: Yang 26 and Angelica 27. Yang led her away from the tent, so they could speak privately. Angelica seemed reticent, surprised by the sudden appearance of the two health officers. "You're not in trouble," Yang said, before revealing the results of her blood test.Angelica had never heard of syphilis."Have you been to prenatal care?"Angelica shook her head. The local clinic had referred her to an obstetrician in Hanford, a 30-minute drive away. She had no car. She also mentioned that she didn't intend to raise her baby; her two oldest children lived with her mother, and this one likely would, too.Yang pulled out the CDC cards, showing them to Angelica and asking if she had experienced any of the symptoms illustrated. No, Angelica said, her lips pursed with disgust."Right now you still feel healthy, but this bacteria is still in your body," Yang pressed. "You need to get the infection treated to prevent further health complications to yourself and your baby."The community clinic was just across the street. "Can we walk you over to the clinic and make sure you get seen so we can get this taken care of?"Angelica demurred. She said she hadn't showered for a week and wanted to wash up first. She said she'd go later.Yang tried once more to extract a promise: "What time do you think you'll go?""Today, for sure."The CDC tried and failed to eradicate syphilis - twiceSyphilis is called The Great Imitator: It can look like any number of diseases. In its first stage, the only evidence of infection is a painless sore at the bacteria's point of entry. Weeks later, as the bacteria multiplies, skin rashes bloom on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. Other traits of this stage include fever, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat, and fatigue. These symptoms eventually disappear and the patient progresses into the latent phase, which betrays no external signs. But if left untreated, after a decade or more, syphilis will reemerge in up to 30% of patients, capable of wreaking horror on a wide range of organ systems. Marion Sims, president of the American Medical Association in 1876, called it a "terrible scourge, which begins with lamb-like mildness and ends with lion-like rage that ruthlessly destroys everything in its way."The corkscrew-shaped bacteria can infiltrate the nervous system at any stage of the infection. Yang is haunted by her memory of interviewing a young man whose dementia was so severe that he didn't know why he was in the hospital or how old he was. And regardless of symptoms or stage, the bacteria can penetrate the placenta to infect a fetus. Even in these cases the infection is unpredictable: Many babies are born with normal physical features, but others can have deformed bones or damaged brains, and they can struggle to hear, see, or breathe.From its earliest days, syphilis has been shrouded in stigma. The first recorded outbreak was in the late 15th century, when Charles VIII led the French army to invade Naples. Italian physicians described French soldiers covered with pustules, dying from a sexually transmitted disease. As the affliction spread, Italians called it the French Disease. The French blamed the Neopolitans. It was also called the German, Polish, or Spanish disease, depending on which neighbor one wanted to blame. Even its name bears the taint of divine judgement: It comes from a 16th-century poem that tells of a shepherd, Syphilus, who offended the god Apollo and was punished with a hideous disease.By 1937 in America, when former Surgeon General Thomas Parran wrote the book "Shadow on the Land," he estimated some 680,000 people were under treatment for syphilis; about 60,000 babies were being born annually with congenital syphilis. There was no cure, and the stigma was so strong that public-health officials feared even properly documenting cases.Thanks to Parran's ardent advocacy, Congress in 1938 passed the National Venereal Disease Control Act, which created grants for states to set up clinics and support testing and treatment. Other than a short-lived funding effort during World War I, this was the first coordinated federal push to respond to the disease.Around the same time, the Public Health Service launched an effort to record the natural history of syphilis. Situated in Tuskegee, Alabama, the infamous study recruited 600 black men. By the early 1940s, penicillin became widely available and was found to be a reliable cure, but the treatment was withheld from the study participants. Outrage over the ethical violations would cast a stain across syphilis research for decades to come and fuel generations of mistrust in the medical system among Black Americans that continues to this day. People attend a ceremony near Tuskegee, Alabama, on April 3, 2017, to commemorate the roughly 600 men who were subjects in the Tuskegee syphilis study. Jay Reeves/AP Photo With the introduction of penicillin, cases began to plummet. Twice, the CDC has announced efforts to wipe out the disease - once in the 1960s and again in 1999.In the latest effort, the CDC announced that the United States had "a unique opportunity to eliminate syphilis within its borders," thanks to historically low rates, with 80% of counties reporting zero cases. The concentration of cases in the South "identifies communities in which there is a fundamental failure of public health capacity," the agency noted, adding that elimination - which it defined as fewer than 1,000 cases a year - would "decrease one of our most glaring racial disparities in health."Two years after the campaign began, cases started climbing, first among gay men and, later, heterosexuals. Cases in women started accelerating in 2013, followed shortly by increasing numbers of babies born with syphilis. The reasons for failure are complex: People relaxed safer sex practices after the advent of potent HIV combination therapies, increased methamphetamine use drove riskier behavior, and an explosion of online dating made it hard to track and test sexual partners, according to Ina Park, medical director of the California Prevention Training Center at the University of California San Francisco.But federal and state public-health efforts were hamstrung from the get-go. In 1999, the CDC said it would need about $35 million to $39 million in new federal funds annually for at least five years to eliminate syphilis. The agency got less than half of what it asked for, according to Jo Valentine, former program coordinator of the CDC's Syphilis Elimination Effort. As cases rose, the CDC modified its goals in 2006 from 0.4 primary and secondary syphilis cases per 100,000 in population to 2.2 cases per 100,000. By 2013, as elimination seemed less and less viable, the CDC changed its focus to ending congenital syphilis only.Since then, funding has remained anemic. From 2015 to 2020, the CDC's budget for preventing sexually transmitted infections grew by 2.2%. Taking inflation into account, that's a 7.4% reduction in purchasing power. In the same period, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia - the three STDs that have federally funded control programs - increased by nearly 30%."We have a long history of nearly eradicating something, then changing our attention, and seeing a resurgence in numbers," David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said. "We have more congenital syphilis cases today in America than we ever had pediatric AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It's heartbreaking."Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, warns that the US should not be surprised to see case counts continue to climb."The bugs don't go away," she said. "They're just waiting for the next opportunity, when you're not paying attention."Syphilis has fewer poster children than HIV or cancerYang waited until the end of the day, then called the clinic to see if Angelica had gone for her shot. She had not. Yang would have to block off another half day to visit Huron again, but she had three dozen other cases to deal with.States in the South and West have seen the highest syphilis rates in recent years. In 2017, 64 babies in Fresno County were born with syphilis at a rate of 440 babies per 100,000 live births - about 19 times the national rate. While the county had managed to lower case counts in the two years that followed, the pandemic threatened to unravel that progress, forcing STD staffers to do COVID-19 contact tracing, pausing field visits to find infected people, and scaring patients from seeking care. Yang's colleague handled three cases of stillbirth in 2020; in each, the woman was never diagnosed with syphilis because she feared catching the coronavirus and skipped prenatal care.Yang, whose caseload peaked at 70 during a COVID-19 surge, knew she would not be able handle them all as thoroughly as she'd like to."When I was being mentored by another investigator, he said: 'You're not a superhero. You can't save everybody,'" she said.She prioritizes men who have sex with men, because there's a higher prevalence of syphilis in that population, and pregnant people, because of the horrific consequences for babies.The job of a disease intervention specialist isn't for everyone: It means meeting patients whenever and wherever they are available - in the mop closet of a bus station, in a quiet parking lot - to inform them about the disease, to extract names of sex partners, and to encourage treatment. Patients are often reluctant to talk. They can get belligerent, upset that "the government" has their personal information, or shattered at the thought that a partner is likely cheating on them. Salaries typically start in the low $40,000s.Jena Adams, Yang's supervisor, has eight investigators working on HIV and syphilis. In the middle of 2020, she lost two and replaced them only recently."It's been exhausting," Adams said.She has only one specialist who is trained to take blood samples in the field, crucial for guaranteeing that the partners of those who test positive for syphilis also get tested. Adams wants to get phlebotomy training for the rest of her staff, but it's $2,000 per person. The department also doesn't have anyone who can administer penicillin injections in the field; that would have been key when Yang met Angelica. For a while, a nurse who worked in the tuberculosis program would ride along to give penicillin shots on a volunteer basis. Then he, too, left the health department.Much of the resources in public health trickle down from the CDC, which distributes money to states, which then parcel it out to counties. The CDC gets its budget from Congress, which tells the agency, by line item, exactly how much money it can spend to fight a disease or virus, in an uncommonly specific manner not seen in many other agencies. The decisions are often politically driven and can be detached from actual health needs.When the House and Senate appropriations committees meet to decide how much the CDC will get for each line item, they are barraged by lobbyists for individual disease interests. Stephanie Arnold Pang, senior director of policy and government relations at the National Coalition of STD Directors, can pick out the groups by sight: breast cancer wears pink, Alzheimer's goes in purple, multiple sclerosis comes in orange, HIV in red. STD prevention advocates, like herself, don a green ribbon, but they're far outnumbered.And unlike diseases that might already be familiar to lawmakers, or have patient and family spokespeople who can tell their own powerful stories, syphilis doesn't have many willing poster children. Breast Cancer survivors hold up a check for the amount raised at The Congressional Womens Softball Game at Watkins Recreation Center in Capitol Hill on June 20, 2018. Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call "Congressmen don't wake up one day and say, 'Oh hey, there's congenital syphilis in my jurisdiction.' You have to raise awareness," Arnold Pang said. It can be hard jockeying for a meeting. "Some offices might say, 'I don't have time for you because we've just seen HIV.' ... Sometimes, it feels like you're talking into a void."The consequences of the political nature of public-health funding have become more obvious during the coronavirus pandemic. The 2014 Ebola epidemic was seen as a "global wakeup call" that the world wasn't prepared for a major pandemic, yet in 2018, the CDC scaled back its epidemic prevention work as money ran out."If you've got to choose between Alzheimer's research and stopping an outbreak that may not happen? Stopping an outbreak that might not happen doesn't do well," Frieden, the former CDC director, said. "The CDC needs to have more money and more flexible money. Otherwise, we're going to be in this situation long term."In May 2021, President Joe Biden's administration announced it would set aside $7.4 billion over the next five years to hire and train public health workers, including $1.1 billion for more disease intervention specialists like Yang. Public health officials are thrilled to have the chance to expand their workforce, but some worry the time horizon may be too short."We've seen this movie before, right?" Frieden said. "Everyone gets concerned when there's an outbreak, and when that outbreak stops, the headlines stop, and an economic downturn happens, the budget gets cut."Fresno's STD clinic was shuttered in 2010 amid the Great Recession. Many others have vanished since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.Health leaders thought "by magically beefing up the primary care system, that we would do a better job of catching STIs and treating them," Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said.That hasn't worked out; people want access to anonymous services, and primary care doctors often don't have STDs top of mind. The coalition is lobbying Congress for funding to support STD clinical services, proposing a three-year demonstration project funded at $600 million.It's one of Adams' dreams to see Fresno's STD clinic restored as it was."You could come in for an HIV test and get other STDs checked," she said. "And if a patient is positive, you can give a first injection on the spot."'I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die'On August 12, Yang set out for Huron again, speeding past groves of almond trees and fields of grapes in the department's white Chevy Cruze. She brought along a colleague, Jorge Sevilla, who had recently transferred to the STD program from COVID-19 contact tracing. Yang was anxious to find Angelica again."She's probably in her second trimester now," she said.They found her outside of a pale yellow house a few blocks from the homeless encampment; the owner was letting her stay in a shed tucked in the corner of the dirt yard. This time, it was evident that she was pregnant. Yang noted that Angelica was wearing a wig; hair loss is a symptom of syphilis."Do you remember me?" Yang asked.Angelica nodded. She didn't seem surprised to see Yang again. (I came along, and Sevilla explained who I was and that I was writing about syphilis and the people affected by it. Angelica signed a release for me to report about her case, and she said she had no problem with me writing about her or even using her full name. ProPublica chose to only print her first name.)"How are you doing? How's the baby?""Bien.""So the last time we talked, we were going to have you go to United Healthcare Center to get treatment. Have you gone since?"Angelica shook her head."We brought some gift cards..." Sevilla started in Spanish. The department uses them as incentives for completing injections. But Angelica was already shaking her head. The nearest Walmart was the next town over.Yang turned to her partner. "Tell her: So the reason why we're coming out here again is because we really need her to go in for treatment. [...] We really are concerned for the baby's health especially since she's had the infection for quite a while."Angelica listened while Sevilla interpreted, her eyes on the ground. Then she looked up. "Orita?" she asked. Right now?"I'll walk with you," Yang offered. Angelica shook her head."She said she wants to shower first before she goes over there," Sevilla said.Yang made a face. "She said that to me last time." Yang offered to wait, but Angelica didn't want the health officers to linger by the house. She said she would meet them by the clinic in 15 minutes.Yang was reluctant to let her go but again had no other option. She and Sevilla drove to the clinic, then stood on the corner of the parking lot, staring down the road.Talk to the pediatricians, obstetricians, and families on the front lines of the congenital syphilis surge and it becomes clear why Yang and others are trying so desperately to prevent cases. J.B. Cantey, associate professor in pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio, remembers a baby girl born at 25 weeks gestation who weighed a pound and a half. Syphilis had spread through her bones and lungs. She spent five months in the neonatal intensive care unit, breathing through a ventilator, and was still eating through a tube when she was discharged.Then, there are the miscarriages, the stillbirths, and the inconsolable parents. Irene Stafford, an associate professor and maternal-fetal medicine specialist at UT Health in Houston, cannot forget a patient who came in at 36 weeks for a routine checkup, pregnant with her first child. Stafford realized that there was no heartbeat."She could see on my face that something was really wrong," Stafford recalled. She had to let the patient know that syphilis had killed her baby."She was hysterical, just bawling," Stafford said. "I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die." Fewer than 10% of patients who experience a stillbirth are tested for syphilis, suggesting that cases are underdiagnosed.A Texas grandmother named Solidad Odunuga offers a glimpse into what the future could hold for Angelica's mother, who may wind up raising her baby.In February of last year, Odunuga got a call from the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston. A nurse told her that her daughter was about to give birth and that child protective services had been called. Odunuga had lost contact with her daughter, who struggled with homelessness and substance abuse. She arrived in time to see her grandson delivered, premature at 30 weeks old, weighing 2.7 pounds. He tested positive for syphilis.When a child protective worker asked Odunuga to take custody of the infant, she felt a wave of dread."I was in denial," she recalled. "I did not plan to be a mom again." The baby's medical problems were daunting: "Global developmental delays [...] concerns for visual impairments [...] high risk of cerebral palsy," read a note from the doctor at the time.Still, Odunuga visited her grandson every day for three months, driving to the NICU from her job at the University of Houston. "I'd put him in my shirt to keep him warm and hold him there." She fell in love. She named him Emmanuel.Once Emmanuel was discharged, Odunuga realized she had no choice but to quit her job. While Medicaid covered the costs of Emmanuel's treatment, it was on her to care for him. From infancy, Emmanuel's life has been a whirlwind of constant therapy. Today, at 20 months old, Odunuga brings him to physical, occupational, speech, and developmental therapy, each a different appointment on a different day of the week.Emmanuel has thrived beyond what his doctors predicted, toddling so fast that Odunuga can't look away for a minute and beaming as he waves his favorite toy phone. Yet he still suffers from gagging issues, which means Odunuga can't feed him any solid foods. Liquid gets into his lungs when he aspirates; it has led to pneumonia three times. Emmanuel has a special stroller that helps keep his head in a position that won't aggravate his persistent reflux, but Odunuga said she still has to pull over on the side of the road sometimes when she hears him projectile vomiting from the backseat.The days are endless. Once she puts Emmanuel to bed, Odunuga starts planning the next day's appointments."I've had to cry alone, scream out alone," she said. "Sometimes I wake up and think, 'Is this real?' And then I hear him in the next room."There's no vaccine for syphilis A health worker tests a migrant from Haiti for HIV and syphilis to in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, on September 25, 2021. Daniel Becerril/Reuters Putting aside the challenge of eliminating syphilis entirely, everyone agrees it's both doable and necessary to prevent newborn cases."There was a crisis in perinatal HIV almost 30 years ago and people stood up and said this is not OK - it's not acceptable for babies to be born in that condition. [...We] brought it down from 1,700 babies born each year with perinatal HIV to less than 40 per year today," Virginia Bowen, an epidemiologist at the CDC, said. "Now here we are with a slightly different condition. We can also stand up and say, 'This is not acceptable.'" Belarus, Bermuda, Cuba, Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are among countries recognized by the World Health Organization for eliminating congenital syphilis.Success starts with filling gaps across the health care system.For almost a century, public health experts have advocated for testing pregnant patients more than once for syphilis in order to catch the infection. But policies nationwide still don't reflect this best practice. Six states have no prenatal screening requirement at all. Even in states that require three tests, public-health officials say that many physicians aren't aware of the requirements. Stafford, the maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Houston, says she's tired of hearing her own peers in medicine tell her, "Oh, syphilis is a problem?"It costs public health departments less than 25 cents a dose to buy penicillin, but for a private practice, it's more than $1,000, according to Park of the University of California San Francisco."There's no incentive for a private physician to stock a dose that could expire before it's used, so they often don't have it," she said. "So a woman comes in, they say, 'We'll send you to the emergency department or health department to get it,' then [the patients] don't show up."A vaccine would be invaluable for preventing spread among people at high risk for reinfection. But there is none. Scientists only recently figured out how to grow the bacteria in the lab, prompting grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund research into a vaccine. Justin Radolf, a researcher at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said he hopes his team will have a vaccine candidate by the end of its five-year grant. But it'll likely take years more to find a manufacturer and run human trials.Public-health agencies also need to recognize that many of the hurdles to getting pregnant people treated involve access to care, economic stability, safe housing, and transportation. In Fresno, Adams has been working on ways her department can collaborate with mental health services. Recently, one of her disease intervention specialists managed to get a pregnant woman treated with penicillin shots and, at the patient's request, connected her with an addiction treatment center.Gaining a patient's cooperation means seeing them as complex humans instead of just a case to solve."There may be past traumas with the healthcare system," Cynthia Deverson, project manager of the Houston Fetal Infant Morbidity Review, said. "There's the fear of being discovered if she's doing something illegal to survive. [...] She may need to be in a certain place at a certain time so she can get something to eat, or maybe it's the only time of the day that's safe for her to sleep. They're not going to tell you that. Yes, they understand there's a problem, but it's not an immediate threat, maybe they don't feel bad yet, so obviously this is not urgent.""What helps to gain trust is consistency," she added. "Literally, it's seeing that [disease specialist] constantly, daily. [...] The woman can see that you're not going to harm her, you're saying, 'I'm here at this time if you need me.'"Yang stood outside the clinic, waiting for Angelica to show up, baking in the 90-degree heat. Her feelings ranged from irritation - Why didn't she just go? I'd have more energy for other cases - to an appreciation for the parts of Angelica's story that she didn't know - She's in survival mode. I need to be more patient.Fifteen minutes ticked by, then 20."OK," Yang announced. "We're going back."She asked Sevilla if he would be OK if they drove Angelica to the clinic; they technically weren't supposed to because of coronavirus precautions, but Yang wasn't sure she could convince Angelica to walk. Sevilla gave her the thumbs up.When they pulled up, they saw Angelica sitting in the backyard, chatting with a friend. She now wore a fresh T-shirt and had shoes on her feet. Angelica sat silently in the back seat as Yang drove to the clinic. A few minutes later, they pulled up to the parking lot.Finally, Yang thought. We got her here.The clinic was packed with people waiting for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. A worker there had previously told Yang that a walk-in would be fine, but a receptionist now said they were too busy to treat Angelica. She would have to return.Yang felt a surge of frustration, sensing that her hard-fought opportunity was slipping away. She tried to talk to the nurse supervisor, but he wasn't available. She tried to leave the gift cards at the office to reward Angelica if she came, but the receptionist said she couldn't hold them. While Yang negotiated, Sevilla sat with Angelica in the car, waiting.Finally, Yang accepted this was yet another thing she couldn't control.She drove Angelica back to the yellow house. As they arrived, she tried once more to impress on her just how important it was to get treated, asking Sevilla to interpret. "We don't want it to get any more serious, because she can go blind, she could go deaf, she could lose her baby."Angelica already had the door halfway open."So on a scale from one to 10, how important is this to get treated?" Yang asked."Ten," Angelica said. Yang reminded her of the appointment that afternoon. Then Angelica stepped out and returned to the dusty yard.Yang lingered for a moment, watching Angelica go. Then she turned the car back onto the highway and set off toward Fresno, knowing, already, that she'd be back.Postscript: A reporter visited Huron twice more in the months that followed, including once independently to try to interview Angelica, but she wasn't in town. Yang has visited Huron twice more as well - six times in total thus far. In October, a couple of men at the yellow house said Angelica was still in town, still pregnant. Yang and Sevilla spent an hour driving around, talking to residents, hoping to catch Angelica. But she was nowhere to be found.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 2nd, 2021

Bitcoin & The US Fiscal Reckoning

Bitcoin & The US Fiscal Reckoning Authored by Avik Roy via NationalAffairs.com, Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have few fans in Washington. At a July congressional hearing, Senator Elizabeth Warren warned that cryptocurrency "puts the [financial] system at the whims of some shadowy, faceless group of super-coders." Treasury secretary Janet Yellen likewise asserted that the "reality" of cryptocurrencies is that they "have been used to launder the profits of online drug traffickers; they've been a tool to finance terrorism." Thus far, Bitcoin's supporters remain undeterred. (The term "Bitcoin" with a capital "B" is used here and throughout to refer to the system of cryptography and technology that produces the currency "bitcoin" with a lowercase "b" and verifies bitcoin transactions.) A survey of 3,000 adults in the fall of 2020 found that while only 4% of adults over age 55 own cryptocurrencies, slightly more than one-third of those aged 35-44 do, as do two-fifths of those aged 25-34. As of mid-2021, Coinbase — the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States — had 68 million verified users. To younger Americans, digital money is as intuitive as digital media and digital friendships. But Millennials with smartphones are not the only people interested in bitcoin; a growing number of investors are also flocking to the currency's banner. Surveys indicate that as many as 21% of U.S. hedge funds now own bitcoin in some form. In 2020, after considering various asset classes like stocks, bonds, gold, and foreign currencies, celebrated hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones asked, "[w]hat will be the winner in ten years' time?" His answer: "My bet is it will be bitcoin." What's driving this increased interest in a form of currency invented in 2008? The answer comes from former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who once noted, "the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press...that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation...the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to...inflation." In other words, governments with fiat currencies — including the United States — have the power to expand the quantity of those currencies. If they choose to do so, they risk inflating the prices of necessities like food, gas, and housing. In recent months, consumers have experienced higher price inflation than they have seen in decades. A major reason for the increases is that central bankers around the world — including those at the Federal Reserve — sought to compensate for Covid-19 lockdowns with dramatic monetary inflation. As a result, nearly $4 trillion in newly printed dollars, euros, and yen found their way from central banks into the coffers of global financial institutions. Jerome Powell, the current Federal Reserve chairman, insists that 2021's inflation trends are "transitory." He may be right in the near term. But for the foreseeable future, inflation will be a profound and inescapable challenge for America due to a single factor: the rapidly expanding federal debt, increasingly financed by the Fed's printing press. In time, policymakers will face a Solomonic choice: either protect Americans from inflation, or protect the government's ability to engage in deficit spending. It will become impossible to do both. Over time, this compounding problem will escalate the importance of Bitcoin. THE FIAT-CURRENCY EXPERIMENT It's becoming clear that Bitcoin is not merely a passing fad, but a significant innovation with potentially serious implications for the future of investment and global finance. To understand those implications, we must first examine the recent history of the primary instrument that bitcoin was invented to challenge: the American dollar. Toward the end of World War II, in an agreement hashed out by 44 Allied countries in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, the value of the U.S. dollar was formally fixed to 1/35th of the price of an ounce of gold. Other countries' currencies, such as the British pound and the French franc, were in turn pegged to the dollar, making the dollar the world's official reserve currency. Under the Bretton Woods system, foreign governments could retrieve gold bullion they had sent to the United States during the war by exchanging dollars for gold at the relevant fixed exchange rate. But enabling every major country to exchange dollars for American-held gold only worked so long as the U.S. government was fiscally and monetarily responsible. By the late 1960s, it was neither. Someone needed to pay the steep bills for Lyndon Johnson's "guns and butter" policies — the Vietnam War and the Great Society, respectively — so the Federal Reserve began printing currency to meet those obligations. Johnson's successor, Richard Nixon, also pressured the Fed to flood the economy with money as a form of economic stimulus. From 1961 to 1971, the Fed nearly doubled the circulating supply of dollars. "In the first six months of 1971," noted the late Nobel laureate Robert Mundell, "monetary expansion was more rapid than in any comparable period in a quarter century." That year, foreign central banks and governments held $64 billion worth of claims on the $10 billion of gold still held by the United States. It wasn't long before the world took notice of the shortage. In a classic bank-run scenario, anxious European governments began racing to redeem dollars for American-held gold before the Fed ran out. In July 1971, Switzerland withdrew $50 million in bullion from U.S. vaults. In August, France sent a destroyer to escort $191 million of its gold back from the New York Federal Reserve. Britain put in a request for $3 billion shortly thereafter. Finally, that same month, Nixon secretly gathered a small group of trusted advisors at Camp David to devise a plan to avoid the imminent wipeout of U.S. gold vaults and the subsequent collapse of the international economy. There, they settled on a radical course of action. On the evening of August 15th, in a televised address to the nation, Nixon announced his intention to order a 90-day freeze on all prices and wages throughout the country, a 10% tariff on all imported goods, and a suspension — eventually, a permanent one — of the right of foreign governments to exchange their dollars for U.S. gold. Knowing that his unilateral abrogation of agreements involving dozens of countries would come as a shock to world leaders and the American people, Nixon labored to re-assure viewers that the change would not unsettle global markets. He promised viewers that "the effect of this action...will be to stabilize the dollar," and that the "dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today." The next day, the stock market rose — to everyone's relief. The editors of the New York Times "unhesitatingly applaud[ed] the boldness" of Nixon's move. Economic growth remained strong for months after the shift, and the following year Nixon was re-elected in a landslide, winning 49 states in the Electoral College and 61% of the popular vote. Nixon's short-term success was a mirage, however. After the election, the president lifted the wage and price controls, and inflation returned with a vengeance. By December 1980, the dollar had lost more than half the purchasing power it had back in June 1971 on a consumer-price basis. In relation to gold, the price of the dollar collapsed — from 1/35th to 1/627th of a troy ounce. Though Jimmy Carter is often blamed for the Great Inflation of the late 1970s, "the truth," as former National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow has argued, "is that the president who unleashed double-digit inflation was Richard Nixon." In 1981, Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker raised the federal-funds rate — a key interest-rate benchmark — to 19%. A deep recession ensued, but inflation ceased, and the U.S. embarked on a multi-decade period of robust growth, low unemployment, and low consumer-price inflation. As a result, few are nostalgic for the days of Bretton Woods or the gold-standard era. The view of today's economic establishment is that the present system works well, that gold standards are inherently unstable, and that advocates of gold's return are eccentric cranks. Nevertheless, it's important to remember that the post-Bretton Woods era — in which the supply of government currencies can be expanded or contracted by fiat — is only 50 years old. To those of us born after 1971, it might appear as if there is nothing abnormal about the way money works today. When viewed through the lens of human history, however, free-floating global exchange rates remain an unprecedented economic experiment — with one critical flaw. An intrinsic attribute of the post-Bretton Woods system is that it enables deficit spending. Under a gold standard or peg, countries are unable to run large budget deficits without draining their gold reserves. Nixon's 1971 crisis is far from the only example; deficit spending during and after World War I, for instance, caused economic dislocation in numerous European countries — especially Germany — because governments needed to use their shrinking gold reserves to finance their war debts. These days, by contrast, it is relatively easy for the United States to run chronic deficits. Today's federal debt of almost $29 trillion — up from $10 trillion in 2008 and $2.4 trillion in 1984 — is financed in part by U.S. Treasury bills, notes, and bonds, on which lenders to the United States collect a form of interest. Yields on Treasury bonds are denominated in dollars, but since dollars are no longer redeemable for gold, these bonds are backed solely by the "full faith and credit of the United States." Interest rates on U.S. Treasury bonds have remained low, which many people take to mean that the creditworthiness of the United States remains healthy. Just as creditworthy consumers enjoy lower interest rates on their mortgages and credit cards, creditworthy countries typically enjoy lower rates on the bonds they issue. Consequently, the post-Great Recession era of low inflation and near-zero interest rates led many on the left to argue that the old rules no longer apply, and that concerns regarding deficits are obsolete. Supporters of this view point to the massive stimulus packages passed under presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden  that, in total, increased the federal deficit and debt by $4.6 trillion without affecting the government's ability to borrow. The extreme version of the new "deficits don't matter" narrative comes from the advocates of what has come to be called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), who claim that because the United States controls its own currency, the federal government has infinite power to increase deficits and the debt without consequence. Though most mainstream economists dismiss MMT as unworkable and even dangerous, policymakers appear to be legislating with MMT's assumptions in mind. A new generation of Democratic economic advisors has pushed President Biden to propose an additional $3.5 trillion in spending, on top of the $4.6 trillion spent on Covid-19 relief and the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. These Democrats, along with a new breed of populist Republicans, dismiss the concerns of older economists who fear that exploding deficits risk a return to the economy of the 1970s, complete with high inflation, high interest rates, and high unemployment. But there are several reasons to believe that America's fiscal profligacy cannot go on forever. The most important reason is the unanimous judgment of history: In every country and in every era, runaway deficits and skyrocketing debt have ended in economic stagnation or ruin. Another reason has to do with the unusual confluence of events that has enabled the United States to finance its rising debts at such low interest rates over the past few decades — a confluence that Bitcoin may play a role in ending. DECLINING FAITH IN U.S. CREDIT To members of the financial community, U.S. Treasury bonds are considered "risk-free" assets. That is to say, while many investments entail risk — a company can go bankrupt, for example, thereby wiping out the value of its stock — Treasury bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. Since people believe the United States will not default on its obligations, lending money to the U.S. government — buying Treasury bonds that effectively pay the holder an interest rate — is considered a risk-free investment. The definition of Treasury bonds as "risk-free" is not merely by reputation, but also by regulation. Since 1988, the Switzerland-based Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has sponsored a series of accords among central bankers from financially significant countries. These accords were designed to create global standards for the capital held by banks such that they carry a sufficient proportion of low-risk and risk-free assets. The well-intentioned goal of these standards was to ensure that banks don't fail when markets go down, as they did in 2008. The current version of the Basel Accords, known as "Basel III," assigns zero risk to U.S. Treasury bonds. Under Basel III's formula, then, every major bank in the world is effectively rewarded for holding these bonds instead of other assets. This artificially inflates demand for the bonds and enables the United States to borrow at lower rates than other countries. The United States also benefits from the heft of its economy as well as the size of its debt. Since America is the world's most indebted country in absolute terms, the market for U.S. Treasury bonds is the largest and most liquid such market in the world. Liquid markets matter a great deal to major investors: A large financial institution or government with hundreds of billions (or more) of a given currency on its balance sheet cares about being able to buy and sell assets while minimizing the impact of such actions on the trading price. There are no alternative low-risk assets one can trade at the scale of Treasury bonds. The status of such bonds as risk-free assets — and in turn, America's ability to borrow the money necessary to fund its ballooning expenditures — depends on investors' confidence in America's creditworthiness. Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve's interference in the markets for Treasury bonds have obscured our ability to determine whether financial institutions view the U.S. fiscal situation with confidence. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton's advisors prioritized reducing the deficit, largely out of a conern that Treasury-bond "vigilantes" — investors who protest a government's expansionary fiscal or monetary policy by aggressively selling bonds, which drives up interest rates — would harm the economy. Their success in eliminating the primary deficit brought yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond down from 8% to 4%. In Clinton's heyday, the Federal Reserve was limited in its ability to influence the 10-year Treasury interest rate. Its monetary interventions primarily targeted the federal-funds rate — the interest rate that banks charge each other on overnight transactions. But in 2002, Ben Bernanke advocated that the Fed "begin announcing explicit ceilings for yields on longer-maturity Treasury debt." This amounted to a schedule of interest-rate price controls. Since the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has succeeded in wiping out bond vigilantes using a policy called "quantitative easing," whereby the Fed manipulates the price of Treasury bonds by buying and selling them on the open market. As a result, Treasury-bond yields are determined not by the free market, but by the Fed. The combined effect of these forces — the regulatory impetus for banks to own Treasury bonds, the liquidity advantage Treasury bonds have in the eyes of large financial institutions, and the Federal Reserve's manipulation of Treasury-bond market prices — means that interest rates on Treasury bonds no longer indicate the United States' creditworthiness (or lack thereof). Meanwhile, indications that investors are growing increasingly concerned about the U.S. fiscal and monetary picture — and are in turn assigning more risk to "risk-free" Treasury bonds — are on the rise. One such indicator is the decline in the share of Treasury bonds owned by outside investors. Between 2010 and 2020, the share of U.S. Treasury securities owned by foreign entities fell from 47% to 32%, while the share owned by the Fed more than doubled, from 9% to 22%. Put simply, foreign investors have been reducing their purchases of U.S. government debt, thereby forcing the Fed to increase its own bond purchases to make up the difference and prop up prices. Until and unless Congress reduces the trajectory of the federal debt, U.S. monetary policy has entered a vicious cycle from which there is no obvious escape. The rising debt requires the Treasury Department to issue an ever-greater quantity of Treasury bonds, but market demand for these bonds cannot keep up with their increasing supply. In an effort to avoid a spike in interest rates, the Fed will need to print new U.S. dollars to soak up the excess supply of Treasury bonds. The resultant monetary inflation will cause increases in consumer prices. Those who praise the Fed's dramatic expansion of the money supply argue that it has not affected consumer-price inflation. And at first glance, they appear to have a point. In January of 2008, the M2 money stock was roughly $7.5 trillion; by January 2020, M2 had more than doubled, to $15.4 trillion. As of July 2021, the total M2 sits at $20.5 trillion — nearly triple what it was just 13 years ago. Over that same period, U.S. GDP increased by only 50%. And yet, since 2000, the average rate of growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for All Urban Consumers — a widely used inflation benchmark — has remained low, at about 2.25%. How can this be? The answer lies in the relationship between monetary inflation and price inflation, which has diverged over time. In 2008, the Federal Reserve began paying interest to banks that park their money with the Fed, reducing banks' incentive to lend that money out to the broader economy in ways that would drive price inflation. But the main reason for the divergence is that conventional measures like CPI do not accurately capture the way monetary inflation is affecting domestic prices. In a large, diverse country like the United States, different people and different industries experience price inflation in different ways. The fact that price inflation occurs earlier in certain sectors of the economy than in others was first described by the 18th-century Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. In his 1730 "Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General," Cantillon noted that when governments increase the supply of money, those who receive the money first gain the most benefit from it — at the expense of those to whom it flows last. In the 20th century, Friedrich Hayek built on Cantillon's thinking, observing that "the real harm [of monetary inflation] is due to the differential effect on different prices, which change successively in a very irregular order and to a very different degree, so that as a result the whole structure of relative prices becomes distorted and misguides production into wrong directions." In today's context, the direct beneficiaries of newly printed money are those who need it the least. New dollars are sent to banks, which in turn lend them to the most creditworthy entities: investment funds, corporations, and wealthy individuals. As a result, the most profound price impact of U.S. monetary inflation has been on the kinds of assets that financial institutions and wealthy people purchase — stocks, bonds, real estate, venture capital, and the like. This is why the price-to-earnings ratio of S&P 500 companies is at record highs, why risky start-ups with long-shot ideas are attracting $100 million venture rounds, and why the median home sales price has jumped 24% in a single year — the biggest one-year increase of the 21st century. Meanwhile, low- and middle-income earners are facing rising prices without attendant increases in their wages. If asset inflation persists while the costs of housing and health care continue to grow beyond the reach of ordinary people, the legitimacy of our market economy will be put on trial. THE RETURN OF SOUND MONEY Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, was acutely concerned with the increasing abundance of U.S. dollars and other fiat currencies in the early 2000s. In 2009 he wrote, "the root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that's required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust." Bitcoin was created in anticipation of the looming fiscal and monetary crisis in the United States and around the world. To understand how bitcoin functions alongside fiat currency, it's helpful to examine the monetary philosophy of the Austrian School of economics, whose leading figures — especially Hayek and Ludwig von Mises — greatly influenced Nakamoto and the early developers of Bitcoin. The economists of the Austrian School were staunch advocates of what Mises called "the principle of sound money" — that is, of keeping the supply of money as constant and predictable as possible. In The Theory of Money and Credit, first published in 1912, Mises argued that sound money serves as "an instrument for the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the part of governments" that belongs "in the same class with political constitutions and bills of rights." Just as bills of rights were a "reaction against arbitrary rule and the nonobservance of old customs by kings," he wrote, "the postulate of sound money was first brought up as a response to the princely practice of debasing the coinage." Mises believed that inflation was just as much a violation of someone's property rights as arbitrarily taking away his land. After all, in both cases, the government acquires economic value at the expense of the citizen. Since monetary inflation creates a sugar high of short-term stimulus, politicians interested in re-election will always have an incentive to expand the money supply. But doing so comes at the expense of long-term declines in consumer purchasing power. For Mises, the best way to address such a threat is to avoid fiat currencies altogether. And in his estimation, the best sound-money alternative to fiat currency is gold. "The excellence of the gold standard," Mises wrote, is "that it renders the determination of the monetary unit's purchasing power independent of the policies of governments and political parties." In other words, gold's primary virtue is that its supply increases slowly and steadily, and cannot be manipulated by politicians. It may appear as if gold was an arbitrary choice as the basis for currency, but gold has a combination of qualities that make it ideal for storing and exchanging value. First, it is verifiably unforgeable. Gold is very dense, which means that counterfeit gold is easy to identify — one simply has to weigh it. Second, gold is divisible. Unlike, say, cattle, gold can be delivered in fractional units both small and large, enabling precise pricing. Third, gold is durable. Unlike commodities that rot or evaporate over time, gold can be stored for centuries without degradation. Fourth, gold is fungible: An ounce of gold in Asia is worth the same as an ounce of gold in Europe. These four qualities are shared by most modern currencies. Gold's fifth quality is more distinct, however, as well as more relevant to its role as an instrument of sound money: scarcity. While people have used beads, seashells, and other commodities as primitive forms of money, those items are fairly easy to acquire and introduce into circulation. While gold's supply does gradually increase as more is extracted from the ground, the rate of extraction relative to the total above-ground supply is low: At current rates, it would take approximately 66 years to double the amount of gold in circulation. In comparison, the supply of U.S. dollars has more than doubled over just the last decade. When the Austrian-influenced designers of bitcoin set out to create a more reliable currency, they tried to replicate all of these qualities. Like gold, bitcoin is divisible, unforgeable, divisible, durable, and fungible. But bitcoin also improves upon gold as a form of sound money in several important ways. First, bitcoin is rarer than gold. Though gold's supply increases slowly, it does increase. The global supply of bitcoin, by contrast, is fixed at 21 million and cannot be feasibly altered. Second, bitcoin is far more portable than gold. Transferring physical gold from one place to another is an onerous process, especially in large quantities. Bitcoin, on the other hand, can be transmitted in any quantity as quickly as an email. Third, bitcoin is more secure than gold. A single bitcoin address carried on a USB thumb drive could theoretically hold as much value as the U.S. Treasury holds in gold bars — without the need for costly militarized facilities like Fort Knox to keep it safe. In fact, if stored using best practices, the cost of securing bitcoin from hackers or assailants is far lower than the cost of securing gold. Fourth, bitcoin is a technology. This means that, as developers identify ways to augment its functionality without compromising its core attributes, they can gradually improve the currency over time. Fifth, and finally, bitcoin cannot be censored. This past year, the Chinese government shut down Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper not by censoring its content, but by ordering banks not to do business with the publication, thereby preventing Apple Daily from paying its suppliers or employees. Those who claim the same couldn't happen here need only look to the Obama administration's Operation Choke Point, a regulatory attempt to prevent banks from doing business with legitimate entities like gun manufacturers and payday lenders — firms the administration disfavored. In contrast, so long as the transmitting party has access to the internet, no entity can prevent a bitcoin transaction from taking place. This combination of fixed supply, portability, security, improvability, and censorship resistance epitomizes Nakamoto's breakthrough. Hayek, in The Denationalisation of Money, foresaw just such a separation of money and state. "I believe we can do much better than gold ever made possible," he wrote. "Governments cannot do better. Free enterprise...no doubt would." While Hayek and Nakamoto hoped private currencies would directly compete with the U.S. dollar and other fiat currencies, bitcoin does not have to replace everyday cash transactions to transform global finance. Few people may pay for their morning coffee with bitcoin, but it is also rare for people to purchase coffee with Treasury bonds or gold bars. Bitcoin is competing not with cash, but with these latter two assets, to become the world's premier long-term store of wealth. The primary problem bitcoin was invented to address — the devaluation of fiat currency through reckless spending and borrowing — is already upon us. If Biden's $3.5 trillion spending plan passes Congress, the national debt will rise further. Someone will have to buy the Treasury bonds to enable that spending. Yet as discussed above, investors are souring on Treasurys. On June 30, 2021, the interest rate for the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond was 1.45%. Even at the Federal Reserve's target inflation rate of 2%, under these conditions, Treasury-bond holders are guaranteed to lose money in inflation-adjusted terms. One critic of the Fed's policies, MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, compares the value of today's Treasury bonds to a "melting ice cube." Last May, Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates and a former bitcoin skeptic, said "[p]ersonally, I'd rather have bitcoin than a [Treasury] bond." If hedge funds, banks, and foreign governments continue to decelerate their Treasury purchases, even by a relatively small percentage, the decrease in demand could send U.S. bond prices plummeting. If that happens, the Fed will be faced with the two unpalatable options described earlier: allowing interest rates to rise, or further inflating the money supply. The political pressure to choose the latter would likely be irresistible. But doing so would decrease inflation-adjusted returns on Treasury bonds, driving more investors away from Treasurys and into superior stores of value, such as bitcoin. In turn, decreased market interest in Treasurys would force the Fed to purchase more such bonds to suppress interest rates. AMERICA'S BITCOIN OPPORTUNITY From an American perspective, it would be ideal for U.S. Treasury bonds to remain the world's preferred reserve asset for the foreseeable future. But the tens of trillions of dollars in debt that the United States has accumulated since 1971 — and the tens of trillions to come — has made that outcome unlikely. It is understandably difficult for most of us to imagine a monetary world aside from the one in which we've lived for generations. After all, the U.S. dollar has served as the world's leading reserve currency since 1919, when Britain was forced off the gold standard. There are only a handful of people living who might recall what the world was like before then. Nevertheless, change is coming. Over the next 10 to 20 years, as bitcoin's liquidity increases and the United States becomes less creditworthy, financial institutions and foreign governments alike may replace an increasing portion of their Treasury-bond holdings with bitcoin and other forms of sound money. With asset values reaching bubble proportions and no end to federal spending in sight, it's critical for the United States to begin planning for this possibility now. Unfortunately, the instinct of some federal policymakers will be to do what countries like Argentina have done in similar circumstances: impose capital controls that restrict the ability of Americans to exchange dollars for bitcoin in an attempt to prevent the digital currency from competing with Treasurys. Yet just as Nixon's 1971 closure of the gold window led to a rapid flight from the dollar, imposing restrictions on the exchange of bitcoin for dollars would confirm to the world that the United States no longer believes in the competitiveness of its currency, accelerating the flight from Treasury bonds and undermining America's ability to borrow. A bitcoin crackdown would also be a massive strategic mistake, given that Americans are positioned to benefit enormously from bitcoin-related ventures and decentralized finance more generally. Around 50 million Americans own bitcoin today, and it's likely that Americans and U.S. institutions own a plurality, if not the majority, of the bitcoin in circulation — a sum worth hundreds of billions of dollars. This is one area where China simply cannot compete with the United States, since Bitcoin's open financial architecture is fundamentally incompatible with Beijing's centralized, authoritarian model. In the absence of major entitlement reform, well-intentioned efforts to make Treasury bonds great again are likely doomed. Instead of restricting bitcoin in a desperate attempt to forestall the inevitable, federal policymakers would do well to embrace the role of bitcoin as a geopolitically neutral reserve asset; work to ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in accumulating bitcoin-based wealth, jobs, and innovations; and ensure that Americans can continue to use bitcoin to protect themselves against government-driven inflation. To begin such an initiative, federal regulators should make it easier to operate cryptocurrency-related ventures on American shores. As things stand, too many of these firms are based abroad and closed off to American investors simply because outdated U.S. regulatory agencies — the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Treasury Department, and others — have been unwilling to provide clarity as to the legal standing of digital assets. For example, the SEC has barred Coinbase from paying its customers' interest on their holdings while refusing to specify which laws Coinbase has violated. Similarly, the agency has refused to approve Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) without specifying standards for a valid ETF application. Congress should implement SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce's recommendations for a three-year regulatory grace period for decentralized digital tokens and assign to a new agency the role of regulating digital assets. Second, Congress should clarify poorly worded legislation tied to a recent bipartisan infrastructure bill that would drive many high-value crypto businesses, like bitcoin-mining operations, overseas. Third, the Treasury Department should consider replacing a fraction of its gold holdings — say, 10% — with bitcoin. This move would pose little risk to the department's overall balance sheet, send a positive signal to the innovative blockchain sector, and enable the United States to benefit from bitcoin's growth. If the value of bitcoin continues to appreciate strongly against gold and the U.S. dollar, such a move would help shore up the Treasury and decrease the need for monetary inflation. Finally, when it comes to digital versions of the U.S. dollar, policymakers should follow the advice of Friedrich Hayek, not Xi Jinping. In an effort to increase government control over its monetary system, China is preparing to unveil a blockchain-based digital yuan at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Jerome Powell and other Western central bankers have expressed envy for China's initiative and fret about being left behind. But Americans should strongly oppose the development of a central-bank digital currency (CBDC). Such a currency could wipe out local banks by making traditional savings and checking accounts obsolete. What's more, a CBDC-empowered Fed would accumulate a mountain of precise information about every consumer's financial transactions. Not only would this represent a grave threat to Americans' privacy and economic freedom, it would create a massive target for hackers and equip the government with the kind of censorship powers that would make Operation Choke Point look like child's play. Congress should ensure that the Federal Reserve never has the authority to issue a virtual currency. Instead, it should instruct regulators to integrate private-sector, dollar-pegged "stablecoins" — like Tether and USD Coin — into the framework we use for money-market funds and other cash-like instruments that are ubiquitous in the financial sector. PLANNING FOR THE WORST In the best-case scenario, the rise of bitcoin will motivate the United States to mend its fiscal ways. Much as Congress lowered corporate-tax rates in 2017 to reduce the incentive for U.S. companies to relocate abroad, bitcoin-driven monetary competition could push American policymakers to tackle the unsustainable growth of federal spending. While we can hope for such a scenario, we must plan for a world in which Congress continues to neglect its essential duty as a steward of Americans' wealth. The good news is that the American people are no longer destined to go down with the Fed's sinking ship. In 1971, when Washington debased the value of the dollar, Americans had no real recourse. Today, through bitcoin, they do. Bitcoin enables ordinary Americans to protect their savings from the federal government's mismanagement. It can improve the financial security of those most vulnerable to rising prices, such as hourly wage earners and retirees on fixed incomes. And it can increase the prosperity of younger Americans who will most acutely face the consequences of the country's runaway debt. Bitcoin represents an enormous strategic opportunity for Americans and the United States as a whole. With the right legal infrastructure, the currency and its underlying technology can become the next great driver of American growth. While the 21st-century monetary order will look very different from that of the 20th, bitcoin can help America maintain its economic leadership for decades to come. Tyler Durden Tue, 10/19/2021 - 23:25.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 20th, 2021

Report paints bright picture for construction spending, even better if Biden infrastructure bill passes

Following the steep drops in building activity across New York City in 2020, the next three years are expected to see a resurgence in spending and job creation as the industry continues to advocate for increased public investment. The New York Building Congress’ New York City Construction Outlook 2021-2023 released today forecasts spending... The post Report paints bright picture for construction spending, even better if Biden infrastructure bill passes appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Following the steep drops in building activity across New York City in 2020, the next three years are expected to see a resurgence in spending and job creation as the industry continues to advocate for increased public investment. The New York Building Congress’ New York City Construction Outlook 2021-2023 released today forecasts spending to increase to $60.6 billion in 2021, up 26 percent from 2020, when non-essential construction was shut down for 11 weeks. The report was released today at the annual Building Congress Construction Industry Breakfast, at which Governor Hochul delivered the keynote address. GOV. CATHY HOCHUL “Each year I travel to every county in New York State, and I see how infrastructure is not just an abstract concept but an integral part of every New Yorker’s life,” said Governor Hochul. “As Governor, I will pursue an ambitious agenda that brings our infrastructure into the 21st century – because it’s in our DNA as New Yorkers to dream big and tackle the impossible. We can’t get that done without strong public-private sector partnerships like with the New York Building Congress, and I look forward to continue working together to build New York’s future.” “Despite the economic impact that COVID-19 has had on New York City since the start of the pandemic, the building industry proves its strength time and time again, as spending and job creation continue on an upward trend from 2020,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO of the New York Building Congress. “With a long road to economic recovery ahead, the ever-present threats of climate change and infrastructure that’s crumbling, we need meaningful, immediate support from Washington. Investments in the infrastructure are investments in a stable and vibrant city, state and nation.” “Over the last year and a half, the building industry once again demonstrated its dedication to New York City and the amazing people who live here,” said Elizabeth Velez, Chair of the New York Building Congress and President of Velez Organization. “The Construction Outlook report released by the New York Building Congress today shows our industry is ready to lead the way out of the economic crisis brought about by this awful pandemic. In the process, I know we will continue to diversify our own ranks, innovate to meet 21st-Century demands and realities and build a fairer city that works for everyone.” CHERYL McKISSACK DANIEL “No matter what you throw at New York City, we are able to withstand it and come back stronger,” said Cheryl McKissack Daniel, Chair of the New York Building Foundation and President & CEO of McKissack & McKissack. “The New York City Construction Outlook 2021-2023 report is further proof of the building industry’s strength in times of crisis. This should underscore why we need more investment in our infrastructure, as it is one of the best ways to improve our society.” “The essential role of the construction industry to the health and vitality of our communities could not be more clear than in this Construction Outlook report,” said the City of New York’s Senior Advisor for Recovery Lorraine Grillo. “The anticipated robust growth and trajectory for investments in construction jobs, new construction, and our public infrastructure reaffirm the importance of the work by resilient New Yorkers represented by the New York Building Congress in realizing a recovery for all of us.” “It’s clear that confidence in New York City’s construction and real estate industries remains high, and for good reason,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “Time and again, it’s been major infrastructure and public works projects that have stimulated economic activity that leads to recovery, and as always, our members are ready to get to work to build back New York stronger and more resilient than ever. It’s critical that we sustain this upward trend in construction activity with the successful passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, which will invest in New York’s future and create tens of thousands of middle-class careers with benefits in the process.” “Real estate and construction represent 10 percent of the city’s GDP and is the fastest way of creating the jobs to rebuild the city’s economy,” said Louis J. Coletti, President and CEO of the Building Trades Employers Association. “As New York builds and rebuilds over the coming years, AIA New York will work with its partners in the building industry to advocate for higher standards of design excellence for public and private projects,” said Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY) Center For Architecture. ”From ambitious designs that enhance public infrastructure to increasing quality affordable housing, modernizing schools, and fostering advancements in energy efficient technology, architects recognize that this is a pivotal  moment for the design, construction, and development community to shape an NYC that is beautiful, efficient and equitable for all.” The data and projections in this report were generated without the once-in-a-generation federal infrastructure bill that is being discussed in the House of Representatives, which would have a massive economic impact on New York City and the entire country. If the $1.2 trillion plan was to pass, it would expedite construction of the Gateway Program– a long-delayed but nationally crucial infrastructure project that could potentially generate $19 billion in economic activity. The Construction Outlook report provides a three-year analysis and forecast of construction spending and employment in New York, while also providing deeper insight into the factors that could shape the industry and the city’s economy in the coming years. The New York Building Congress for the first time also adjusted its projections for inflation, giving a fuller picture of how spending compares historically. The latest report forecasts the second-highest spending period in real dollars, and the fourth highest when adjusted for inflation. Key insights from the report include: ●      Construction Employment to Increase: The industry will likely add 135,000 new jobs to the economy in 2021, but employment will remain at the lowest point since 2014. Employment will likely continue on an upward trend in the coming years, with 140,200 jobs in 2022 and 157,100 jobs in 2023. ●      Overall Spending: Construction spending is expected to total $174.1 billion between 2021 and 2023. Compared to the pre-COVID-19 period of 2017 to 2019, when building was at a high point, spending is forecasted to decrease by just $1.5 billion. When adjusted for inflation, however, the drop is a significantly higher $38.2 billion.   ●      Government Spending: Government spending is up from 2020 – when $21.3 billion was invested by New York City, New York State and major agencies – but will decline in the forecasted period from $23.1 billion in 2021 to $22.2 billion in 2022 and then to $21.1 billion in 2023. While government spending is expected to be higher over this period when compared to 2017 to 2019, public investments is lower now than during the height of the Great Recession when adjusted for inflation. This decline is especially significant given the need for government spending to spur economic recovery. ●      Residential Construction Spending: The Building Congress forecasts $13.6 billion in residential construction spending this year, up 21 percent from 2020. Over three years, spending is expected to total $36.6 billion, which is down 33 percent from 2017 to 2019.   ●      Non-Residential Construction Spending: Non-residential construction spending, which includes office space, education, healthcare, public buildings, sports & entertainment venues and hotels, is projected to total $23.7 billion in 2021, dip to $22.2 billion in 2022 and rise to $25 billion in 2023. ●      Public Transit Spending: The MTA will spend 33 percent more on construction projects over the next three years than the pre-COVID period from 2017 to 2019. When adjusted for inflation, however, this is a more modest increase of 7 percent. The post Report paints bright picture for construction spending, even better if Biden infrastructure bill passes appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyOct 14th, 2021

How more than $402 million in taxpayer money got locked away in a forgotten government fund — and lawmakers won"t spend it or return it

Republicans, Democrats, charities, and special-interest groups all have different designs for the languishing money. A pool of more than $402 million contributed by taxpayers is waiting for Congress to decide how best to use it.DigitalStorm via Getty Images The money is supposed to publicly fund presidential campaigns. But it doesn't. Republicans and Democrats in Congress can't agree on what to do with the ever-growing pot. Charities told Insider the money could do great good for suffering Americans. See more stories on Insider's business page. Holed away in a government account is a massive cash stash most anyone — from depleted federal programs to coronavirus-throttled charitable causes — would love to tap.But it sits idle and untouched.The intended beneficiaries of the taxpayer-fueled Presidential Election Campaign Fund — presidential candidates — don't want it, as they're soured by its restrictions on their election fundraising and spending.Other prospective recipients, meanwhile, can't have it.Congress is what's preventing this. Conservatives would prefer to disband the fund and repurpose its money. Many Democrats want the money to seed a reimagined public campaign-finance program contained within a broader "democracy-reform" agenda that's hamstrung on Capitol Hill. Neither side will budge.Meanwhile, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund's pot had topped more than $402.5 million as of October 31 — a record amount during the fund's nearly 50-year history, according to US Treasury records reviewed by Insider. The fund grew by about 1.14 million in October alone, according to federal records.If current trends continue, the fund will continue to grow each month by six- or seven-figures thanks to the financial heft generated by American taxpayers who check that little box on their annual tax return that directs $3 to the fund.'Help people and communities recover'In a year when lawmakers are measuring economic relief and infrastructure bills in the trillions of dollars, a few hundred million deserted federal greenbacks may seem comparatively paltry.But some charitable organizations that serve people often possess next to nothing. Several nonprofit leaders told Insider that Congress could use the Presidential Election Campaign Fund money to immediately ease suffering."The best possible use of $400 million would be to provide funds for charities to help people and communities recover," Steve Taylor, United Way Worldwide's senior vice president and counsel for public policy, said, citing a looming eviction crisis, a burdened childcare system, education challenges, and mental-health needs among urgent pandemic-era problems. "Charities are leading the way in addressing these problems, and $400 million in new funding would be a game changer."While the federal government has directed significant funding toward its COVID-19 response, the pandemic is far from over, and people around the world will endure its aftereffects for a long while, said Judy Monroe, the president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit that supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's health-protection work."Additional federal funds that are not actively being utilized could, as deemed appropriate by Congress, be repurposed and brought to bear to address critical needs from COVID-19 to health inequities to strengthening the nation's public-health system to be prepared for the next, inevitable outbreak," Monroe told Insider.Erika Cotton Boyce, a Habitat for Humanity spokesperson, declined to speak specifically about the Presidential Election Campaign Fund but broadly said Congress should "find resources to fund critical programs that will address housing supply and housing affordability, especially homeownership programs for low-income families."Congress has various mechanisms for directing public funding to nonprofit entities. A bill introduced this year by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, hopes to further help charitable nonprofits "provide services to meet the increasing demand in community needs caused by the coronavirus pandemic, preserve and create jobs in the nonprofit sector, reduce unemployment, and promote economic recovery."Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican of Iowa, wants the money sent to the US Treasury's general fund and used to help reduce the federal budget deficit.Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty ImagesDebt reduction, pediatric care, Alzheimer's researchSome lawmakers and special-interest advocates have other designs on the $400 million.During the 2019-20 congressional session, two Republican lawmakers sponsored similar bills that attempted to kill the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma sought to transfer the campaign fund's cash balance to a pediatric-research initiative administered by the National Institutes of Health.Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, meanwhile, wanted the money sent to the US Treasury's general fund and used to help reduce the federal budget deficit.Neither bill received a hearing, let alone a vote.In September, Ernst tried again with a similar bill that so far has garnered little support.That's a shame, said Joshua Sewell, a senior policy analyst at the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense who deemed the campaign fund "a vestige of a bygone era." He recommended its money be used to help pay down the country's national debt, which stood at more than $28.5 trillion as of June, according to the Treasury Department. Bradley Smith, a former Federal Election Commission chairman who now leads the nonprofit Institute for Free Speech, said Congress should repeal the law establishing the fund and direct its money to the Treasury's general fund.  Cole plans to reintroduce a new bill targeting the presidential fund, he told Insider. And he's open to broadening where the $400 million might go."If the money were to be redirected somewhere other than pediatric-disease research, Alzheimer's research would certainly be a worthy cause," Cole said.Resist and reformCongressional Democrats this year made voting, ethics, and campaign-finance reform a chief priority, which is enshrined in bills known as HR 1 and S 1 — colloquially, the "For the People Act of 2021."A historically robust public financing system for federal elections is part of the For the People Act.But Senate Republicans filibustered the For the People Act, effectively killing it. Democrats then floated a similar, but slimmed-down bill called the "Freedom to Vote Act," which does not include strong public financing language.Supporters of publicly funded campaigns say this is no time to give up — or to give away $400 million that's already earmarked and available for the public financing of elections.The For the People Act "represents the boldest democracy reform since Watergate, and any funds currently available for the old system should be used for the new system of federal citizen-funded elections, which must pass so we can get big money out of politics," Beth Rotman, the director of money in politics and ethics for Common Cause, said prior to the bill's stall-out."Getting rid of the money at this point would send the wrong signal," said Meredith McGehee, the former executive director of the nonprofit group Issue One, a self-described "crosspartisan movement for political reform."The pro-Democrat organization End Citizens United, which takes its name from the Supreme Court's 2010 decision that unleashed gushers of new political money into elections, also backed keeping the cash in place."The existing presidential system was designed following Watergate for anti-corruption purposes," the group's spokesperson Bawadden Sayed said, "and we would be supportive of potentially using it for future anti-corruption purposes."Former President Barack Obama campaigns for Joe Biden in Atlanta on November 2.Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty ImagesThanks, Obama?Public presidential-campaign funding wasn't always so derelict.From the late 1970s to the late '90s, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund enjoyed a heyday, distributing eight or nine figures of public money to candidates each election cycle.Supporters lauded the program as an elixir to big-money politics and a defense against corruption. Candidates from both parties routinely opted to use it. Doing so allowed them to spend less time fundraising and more time campaigning.And since both sides participated, neither side engaged in the kind of political money arms races emblematic of contemporary presidential elections.But the détente wouldn't last. Citing financial advantages, George W. Bush rejected public matching funds during the 2000 Republican presidential primary. Both Bush and eventual Democratic nominee John Kerry declined public funding in their 2004 presidential primaries. Come 2008, Democrat Barack Obama rendered the Presidential Election Campaign Fund functionally obsolete by becoming the first major-party presidential candidate in post-Watergate politics to reject public funding during a general presidential election. Obama even broke a campaign promise to do so — he previously said he'd use public funding. The future president knew he could privately raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars more than the public program would afford him. Republican presidential nominee John McCain accepted public money — and lost.No Democratic or Republican presidential nominee has since used public funding. Only a smattering of minor-party and longshot Democratic-primary candidates have patronized the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, who drew about $3 million combined since the 2012 race.The fund didn't distribute a single dollar to any presidential candidate during the 2020 presidential election.It last provided funding to presidential nominating conventions in 2012, as Congress two years later passed, and Obama signed, a law that axed public funding of conventions.Congress siphoned tens of millions of dollars from the presidential fund that otherwise would have gone to party conventions to a pediatric-research fund — the same one that Cole, the Oklahoma congressman, wants to fill with the account's full balance.Until that or any other repurposing decision comes down, the FEC continues to spend taxpayer resources keeping the Presidential Election Campaign Fund alive.The agency's audit division has administrative, oversight, and enforcement responsibilities over the program, Judith Ingram, an FEC spokesperson, said. The independent, bipartisan FEC, which regulates and enforces the nation's campaign-finance laws, employs about 300 people. Its projected 2022 budget is about $76.5 million, meaning the balance of the Presidential Election Campaign Fund could theoretically fund the agency for a full five years.This article was originally published on July 13, 2021, and has since been updated to include new financial data and legislative developments.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider14 hr. 40 min. ago

San Francisco Homeless Insider Tells All

San Francisco Homeless Insider Tells All Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, Why progressives defend and finance open drug scenes... In my new book, San Fransicko, I describe why progressives create and defend what European researchers call “open drug scenes,” which are places in cities where drug dealers and buyers meet, and many addicts live in tents. Progressives call these scenes “homeless encampments,” and not only defend them but have encouraged their growth, which is why the homeless population in California grew 31 percent since 2000. This was mostly a West Coast phenomenon until recently. But now, the newly elected progressive mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu, has decided to keep open a drug scene at Mass and Cass avenues, even though it has resulted in several deaths from drug overdoses and homicides. Progressives defend their approach as compassionate. Not everybody who is homeless is an addict, they say. Many are just down on their luck. Others turn to drugs after living on the street. What they need is our help. We should not ask people living in homeless encampments to go somewhere else. Homeless shelters are often more dangerous than living on the street. We should provide the people living in tents with money, food, clean needles, and whatever else they need to stay alive and comfortable. And we should provide everyone with their own apartment unit if that’s what they want. But this “harm reduction” approach is obviously failing. Cities already do a good job taking care of temporarily homeless people not addicted to drugs. Drug dealers stab and sometimes murder addicts who don’t pay. Women forced into prostitution to support their addictions are raped. Addicts are dying from overdose and poisoning. The addicts living in the open drug scenes commit many crimes including open drug use, sleeping on sidewalks, and defecating in public. Many steal to maintain their habits. The hands-off approach has meant that addicts do not spend any amount of time in jail or hospital where they can be off of drugs, and seek recovery. Now, even a growing number of people who have worked or still work within the homeless services sector are speaking out. A longtime San Francisco homeless service provider who read San Fransicko, and said they mostly agreed with it, reached out to me to share their views. At first this person said they wanted to speak on the record. But as the interview went on, and the person criticized their colleagues, they asked to remain anonymous, fearing retribution. Why “Housing First” Failed The main progressive approach for addressing homelessness, not just in San Francisco but in progressive cities around the nation, is “Housing First,” which is the notion that taxpayers should give, no questions asked, apartment units to anyone who says they are homeless, and asks for one. What actually works to reduce the addiction that forces many people onto the streets is making housing contingent on abstinence. But Housing First advocates oppose “contingency management,” as it’s called, because, they say, “Housing is a right,” and it should not be condition on behavior change. But such a policy is absurdly unrealistic, said the San Francisco homeless expert. “To pretend that this city could build enough permanent supportive housing for every homeless person who needs it is ludicrous,” the person said. “I wish it weren’t. I wish I lived in a land where there was plenty of housing. But now people are dying on our streets and it feels like we’re not doing very much about it.” The underlying problem with Housing First is that it enables addiction. “The National Academies of Sciences review [which showed that giving people apartments did not improve health or other life outcomes] you cited shows that. San Francisco has more permanent supportive housing units per capita than any other city, and we doubled spending on homelessness, but the homeless population rose 13%, even as it went down in the US. And so we doubled our spending and the problem got worse. But if you say that, you get attacked.” How did progressives, who claim to be evidence-based, ever get so committed to Housing First? “Malcolm Gladwell’s [2006 New Yorker article] “Million Dollar Murray,” really helped popularize this idea,” the person said. “But it was based on an anecdote of one person. It works for who it works for but is not scalable. [Governor] Gavin [Newsom] made a mistake [as San Francisco’s Mayor 2004-2011] which was that we stopped investing in shelter. But that’s because all the best minds were saying, ‘This is what’s going to work.’” One of the claims made defenders of the open drug scenes is that people who live in them are mostly locals who were priced out of their homes and apartments and decided to pitch a tent on the street. In San Fransicko, I cite a significant body of evidence to show that this is false, and that many people come to San Francisco from around the U.S. for the city’s unusually high cash welfare benefits, free housing, and tolerance of open drug scenes. The insider agreed. “People come here because they think they can. It’s bullshit that ‘Only 30 percent [of homeless] are from out of town.’ At least 20,000 homeless people come through town every year. Talk to the people on the street. There’s no way 70 percent of the homeless are from here. Ask them the name of their high school and they guess, ‘Washington? The one around the corner?’ But you can’t even talk about that without being called a fascist.”  The people living on the street suffer from serious addiction, this person said. “During the first point in time count [census of homeless population] in 2007, one-third had a disability, mental illness, or addiction, while last time, it was over two-thirds. The population fundamentally changed, whether from the drugs, or the time on the street. It doesn’t matter because a lot of the problems on the street are drugs-related. Neither San Francisco nor any other municipality can solve the housing policy without changing federal policy.” Life in the open drug scenes is brutal, this person confirmed. “Most homeless encampments are not communities but have paper-thin relationships based on their disease. It’s hard to have healthy relationships when you’re just trying to keep your head above water because you’re so dope dependent.” What San Francisco and other progressive cities are doing isn’t working. “People in those encampments have food brought to them, port-a-potties brought to them, and all they need to do is put drugs in their arm all day. They get really really sick and they die. Portugal didn’t make it so you can do whatever you want. The consequences of your action are treatment driven, but there are consequences. Here there are no consequences. And so we make it worse.” This person was harshly critical of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health for allowing drug overdoses to rise to over 700 per year. “They say, ‘It’s not our fault because it’s fentanyl.” But it’s only gotten worse.” This person stressed they were in favor of harm reduction policies like giving addicts clean needles in exchange for them giving back dirty ones, but not just giving out needles. “I’m all in favor of needle exchange, but not of needle distribution. Ask people to return the needles they’ve been given. There are people who don’t have it together enough. I get that. But when you tell people we’re going to give you whatever you want, to do whatever you want… Sleeping on a sidewalk is a crime. There are things you can’t do. You can’t shoot up on the street. The laws are there for a reason.” Why Progressives Create Homelessness So ⁦@SFPD⁩ just arrested ⁦@christinevans⁩ for interfering with their work of displacing folks in a large encampment under the freeway during a pandemic as Delta is spreading. I was talking to an unhoused pregnant woman when they threatened to arrest me too. pic.twitter.com/NBANKCWA0Y — Kelley Cutler (@NutCheese) July 27, 2021 Open drug scenes look like natural disasters, but they are the result of specific city policies. These policies including giving money, food, and drug paraphernalia to addicts to support their addiction. But even if progressives didn’t give people those things, many addicts would still live in open drug scenes. As such, the main reason “homelessness” is so much worse in progressive West Coast cities is because progressives hotly oppose efforts by cities to close the open drug scenes and move addicts into shelters and rehab. By blocking the closing of open drug scenes, which is referred to as “clearing an encampment,” people in need of help don’t get it. “The San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness recently [July 2021] protested an encampment clearing where a woman was pregnant,” the insider told me. “As soon as everybody left, the woman went into a shelter, after having been on the streets for three months. She went indoors. It’s like, ‘What are you fighting for? The right of this person to stay on private property and be pregnant?’” One of the questions I tried to answer in San Fransicko was when it was that street addicts started living in tents. I concluded that it started with the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in 2011, when progressive activists in San Francisco, Oakland, and other cities lived in tents in front of government buildings to protest capitalism. This person confirmed this account. “You’re right that the tents popped up after Occupy,” they said. “But it wasn’t just that the Occupy activists gave the homeless their tents. It was that the homeless saw well-heeled whites sleeping in tents. It got moralized.” The most influential homeless advocate in San Francisco, and perhaps the United States as a whole, is the head of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, Jennifer Friedenbach. Over the last three decades, Friedenbach has taken control over San Francisco’s homelessness budget and other policies. She blocks the closure of open drug scenes, calls people who disagree with her fascists and racists, and organizes protests at the homes of politicians. Time to house all San Franciscans, don’t you think? pic.twitter.com/PA5fFGivhN — Jennifer Friedenbach (@fbach4) May 18, 2021 A typical example of Friedenbach’s tactics could be seen in posters she promoted in May. The headline read, “See a tent? Just fucking leave it alone, thanks. Maybe instead of complaining about a homeless person’s only shelter from the elements, you could do something about the economic conditions that put them there in the first place?” The main reason San Francisco lacks sufficient homeless shelters is because Friedenbach and other Housing First advocates have long opposed them. They have demanded that money go to providing people with their own apartment units. The reason, Friedenbach explained to me, is that “if you ask unhoused people, they’re not screaming for shelter. They’re screaming for housing.” In the spring of 2021, Friedenbach published an op-ed opposing a proposal considered by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to create, within eighteen months, sufficient homeless shelters and outdoor “Safe Sleeping Sites” for all of the city’s unsheltered homeless. “One can simply take a look to New York City,” she wrote. “Their department spends about $1.3 billion dollars of its budget on providing shelter for their unhoused population while thousands remain on the street. . . . As a result, New York has a higher rate of homelessness than San Francisco.” But the claim was misleading. New York shelters the vast majority of its homeless, whereas San Francisco leaves the vast majority of its homeless unsheltered. “New York [City] has made the decision that everyone should have an exit from the street,” noted Rafael Mandelman, a San Francisco county supervisor. “San Francisco has consciously chosen not to make that commitment. And the conditions on New York’s streets versus San Francisco streets are somewhat reflective of what that means.” Friedenbach controls how San Francisco spends its astonishing $850 million annual budget. “Jenny built her power base by becoming a master of the budget’s “add back” process,” said the San Francisco insider. “The night before the budget is announced, it gets reviewed by the Board of Supervisors, but they’re trying to get out of there by midnight, and that’s when these ‘community asks.’ The board goes and trims stuff out of the mayor’s budget and does “add backs'' of money for struggling nonprofits. Jenny has mastered that process. And so if you’re a nonprofit executive director, and you want money in the add back process, which everyone does, you have to go through Jenny.” This person said that Friedenbach also operates behind the scenes. “She controls fake front groups like the Homeless Service Providers’ Coalition and the Justice Budget Coalition,” said the insider. “She knows the issue well. A lot of people look to her.” But more importantly, Friedenbach, like many progressive defenders of open drug scenes, demonize the people who stand up to her. “They shut down the discussion,” the insider said. “Everybody is just like, ‘Police bad. Public health good.’ It’s Animal Farm. But the city’s homeless outreach team can’t do their jobs without the cops. That’s the stuff that shuts down any meaningful discussion.” Why do they do it? Radical anti-system ideology. “There’s a San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness hat which says, ‘Coalition on Homelessness: On The Frontlines of Class Warfare,’” said the insider. “They feel like they’re fighting class warfare. They tell people to not take shelter.” I documented in San Fransicko that Friedenbach and other homeless advocates are motivated in significant measure by their belief that capitalism, not addiction, is responsible for the suffering on the streets. After I appeared on Joe Rogan, a clinical psychologist who for two decades ran programs for homeless veterans at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, which included homeless vets, emailed me. “I agree with all you say about the ‘homeless’ people who are actually mislabeled mentally ill and drug addicts,” wrote Dr. Mark Zaslav. “I like your comparison of the ‘ideology’ of people who “advocate” for the homeless to a religion gone haywire. But I wanted, as a psychologist, to add another point for your consideration.  This is the fact that this leftwing religion is based on split-off hatred and contempt for civilization itself.  When I attended substance abuse conferences in San Francisco run by community leaders, it became clear to me that these people had no understanding of mental health disorders like addiction – they regarded “homeless” addicts as heroes of some kind.   “Thus, each drug addict defecating on the streets in the Tenderloin was a massive middle finger to some imagined white male with a briefcase.  The premise of your solutions, which make so much sense, assume that adherents to the now reigning ideology want things solved.  They do not.  They want people inconvenienced by addicts – the homeless become quote literal scared cows who roam society reminding everyone of the sins of capitalism. “You mentioned Noam Chomsky.  These people are angry and full of hate.  They have tapped into a form of blindness among the voters of places like San Francisco or California itself – these are angry people endlessly telling themselves they are compassionate while projecting their hatred toward the ‘bourgeoise.’ I am afraid this does not end well. “ The San Francisco homelessness insider agreed, and despaired over the religious fervor in which the people who work at the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, the San Francisco Public Health Department, and many elected members of the Board of Supervisors are gripped. “Maybe homelessness is part of capitalism and racism,” said this person. “I can’t solve that and neither can any nonprofit organization. I can’t stand seeing people suffering on the streets. What are we going to do right now?” .*  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Our research and writing depends on individuals like you. Please consider subscribing now so we can expand our work in the coming year Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 22:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 29th, 2021

Deere Reports Net Income of $1.283 Billion for Fourth Quarter, $5.963 Billion for Fiscal Year

MOLINE, Ill., Nov. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Fourth-quarter net income rises on net sales gain of 19%, demonstrating solid execution and benefits of operating model. UAW contract agreement shows commitment to Deere's workforce. Full-year 2022 earnings forecast to be $6.5 to $7.0 billion, reflecting healthy demand. Deere & Company (NYSE:DE) reported net income of $1.283 billion for the fourth quarter ended October 31, 2021, or $4.12 per share, compared with net income of $757 million, or $2.39 per share, for the quarter ended November 1, 2020. For fiscal year 2021, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $5.963 billion, or $18.99 per share, compared with $2.751 billion, or $8.69 per share, in fiscal 2020. Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 16 percent, to $11.327 billion, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021 and rose 24 percent, to $44.024 billion, for the full year. Equipment operations net sales were $10.276 billion for the quarter and $39.737 billion for the year, compared with corresponding totals of $8.659 billion and $31.272 billion in 2020. "Deere's strong fourth-quarter and full-year performance was delivered by our dedicated employees, dealers, and suppliers throughout the world, who have helped safely maintain our operations and serve customers," said John C. May, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our results reflect strong end-market demand and our ability to continue serving customers while managing supply-chain issues and conducting contract negotiations with our largest union. Last week's ratification of a 6-year agreement with the UAW brings our highly skilled employees back to work building the finest products in our industries. The agreement shows our ongoing commitment to delivering best-in-class wages and benefits." Company Outlook & Summary Net income attributable to Deere & Company for fiscal 2022 is forecasted to be in a range of $6.5 billion to $7.0 billion. "Looking ahead, we expect demand for farm and construction equipment to continue benefiting from positive fundamentals, including favorable crop prices, economic growth, and increased investment in infrastructure," May said. "At the same time, we anticipate supply-chain pressures will continue to pose challenges in our industries. We are working closely with our suppliers to address these issues and ensure that our customers can deliver essential food and infrastructure more profitably and sustainably." Deere & Company Fourth Quarter Full Year $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change 2021 2020 % Change Net sales and revenues $ 11,327 $ 9,731 16% $ 44,024 $ 35,540 24% Net income $ 1,283 $ 757 69% $ 5,963 $ 2,751 117% Fully diluted EPS $ 4.12 $ 2.39 $ 18.99 $ 8.69 Net income in the fourth quarter and full-year 2020 was negatively affected by impairment charges and employee-separation costs of $211 million and $458 million after-tax, respectively. In addition, net income was unfavorably affected by discrete adjustments to the provision for income taxes in both periods of 2020. Equipment Operations Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net sales $ 10,276 $ 8,659 19% Operating profit $ 1,393 $ 1,056 32% Net income $ 1,056 $ 571 85% For a discussion of net sales and operating profit results, see the production and precision agriculture, small agriculture and turf, and construction and forestry sections below. Production & Precision Agriculture Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net sales $ 4,661 $ 3,801 23% Operating profit $ 777 $ 578 34% Operating margin 16.7% 15.2% Production and precision agriculture sales increased for the quarter due to higher shipment volumes and price realization. Operating profit rose primarily due to price realization and improved shipment volumes / mix. These items were partially offset by higher production costs. Results for fourth-quarter 2020 were negatively impacted by employee-separation expenses.   Small Agriculture & Turf Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net sales $ 2,809 $ 2,397 17% Operating profit $ 346 $ 282 23% Operating margin 12.3% 11.8% Small agriculture and turf sales increased for the quarter due to higher shipment volumes and price realization. Operating profit rose primarily due to improved shipment volumes / mix and price realization. These items were partially offset by higher production costs and higher research and development and selling, administrative, and general expenses. Employee-separation expenses and impairments negatively impacted the fourth quarter of 2020.   Construction & Forestry Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net sales $ 2,806 $ 2,461 14% Operating profit $ 270 $ 196 38% Operating margin 9.6% 8.0% Construction & Forestry sales moved higher for the quarter primarily due to higher shipment volumes and price realization. Operating profit improved mainly due to price realization and higher sales volume / mix. Partially offsetting these factors were increases in production costs and higher selling, administrative, and general and research and development expenses. Fourth-quarter 2020 results were adversely affected by employee-separation expenses and impairments.   Financial Services Fourth Quarter $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change Net income $ 227 $ 186 22% Net income for financial services in the quarter rose mainly due to income earned on a higher average portfolio and favorable financing spreads, as well as improvements on operating-lease residual values. These factors were partially offset by a higher provision for credit losses. Results in 2020 also were affected by employee-separation costs. Industry Outlook for Fiscal 2022 Agriculture & Turf U.S. & Canada: Large Ag Up ~ 15% Small Ag & Turf  ~ Flat Europe Up ~ 5% South America (Tractors & Combines) Up ~ 5% Asia  ~ Flat Construction & Forestry U.S. & Canada: Construction Equipment Up 5 to 10% Compact Construction Equipment Up 5 to 10% Global Forestry Up 10 to 15%   Deere Segment Outlook for Fiscal 2022 Currency Price $ in millions Net Sales Translation Realization Production & Precision Ag Up 20 to 25% 0% +9% Small Ag & Turf Up 15 to 20% -1% +7% Construction & Forestry Up 10 to 15% 0% +8% Financial Services Net Income $870 Financial Services. Fiscal-year 2022 net income attributable to Deere & Company for the financial services operations is forecast to be approximately $870 million. Results are expected to be slightly lower than fiscal 2021 due to a higher provision for credit losses, lower gains on operating-lease residual values, and higher selling, general, and administrative expenses. These factors are expected to be partially offset by income earned on a higher average portfolio. John Deere Capital Corporation The following is disclosed on behalf of the company's financial services subsidiary, John Deere Capital Corporation (JDCC), in connection with the disclosure requirements applicable to its periodic issuance of debt securities in the public market. Fourth Quarter Full Year $ in millions 2021 2020 % Change 2021 2020 % Change Revenue $ 673 $ 693 -3% $ 2,688 $ 2,808 -4% Net income $ 181 $ 154 18% $ 711 $ 425 67% Ending portfolio balance $ 41,488 $ 38,726 7% Net income for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021 was higher than in the fourth quarter of 2020 primarily due to income earned on higher average portfolio balances and improvements on operating-lease residual values. These factors were partially offset by a higher provision for credit losses. Fourth-quarter 2020 results were also negatively impacted by employee-separation expenses. Full-year 2021 net income was higher than in 2020 due to improvements on operating-lease residual values, a lower provision for credit losses, favorable financing spreads, and income earned on a higher average portfolio. Full-year 2020 results also included impairments on lease residual values. Safe Harbor Statement Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995:  Statements under "Company Outlook & Summary," "Industry Outlook for Fiscal 2022," "Deere Segment Outlook (Fiscal 2022)," and other forward-looking statements herein that relate to future events, expectations, and trends involve factors that are subject to change and risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. Some of these risks and uncertainties could affect particular lines of business, while others could affect all of the company's businesses. The company's agricultural equipment businesses are subject to a number of uncertainties, including certain factors that affect farmers' confidence and financial condition. These factors include demand for agricultural products; world grain stocks; weather conditions and the effects of climate change; soil conditions; harvest yields; prices for commodities and livestock; crop and livestock production expenses; availability of transport for crops (including as a result of reduced state and local transportation budgets); trade restrictions and tariffs (e.g., China); global trade agreements; the level of farm product exports (including concerns about genetically modified organisms); the growth and sustainability of non-food uses for some crops (including ethanol and biodiesel production); real estate values; available acreage for farming; land ownership policies of governments; changes in government farm programs and policies; international reaction to such programs; changes in and effects of crop insurance programs; changes in environmental regulations and their impact on farming practices; animal diseases (e.g., African swine fever) and their effects on poultry, beef, and pork consumption and prices and on livestock feed demand; crop pests and diseases; and the impact of the COVID pandemic on the agricultural industry including demand for, and production and exports of, agricultural products, and commodity prices.  The production and precision agriculture business is dependent on agricultural conditions, and relies in part on hardware and software, guidance, connectivity and digital solutions, and automation and machine intelligence. Many factors contribute to the company's precision agriculture sales and results, including the impact to customers' profitability and/or sustainability outcomes; the rate of adoption and use by customers; availability of technological innovations; speed of research and development; effectiveness of partnerships with third parties; and the dealer channel's ability to support and service precision technology solutions. Factors affecting the company's small agriculture and turf equipment operations include agricultural conditions; consumer confidence; weather conditions and the effects of climate change; customer profitability; labor supply; consumer borrowing patterns; consumer purchasing preferences; housing starts and supply; infrastructure investment; spending by municipalities and golf courses; and consumable input costs. Factors affecting the company's construction and forestry equipment operations include consumer spending patterns; real estate and housing prices; the number of housing starts; interest rates; commodity prices such as oil and gas; the levels of public and non-residential construction; and investment in infrastructure. Prices for pulp, paper, lumber, and structural panels affect sales of forestry equipment. Many of the factors affecting the production and precision agriculture, small agriculture and turf, and construction and forestry segments have been and may continue to be impacted by global economic conditions, including those resulting from the COVID pandemic and responses to the pandemic taken by governments and other authorities. All of the company's businesses and its results are affected by general economic conditions in the global markets and industries in which the company operates; customer confidence in general economic conditions; government spending and taxing; foreign currency exchange rates and their volatility, especially fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar; interest rates (including the availability of IBOR reference rates); inflation and deflation rates; changes in weather and climate patterns; the political and social stability of the global markets in which the company operates; the effects of, or response to, terrorism and security threats; wars and other conflicts; natural disasters; and the spread of major epidemics or pandemics (including the COVID pandemic) and government and industry responses to such epidemics or pandemics, such as travel restrictions and extended shut downs of businesses. Continued uncertainties related to the magnitude, duration, and persistent effects of the COVID pandemic may significantly adversely affect the company's business and outlook. These uncertainties include, among other things: the duration and impact of the resurgence in COVID cases in any country, state, or region; the emergence, contagiousness, and threat of new and different strains of virus; the availability, acceptance, and effectiveness of vaccines; additional closures as mandated or otherwise made necessary by governmental authorities; disruptions in the supply chain, including those caused by industry capacity constraints, material availability, and global logistics delays and constraints arising from, among other things, the transportation capacity of ocean shipping containers, and a prolonged delay in resumption of operations by one or more key suppliers, or the failure of any key suppliers; an increasingly competitive labor market due to a sustained labor shortage or increased turnover caused by COVID pandemic; the company's ability to meet commitments to customers on a timely basis as a result of increased costs and supply and transportation challenges; increased logistics costs; additional operating costs due to continued remote working arrangements, adherence to social distancing guidelines, and other COVID-related challenges; increased risk of cyber-attacks on network connections used in remote working arrangements; increased privacy-related risks due to processing health-related personal information; legal claims related to personal protective equipment designed, made, or provided by the company or alleged exposure to COVID on company premises; absence of employees due to illness; and the impact of the pandemic on the company's customers and dealers. The sustainability of the economic recovery observed in 2021 remains unclear and significant volatility could continue for a prolonged period. These factors, and others that are currently unknown or considered immaterial, could materially and adversely affect our business, liquidity, results of operations, and financial position. Significant changes in market liquidity conditions, changes in the company's credit ratings, and any failure to comply with financial covenants in credit agreements could impact access to funding and funding costs, which could reduce the company's earnings and cash flows. Financial market conditions could also negatively impact customer access to capital for purchases of the company's products and customer confidence and purchase decisions, financing and repayment practices, and the number and size of customer delinquencies and defaults. A debt crisis in Europe, Latin America, or elsewhere could negatively impact currencies, global financial markets, social and political stability, funding sources and costs, asset and obligation values, customers, suppliers, demand for equipment, and company operations and results. The company's investment management activities could be impaired by changes in the equity, bond, and other financial markets, which would negatively affect earnings. Continued effects of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union could adversely affect business activity, political stability, and economic conditions in the United Kingdom, the European Union, and elsewhere. The economic conditions and outlook could be further adversely affected by (i) uncertainty regarding any new or modified trade arrangements between the United Kingdom and the European Union and/or other countries; (ii) the risk that one or more other European Union countries could come under increasing pressure to leave the European Union; or (iii) the risk that the euro as the single currency of the eurozone could cease to exist. Any of these developments could affect our businesses, liquidity, results of operations, and financial position. Additional factors that could materially affect the company's operations, access to capital, expenses, and results include changes in, uncertainty surrounding, and the impact of governmental trade, banking, monetary, and fiscal policies, including financial regulatory reform and its effects on the consumer finance industry, derivatives, funding costs, and other areas; the potential default of the U.S. federal government if Congress fails to pass a fiscal 2022 budget resolution; governmental programs, policies, and tariffs for the benefit of certain industries or sectors; sanctions in particular jurisdictions; retaliatory actions to such changes in trade, banking, monetary, and fiscal policies; actions by central banks; actions by financial and securities regulators; actions by environmental, health, and safety regulatory agencies, including those related to engine emissions, carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and the effects of climate change; changes to GPS radio frequency bands or their permitted uses; changes in labor and immigration regulations; changes to accounting standards; changes in tax rates, estimates, laws, and regulations and company actions related thereto; changes to and compliance with privacy, banking, and other regulations; changes to and compliance with economic sanctions and export controls laws and regulations; compliance with U.S. and foreign laws when expanding to new markets and otherwise; and actions by other regulatory bodies. Other factors that could materially affect the company's results include production, design, and technological innovations and difficulties, including capacity and supply constraints and prices; the loss of or challenges to intellectual property rights, whether through theft, infringement, counterfeiting, or otherwise; the availability and prices of strategically sourced materials, components, and whole goods; delays or disruptions in the company's supply chain or the loss of liquidity by suppliers; disruptions of infrastructures that support communications, operations, or distribution; the failure of customers, dealers, suppliers, or the company to comply with laws, regulations, and company policy pertaining to employment, human rights, health, safety, the environment, sanctions, export controls, anti-corruption, privacy and data protection, and other ethical business practices; introduction of legislation that could affect the company's business model and intellectual property, such as right to repair or right to modify; events that damage the company's reputation or brand; significant investigations, claims, lawsuits, or other legal proceedings; start-up of new plants and products; the success of new product initiatives or business strategies; changes in customer product preferences and sales mix; gaps or limitations in rural broadband coverage, capacity, and speed needed to support technology solutions; oil and energy prices, supplies, and volatility; the availability and cost of freight; actions of competitors in the various industries in which the company competes, particularly price discounting; dealer practices, especially as to levels of new and used field inventories; changes in demand and pricing for used equipment and resulting impacts on lease residual values; labor relations and contracts, including work stoppages and other disruptions; changes in the ability to attract, develop, engage, and retain qualified personnel; acquisitions and divestitures of businesses; greater-than-anticipated transaction costs; the integration of new businesses; the failure or delay in closing or realizing anticipated benefits of acquisitions, joint ventures, or divestitures; the inability to deliver precision technology and agricultural solutions to customers; the implementation of the smart industrial operating model and other organizational changes; the failure to realize anticipated savings or benefits of cost reduction, productivity, or efficiency efforts; difficulties related to the conversion and implementation of enterprise resource planning systems; security breaches, cybersecurity attacks, technology failures, and other disruptions to the information technology infrastructure of the company and its suppliers and dealers; security breaches with respect to the company's products; changes in company-declared dividends and common stock issuances and repurchases; changes in the level and funding of employee retirement benefits; changes in market values of investment assets, compensation, retirement, discount, and mortality rates which impact retirement benefit costs; and significant changes in health care costs. The liquidity and ongoing profitability of John Deere Capital Corporation and the company's other financial services subsidiaries depend largely on timely access to capital in order to meet future cash flow requirements, and to fund operations, costs, and purchases of the company's products. If general economic conditions deteriorate or capital markets become more volatile, funding could be unavailable or insufficient. Additionally, customer confidence levels may result in declines in credit applications and increases in delinquencies and default rates, which could materially impact write-offs and provisions for credit losses. The company's forward-looking statements are based upon assumptions relating to the factors described above, which are sometimes based upon estimates and data prepared by government agencies. Such estimates and data are often revised. The company, except as required by law, undertakes no obligation to update or revise its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new developments or otherwise. Further information concerning the company and its businesses, including factors that could materially affect the company's financial results, is included in the company's other filings with the SEC (including, but not limited to, the factors discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors of the company's most recent annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q).   DEERE & COMPANY FOURTH QUARTER 2021 PRESS RELEASE (In millions of dollars) Unaudited Three Months Ended Years Ended October 31 November 1 % October 31 November 1 % 2021 2020 Change 2021 2020 Change Net sales and revenues: Production & precision ag net sales $ 4,661 $ 3,801 +23 $ 16,509 $ 12,962 +27 Small ag & turf net sales 2,809 2,397 +17 11,860 9,363 +27 Construction & forestry net sales 2,806 2,461 +14 11,368 8,947 +27 Financial services 869 891 -2 3,548 3,589 -1 Other revenues 182 181 +1 739 679 +9 Total net sales and revenues $ 11,327 $ 9,731 +16 $ 44,024 $ 35,540 +24 Operating profit: * Production & precision ag $ 777 $ 578 +34 $ 3,334 $ 1,969 +69 Small ag & turf 346 282 +23 2,045 1,000 +105 Construction & forestry 270 196 +38 1,489 590 +152 Financial services 299 249 +20 1,144 746 +53 Total operating profit 1,692 1,305 +30 8,012 4,305 +86 Reconciling items ** (78) (219) -64 (390) (472) -17 Income taxes (331) (329) +1 (1,659) (1,082) +53 Net income attributable to Deere & Company $ 1,283 $ 757 +69 $ 5,963 $ 2,751 +117 * Operating profit is income from continuing operations before corporate expenses, certain external interest expense, certain foreign exchange gains and losses, and income taxes. Operating profit of the financial services segment includes the effect of interest expense and foreign exchange gains or losses. ** Reconciling items are primarily corporate expenses, certain external interest expense, certain foreign exchange gains and losses, pension and postretirement benefit costs excluding the service cost component, and net income attributable to noncontrolling interests.   DEERE & COMPANY STATEMENT OF CONSOLIDATED INCOME For the Three Months Ended October 31, 2021 and November 1, 2020 (In millions of dollars and shares except per share amounts) Unaudited  2021 2020 Net Sales and Revenues Net sales $ 10,276 $ 8,659 Finance and interest income 828 867 Other income 223 205 Total 11,327 9,731 Costs and Expenses Cost of sales 7,809 6,470 Research and development expenses 450 443 Selling, administrative and general expenses 936 1,011 Interest expense 210 278 Other operating expenses 309 414 Total 9,714 8,616 Income of Consolidated Group before Income Taxes 1,613 1,115 Provision for income taxes 330 329 Income of Consolidated Group 1,283 786 Equity in income (loss) of unconsolidated affiliates 1 (28) Net Income 1,284 758 Less: Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests 1 1 Net Income Attributable to Deere & Company $ 1,283 $ 757 Per Share Data Basic $ 4.15 $ 2.41 Diluted $ 4.12 $ 2.39 Average Shares Outstanding Basic 309.1 314.1 Diluted 311.5 317.1 See Condensed Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.   DEERE & COMPANY STATEMENT OF CONSOLIDATED INCOME For the Years Ended October 31, 2021 and November 1, 2020 (In millions of dollars and shares except per share amounts) Unaudited 2021 2020 Net Sales and Revenues Net sales $ 39,737 $ 31,272 Finance and interest income 3,296 3,450 Other income 991 818 Total 44,024 35,540 Costs and Expenses Cost of sales 29,116 23,677 Research and development expenses 1,587 1,644 Selling, administrative and general expenses 3,383 3,477 Interest expense 993 1,247 Other operating expenses 1,343 1,612 Total 36,422 31,657 Income of Consolidated Group before Income Taxes 7,602 3,883 Provision for income taxes 1,658 1,082 Income of Consolidated Group 5,944 2,801 Equity in income (loss) of unconsolidated affiliates 21 (48) Net Income 5,965 2,753 Less: Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests 2 2 Net Income Attributable to Deere & Company $ 5,963 $ 2,751 Per Share Data Basic $ 19.14 $ 8.77 Diluted $ 18.99 $ 8.69 Average Shares Outstanding Basic 311.6 313.5 Diluted 314.0 316.6 See Condensed Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.   DEERE & COMPANY CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET As of October 31, 2021 and November 1, 2020 (In millions of dollars) Unaudited  2021 2020 Assets Cash and cash equivalents $ 8,017 $ 7,066 Marketable securities 728 641 Receivables from unconsolidated affiliates 27 31 Trade accounts and notes receivable - net 4,208 4,171 Financing receivables - net 33,799 29,750 Financing receivables securitized - net 4,659 4,703 Other receivables 1,738 1,220 Equipment on operating leases - net 6,988 7,298 Inventories 6,781 4,999 Property and equipment - net 5,820 5,817 Investments in unconsolidated affiliates 175 193 Goodwill 3,291 3,081 Other intangible assets - net 1,275 1,327 Retirement benefits 3,601 863 Deferred income taxes 1,037 1,499 Other assets 1,970 2,432 Total Assets $ 84,114 $ 75,091 Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity Liabilities Short-term borrowings $ 10,919 $ 8,582 Short-term securitization borrowings 4,605 4,682 Payables to unconsolidated affiliates 143 105 Accounts payable and accrued expenses 12,205 10,112 Deferred income taxes 576 519 Long-term borrowings 32,888 32,734 Retirement benefits and other liabilities 4,344 5,413 Total liabilities 65,680 62,147 Stockholders' Equity Total Deere & Company stockholders' equity 18,431 12,937 Noncontrolling interests 3 7 Total stockholders' equity 18,434 12,944 Total Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity $ 84,114 $ 75,091 See Condensed Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.   DEERE & COMPANY STATEMENT OF CONSOLIDATED CASH FLOWS For the Years Ended October 31, 2021 and November 1, 2020 (In millions of dollars) Unaudited 2021 2020 Cash Flows from Operating Activities Net income $ 5,965 $ 2,753 Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash provided by operating activities: Provision (credit) for credit losses (6) 110 Provision for depreciation and amortization 2,050 2,118 Impairment charges 50 194 Share-based compensation expense 82 81 Loss on sales of businesses and unconsolidated affiliates 24 Undistributed earnings of unconsolidated affiliates 2 (7) Credit for deferred income taxes (441) (11) Changes in assets and liabilities: Trade, notes, and financing receivables related to sales 969 2,009 Inventories (2,497) 397 Accounts payable and accrued expenses 1,884 (7) Accrued income taxes payable/receivable 11 8 Retirement benefits 29 (537) Other (372) 351 Net cash provided by operating activities 7,726 7,483 Cash Flows from Investing Activities Collections of receivables (excluding receivables related to sales) 18,959 17,381 Proceeds from maturities and sales of marketable securities 109 93 Proceeds from sales of equipment on operating leases 2,094 1,783 Cost of receivables acquired (excluding receivables related to sales) (23,653) (19,965) Acquisitions of businesses, net of cash acquired (244) (66).....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaNov 24th, 2021

Here"s One Simple Example Of How Absurd Build Back Better" Is

Here's One Simple Example Of How Absurd Build Back Better' Is Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com, In early January 1964, barely six weeks after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, US President Lyndon Johnson delivered a speech to the American people in which he declared an “unconditional war.” But he didn’t declare war on Vietnam. Or Cuba. Or the Soviet Union. Johnson declared war on poverty. And in his State of the Union address he told his fellow Americans that it would take more than “a single piece of legislation” to eradicate poverty. So they got to work preparing a series of expensive programs to create jobs, build affordable housing, establish new entitlement programs, and invest in vocational training. It goes without saying that this spending bonanza kicked off a steep increase in inflation. But more importantly it turns out that most of these programs were utter failures. One of the best examples is the Job Corps, an initiative established in 1964 to provide free vocational training to young people. The Job Corps was something of a pet project for Lyndon Johnson; he believed that “one thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.” This is a long-standing argument for increased public investment in education. And yet according to a long-term study of the Job Corps published in 2018 by the agency’s own Inspector General, the program has been a terrible investment for the American taxpayer. The Job Corps spends $1.7 billion of taxpayers’ money each year to train around 66,000 people; this works out to be $25,000 per student per year, which is already more expensive than many public universities. Yet Job Corps’ own Inspector General found that “more than half” of the participants in his study “did not have a beneficial outcome.” A later report by the US Department of Labor determined that a small group of Job Corps graduates could earn, on average, $275 more per year than non-graduates who work in similar jobs. Wonderful. But given that these jobs are at the lowest possible tax bracket, the additional tax revenue per Job Corps graduate is less than $30 per person. That makes the Job Corps’ annual Return on Investment about 0.1%, at best. More likely it loses money and provides no real benefit to graduates. So why would any sane individual continue investing in this program? Even the New York Times called it a complete failure and “a little bit like prison”. And yet the Job Corps is set to be the proud beneficiary of $1.5 billion, courtesy of the Build Back Better Act that passed the US House of Representatives on Friday. This new funding will roughly double the program’s budget. Now, if you’re spending money and you’re getting a fantastic return on investment, then cost shouldn’t be an issue. The problem is spending money and failing to achieve any meaningful outcome. And that tends to be the government’s track record. LBJ believed in 1964 that investing in job training would generate a huge return on investment. But six decades of Job Corps data show that they completely failed to achieve this vision. Instead they created a job training program that is more expensive than most public universities, yet generates no real benefit for its graduates or for taxpayers. But politicians only think about money. If they increase an agency’s budget and throw money at an issue, they feel like they’ve done their job. They never look at performance or execution. And this is the real problem with Build Back Better. Much has been said about the cost of the legislation, including those who say it will “cost nothing”. (The initial cost is actually $1.7 trillion, and the long term costs look like they’ll probably top $4 trillion.) But focusing on cost really misses the point. The real question is– will there be any return on investment? The failure of Job Corps provides a pretty clear answer. Build Back Better is a whopping 2,468 pages. Buried in that text, they’re creating thousands of new programs, just like Job Corps. The politicians keep insisting that these are all “investments”. But they never conduct a honest assessment of investment performance. They just keep writing checks and spending other people’s money with a dangerous fanaticism, and absolutely no consideration of execution and performance. And just like LBJ’s War on Poverty, Build Back Better will likely lead to much higher inflation. After all, it’s not difficult to predict what might happen when they spend money endlessly and generate zero return on investment. LBJ at least got one thing right. In his original State of the Union address in 1964, he acknowledged that the private sector (NOT the government) had the real power to create jobs, enhance prosperity, and alleviate poverty. He argued that cutting taxes, for example, would “create new jobs and new markets in every area of this land”, and he told Congress, “We need a tax cut now to keep this country moving. . . Our taxpayers surely deserve it.” Further, he stated, “the most damaging and devastating thing you can do to any businessman in America is to keep him in doubt and to keep him guessing on what our tax policy is.” Today, however, politicians hold the opposite view. They believe that tax increases are the path to prosperity. They believe jobs are created through more rules, more laws, and more money in the hands of the government. And they’re delighted to keep people guessing about tax policy, including threatening retroactive tax changes. This entire ethos is completely destructive… not to mention highly inflationary. But we’ll tackle that issue another time. *  *  * We think gold could DOUBLE and silver could increase by up to 5 TIMES in the next few years. That's why we published a new, 50-page long Ultimate Guide on Gold & Silver that you can download here. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/23/2021 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 23rd, 2021

Taiwan is overhauling how it trains reserve troops. It may still not be enough to hold off a Chinese invasion.

Critics say Taiwanese military reservists' current training is inadequate, creating a force that won't be able to put an effective fight. Taiwanese reservists aim at a target during a drill in the northern Taoyuan county, April 18, 2012. Mandy Cheng/AFP via Getty Images Taiwan's Defense Ministry plans to overhaul the training that reservists are given amid growing tensions with Beijing. Critics say reservists' current training is inadequate, creating a reserve force that won't be able to put an effective fight. Taiwan is to overhaul the training for its military reservists as it attempts to improve a training system that has faced widespread criticism for producing "strawberry soldiers" who are fragile and easily crushed.The move comes amid growing tension with mainland China, but analysts expressed scepticism about whether it would prove effective, citing a host of problems including limited training time, a shortage of instructors and inadequate facilities.Both the US Congress and Pentagon have suggested that Taiwan increase its defence budget to buy more arms and strengthen its reserve force, which the Americans do not believe will be able to put up an effective fight against the People's Liberation Army."I don't think I will be OK if I have to go to war," said Peter Liao who completed his mandatory four months of military service in July and then joined the 2.2 million-strong reserve.The 22-year-old said he did not think he had learned enough to survive a war. Taiwanese soldiers with grenade launchers and machine guns, during a military exercise in Tainan, 14 September 2021. Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images Liao said new conscripts underwent five weeks of basic training at a cadet centre before being assigned to a military base for 11 weeks of further training.He said the basic training was carried out in a rush and conscripts were not given time to understand the things they were being taught."It was like a cram school as there were many things, various doctrines in particular, to learn," he said. "But before I could fully digest anything, the instructors already started cramming us with new things."Take cleaning or disassembling a gun, for example. I learned that in the classroom, but if you asked me to do it again in a field operation, I suspect I couldn't remember how to do it."Liao said after basic training, he was sent to an ammunition company where he was supposed to train in logistics supply and warehousing."But in my 11 weeks of training and service, I rarely experienced any mock field operations as the supervisors were afraid that we would get hurt," he said, adding that sweeping leaves and pulling weeds were part of the routine service in the camp."So if you asked me if I went to war would I be able to fight against the enemy? I can tell you definitely I wouldn't be able to do so." Taiwanese soldiers during a shore-defense exercise, September 16, 2021. Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images Taiwan originally had two years of compulsory military service, but this was halved in 2008. It was further cut to four months in 2017, a move that meant conscripts would not have to spend time in field units.The move prompted both local and foreign experts to warn it was creating an army of "strawberry soldiers" who could not fight properly.The criticism finally prompted the island's defence ministry in September to reinstate the requirement that conscripts undergo training with field units after basic training.Late last month, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng also announced an overhaul of training for reserves, with more combat and shooting exercises.Under the new measures, some reservists will be required to spend 14 days a year on refresher training courses, up to from the present five to seven days.The new programme will apply to about 13% of the 110,000 reservists the ministry plans to train next year, and they will be called up under a lottery draw.Reservists who are called up will be required to more than double the amount of bullets they fire in shooting drills while combat training will be extended from half a day to 56 hours. Taiwanese soldiers during military exercises in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, January 30, 2018. Associated Press Taiwan's regular military is a volunteer force of about 169,200, according to the defence ministry. In the event of conflict, it would hope to be able to mobilise a total force of 445,000 troops - 185,000 regulars and 260,000 trained reservists.But military experts said most of its 2.2 million reservists had never been called up for further training due to funding problems and those who had were not well-trained enough to provide effective support to the regulars."Even after the military increases the refresher training for the reservists, the 14 days are still not enough and the effect would be limited as these people have never received training as tough as the active forces," said Chang Yen-ting, a retired air force lieutenant general and guest professor at National Tsing Hua University."Nor have they joined them in group training together, making it highly difficult for them to effectively work with the active forces in the event of war."Chang also said the reservists suffered from low morale and were not enthusiastic about being called up, adding that they were also hampered by shortages of instructors and training equipment.Chieh Chung, a security researcher at the National Policy Foundation, a think tank for the main opposition party Kuomintang, echoed Chang's views."While it might be helpful to increase refresher training, the military must address the issue that there are not enough qualified officers to train the reservists. Worst yet, reservists' specialisations are not taken into consideration by the military during call-ups, meaning a reservist can be assigned to a post contrary to what he had learned when he was a conscript," Chieh said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 15th, 2021

"A World Gone Mad": Upscale LA Neighborhood Wrestles With Worsening Homeless Crisis

'A World Gone Mad': Upscale LA Neighborhood Wrestles With Worsening Homeless Crisis Authored by Jamie Joseph via The Epoch Times, Abbott Kinney Boulevard is a picture-perfect hidden gem in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, known for its boutique shops and locally-owned dining joints. The mile-long strip sings to the tune of upper-middle-class patrons who come to Venice Beach to soak in its peculiar rhythm. The neighborhood’s tight-knit community of homeowners who have lived in the area for decades are proud to reside in this unique nook of town. A woman walks down a sidewalk passing a homeless encampment in Venice, Calif., on Nov. 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) But over the last year, the community within this stretch of Venice grew even closer over a common frustration: the growing homeless encampments. The issue is not new to Los Angeles as a whole, which has more than 41,000 people living on its streets, according to the latest homeless count, with more than 66,000 homeless people countywide. A forecast by the Economic Roundtable estimates that number could reach nearly 90,000 by the year 2023. Venice has approximately 2,000 people living unhoused, making it the second largest congregant of homeless people in the city after Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. Drugs, needles, trash, violence, fires, and encampments have become all too common to the Venice community. They say their pleas for help often fall on deaf ears when it comes to their city leaders, while tourists, homeowners, workers, and other homeless people have become victims to random assaults by a more violent crowd of transients. “It’s a world gone mad,” Venice resident Deborah Keaton told The Epoch Times. “It’s our own making too. I’m a liberal, a Democrat, and we voted for these measures that decriminalize a lot of this behavior, and so there’s no repercussions for these guys.” A man smokes a cigarette in a homeless RV encampment in Venice, Calif., on Nov. 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) When Keaton steps outside her home on North Venice Blvd. between Abbott Kinney and Electric Ave., her reality is not the white-picket fence experience she bought into 30 years ago when she purchased her home. An encampment, including a handful of parked RVs, has popped up adjacent to her house, making hers the closest house to the neighborhood’s new hot spot for crime and drug dealing. The transients living inside the RVs play loud music all day and night, she said. She filed a police report against the apparent ringleader of the RV encampment, Brandon Washington, because she says he approached her gate and allegedly made threats against her family. “He rang the bell, and he was wasted, and he said to me: ‘I just need to know all the evil people, is your husband evil? Because I need to kill your husband,’” Keaton said. “It was scary.” She captured the entire interaction on her Ring doorbell camera. “There’s no repercussions for these guys, and they can’t be held and they know it. A lot of these guys have been arrested 400 times,” she said. Neighbors allege Washington—who often appears to be on drugs—has prostituted women in the RVs, in addition to dealing methamphetamine to other homeless people. Keaton said in the summer a woman was hiding in her backyard, because she said Washington was “pimping her out.” These stories have become all too common in Venice. Ansar El Muhammad, who goes by “Brother Stan” in Venice, knows the plight of Washington all too well. About 20 years ago, Washington was in Muhammad’s niece’s wedding. Both were born and raised in Venice and ran in the same circles. “Even though everybody is up in arms about this, these are human beings,” Muhammad told The Epoch Times. “Brandon’s a good guy, it’s the drugs that are doing that to him. So, I understand the neighbors’ perspective.” Muhammad has become somewhat of a neighborhood protector, taking matters into his own hands. He runs H.E.L.P.E.R Foundation, a gang intervention coalition serving the Venice and Mar Vista neighborhoods. Venice neighbors say they trust him so much they call him first when there’s a safety or noise issue. The homeless trust him, too, so he is able to keep the peace. Most of the vagrants in Venice are involved in some element of gang activity, even if they are not officially part of a set, he said. Drug addiction is also rampant among the homeless, making it more difficult for them to accept resources. “So, for my friend over here, what do I do? I build rapport, I have to wait for him to say ‘Stan, I’m ready,’” he said. Other outreach workers across the county have told The Epoch Times the same thing—contact must be repeatedly made before some people accept help. Pat, an unsheltered resident in Venice Beach, told The Epoch Times earlier this year there should be more solutions by city leaders to encourage special rehab programs that would “give people a sense of accountability.” “There’s got to be a way, a path forward from sleeping on the pavement to eventually having a place. But I think all of the energy to give that path forward should come from the person in that situation,” he said. Neighbors Criticize Local Policies The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Homeless Outreach and Services Team (LASD HOST) conducted a cleanup of the sidewalk surrounding the RVs on Sept. 8 and 9, but Keaton said they won’t enforce any measures that would force the RVs to move. She fears the trash will pile up again and attract additional criminal activity. “The LAPD says they can’t enforce it because it comes down from the mayor’s office, but according to the Sheriff’s Department, the LAPD are not supposed to take orders from the mayor’s office—but that’s the deal,” Keaton said. Venice Neighborhood Council Board member Soledad Ursua told The Epoch Times the RVs receive citations, but a homeless service provider in the area allegedly pays for the tickets. Ursua said the pandemic also changed the homeless situation by encouraging transients to move to new residential areas in the city near commercial areas. “This is different because there’s people who are totally selling drugs, they’re doing drugs, and it’s outside a residence,” Ursua said. “I’ve had to clean up human feces in my carport three times,” she added. During the summer, HOST conducted a massive cleanup and outreach effort on the Venice boardwalk. Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva deployed deputies to the area while media reports slammed city leaders for not addressing the issue. Encampment fires were at an all time high: more than 54 percent of all fires in Los Angeles were caused by encampments this year, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. The neighborhood experienced a sharp uptick in crime during the summer, too, according to statistics provided to the Venice Neighborhood Council by LAPD Capt. Steve Embrich. Year-to-date numbers showed that robberies nearly tripled since the same period last year. Homeless-related robberies were up 260 percent, homeless-related assaults with a deadly weapon were up 118 percent, property crimes and area burglaries were up 85 percent, and grand theft auto was up 74 percent. “We’ve been inundated with calls, with concerns, with images from the news, from people picking up the phone, emailing, sending us letters, about what’s going on in Venice,” Villanueva told reporters during a press conference inside the Hall of Justice on June 23. “And that is a microcosm of what’s going on throughout the entire county of Los Angeles.” Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin—who was also a local advocate for defunding the LAPD—countered Villanueva’s efforts and asked the Los Angeles Homeless and Poverty Committee to shift $5 million in budgeted aid to fund housing programs in his district. Those funds were sent to the St. Joseph Center to conduct outreach on the boardwalk. However, some tents have started popping back up on the boardwalk, with residents saying many homeless individuals have just been moved around. An unhoused member of the Venice community, Butch Say, believes most homeless people in Venice don’t want the help. Say, who described himself as a traveling nomad, told The Epoch Times during the boardwalk cleanup that most of them prefer to live on the street. “They go, ‘No, I love it out here. Nobody tells me what to do, and I run around in my underwear,” he said. “You know, whatever. They’re crazy. What can I say? It’s Venice.” Not a ‘Housing’ Problem While Los Angeles dealt with a homeless crisis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, city restrictions may have exacerbated the problem. Curfew on tents in public were rolled back and sanitation crews were cut to mitigate the spread of the virus. Other city codes were suspended, too. As a result, many homeless people—mostly addicts—flocked to the beach. In a previous interview with The Epoch Times, local bar owner Luis Perez said Venice always had a quirky community of homeless individuals, but they were largely artists and entertainers. They weren’t addicts. He said he saw homeless individuals being bussed in and dropped off on the boardwalk. As state and city leaders peddle the state-sanctioned “housing first” model, which suggests the solution to homelessness lies within building more affordable housing units, Venice Beach natives have a different perspective. “A lot of them don’t want housing. See, this is the issue—they put all this money in here for housing, but there’s less than 5 percent of this population across the city that want it. They say ‘to hell with housing,’” Muhammad said. “You know why? Because they’re addicts.” California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks with reporters at a VA facility in Brentwood, Calif., on Nov, 10, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) On Nov. 10, Gov. Gavin Newsom visited West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. During the press conference, Newsom told reporters that $22 billion in funds is being invested to address “the issue of affordability, housing, and homelessness, to support these efforts all across the state of California.” “Yes, I see what you see, yes I’m mindful of what is happening, but I’m also more optimistic than I’ve ever been. We are seeing progress,” he said. But residents say they look around, and the problem seems to be getting worse. “I voted for Proposition HHH. I [would] be the first one to say I want a solution. And honestly, I would probably vote for another one if I thought the money was going to be correctly spent,” said Venice Neighborhood Council Board member Robert Thibodeau. “But the thing is, where’s the light on the ground solutions? Where’s the FEMA style response, the striking sort of immediate solutions that you would have with [Hurricane] Katrina, because to me, this is Katrina.” Local business owners—the heartbeat of Venice—have been speaking out, too. Klaus Moeller, co-owner of Ben & Jerry’s on the boardwalk, told The Epoch Times in an email during the summer that “this is not a local homeless problem.” “This is a problem about out-of-state transients and drug dealers/users moving in because they can act without repercussions,” he said. Moeller added his employees have been attacked by transients on the boardwalk. Neighbors also criticized Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond passed in 2016 by Angelenos to build 10,000 supportive housing units. As of February, the city controller discovered only 489 of the bond-funded units were ready for occupancy. Because of the lack of supportive housing, a number of tiny home villages have popped up across the county as lower-cost alternative for interim housing. However, some residents say they won’t make much of a difference. “They wouldn’t move indoors. It’s not a housing crisis—it’s an addiction crisis,” Los Angeles native and new Venice resident, Kate Linden, told The Epoch Times. Linden said she emails Lt. Geff Deedrick—who leads the HOST efforts—weekly letting him know what’s going on. But the HOST team can only come in when they are given orders. Previously, Lt. Deedrick told The Epoch Times: “The HOST team provides that guardian mentality, so you can have a safe space for those discussions, but that’s where the policy makers and executives and those things, we leave that to them; we deploy at the direction of the sheriff.” A deputy from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department speaks to a homeless man sitting in front of his encampment in Venice, Calif., on June 8, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) Residents Launch Recall Campaign Many Venice neighbors who originally voted in Councilmember Bonin to represent them in the 11th district, like Keaton, are pulling back their support. Earlier this year, a recall campaign was launched, and on Nov. 10, petitioners collected enough signatures to move forward in the recall election process. They blame Bonin for the increased homelessness and lack of enforcement on street camping that they say brings gang activity into the neighborhood. On Oct. 22, the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban encampments in 54 specified areas, with Bonin and Councilmember Nithya Raman the only two dissenting votes. Thibodeau said Bonin’s views are on the “radical fringe,” that aligns with special interest groups and far-left activists. Thibodeau, who identifies as a centrist, said he’s sent dozens of emails to Bonin’s office with no response. “The sad thing is lot of this has happened because of a higher level of tolerance in the community and a compassion in the community—we’ve been abused, because we’re compassionate people,” Thibodeau told The Epoch Times. “He will not enforce [camping restrictions] in his district. So, now what, he’s in charge of policing too?” During a city council meeting last month, Bonin voted not to enforce a ban on camping due to a lack of prior street engagement to notify the homeless. But according to city documents (pdf), the cost of signage and outreach would cost as much as $2 million. “There was an agreement about street engagements, and I think we need to live by that part as well,” Bonin said. “I am certain that a lot of work has been done, but it still isn’t to the level of what we committed to as a body. And I’m concerned about us losing the commitment to the street engagement strategy and not making sure that it is adequately resourced.” Adding to the residents’ frustrations, the LAPD has their hands tied due to the city’s catch-and-release policies. Homeless people who commit crimes are often back on the streets within hours if they refuse services. Thibodeau said he believes Bonin is transforming Venice into a “containment zone” by not enforcing any anti-camping ordinances. Meanwhile, Bonin is planning several large supportive housing developments in Venice Beach and Mar Vista. Bonin and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also championed A Bridge Housing supportive units in Venice for $8 million that came out of Prop. HHH funds. Residents say most of the homeless who reside in the shelter are “dual residents,” meaning they have a bed in the shelter as well as a tent on the street. “There are no new planned facilities in Pacific Palisades. Brentwood happens to have the VA but nowhere else in Brentwood … so we’re making a Containment Zone here like Skid Row,” he said. As far as the sidewalk on N. Venice Boulevard taken over by RVs and tents, Thibodeau said, “Living next to this stuff is very draining.” He said he’s thinking about organizing street protests to address the issue. Councilmember Bonin’s office did not respond to a request for comment by press deadline. Tyler Durden Sun, 11/14/2021 - 22:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 14th, 2021

The 5 best cordless vacuum cleaners of 2021

Battery-powered vacuums save you from having to look for a convenient outlet when cleaning. These are the best cordless vacuum cleaners in 2021. Connie Chen/Insider Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky Cordless vacuums are convenient, but they shouldn't sacrifice cleaning power or comfort. The Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless Vacuum picks up all kinds of particles on a variety of surfaces. It reaches low and deep under furniture and has a cleaning path light. It's also reasonably priced. Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews home products. Compared to a clunky corded vacuum, a sleek cordless stick vacuum is a lot more convenient. Cordless vacuums tend to be lighter and more compact, and they don't have a long cord to trail behind you or trip you up. While the downside is that they have a limited battery life, we still love cordless vacuums for making the dreaded task of cleaning a bit easier - maybe even enjoyable. As with any other type of vacuum, a cordless vacuum's cleaning ability and suction power are top considerations. The best cordless vac for most people should handle all kinds of tiny particles on various surfaces, from smooth hardwood to thick carpet. Some cordless vacs are better suited to pick up pet hair or excel on hardwood floors, so it's also important to think about where and when you'd use your vacuum the most and shop accordingly. "Some basic things to consider when you begin your search are the vacuum's dimensions, weight, canister size, and how long the cordless vacuum can run between charges," said Chris Doscher, a rep for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.Learn more about the differences between corded and cordless vacuums, additional features to consider, and vacuum FAQs. We tested eight cordless vacuum models for our first major rewrite of this guide and landed on the top five. We're planning to test many more down the line. Here's how we tested the contenders on cleaning ability, ease of use, and battery life.Here are the best cordless vacuum cleaners in 2021Best cordless vacuum overall: Shark Vertex IZ462H DuoClean Cordless VacuumBest cordless vacuum on a budget: Hoover OnePWR BH53420PC Evolve Pet Cordless VacuumBest cordless vacuum for pet owners: Dyson V11 Animal 298746-01 Cord-Free VacuumBest cordless vacuum for hardwood floors: LG Cordzero A9 A929KVM Compressor Stick Vacuum with Power MopBest cordless vacuum for carpet: Hoover OnePWR BH55500PC HEPA+ Vacuum Best cordless vacuum overall Connie Chen/Insider The Shark Vertex IZ462H DuoClean Cordless Vacuum is a strong performer all around, picking up particles of most sizes on various surfaces smoothly and efficiently. We also love the light that illuminates your cleaning path and the flexible hose that lets you reach under low spaces better than any other cordless vac.Cleaning head size: 10.24 inchesWeight: 9.04 poundsDust bin capacity: 0.34 gallonsFilter type: Washable HEPA, no extra filters includedBattery life: 25 minutes Wall mount: No Attachments: Crevice tool, pet multi-tool, anti-allergen brushWarranty: 5 years on parts and laborPros: Versatile, strong suction, cleaning path light, great for under-furniture cleaning, comes with attachments Cons: Loud and high-pitched noise, a thick grip that may be uncomfortable for small hands, weaker on high-pile carpet and rug  This Shark vacuum isn't perfect, and we can't guarantee it'll pick up every size particle you throw its way, but it gets pretty close and has the best overall cleaning performance of all our contenders. It picked up every last bit of flour, cat litter, ground coffee, and dog hair with no problem on hardwood and tile, and it was the best at sucking up whole Cheerios (most of the other vacuums just pushed these large crumbs around). On a high-pile rug, it had a little difficulty moving back and forth smoothly, so you should only get this vacuum if you have low-pile rugs and carpeting or if you're okay with buying a second vacuum for your carpet. It has a thick grip and a somewhat heavy dust bin, making it a bit uncomfortable to use for extended cleaning sessions. However, several other features make up for the slight discomfort. There are distinct settings for hardwood and carpet located near the grip, and they're easy to slide between. There's also a power boost trigger that you can hold down whenever you need some extra suction power. Rolling the cleaning head around hardwood and tile feels very smooth and soft instead of clunky and abrasive. The cleaning head also has two useful features: a light that shows you precisely what you're cleaning and highlights small particles you might've otherwise missed and a green alert button that turns red when a blockage occurs so that you can address the problem right away. My favorite part of using the vacuum is how low and flat it can get. In other cordless vacuums, the stick can't be moved or repositioned, meaning you still have to bend down to reach under furniture. The Shark has a great design where you click a button in the middle of the stick, and it bends into a flexible hose "elbow," allowing the entire bottom half of the stick to lay flat and get under beds, couches, chairs, and other tricky spots. Instead of bending my knees or waist, I could drop my arm and continue cleaning with little disruption. Best cordless vacuum on a budget Connie Chen/Insider This affordable Hoover BH53420PC OnePWR vacuum impressed us with its quiet but strong cleaning power. It feels light and easy to maneuver since the dust bin is located at the base of the vacuum, though this design also prevents you from cleaning under low spaces.Cleaning head size: 11 inches Weight: 8.2 poundsDust bin capacity: 0.3 gallons Filter type: Washable HEPA, no extra filters included Battery life: 30 minutes Wall mount: No Attachments: NoneWarranty: 3 years on parts and laborPros: Quiet, cleans well on all surfaces, less tiring to use because dust bin is located at base of vacuum, large dust bin Cons: Doesn't come with attachments, dust bin location means you can't get under low spots, a little heavy You won't compromise cleaning ability and price in Hoover's budget-friendly vacuum. Though it may not come with bells and whistles like a storage dock and extra attachments and batteries, it picks up most small and fine particles effectively on carpet, hardwood, and tile.Faced with Cheerios, its performance is disappointing, and it merely pushes the cereal around, so you'll be better off sweeping up with a broom. But for all other materials, the vacuum does an easy and thorough job. The vacuum is on the heavier side compared to others, but it doesn't feel like it because the dust bin is located near the cleaner head rather than the handle. This makes vacuuming feel more comfortable and less tiring. It's also really quiet and smooth as it cleans, and you can barely tell it's picking small particles up (rest assured, it is). The dust bin placement does have its drawbacks. It obstructs access to low spaces under furniture, so you'll need to figure out another way to clean under your bed and couches. In addition, the power and various mode buttons are located on top of the dust bin, so you need to bend down any time you want to turn your vacuum on and off or change modes. Still, I loved this vacuum for its consistent and reliable cleaning ability, reasonable battery life (that's actually longer than the Shark's), and quiet motor. If you don't want to spend more than $200 or you only need a basic vacuum, this vacuum will meet your needs and exceed your expectations. Along with our other Hoover pick in this guide, it's part of Hoover's OnePWR collection, which was a 2020 Product of the Year winner.  Best cordless vacuum for pet owners James Brains/Insider The powerful suction of the Dyson V11 Animal 298746-01 picked up all of the pet hair in our tests, and emptying the dustbin was easy and clean.Cleaning head size: 9.8 inches Weight: 7 pounds Dust bin capacity: 0.2 gallons Filter type: 5-stage designed to pick up 99.97% of 0.3-micron particles Battery life: 9 minutes on boost mode, 75 on ecoWall mount: YesAttachments: Crevice tool, mini motorized tool, stiff bristle brush, combination tool, wand clipWarranty: 2 yearsPros: Contactless debris disposal, performed well in all of our cleaning tests, mounts to your wall, powerful suctionCons: Tiring to hold in handheld configuration, the trigger needs to be depressed for the vacuum to run, short runtime in boost mode For those familiar with the quality of Dyson, it's no surprise to find one of the company's vacuums in our guide. The V11 Animal was designed for pet owners with large homes. Our tests bore this out. It picked up all of the pet hair on the surfaces we tested without it getting tangled in the brush. (You can see how we tested in our guide to the best vacuums for pet hair.)The Dyson vac also did an outstanding job picking up cat litter, Cheerios, and coffee grounds on carpeting, hardwood, and furniture. It left behind about 17% of the flour we laid out on carpeting but only left traces on hardwood and furniture.The V11 Animal is also easy to maneuver. With minimal effort, we could move the cleaning head perpendicular. And the wall-mounted docking station holds all of the attachments for out-of-the-way storage.To run the vac, you have to keep the trigger depressed. This was fatiguing during longer cleaning tasks. Another negative is that the trap-door bin-emptying mechanism can make a mess if you don't have it positioned right over your trash can. The battery only lasts for 9 minutes on boost mode. However, in eco mode, it lasts for an impressive 75 minutes. Recharging the unit takes four hours. You can buy backup batteries to continue cleaning, but they're expensive at $150 each.Read our full review of the Dyson V11 Animal.Read our full guide to the best vacuums for pet hair. Best cordless vacuum for hardwood floors Connie Chen/Insider The LG Cordzero A9 is a vacuum that can turn into a mop, letting you clean your hardwood floors gently but thoroughly with just one appliance. It shines when cleaning super tiny particles like flour.Cleaning head size: 10.2 inches Weight: 5.95 pounds Dust bin capacity: 0.26 gallons Filter type: Washable HEPA, one extra filter includedBattery life: 35 minutes, one extra battery includedWall mount: YesAttachments: Power mop nozzle, combination tool, crevice tool, cleaning brushWarranty: 1 year on parts and labor of vacuum; 10 years on parts of smart inverter motorPros: Fairly light, adjustable stick, easy-to-use mop feature, comes with extra battery Cons: Struggles with large particles like Cheerios, disposal method could be more sanitary  This LG cordless vacuum is a sleek and beautiful model that gives you an all-in-one cleaning solution. In addition to the vacuum itself, you get tons of extra accessories like a wall mount, an extra battery, and the unique power mop nozzle. The Cordzero was one of the best performers in our flour test and picked up every last bit of flour on hardwood and tile, even in the cracks. It also did really well on a high-pile rug, sucking flour out of the tall, loose loops. The only challenge might be with large particles like Cheerios; you'll have better luck picking those up with a manual sweep. For a truly thorough clean of your hardwood floors, the mop nozzle is very useful. The process involves wetting and attaching the soft mop pads (the pack comes with four total), filling the water tank in the nozzle, and choosing the setting for more or less water.Then, when you start the vacuum, it starts to slowly spin the mop pads instead of activating suction. They're gentle and won't damage your floors. The attachment also has a built-in light so you can see what you're mopping. The vacuum is on the lighter side of all those we tested, and it has a comfortable grip. There's no trigger, just a power button. The stick and cleaning head pivot smoothly, and you can extend or shorten the stick depending on your height and how far you need to reach the vacuum. While I liked all the cleaning capabilities of LG's vacuum, the dust bin disposal design could be more sanitary. After clicking open the bottom of the bin, there's a lever that you push down to release the bin's contents.The problem is that the contents sometimes don't come out quickly, and you have to shake the bin quite a bit or reach inside. Other times, they spill out immediately. Either way, it's not a pleasant experience, and we recommend wearing gloves when dealing with the dust bin after your cleaning session. Best cordless vacuum for carpet Connie Chen/Insider The Hoover OnePWR HEPA+ vacuum has all the advantages of a trusty bagged vacuum cleaner: large cleaning head, large dust bag capacity, and powerful suction that easily takes on high-pile carpet and rug.Cleaning head size: 13 inchesWeight: 10.2 pounds Dust bin capacity: 2.25 gallons Filter type: HEPA filter bag, one extra filter includedBattery life: 25 minutes, one extra battery includedWall mount: NoAttachments: NoneWarranty: 3 years on parts and labor of vacuumPros: Powerful, can cover a lot of area, bagged design is more sanitaryCons: Heavy, can't reach under low spacesThe Hoover HEPA+ bears the most resemblance to a traditional corded vacuum. The only difference is the cord-free convenience. It's an all-around powerful performer and cleaned everything from finely ground coffee to grainy cat litter almost perfectly, every single time. And whereas I could tell some of the vacuums struggled on a high-pile rug, the Hoover HEPA+ rolled over the rug smoothly and got deep between the rug fibers. The large cleaner head and bag make the vacuum heavy and unable to clean under low spaces. Plus, it's loud. But since the bag is so big, it'll take a long time before you have to replace it, and you can just throw it away directly without interacting with all the dust and other bits. Hoover also throws in an extra bag for you. The vacuum's power switch and two mode buttons (carpet and hardwood) are located at the large and ergonomic handle. The vacuum will also stop running if you bring it back to the upright standing position. Like a few of our other top picks, the cleaning head has a built-in light to show your cleaning path. Unfortunately, this vacuum doesn't come with attachments, so you'll need to supplement it with a handheld vacuum for your other needs. As a main vacuum for a large house with lots of ground to cover, it's a reliable choice. What else we tested Connie Chen/Insider What else we recommend and whyDyson V11 Torque Drive 268731-01: This Dyson model is powerful, reasonably priced, and has a long battery life (around 60 minutes on eco mode). A newer Dyson vac has a special LCD screen that lets you know exactly how much battery you have left on each mode (eco, normal, boost). Because you must hold down a trigger to start the vacuum, it can be tiring on your hands. Tineco Pure One X: The Tineco Pure One X was our top pick for pet owners until we put several models designed for pet hair through a rigorous testing protocol, and the Dyson V11 Animal came out on top. At less than a third of the price of the Dyson, the Pure One X might still be a good option for pet owners on a budget. It did well removing hair from delicate decor, car seats, and furniture.What we don't recommend and why Dyson V11 Outsize 298706-01: For most households, this large and heavy vacuum is probably overkill. Though it has a great battery life (around 72 minutes on eco mode), it's uncomfortable to hold and use for that long. In our testing, the cleaning ability and suction power did not outperform the other contenders. It was also difficult to move back and forth on a high-pile rug. Our cordless vacuum testing methodology Connie Chen/Insider 1. Vacuuming ability: I tested each of the vacuums against five materials (flour, ground coffee, cat litter, whole Cheerios, and dog hair) on three different surfaces (carpet/rug, hardwood, and tile).I scattered half a cup of each material on each surface — resulting in 15 tests for each vacuum — and rated each vacuum on its ability to suck up the material powerfully, cleanly, and thoroughly. If the vacuum came with attachments, I also tested the attachments on appropriate surfaces (e.g., crevice tool on furniture cushions and car seats) and rated their effectiveness. An example of one of the test results:Cat litter testCarpetHardwoodTileShark Anti-Allergen Cordless Vacuum3/5: Powerful and thorough, but could only push forward. Got stuck when I tried to move backward5/5; Sucked up all particles completely and quickly, cat litter did not fall back out of cleaning head5/5; Sucked up all particles completely and quickly, cat litter did not fall back out of cleaning head2. Battery life: I used each vacuum until its battery died and compared the actual battery life to the advertised battery life. 3. Comfort and ease of use: I noted the ergonomics of each vacuum: how tiring it is to hold, how easy it is to maneuver, and the effort required to activate the power button. I also noted whether it could fit under low spaces and any additional helpful features like a headlight to illuminate your cleaning path. 4. Disposal method: I evaluated the cleanliness and ease of emptying the dustbin after a cleaning session. How is the bin opened? Do I have to reach inside and touch dirt and dust that didn't empty out completely? 5. Storage: I noted how the vacuum breaks down into multiple parts and whether it comes with a wall mount or docking station. 6. Warranty and customer service: I registered each vacuum, noted warranty terms, and spoke to customer service reps to evaluate the ease of registration and quality of service. What to consider when buying a cordless vacuum The dust bin is often located at the top of a cordless vacuum, a design that lets your vac reach under low spaces but can also become tiring to hold. To power your vacuum, you may need to hold down a trigger or simply press an on/off button. Connie Chen/Insider Cordless vacuum vs. corded vacuum: how do they compare? Cordless vacuumCorded vacuumPower sourceRechargeable batteryElectrical outletWeightLighter; 3-8 pounds on averageHeavier; 8-15 pounds on averageSizeMore slim and compact; width of 10 inches on averageLarger; width of 14 inches on averageNoiseUsually quieterLouderPriceUsually more expensive; $200-$300 on averageMore affordable; $75-$150 on averageFeatures to look for in a cordless vacuum Weight/distribution of weight: A cordless vacuum will feel heavier or lighter and less comfortable or more comfortable, depending on where the bulk of the weight is. To allow for better flexibility and access, brands often place the dust bin near the top and handle of the vacuum. This can make it tiring to use a cordless vacuum over a long period of time. If the bin is placed at the bottom, near the cleaning head, the weight will be less of a burden, but that placement may get in the way of your cleaning. Size: Keep the size of your living space in mind as you shop for a cordless vac. If you live by yourself in a studio, for example, you can look for vacs with smaller cleaning heads and dust bins. Also, pay attention to the length of the vacuum and whether it will be comfortable for your height. Some vacuums have adjustable sticks. Battery: Read product info carefully to see whether the advertised battery life refers to that of one battery or multiple batteries. Generally, we've found that advertised battery life is longer than actual battery life. Follow manufacturer directions on how to care for and dispose of batteries. Docking/storage: Cordless vacuums are typically composed of two to three parts that you put together yourself (not including separate attachments). This design also makes it easy to store your vacuum in a compact space. Some vacuums may come with a wall dock or mount so you can hang your vacuum on the wall. Inclusion of other cleaning tools: Consider whether you might need additional attachments, such as a crevice tool or dusting brush. These may come with your vacuum or can be available for purchase separately. Warranty: Look for a one-year warranty (at minimum) on both parts and labor of your entire vacuum. Beyond that, the manufacturer may offer additional warranties on specific parts like the motor. Once you receive your vacuum, register it online to speed up the warranty process later. If you're comfortable shopping for a vacuum in the store, "there's no substitute for trying it out and seeing for yourself how it operates. Ask the retailer if you can turn on the vacuum and try it out before you make a choice," said Doscher.  Cordless vacuum FAQs Here's your sign to check and clean your vacuum filter. Connie Chen/Insider Are cordless vacuums worth it?In a word, yes. Cordless vacuums offer flexibility and ease of use that you just can't get from a corded vacuum. Modern cordless vacuums can be every bit as powerful as corded models and allow you to effortlessly move from room to room without worrying about cords or outlets. They're also usually slimmer and quieter than corded models.How often should you clean and change your vacuum filter? The guidance varies model by model, and there are different kinds of filters (cartridge, disk, foam, cloth), so you should check your product manual. Generally, you should wash and dry it when you notice a smell or if you observe a decline in vacuum performance. Some vacuums will also alert you when you need to change the filter. A clean filter is important for effective cleaning; a dirty filter restricts airflow and decreases suction power. Which cordless vacuums are allergy- or asthma-friendly? Look for cordless vacuums with HEPA filters, which are recommended for allergy and asthma sufferers. Without a HEPA filter, these small particles are likely to be released back into the air after being sucked up. All the vacuums we recommend are equipped with HEPA filters. What does a HEPA filter do? A true HEPA filter traps and removes at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. According to the EPA, 0.3 microns is the most penetrating particle size, so this specification refers to the worst case. If the particle is larger or smaller than 0.3 microns, it will be trapped with even higher efficiency. Why is my vacuum's battery life decreasing?If your vacuum's rechargeable battery is made from nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) or nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH), then it can experience "memory effect." Memory effect happens if you charge the battery when there's still some power left. Your battery starts holding less charge over time because it "remembers" how full it was the last time you charged it and won't charge past that point the next time.Even though the original power of the battery is the same, the maximum battery voltage has decreased. To prevent memory effect, you should drain your nickel-based battery completely before charging it. Lithium-ion batteries do not experience this effect. What's the difference between amps, watts, and volts? Which one matters most for cordless vacuums? Amps, watts, and volts are related to each other. Amperage is the electrical current (or volume of electrons), wattage is the rate of power flow (or how much power the motor is using), and voltage is the speed at which electrons pass a specific point within a closed circuit (or the amount of power needed to support an electrical current). Watts = volts x amps. A high wattage means the vacuum will use a lot of energy and thus more battery. Since the type of motor can also affect vacuum power, high wattage doesn't automatically equate to a powerful vacuum. Instead, you should focus on suction. "The motor is at the heart of driving the performance of a vacuum cleaner. The motor takes electrical power from the power source and converts it into mechanical power, or suction. So, the more powerful your motor is, the more air you're able to pull through the machine," said Josh Mutlow, the design manager at Dyson. We've decided to leave quantitative specs like wattage and voltage out of our reviews because they're not useful as standalone numbers. Instead, we focused on suction and evaluated that based on how well the vacuums sucked up different kinds of particles.When is the best time to buy a cordless vacuum?Cordless vacuums tend to be more expensive than corded ones. The good news is that most brands discount their cordless vacuums around Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday/Cyber Monday Weekend. We typically see discounts of $50 to $200 off Dyson, Hoover, and Shark cordless vacuums. If you're able to wait, your patience will pay off in big savings. Glossary Connie Chen/Insider HEPA: Stands for high-efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter traps and removes at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns and can be found in air purifiers and vacuums. Whole machine filtration: The entire machine is sealed to prevent unfiltered particles from escaping. All air passes through the filter before it is expelled. Dustbin: Where all the dust, dirt, and hair are stored as you vacuum. The dustbin should be emptied into the trash after you're done cleaning. Brush roll: A cylinder with bristles located in the cleaning head that rotates and helps release dirt from carpets and rugs. The bristles of a brush roll may leave scratches on hardwood and tile, so you should turn off the brush roll if possible. Replace your brush roll when the bristles wear out (like on your toothbrush). Crevice tool: A long, flat attachment with an angled tip. It's good for getting into tight corners, including baseboards and stairs and between couch cushions. Dust brush tool: A small attachment with soft bristles. It's good for blinds, windowsills, and delicate objects. Upholstery tool: A wide, flat attachment that allows for strong suction. It's good for furniture with fabric upholstery like mattresses, chairs, and couches. Lithium-ion battery: A type of rechargeable battery that uses lithium ions and can store high amounts of energy and deliver higher voltage than nickel-based batteries. It doesn't display memory effect, but it is less stable than nickel-based batteries and has a tendency to overheat. Nickel battery: A type of rechargeable battery that comes in either nickel-cadmium (Ni-Ca) or nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH) form. It can store high amounts of energy, is more difficult to damage than Li-ion batteries, and suffers from memory effect. Check out our other guides to great vacuum cleaners iRobot The best robot vacuumsThe best vacuumsThe best affordable vacuumsThe best vacuums for pet hair For cleaning the rest of your floors, check out these guides Shutterstock The best mopsThe best floor cleaners Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 11th, 2021

Gowanus locals reach deal that paves way for rezoning

Council Members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, leaders of Brooklyn Community Board 6, and members of the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice, announced this morning that they have reached consensus with the de Blasio Administration on “Points of Agreement” (POA) that ensure the Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning will meet community goals.... The post Gowanus locals reach deal that paves way for rezoning appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Council Members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, leaders of Brooklyn Community Board 6, and members of the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice, announced this morning that they have reached consensus with the de Blasio Administration on “Points of Agreement” (POA) that ensure the Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning will meet community goals. The Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning, the largest under the de Blasio Administration, will enable the construction of approximately 8,000 new housing units, nearly 3,000 of them affordable to low- and moderate-income families in a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood around a remediated and revitalized Gowanus Canal. The rezoning includes the most stringent affordability and sustainability requirements of any previous neighborhood rezoning. The “Points of Agreement” between City Hall and the Council Members, the result of extensive community organizing and public engagement, provides that every one of the 1,662 units in NYCHA’s Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens developments will receive a comprehensive interior modernization estimated at $200 million. The City will invest hundreds of millions more in flooding and stormwater infrastructure, parks, schools, and workforce development, and substantial funding commitments for renovations at the Pacific Branch Library ($14.7 million) and the Old Stone House ($10.95 million).  Community conversations about the future of the neighborhood have been active for nearly a decade, including the “Bridging Gowanus” community planning process convened by Council Member Lander’s office in 2013, that worked to identify shared principles for any development in the area. The Department of City Planning commenced its community engagement in 2016 with five working groups open to all community members and scores of public meetings, attended by thousands of residents and stakeholders. The Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice, a coalition of tenants, homeowners, public housing residents, small business owners, artists, environmentalists, and affordable housing advocates, organized hundreds of residents to elevate the voices of community members usually left out of the City’s planning processes. GNCJ developed a broad community platform, including three key demands that today’s Points of Agreement address: Upfront funding to meet the capital needs of the public housing in the Gowanus neighborhood, with oversight by NYCHA residents.POA commitment: The City will fund comprehensive in-unit renovations of all apartments at Gowanus Houses (1,134 units) and Wyckoff Houses (528 units) at an estimated cost of $200m. This work includes replacement of kitchens, bathrooms, plumbing, electrical, flooring, interior doors, and lighting fixtures. The City has additionally committed to regular reporting and consultation with residents through the construction process to oversee commitments and protect tenant rights. The City will also fulfill previous commitment to renovate and reopen the Wyckoff Gardens and Gowanus Houses community centers.Mandate “net-zero” combined sewage overflow (CSO) from new construction created as a result of the rezoning.POA commitment: In order to ensure that new development does not pollute the Gowanus Canal, the City has adopted the stringent new 2021 Unified Stormwater Rule that will go into effect before any construction begins. The rule increases on-site requirements for stormwater detention and introduces new retention requirements, which will reduce CSO volumes and events, and help address localized flooding. The City is also committing to a $174 million upgrade to sewer infrastructure to address long-standing flooding along 4th Avenue, which is especially severe at the intersection of Carroll Street.   Gowanus Rezoning Oversight Task Force to monitor compliance with public and private commitments.POA commitment: To ensure compliance with public and private commitments, the agreement includes commitments by all relevant City agencies to regular reporting as well as senior agency staff participation in a Community Oversight Task Force dedicated to monitoring rezoning-related commitments. The Task Force will be supported by an independent facilitator, and include representation from elected officials, CB6, NYCHA residents and leaders, and core community organizations and stakeholders.  On June 3, 2021, Community Board 6 held a highly-attended, indoor/outdoor, hybrid in-person and online public hearing as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Process (with additional opportunities for public input ordered by Judge Katherine Levine pursuant to a lawsuit). Out of that hearing, CB6 voted “Yes with Modifications,” including an extensive set of recommendations that are reflected in today’s agreement. Borough President Eric Adams also recommended to approve the rezoning with modifications, and stood with public housing residents, GNCJ members, and the Council Member to insist on adequate funding for public housing. The Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning is the first MIH neighborhood rezoning in a whiter, wealthier neighborhood. For the first time ever, a Racial Impact Study was completed providing strong evidence that the plan will result in a more racially and economically inclusive neighborhood.  In addition to historic investments in public housing, stormwater retention, and flood readiness, the Gowanus Neighborhood Rezoning includes:  Nearly 3,000 units of affordable housing, including a commitment to 100% affordability on the City-owned Public Place site. The plan for Gowanus Green includes approximately 950 units priced for extremely low to low income tenants and homeownership opportunities for moderate income families, as well as a new 1.5 acre park and space for a potential new school. The Gowanus Green site will be extensively remediated, under the supervision of the EPA, NYS DEC, and NYC DEP. The EPA has stated that it is feasible for the site to be cleaned up to safely allow for these uses.On sites, the rezoning will require either Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Option 1, which requires 25% of units affordable to households at or below 60% of AMI, with 10% of units affordable to households at or below 40% of AMI; or the “deep affordability” MIH option of 20% of units affordable to households at our below 40% of AMI ($43,000 for a family of 3). This is anticipated to generate approximately 2000 affordable units.Investments in new open space, including a resilient waterfront esplanade along the Gowanus Canal. The City has committed to renovations, following meaningful community engagement, at the new Gowanus Green public park and Boerum Park, and Thomas Greene Park. It has committed to build new public spaces on the Salt Lot and the Head End CSO site, following construction of each Superfund-mandated CSO tank, the Bond Street Street-End and at “Transit Plaza” along the Canal by the Smith/9th subway station. Canal developers will be required to build and maintain a new 40-foot public esplanade, following detailed guidelines to ensure continuity and public access between sites, and designed for flood resiliency through the year 2100.Environmental requirements on new development. In addition to the waterfront esplanade and new stormwater management requirements, all new buildings must: Dedicate 100% of their rooftop area to solar, wind, or green infrastructure pursuant to City legislation from 2019. Meet city flood elevation standards, determined on a site-by-site basis, which exceed FEMA standards. Complete remediation of any contamination indicated by the new e-designation, with oversight by the City and State. Innovative new zoning tools to address infrastructure needs. To ensure local school capacity can accommodate neighborhood growth, on certain large sites around the canal, developers can exempt floor area leased to NYC School Construction Authority for the development of new public schools as new seat-need comes online.The plan includes an easement requirement and new citywide transit bonus available for developers along 4th Avenue in exchange for transit improvements. Historic preservation and tools to keep Gowanus creative and mixed-use.  Five historic buildings were designated as landmarks during the rezoning process, including the Old American Can Factory and Powerhouse Arts.Mid-block areas will remain zoned for industrial and commercial use, with modest additional development rights that do not allow for hotels or self-storage. The new “Gowanus Mix” use group codified in zoning will generate over 300,000 square feet dedicated space for light manufacturing, arts, and non-profits.Community, social service, and workforce development resources.City Hall will expand the MAP (Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety) initiative to Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens, an investment of approximately $2 million annually. MAP brings together neighborhood residents and government agencies to reduce crime. Strategies including youth development and employment, conflict mediation, sports and arts programs aim to address concentrated disadvantage and physical disorder and promote neighborhood cohesion and strong citywide networks.Investments of approximately $1 million annually in workforce development for local residents, with a focus on NYCHA residents, including dedicated funding for industrial job training.Commitments to street safety improvements at high-crash intersections and a comprehensive traffic study of 3rd avenue and the IBZ to address road safety and truck circulation issues. The City will provide over $10 million for new curb extensions and widened sidewalks, bioswales and other green infrastructure, and street furniture such as benches, wayfinding signs, bike racks, and street trees.Tenant protections including an expanded Certificate of No Harassment program (recently adopted citywide through legislation sponsored by Council Member Lander), resources for tenant outreach, and a tailored rezoning that protects rent-stabilized units.  The full Points of Agreement document will be available at the City Council’s Zoning Subcommittee meeting prior to the vote today. In addition to the public commitments in the rezoning plan, developers in Gowanus have committed to additional affordability and use restrictions to preserve the industrial and arts character of the neighborhood. Affordable artists studios: 10 property owners of large sites along the Canal and bordering Thomas Greene Park have committed to enter an agreement with Arts Gowanus to provide over 150 permanently-affordable artist studios in new developments. Arts Gowanus will match eligible artists with available spaces. A portion of the studios will be available for low-income artists, including NYCHA residents, to rent at a more deeply reduced rate. As a part of the agreement, Arts Gowanus will occupy and manage a Gowanus Community Arts Center, including a gallery. Parks Improvement District: Ten developers have committed to cooperate in the formation of a Gowanus Waterfront Business Improvement District focused on stewardship, access, and public programming of open spaces, especially the new waterfront esplanade along the canal. This entity will provide maintenance, public programming, technical assistance, and environmental and ecological advocacy. The steering committee is expected to hold its first meeting in December 2021, and will flesh out details and develop support with input from community members and stakeholders.  All told, the Gowanus Rezoning’s 3,000 new units of permanently affordable housing, a continuous public esplanade along the waterfront, climate-resilient buildings and landscaping, and use restrictions to preserve arts and industry are among the most aggressive, forward-looking set of requirements ever imposed on developers in the United States.  “Today’s agreement shows that community-led, inclusive, sustainable growth is possible. After nearly a decade of conversations among neighbors, and in partnership with the Department of City Planning and City Hall, this community has created one of the best models for inclusive growth anywhere, with strong attention to equity and affordability, and mindful of the environmental history and future of this area. Debates about development are not easy, but I am truly proud of the way we’ve engaged them here. Together, we are setting the stage for a more diverse, more sustainable, thriving, creative neighborhood that will welcome new residents while improving and preserving the ability of public housing residents, artists, small businesses, and neighbors to continue to thrive here for generations to come,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “The Gowanus Rezoning will be a milestone in land use actions in New York City,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.  “Discussions about the Gowanus neighborhood, one of the most vibrant and historic in Brooklyn, have been ongoing for decades. And today we reach a turning point where those discussions have resulted in action. This rezoning will result in not only new housing including a substantial increase in affordable units, but unprecedented investments in our public housing, improvements in the sewer systems and monitoring of our combined sewer overflows, preservation of manufacturing and light industry, and a commitment to protect our artists and public spaces.  There are so many people that helped bring us here but first and foremost I want to thank the residents of Wyckoff Gardens and GowanusHouse and the members of the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice. They provide a guide to making sure we are always focused on what is most important. And of course thanks to all the staff and Councilmember Lander who attended more meetings then we can count in the name of true engagement. This process only begins here and it is up to the future elected officials to ensure that all the promises are met but we couldn’t have given them a better place to start.” The post Gowanus locals reach deal that paves way for rezoning appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyNov 10th, 2021

The 5 best vacuum cleaners for every mess, floor type, and budget

These are our top vacuum picks in 2021 from our guides to the best robot vacuums, affordable vacs, cordless vacs, and pet hair vacs. Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky No matter what kind of flooring or carpet you have, you need a good vacuum cleaner to keep it tidy. Vacuums from Shark, Bissell, Dyson, and iRobot have strong suction and long battery lives. Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews home products. Depending on how you feel about it, vacuuming can be the most dreaded chore of all, or a therapeutic ridding of all that dust, dirt, and whatever else might be hiding on and within your floors and carpets.We've tested plenty of vacuum cleaners over the years, and we have written several in-depth guides focused on everything from the best robot vacuums and the best affordable vacuums to the best vacuums for pet hair and the best cordless vacuums. But here, we have our top picks from each of these respective guides for an easily digestible look at the best of the best.A good vacuum cleaner should have no trouble tackling both carpeting and hardwood, and the best ones we've tested can automatically detect the difference between the two and adjust their suction accordingly. Ease of use, cleaning, and maintenance are all important too - in fact, one of the most common losses of suction in a vacuum is a clogged filter or airway.Whether you're more of a set-it-and-forget-it robot vacuum type or you prefer to do it yourself with the ease and mobility of a cordless vacuum, or somewhere in between, you'll find what you need below.The best vacuum cleaners in 2021Best cordless vacuum cleaner: Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless VacuumBest vacuum cleaner on a budget: Bissell Cleanview Swivel Pet VacuumBest vacuum cleaner for pet hair: Dyson V11 Animal Cord-Free VacuumBest upright vacuum: Dyson Ball Animal 2 VacuumBest robot vacuum cleaner: iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum Best cordless vacuum Connie Chen/Insider The Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless Vacuum is a strong performer all around, picking up particles of most sizes on a variety of surfaces in a smooth and efficient fashion. We also love the light that illuminates your cleaning path and the flexible hose that lets you reach under low spaces better than any other cordless vac.Size and weight: 10.24 x 7.09 x 46.1 inches; 7.17 poundsDust bin capacity: 0.34 gallonsFilter type: Washable HEPA, no extra filters includedBattery life: 25 minutes Attachments: Crevice tool, pet multi-tool, anti-allergen brushWarranty: Five years on parts and laborPros: Versatile, strong suction, cleaning path light, great for under-furniture cleaning, comes with attachments Cons: Loud and high-pitched noise, thick grip that may be uncomfortable for small hands, weaker on high-pile carpet and rug  This Shark vacuum had the best overall cleaning performance of all the cordless vacuums we tested, picking up every bit of flour, cat litter, ground coffee, and dog hair from hardwood and tile with ease. It also does well with large particles like whole Cheerios. It's less effective on high-pile rug. It's not the lightest cordless vac out there, but it's really smooth to operate and easy to use. There are distinct settings for hardwood and carpet located near the grip and they're easy to slide between. There's also a power boost trigger that you can hold down whenever you need some extra suction power. Rolling the cleaning head around hardwood and tile feels very smooth and soft, instead of clunky and abrasive. The cleaning head also has two useful features: a light that shows you exactly what you're cleaning and highlights small particles you might've otherwise missed, and a green alert button that turns red when a blockage occurs, so you can address the problem right away. We also love how it can get lower and flatter than any other cordless vac. The middle of the stick can bend into a flexible hose "elbow," allowing the entire bottom half of the stick to lay flat and get under beds, couches, chairs, and other tricky spots. Read our full guide to the best cordless vacuums. Best budget vacuum Connie Chen/Insider The Bissell Cleanview Swivel Vacuum is a bit on the large side, but it's powerful and operates smoothly. It comes with attachments to pick up pet hair and clean hard-to-reach spots.Size and weight: 13 x 14 x 44.5 inches; 15 poundsDust bin capacity: 0.26 gallonsFilter type: Washable HEPA, no extra filters includedCord length: 27 feetAttachments: Crevice tool, pet tool Warranty: Three years on parts and laborPros: Powerful suction, large cleaner head, large and hygienic dust bin, comes with attachments, convenient foot controls Cons: A bit heavy and clunky, loud  Bissell's Cleanview Swivel Pet Vacuum is your classic corded upright vacuum. As restrictive as the cords are on these kinds of vacuums, Bissell builds in many thoughtful design features to make up for the inconvenience. The large, square cleaner head has a brush roll that effectively lifts and removes small and large debris, passing all of our cleaning tests with flying colors. From whole Cheerios to fine flour, the vacuum sucked up all the particles cleanly and quickly. It worked well with pet hair as well. It has five settings for different floor types, which you must bend down and adjust at the top of the cleaner head. But turning on the vacuum is as easy as pressing a lever at the base with your foot. There's also a separate foot pedal to tilt the vacuum and allow it to swivel in different directions. The dust bin is a generous size and easy to remove by simply clicking the release button at the top. The contents empty out at the bottom so you'll have minimal or no direct contact with all the dirt and dust. The bin has a handle on top, letting you carry your vacuum downstairs or to different rooms with ease. For its consistent, powerful suction and easy maneuverability, the vacuum is already a great deal. Even better, it comes with a few attachments, which you affix to the 6-foot-long hose to clean upholstery or get into crevices. For these cleaning tasks, we might still prefer a cordless handheld vacuum, but it's nice to have the option here. We do love that the attachments are stored directly on the vacuum so you'll never lose them.Read our full guide to the best affordable vacuum cleaners. Best vacuum for pet hair James Brains/Insider The powerful suction of the Dyson V11 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum picked up all of the pet hair in our tests, and emptying the dustbin was easy and clean.Size and weight: 49.6 x 10.3 x 9.8 inches; 7 poundsDust bin capacity: 0.2 gallonsFilter type: 5-stage designed to pick up 99.97% of 0.3-micron particlesBattery life: 9 minutes on Boost mode, 75 in Eco modeAttachments: Crevice tool, mini motorized tool, docking station, stiff bristle brush, combination tool, wand clipWarranty: 2 yearsPros: Performed well in all of our cleaning tests, powerful suction, contactless debris disposal, comes with a wall-mounted docking stationCons: Short battery runtime in Boost mode, the handheld configuration is tiring to hold, need to keep the trigger depressed for the vacuum to runThe V11 Animal Cord-Free Vacuum is a clear example of the high-end, high-quality products Dyson is known for.Dyson had large homes with pets in mind when it developed the V11 Animal. This proved true in our tests. On all of the surfaces we tested, it picked up all of the pet hair. And the brush remained tangle-free.The V11 Animal also did an impressive job of cleaning up other debris, including coffee grounds, Cheerios, cat litter, and all but a trace of flour on furniture and hardwood. On carpeting, the Dyson vac had more trouble with flour, leaving behind 17% of it.However, the V11 Animal wasn't without flaws. For the unit to run, the trigger must be depressed, which can be fatiguing during long cleaning jobs. For testing, we used a piece of duct tape to keep it down.The bin empties cleanly if you position it right. Otherwise, the trap-door mechanism can send debris flying, but this was rarely a problem during testing.The battery wasn't impressive. It took more than 4 hours to recharge and only lasted 9 minutes in Boost mode. Keep in mind, though, Boost is incredibly powerful and overkill for most cleaning jobs. Eco mode will be suitable for most tasks. The battery lasted for 75 minutes in Eco mode in our tests. The V11 Animal has excellent maneuverability. In fact, we could move the head perpendicular to where we were facing with minimal effort. This ability was unique to the Dyson vacs we tested. Another bonus is the convenient, unobtrusive storage of the attachments afforded by the wall-mounted docking station.Read our full review of the Dyson V11 Animal.Read our full guide to the best vacuums for pet hair. Best upright vacuum Amazon The Dyson Ball Animal 2 prioritizes maneuverability, but it also has impressive suction and keeps allergens sealed in the dustbin.Size and weight: 13.39 x 15.35 x 42.13 inches; 17.5 poundsDust bin capacity: 0.55 gallonsFilter type: Washable HEPA, no extra filters includedCord length: 31 feetAttachments: Combination tool, stair tool, tangle-free turbine tool Warranty: One year on parts and laborPros: Powerful suction, great maneuverability, keeps dust and allergens in the machine, tangle-free turbine tool gets into tight spacesCons: Rollerball prevents you from getting under furniture, heavy, power cord does not retractUpright vacuums are celebrated for their versatility and power. The Dyson Ball Animal 2 has both and more. It features an easy-to-clean brush head, HEPA filtration to lock in allergens, and a removable hose with an upholstery attachment so you can suck up debris wherever it happens to land. This upright vacuum easily handles both hardwood and carpet, with a rotating brush head that gets deep into area rugs and low-pile carpet very well. The self-adjusting head helps the vacuum create a tight seal against any type of flooring for a better clean.The large-capacity bagless dust bin is sealed with a HEPA filter, locking in dust, hair, and pet dander. To empty it, simply lift it off the base and press a button on the canister handle to release the bottom and let the dust fall out. The filter is easily removable and washable.Where the Ball Animal 2 really stands out is in its wand attachments. Not only does it come with a combination brush for hard-to-reach places and a specialized stair tool, but it also comes with its unique tangle-free turbine tool. The tool features counter-rotating spinner brushes which sucks up hair without giving it the chance to get tangled. It's great for furniture, curtains, and any other fabric you need to detail.The Ball Animal 2 has a couple of downsides, the largest of which is that the roller ball makes it difficult to fit under furniture. The wand will be helpful in these instances, but you won't get as thorough a clean you would with the brush head. It's also a heavy machine at 17.5 pounds. Best robot vacuum James Brains/Insider With its automatic dirt disposal, strong suction, and large main brushes, the iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is an excellent, low-maintenance solution for any home.Size and weight: 13.34 x 13.26 x 3.63 inches; 7.44 poundsDust bin capacity: 0.1 gallonsFilter type: High-efficiency filterBattery life: 75 minutesAttachments: NoneWarranty: One year on parts and laborPros: Doesn't get stuck easily, pairs with the iRobot app and Alexa/Google Home, outstanding carpet cleaning, comes with an auto-empty station, good hardwood cleaningCons: Loud, so-so corner cleaning, virtual wall barriers are sold separatelyWe have tested 30 robot vacuums, putting them through rigorous tests to see how well they pick up coffee grounds, cat litter, flour, and pet hair on both carpet and hardwood floors, and the iRobot Roomba i3+ tops the list. Not only does it handle both hardwood and carpeted flooring with ease, but it navigates its cleaning paths smoothly, getting stuck infrequently. When it's done cleaning, it returns to the automatic dirt disposal dock, which empties the vac's dustbin so you don't have to. You just switch out the dust bag every month or two. The i3+ is the most affordable Roomba to feature the auto-empty station.The vac is Alexa compatible and comes with a user-friendly app (available for iOS and Android) that allows you to set your cleaning schedule. However, we're disappointed that iRobot left off the no-go zone and zoned-cleaning capabilities for the i3+. If you want to set keep-out zones, you have to spring for $50 virtual wall barriers.The i3+ doesn't have adjustable suction. Instead, it maintains a consistently strong suction and performs multiple passes in areas where it detects excess dirt. Since the vac is about 68 decibels (louder than a normal conversation), we would have liked to be able to adjust the suction and thus sound levels.Read our full guide to the best robot vacuums. What else we tested James Brains/Insider We tested dozens of models for our vacuum guides. Here are some excellent options we recommend from them.What else we recommend and why:LG Cordzero A9: This is the best vacuum for hardwood floors in our guide to the best cordless vacuum cleaners. On tile and hardwood floors, it picked up all of the flour we laid out. The Cordzero A9 also has a spinning mop head attachment that dispenses water to give you an all-in-one cleaning solution. It's lightweight and comes with an extra battery so you can keep cleaning while the other charges.Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Cordless Hand Vacuum: This is the best handheld vacuum in our guide to the best cheap vacuums. We like how compact and light it is. With the useful motorized brush tool, crevice tool, and upholstery tool attachments, it's the ideal choice for keeping your car tidy or for cleaning up small messes.Miele Classic C1 Cat & Dog Vacuum: The Miele Classic C1 is the best canister vacuum in our guide to the best vacuums for pet hair. This is one of the few bagged models we've tested, and we like how the dirt bags hold 4.5 liters of debris and keep it all contained. The Classic C1 did well cleaning all debris on all surfaces we tested, and it runs quietly.Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum: The SpinWave is the best robot vacuum for pet hair in our guide. For its relatively low price (about $300), it's a great robot vacuum. In addition to cleaning up almost all of the debris in corners and on hardwood, it features a mop attachment with spinning brushes that removed dried-up spills on the linoleum in our tests. For more recommendations and as well as what we don't recommend, visit our other vacuum guides. Vacuum cleaner FAQs James Brains/Insider What is the best type of vacuum cleaner?The best type of vacuum depends on your needs. In general, upright vacuums balance performance and affordability. Stick vacuums are convenient and versatile. Handhelds are for small or hard-to-reach tasks. Robot vacuums automate cleaning. And canister vacuums are the most powerful.Here's a more thorough rundown of the pros and cons of each type of vacuum cleaner:Robot vacuum: A robot vacuum is an autonomous vacuum cleaner that roams around your house with no effort on your part aside from maybe setting a scheduled cleaning time or freeing it when it gets tangled in a power cord or stuck behind a piece of furniture. They're not as powerful as other types of vacuum cleaners and need to be emptied regularly, but they can't be beaten when it comes to convenience.Canister vacuum: A canister vacuum has its motor and dust bin in a standalone canister with the brush head attached by a long suction hose. The canister is usually on wheels, and it follows you around a bit like a lost puppy. Canister vacuums are known for their superior power and excellent suction. Still, they don't offer much versatility and are particularly difficult to move around the house given that you're tethered to a separate piece that you have to tote around with you.Upright vacuum: An upright vacuum is what you likely picture when asked to imagine a vacuum — if you're in the US, that is. (If you're in the UK, you'll likely picture a canister vacuum.) Unlike canister vacuums, upright vacuums have the motor, dust bin, and head all aligned in one package. The vacuum stands upright on its own, and the machine's body tilts back when you need to vacuum. Upright vacuums balance power and versatility but can still be clunky to operate in some cases. They are often equipped with a removable hose to reach places the main brush head can't go.Cordless stick vacuum: Stick vacuums prevail when it comes to convenience and portability, but they often do so by sacrificing power. Often rechargeable and cordless, the batteries they're equipped with can't generate as much power as corded vacuums, and they need to be recharged frequently. The dust bins are often smaller than upright or canister vacuums as well. But it's the most lightweight category of vacuum, and a low profile makes it easy to slide under almost any furniture.Handheld vacuum: Just like Jell-O became synonymous with gelatin desserts, so too did Black & Decker's Dustbuster become synonymous with handheld vacuums. A handheld vacuum is ultra-compact and suitable for spot cleaning — think of a spilled box of cereal, stray kitty litter, or picking up dust after sweeping. You certainly won't want to clean your whole house with one, but they're good to have around for quick messes.How do I choose a vacuum cleaner?Once you know what type of vacuum cleaner you want (see above), the main features you should look for are comfort and ease of use, a well-designed brush head, long battery life (if cordless), mess-free debris disposal, and a strong warranty.Edward Chudleigh, a former Dyson engineer of 11 years, walked us through some of the common pitfalls of vacuum cleaners and how to shop for the best machine for your needs.Here are some more specifics to look for:A brushless motor: A vacuum's motor is, of course, what powers the mechanism, ultimately providing suction and ensuring a clean home. Motors fall into two categories: brushed and brushless. Chudleigh recommends sticking to brushless motors: "Brushless motors are very efficient and translate much more of the available power from the battery to cleaning the floor. The trouble with brushed motors is that there is more friction in the system, which in turn eats some of the battery power and, amongst other things, makes the machine less efficient." He said brushes could also wear down over time and may emit carbon pollution into the air. The Dyson models we recommend use brushless motors.A well-designed brush head: "It's all good having efficient motors and batteries, however this only works with a well-designed pick-up head," said Chudleigh, who was involved in developing Dyson's Tangle-Free Turbine Tool — a key feature in our recommendation for the best vacuum for pet hair. A well-designed brush head ensures the dirt and dust on your floor are actually making their way into your vacuum. You can see excellent examples of how we test vacuum pick-up in our guides to the best robot vacuums and cordless vacuums.A bagless design: "Bagless every time," said Chudleigh. Vacuum bags have tiny holes that allow air to pass through them and act almost like a filter, trapping dust and dirt. But over time, those tiny holes get clogged. "The suction of the vacuum then decreases as more holes get blocked. It's essentially like strangling a vacuum cleaner," said Chudleigh. Bagless designs employ a cyclonic system that "spins the particles out of the airflow," allowing clean air to pass through the motor without clogging anything or impeding suction. All of the vacuums we recommend are bagless.A lightweight machine: This one's pretty simple. You'd want a vacuum somewhere around 10 to 15 pounds that you can easily carry around your home, up and down flights of stairs, and even out to your car.  A strong warranty: Chudleigh said that the most common parts that fail in vacuums are hoses and batteries, so ensure the warranty on any vacuum you buy has a suitable guarantee to replace those parts should issues come up. He also recommends you look for a good money-back guarantee that ensures you can return that machine for any reason if you're unhappy with its performance.How much should you spend on a vacuum cleaner?The vacuums in our guides range from $70 for a handheld vacuum to $1,100 for a self-emptying robot vacuum. In general, you should expect to spend at least $100 on a new vacuum. However, if you're looking for a good robot, canister, or stick vacuum, expect to pay at least $300.How long does a vacuum last?According to a reader survey conducted by Consumer Reports, the median life of a vacuum cleaner is 8 years. Leslie Tam, a co-founder of the cleaning service UrbanMop, told us that a drastic reduction in suction is usually the first sign that a vacuum has reached the end of its life. He recommended performing regular maintenance to prolong your vacuum's life. Maintenance should include emptying the dustbin before it gets too full, removing hairs and other debris from the brush roll, and cleaning the filter often. Glossary James Brains/Insider Brush roll: The brush roll is situated in the head of the vacuum and should be activated when cleaning carpet. It spins to help agitate the carpet pile to dislodge dust and dirt.Crevice tool: A long, flat attachment with an angled tip. It's good for getting into tight corners including baseboards and stairs and between couch cushions. Dust bin: A canister on the main body of the vacuum where trapped dirt and dust is stored.Dust brush tool: A small attachment with soft bristles. It's good for blinds, windowsills, and delicate objects. Head: This is the part of the vacuum that moves across your floor and picks up dirt and dust.HEPA filter: A high-efficiency particulate air filter or HEPA filter must filter 99.97% of airborne particles in order to meet HEPA standards. Most high-quality vacuum cleaners contain HEPA filters. Many are washable and reusable and should be cleaned regularly.Lithium ion battery: A type of rechargeable battery that uses lithium ions and can store high amounts of energy and deliver higher voltage than nickel-based batteries. It doesn't display memory effect, but it is less stable than nickel-based batteries and has a tendency to overheat. Nickel battery: A type of rechargeable battery that comes in either nickel-cadmium (Ni-Ca) or nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH) form. It can store high amounts of energy, is more difficult to damage than Li-ion batteries, and suffers from memory effect.Upholstery tool: A wide, flat attachment that allows for strong suction. It's good for furniture with fabric upholstery like mattresses, chairs, and couches. Wand: Often featured on upright vacuums, wands detach from the main body to allow you to reach spots the head can't go. They're useful for cleaning stairs, corners, and upholstery. The best deals on vacuum cleaners from this guide Vacuuming is a chore made significantly worse when using a mediocre vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately, none of the vacuum cleaners we recommend retail for under $100, but the good news is that vacuum cleaners see sales frequently throughout the year. They most reliably see the deepest discounts during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day, from major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. The Shark Vertex Duoclean, for example, dropped to an all-time low of $300 during these events in 2020. There are currently no deals on our recommended vacuums.Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us. Check out our other vacuum buying guides Bissel The best robot vacuumsThe best vacuums for pet hairThe best affordable vacuum cleaners The best cordless vacuums Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 8th, 2021

Chicago just approved one of the US"s largest basic-income pilots: $500 monthly payments for 5,000 people

Participants in the Chicago pilot will be chosen at random, but individuals must earn less than $35,000 per year to qualify. Marquisha Byrd makes face shields for frontline responders at Dimo's Pizza in Chicago, April 16, 2020. Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images Chicago's city council voted Wednesday to approve one of the US's largest basic-income pilots. The city will give 5,000 low-income households $500 per month for one year. A similar program in Stockton, California, reduced participants' unemployment and improved their emotional wellbeing. Chicago just became the latest city to offer residents monthly cash payments, no strings attached. The city council voted Wednesday to approve one of the largest basic-income programs in US history - a pilot that will give 5,000 low-income households $500 per month for one year. Participants will be chosen at random, but individuals must earn less than $35,000 per year to qualify.The council authorized nearly $32 million for the pilot as part of the city's 2022 budget. The program's funding comes from $2 billion in COVID-19 relief dollars allocated to Chicago through the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan.The pilot specifically aims to relieve financial burdens on families hard-hit by COVID-19. Hundreds of thousands of Chicago residents lost their jobs during the first six months of the pandemic, and around 18% of Chicago residents live below the federal poverty line."Growing up, I knew what it felt like to live check to check," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wrote earlier this month on Twitter. "When you're in need, every bit of income helps."Several other Democratic mayors similarly see cash stipends as a promising way to address poverty in their cities. More than 50 have joined the coalition Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, the members of which all pledge to start basic-income pilots in their cities. The founder of that coalition is the former mayor Stockton, California, Michael Tubbs. He launched one of the US's first guaranteed-income pilots in 2019, a program that gave 125 residents $500 per month for two years.Other cities have followed his lead. Saint Paul, Minnesota, approved a basic-income pilot last year, in which 150 low-income families get $500 a month for up to 18 months. Oakland, California, is now accepting applications for its basic-income pilot, which gives $500 monthly payments to 600 low-income families for 18 months. In Compton, California, 800 residents are already receiving a guaranteed income of $300 to $600 a month for two years. And Richmond, Virginia, is distributing $500 per month to 18 working families. Critics worry that basic income can't address large-scale poverty People wait in line to receive a free turkey ahead of Thanksgiving in Chicago, November 23, 2020. Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images Critics of basic income argue that free stipends would reduce the incentive for people to find jobs or encourage them to make frivolous purchases. Several studies, however, have suggested that cash benefits don't keep people from entering the workforce.After Stockton's program ended in January, researchers found that it reduced unemployment and increased full-time employment among participants. Stipend recipients also reported improvements in their emotional wellbeing and decreases in anxiety or depression. Most of them spent their money on basic necessities like food and merchandise, including trips to Walmart or dollar stores.Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas told The Washington Post that his city's pilot will monitor how participants spend their stipends for the first six months. Depending on the results, the city may direct the stipends toward specific uses, such as covering heating bills or food. Still, some members of the Chicago City Council were hesitant to back the program. Members of the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus argued that the money could be better spent on violence prevention or a reparations program. Alderman Nick Sposato, meanwhile, told Politico earlier this month that basic income is "a socialist idea that doesn't consider the mainstream."Critics of basic income also sometimes point to the mixed results seen in larger-scale attempts at cash-transfer programs. A 2018 report found that the Alaska Permanent Fund, which has been distributing cash to state residents since 1982, increased part-time work by 17%. But the cash transfers had no effect on overall employment numbers (the share of people who had jobs).Finland's basic-income trial, meanwhile, also found that employment rates between stipend recipients and those in the control group were about even. But the results of that program, conducted from January 2017 to December 2018, were complicated by the fact that participants had to give up part of their standard conditional benefits - things like housing allowances and illness compensation - to receive the monthly stipends. Proponents of basic income still think it has the potential to reduce poverty on a national level."I am so proud of all the pilots, but I'm ready for policy," Michael Tubbs told Insider in March. "I've got all the evidence I need."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 27th, 2021

"Are We A Socialist Nation?" - Cooperman Slams "Stupid" Plan To Tax 700 Billionaires

"Are We A Socialist Nation?" - Cooperman Slams "Stupid" Plan To Tax 700 Billionaires Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) has released the much anticipated details of the tax on unrealized capital gains for billionaires, as Democrats are working on how they will raise enough taxes to offset massive spending packages which Democrats are attempting to thread the needle within their own party to pass. According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Democrats hope the plan will raise as much as $250 billion. Notably, this is the second major tax proposal Wyden has released in recent days, following a proposal for a minimum tax on corporate profits (something that has become a global priority for Democrats). It follows weeks of negotiations among Democrats, and comes after Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema told her colleagues that she couldn't support raising tax rates on top earners and corporations. From a high-level view, the proposal which would take effect for the 2022 tax year, would affect taxpayers with assets of more than $1 billion, or income of more than $100MM for three years in a row. This would affect about 700 of America's most important taxpayers. It would impose the 23.8% tax rate for long-term capital gains on tradable assets such as stocks that increase in value over the year, whether or not they have been sold. The plan would upend longstanding tax-code principles that allow taxpayers to defer paying capital gains levies on their assets until they sell, an approach that has been gaining popularity among Democrats looking to address worsening wealth inequality. The 50-50 partisan split in the Senate means Democrats must stay unified to pass the Biden tax-and-spending plan using a budget vehicle called reconciliation, with Vice President Kamala Harris as tiebreaker. Democrats have been looking at other revenue options in recent weeks, including a 15% corporate minimum tax unveiled Tuesday to raise as much as $400 billion over 10 years. Sinema quickly announced her support for that plan; her position on the billionaires’ tax remained unclear as of late Tuesday. -Bloomberg That said, it would also allow taxpayers to take deductions for losses on assets. For highly liquid investments, such as stocks, applicable taxpayers would pay taxes on gains, or claim deductions (if they ended up with a portfolio-wide loss) annually. Billionaires would be able to carry forward losses, or carry back losses for three years in some circumstances. For non-liquid assets like real-estate, billionaires would not pay taxes annually on the gains but would pay a charge, on top of regular capital gains taxes, when they sell the assets. The tax would also impose levies on billionaire ownership stakes in businesses incorporated as pass-through entities and in trusts  including real estate investment trusts, according to a statement. The so-called billionaires tax, announced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, is part of a two-pronged legislative strategy that also includes a proposed 15% corporate minimum tax on the most profitable U.S. corporations, which was unveiled on Tuesday. Wyden and other lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, say the legislation is intended to curtail tax avoidance by corporations and the wealthy and could generate hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for Biden's "Build Back Better" legislation, which is expected to cost between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion. Wyden claims that billionaires are "hiding" assets by simply not selling them and passing them down to their heirs, and implied that this act of generational wealth transfer is inherently "unfair". "We have a historic opportunity with the Billionaires Income Tax to restore fairness to our tax code, and fund critical investments in American families," he said in a statement. Billionaires disagree "It's a stupid idea," said hedge fund manager and billionaire, Leon Cooperman, who warned of "unnatural" economic reactions. "The progressives are out to lunch," he added. "We should not be attacking wealthy people." "Are we a capitalist nation or are we a socialist nation?" Sen. Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, said that Cooperman is in her sights - saying on Tuesday "Leon Cooperman, I'm looking at you, baby." In a briefing on Democrats’ tax increases, Sen. Warren elicited a laugh saying she’d made billionaires cry over her tax increases. Pressed for names, Warren told reporters “Leon Cooperman, I’m looking at you, baby” pic.twitter.com/kXPaqTqKcj — Nathaniel Reed (@ReedReports) October 26, 2021 Elon Musk, the world's richest person, also chimed in, saying in a Monday tweet that "Eventually, they run out of other people's money and then they come for you." Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (and a handful of her fellow Democrats in the Senate) announced their intentions to help fund President Biden's 'Build Back Better' agenda with a new tax on unrealized capital gains for the wealthiest Americans. The event led to this widely viewed clip of Yellen explaining that the tax on "extremely liquid assets" would only apply to the wealthiest Americans during an interview with CNN's state of the Union. NEW - U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen proposes a tax on unrealized capital gains to finance Biden's "Build Back Better" plans.pic.twitter.com/pefi3PhoDe — Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) October 24, 2021 We later learned that Democrats were setting their sights on $5 trillion of billionaire wealth extraction, something that would move the US closer to AOC's stated goal of eliminating billionaires. The White House backs the corporate minimum tax, which would dovetail with a global corporate minimum tax recently agreed by 136 countries and aimed at corporations that pay little or no tax by gaming the international tax system. But the billionaires tax faces potential opposition from Democrats in the House of Representatives, who favor straightforward hikes in tax rates for companies and the wealthy as a way to fund the Biden agenda. Challenges ahead Even if the legislation passes, the proposal would likely face an immediate legal challenge by wealthy taxpayers, according to legal experts cited by Reuters. "I could potentially see people trying to get out of easier-to-value assets," said attorney Tim Laffey, head of tax policy and research at Rockefeller Capital Management. "Obviously, everything that's publicly traded has an established value, so maybe we see a push into alternative investments." Wealthy individuals will also likely contest whether appreciated assets that have not been sold can be considered as taxable income. "They are talking about rewiring the entire economy after a couple of days' discussions on the back of an envelope," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said the "harebrained scheme" had not received "any meaningful study or scrutiny." Readers can find the entire 100+ page proposal below: If you have the time, feel free to read it - because it's not like too many Congressional Dems will even bother. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/27/2021 - 07:08.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 27th, 2021

Mountain Peaks and Tumbleweeds: Real Estate in Frontierland, USA

Editor’s note: Even in an industry where jobs are determined by the disparate geography and composition of their individual communities, there are realms that transcend the real estate firmament, where markets, environments or policy make the experience of buying and selling homes something else entirely. People who embark on careers in these spaces take on […] The post Mountain Peaks and Tumbleweeds: Real Estate in Frontierland, USA appeared first on RISMedia. Editor’s note: Even in an industry where jobs are determined by the disparate geography and composition of their individual communities, there are realms that transcend the real estate firmament, where markets, environments or policy make the experience of buying and selling homes something else entirely. People who embark on careers in these spaces take on a different set of challenges than the vast majority of those in the industry. In RISMedia’s “Real Estate On The Edge” series, we take a look at some of these people and the spaces they work in, highlighting some of the most interesting places and environments to practice real estate. In the far southwest corner of Texas lies Zapata County. Nestled against the U.S./Mexico border, the county—around 1,000 square miles of rocky desert, with a population of around 15,000—is not home to any incorporated municipalities or border crossings. About a third of the population lives in the relatively bustling county seat of Zapata, which offers all the small-town comfort that a few chain restaurants, mom-and-pop bakeries, laundromats and a newly built public playground can provide. A scrubby nine-hole golf course at the edge of town holds regular tournaments and fundraisers, and the local high school football field can accommodate more than half the town’s population for football and other sporting events. The nearest city of any measurable size is Laredo, about an hour’s drive to the north through mostly empty desert, and the nearest metro, San Antonio, lies almost four hours away by car. Liz Mendoza is the broker/owner of Cornerstone Real Estate. She has lived in Zapata her entire life. Most of her family works in education, she says, but since 1996, her passion has been real estate—something that started as a college job but evolved into much more than that as she took over the county’s only real estate brokerage. “I’m the little one from this little, small city but I’m a contender,” she promises. Most homes in Zapata County go for around $100,000, though you can get a fixer-upper for half that. Like Mendoza, many of her clients have deep roots in the small desert community, going back multiple generations. People will inherit land or a home and may want to sell, while others save enough money to upgrade after living in one of the many prefabricated structures or trailers that essentially serve as starter homes. About 15% of Zapata residents work in the oil industry, chasing jobs that have steadily moved out of the area according to Mendoza. In 1954, a dam meant to mitigate flooding issues in the Rio Grande completely destroyed the original settlement, with many property owners forced to flee on short notice, abandoning family homesteads. But many of them chose to remain in the area despite its remote location and challenges. Mendoza describes this attitude in her beloved community as not one of defiance, but persistence. People in Zapata are not staying in spite of the area’s tough history, but because of it, relishing the community and the lifestyle that their ancestors cultivated. “They keep lands in their families for generations,” she says. About 2,000 miles to the north, on the far side of the country, is another place that has historically drawn those who want to embrace a self-sustaining, rugged lifestyle far from the city rat-race. With a population of just over a million people spread out over 150,000 square miles of deeply forested, mountain terrain, Montana is one of the least densely populated states behind only Wyoming and Alaska. Will Friedner is not a native Montanan, he admits. He founded his brokerage, Montana Life Realty, about 15 years ago with his wife after growing up in Minnesota. “The most fulfilling thing is just showing people the state and watching them react,” he says. “It’s still one of the few places left in the lower 48 that is still so wild.” Though it has little else in common superficially with the shale-scattered clay of South Texas, people who choose to live in rural Montana share something very important with the folks of Zapata: pride. Friedner says that people in his state are looking for a lifestyle that is deeply personal and unique, centered on the state’s ability to provide space, and a rugged communion with nature. “I like to joke that you can watch your dog run away for three days, because there’s nothing there,” he says. Further north—much further north, in fact—is a place that most people understand is a frontier. Connie Yoshimura is a broker at Alaska Realty in Anchorage, through Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. She took a road trip up through Canada 40 years ago, she says, and never looked back. Though there is truth to what outsiders imagine when they think of her state—long winters, wildlife, empty space and self-reliance—Alaska is also a place of great diversity, she says, with bustling cultural centers and people living all sorts of lifestyles. “We’re actually a combination of a frontier state and a pretty sophisticated urban environment,” Yoshimura says. Those who are seeking to move there, or move within the state, mostly know what they are doing, she says, and also have in common a tremendous appreciation of what Alaska can offer them and their families. “I personally enjoy working with buyers and sellers and learning what brings them to this particular point in time,” she adds. “Some people come for great adventure.” What these frontier agents all have in common, though, is a deeply personal reason for doing what they do, where they do it—a connection with the people, with the landscape or with the history of these communities. Whether they grew up there or are transplants themselves, each has remained out on the edge, spending decades getting to know all the unique challenges and extraordinary experiences of these places—which in the end, is what the job is all about. What It’s Like Housing is especially unique in Zapata, according to Mendoza, because no developer has ever built speculatively there—every house is either a prefab or a custom design commissioned (or constructed) by the property owner. Because of this, and because she has been essentially the only real estate agent in the county for close to two decades, Mendoza says she has sold some’s homes three or four times. “I know the history of it, and I can tell them that. Some may or may not believe it, but I’ll tell them, ‘Oh I remember when I sold it the first time, and this is what it looked like,'” she laughs. “Limited inventory, you know, so we trade the same house over and over.” One of Mendoza’s properties outside the town of Zapata—a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch listed at $105,000—is described as “secluded…yet property is not isolated.” Among the listing photos is one of a rabbit crouched beside a cactus in the backyard (the property is great for hunting, the listing says). Another listing consists of two prefab structures (one that was formerly used as a beauty shop) connected by a sheet-metal overhang that forms a patio, or carport depending on preference. The lot includes shaded animal pens as well as a lake view, according to the listing. Mendoza says it took a while for the larger REALTOR® organization in Laredo—a relative metropolis with a population of about 100,000—to take her seriously, but she has since proved herself as a scrappy and passionate member of the community, being elected to the Board of Directors in Laredo last year. “There’s other big-time brokers that trade properties left and right, and at first I was kind of being looked down ,” she says. “They’ve learned to respect me, and now they appreciate Zapata because I tell them the good .” At the other extreme in Zapata is the relocation industry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents are consistently transferred in and out, and oil industry workers—who make up about 15% of Zapata County jobs according to census data—also arrive regularly, many from thousands of miles away and hailing from very different geographic and demographic areas. “We deal a lot with relocation,” she says. “Some people are used to having Walmart a block away. We don’t have that; it’s 45 minutes to the first Walmart. So we kind of explain that to people.” While these kinds of situations—communicating the unique challenges of the area to outsiders—make up a good portion of Mendoza’s business in Zapata, out-of-staters have been Friedner’s bread and butter, at least for the last two years or so. Montana metros were the third-fastest growing in the nation as far as price appreciation this past spring and summer, according to data collected by the National Association of REALTORS®, as many people fled coastal markets looking for space and affordability during the pandemic. With all the transplants, it got to the point where late last summer Friedner filmed a video titled “Living in Montana: Things They Don’t Tell You,” which was meant to address issues most outsiders are not prepared for. That video went viral, garnering almost 2.5 million views as of press time. “Ironically enough, the video that goes viral is the one that’s about why you shouldn’t move to Montana,” he deadpans. He was inspired to make that video, he explains, after driving a couple from Los Angeles hours into the wilderness to see a home they had viewed online, and felt was a sure home-run. “They just had no idea what they were getting into,” he says. “By the time we got to it, their eyes were huge and…obviously weren’t going to live out there once they saw it in person.” Frieder says he now strongly recommends that any out-of-state buyers take a drive through the state before he sends them any specific listing, just so they can get an idea of just how vast and isolated it is—have a chance to spot a bear on the side of the road or experience a few hundred miles of cell-service blackout. If they are still interested after that, he says they can start discussing specific properties or issues, like roads that are only ploughed if you plough them yourself, grizzly bears and wolves encroaching on properties (only an issue in certain parts of the state) and what “off-grid” really means as far as your daily, monthly and yearly investment of time and money. “Some people are scared off a little bit, some people just think it sounds even better,” Friedner laughs. This is in stark contrast to Alaska where Yoshimura says people almost always have a good idea of what to expect if they are planning on moving to the state. “Everybody that’s here enjoys the great outdoors,” she says. Claire James is Alaska Realty’s business development director working with Yoshimura at Berkshire Hathaway. She herself is an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast who regularly embarks on weeklong hikes through the Alaskan wilderness. But she says a lot of folks coming up the state end up in relatively standard living arrangements in the cities or suburbs. “Often will say they’re looking for a cabin in the woods,” she says. “But in reality, we live in a major city. We do not live in igloos in Alaska. Once they’re here, they realize they want to live where the work and where the homes are, and maybe in the future they can purchase that second cabin.” That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of unique aspects to the market. A lot of people who purchase lake homes need to know whether they are able to land or dock small airplanes there, according to Yoshimura, as air travel is extremely common in a state where roads simply do not reach every town or community. Wildlife is also endemic to all parts of the state—not just out in the boonies. “I was out walking my dog last night and I was greeted by a huge bull moose,” James says. People who have lived there a while are not necessarily surprised or in awe of these types of encounters—both black and brown bears, bald eagle and wolves—but instead approach the situation from a practical standpoint. “A lot of times you just think, ‘Okay should I run?'” James laughs. Another unique issue is for people who live in “fly-to” locations outside of the major cities and have to account for the fact that all goods and services have to arrive by plane. The trade-off is of course, access to some of the best fishing, hiking and incredible landscapes in the world. “Those towns are just beautiful,” James says. Generally, Yoshimura says people in Alaska are looking for two things: space and a view. Lake homes are very popular, and anything with mountain or water views will be in high demand. Lake access or really spectacular views can easily drive the price of a property up by six figures, she says. These things are also highly sought after in Montana, according to Friedner, but the vast surge of interest from outsiders has also resulted in a lot of push-back from the folks who have lived there for generations. In the “Living In Montana” viral video, Friedner said that some locals have begun referring to Bozeman—the state’s fourth-largest metro with a population of just over 50,000—as “Boze Angeles” due to the influx of California migrants. But though restaurants might be busier and roads might occasionally get clogged (relatively speaking) around resort areas, Frieder says Montana has plenty of room for newcomers. “As much as the locals don’t want to hear that,” he says, “you can drive ten minutes out of town and you’re in the middle of nowhere. I don’t want to see Montana turn into Southern California, but it’s going to be long after I’m gone before it ever gets to that point.” Why We’re Here In Zapata, welcoming strangers has never been an issue, according to Mendoza—something that can be traced through the area’s history of ranchers and frontiersmen who stuck together through hard times. That includes decades of 19th century outlaws feuding across the almost stateless land, and political upheaval during the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande uprising in 1840, with the county named after slain revolutionary general Antonio Zapata. But despite its lineage of conflict, Mexican and White Anglo-Europeans in Zapata have almost always gotten along, according to the Texas Historical Society, even as nearby regions saw significant ethnic and racial violence through much of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Mendoza says this spirit of peace and harmony persists today, with the majority-Hispanic population happy to mingle with relocated workers, seasonal vacationers at nearby Falcon Lake and any new neighbors regardless of race or origin. “We’ve learned to mesh well with everyone,” she says. “People here are raised different—we’re raised to respect. Everybody here—in Spanish we say, tio and tia. So everywhere I go, people are my tio and tia, people I don’t even know. That’s the respect we have for people because we were brought up with that kind of morals.” Living in a place where everyone refers to you as an uncle or aunt is part of what has kept Mendoza in Zapata, she says, and part of what makes her work more than a job—makes it a service to every person who wants to share the unique, enduring community she belongs to. “These are people that I live with, these are people that I’m going to see at the store tomorrow,” she says. “I need to make sure that I did a good job for them because I’m going to bump into them every day, and I want to make sure they’re happy with the services that I could provide. So I take a lot of pride in that.” In Montana, there is a very different kind of priority. Many people come to the state and stay there because they would rather not see their neighbors every day, according to Friedner. “Everybody wants to go be a cowboy in Montana,” he said. The peace and opportunity that comes from that amount of space has a growing appeal, he says, with a lot of out-of-state folks explicitly asking for homes that are “off the grid” or properties with no legal restrictions. In his video, Friedner talked about housing covenants, which dictate the kind of activities or uses allowed on a particular lot. A lot of people come to him asking for properties that have no covenants, and because most of rural Montana land is also unzoned, they imagine they can do essentially whatever they want with that kind of property. Though this is often attainable, Friedner warned that there are also drawbacks. A neighbor can park dozens of junk cars haphazardly in their front yard, open a store or start raising livestock next door and there is little recourse for a property owner who is bothered by these things. Because of this need for space, sometimes even acres and acres of distance isn’t enough, Friedner says, as people value their self-reliance, history and privacy in a way that is hard to describe to outsiders. Likewise in Alaska, where James and Yoshimura say that there is an inherent respect earned simply by calling the state home. “Alaskans are really proud to live here,” she says. “There’s just no more beautiful place than Alaska,” Yoshimura affirms. Diversity is more than environment and landscape, she adds. Indigenous people speak almost 150 different languages in local schools, and Anchorage and Juneau boast growing hispanic communities, she says. And though the 18% of the population that identifies as indigenous has faced violence and continues to battle discrimination, several young people have also been able to move into the cities, according to Yoshimura, to attend colleges or elevate employment opportunities. Every individual and family—immigrant or native— bring tremendous and unique individual histories to the state, Yoshimura says, traceable across the vast Alaskan landscape and beyond. And that is the real appeal to being in this part of the world, especially as a real estate agent, she adds. Every place where people live has written its own story, stories that are often as wild and ancient as the rolling tundras, sparkling fjords and soaring mountains that initially draw people to explore Alaska. It is this deeper landscape of community and history that someone like Yoshimura, someone like Friedner, someone like Mendoza gets to explore every day, and the reason why they all have spent decades as real estate agents in the communities that they know—and love—more than anyone. Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com. The post Mountain Peaks and Tumbleweeds: Real Estate in Frontierland, USA appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaOct 19th, 2021

Democrats are set to slash Biden"s $300 billion plan to build millions of homes - all in the middle of a historic housing shortage

Biden's $3.5 trillion social-spending plan is set to be cut to about $2 trillion. Housing funds are on the chopping block, but buyers badly need help. U.S. President Joe Biden talks to reporters as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi watches after the president met with Democratic lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol to promote his bipartisan infrastructure bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 1, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner Democrats are shrinking Biden's $3.5 trillion spending plan, and housing aid is at risk of being removed. The $300 billion for housing would create more than 2 million homes and fight the nationwide shortage. Some Democrats are fighting to keep the aid intact, arguing housing is just as important as traditional infrastructure. The Biden administration has a plan to counter the US's dire home shortage, but it's now on the chopping block.The White House hoped to fight the housing crisis with its $3.5 trillion social-spending package, but opposition from Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have forced Democrats to shrink the plan. The final proposal is expected to cost roughly $2 trillion, meaning it'll have to be slimmed down substantially from its current size.And as party leaders prep a revised package, $300 billion set aside for housing aid is under siege. The Biden administration and congressional leaders are considering cuts to the housing funds, Politico reported Thursday. The $300 billion is among the larger programs in the overall package, and slashing it could allow other sections to go untouched.The sum includes $100 billion in housing-based tax credits, $70 billion for repairing and upgrading public housing, and $45 billion for the construction of homes for low-income Americans. Overall, the funds could create more than 2 million new homes, according to estimates from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That would join the 100,000 new homes already set to be created through Biden's recent regulatory changes.But where party leaders are prepping to slash the housing funds, other Democrats are vehemently defending the plan. Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee led by Chairwoman Maxine Waters urged Biden and congressional leadership to keep the housing aid in the reconciliation package. Just as lawmakers need to invest in traditional infrastructure, they also need to support Americans' needs for affordable housing, the representatives said in a Wednesday letter."Housing is health care, it is stability for children, it is climate justice, and it is racial justice," the Democrats added. "This is an investment that simply cannot wait and must be included at robust levels in the budget reconciliation package."Waters told Politico the cuts should be even across the various programs in the spending package instead of focusing on specific portions. Committee chairs could then decide how to shrink their respective proposals.Other Democrats are trying to at least save funds targeting first-time homebuyers. Rep. Waters and Sen. Raphael Warnock both have plans to give first-time and first-generation buyers as much as $2,500 in aid for buying a home. Separately, Sen. Ron Wyden has proposed a $15,000 tax credit for first-time buyers.Buyer aid would only address part of the problem. The country simply doesn't have enough homes to go around. Decades of underbuilding have left the US with a 6.8-million-home deficit, and builders aren't rushing to fill the hole. The shortage has helped prices soar at a record pace and threatens to keep housing out of reach for an entire generation.An increase in home supply would come at a critical time for prospective buyers. Millennials are in their peak homebuying years and are expected to bring a once-in-a-lifetime wave of demand. But the generation's finances were already pummeled by the Great Recession, and the pandemic-era housing frenzy has left them even less equipped to buy their first homes.More broadly, Americans are sick and tired of the white-hot housing market. Just 29% of Americans said in September that it was a good time to buy a home, according to the University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers. That's the lowest reading since 1982 and down from 62% at the start of the year.It's clear that buyers need a break. But as Democrats ready their shrunken spending plan, it's less likely that break will come from the government.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 11th, 2021

As the homeless population booms due to sky-high rent prices, we need to think of the California homeless crisis as a refugee crisis

Becoming homeless is not the result of any individual's failings. The unhoused are refugees and victims of an unsustainable economic system. A man lays on a mattress in People's Park in Berkeley, California, on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images I've reported from refugee camps in Mexico, and the homeless camps in San Francisco feel familiar. Both refugees and unhoused people are forced to leave their homes through no fault of their own. By rethinking the crisis, we can stop blaming our unhoused neighbors and better take care of them. Jack Herrera is an independent reporter writing about immigration, race, and human rights. He is a contributing opinion writer for Insider. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. See more stories on Insider's business page. In August, around the same time I realized I could no longer afford the rent of my home in San Francisco, I began speaking with Afghan refugees arriving in California. They had survived a perilous journey - but their struggles were not over. Many were still living in hotels as they diligently worked to find apartments for themselves and their families. In the Bay Area, however, that could prove impossible. Median rent in San Francisco is $3,900 a month for a two-bedroom. To the south, in San Mateo, it's more than $3,200. Oakland, where rents are cheaper than elsewhere in the Peninsula, still has a median rent cost of more than $2,600 for just two bedrooms. For most people working anywhere in the world, those rents are simply not tenable. For Afghan refugees, who had to sell off their possessions in a rush - or simply leave them behind - the basic requirements to get one's family in an apartment are impossible. In the Bay Area, landlords often ask for proof of income three times higher than rent; they also ask for credit checks. Security deposits, which legally can run up to two months rent, can easily put a family back more than $6,000. Something about talking with refugees in the Bay Area crystallized a realization - putting words to an amorphous frustration I have felt. Even before we welcomed these latest Afghan newcomers to the Bay, California's housing crisis has been a kind of refugee crisis. And it's time we think of it that way.Rethinking the housing crisis I was born in San Francisco in the '90s, about three miles from where I live now. In that time, I've seen the number of my unhoused neighbors increase horrifically, year after year. Right now, up to 35,000 people are living on the streets in the Bay Area. When I was a kid going to school in San Mateo, just to the south of San Francisco, it didn't feel like Silicon Valley quite yet. But steadily, tech's tentacles spread throughout every city and suburb. GoPro opened offices on the hill by the community college; a historic hotel was turned into a gauche and self-satisfied start-up incubator. The costs of living skyrocketed. And every year, people leave. Young people decamp to Denver, Austin, and Portland; families flee to "the other valley" - the dry, hot grasslands of the San Joaquin, in towns like Manteca or Fresno. As the years have gone on, community support systems have broken down as neighbors and relatives escape to cheaper cities. Now, there is little infrastructure left to support those who are still here.When I get out on the 16th Street BART in San Francisco's Mission District, I see tents and tarps on the sidewalks. In Oakland, entire encampments spring up, get brutally "sweeped" by the city, and spring up again in an unending cycle. City governments and the state have invested billions in the issue, but when I talk to my unhoused friends and neighbors, they say the shelters aren't safe: Robbery and assault are common.It sometimes shocks me how similar the homelessness "camps" around the Bay Area resemble the refugee camps I've spent time in as a reporter in Northern Mexico. In both, rows of tents, many of them housing families, bear the tender marks of home - a teddy bear, a battered copy of the Bible. These marks are juxtaposed against the precarious tarps, mended with duct tape, pitched on concrete. In both places, local residents regard the inhabitants of the tents with a mix of pity and distrust; I've spoken to Central American asylum-seekers in Mexico who bear scars from robbery and assault by locals. In San Francisco, besides robbery and attacks, unhoused people have to deal with constant police harassment, as their housed neighbors use 911 like a concierge service to come "sweep" their stoops of any evidence of our city's economic brutality. One of my unhoused neighbors, who I share a coffee with every few days, says one of the hardest parts of being unhoused is sleeping - he's woken up countless times every night, often forced to move somewhere else to sleep. Being homeless is like being a refugee Asylum-seekers in Mexico and so many of my unhoused neighbors in the Bay share something else in common: They're fleeing something. Domestic abuse is one of the leading causes of homelessness. But beyond physically dangerous homes, the forcefulness of displacement in a place like the Bay Area and, say, Honduras, have some similarities. In towns like San Pedro Sula in Honduras, gangs have taken control of entire neighborhoods, and these pandillas charge townspeople an impuesto, or a tax - extortion money (typically 80% of income) in exchange for safety. The cost of living becomes untenable; people are forced out of their homes, and, without any guarantees of safety in their hometowns, they often flee northward.In the Bay Area, rents have risen precipitously almost every year (the pandemic caused a sharp dip, but rents have steadily increased in the last few months). In 2019, 13% of all people living on the streets in San Francisco had become homeless because of an eviction; 26% were forced out of their homes after losing their jobs. Speculative real estate has seen national and international moguls buy up huge swaths of housing stock, leaving a shocking number of houses and apartments empty as they wait for their value to appreciate - in San Francisco, there are as many as five empty houses per unhoused resident. Silicon Valley has also disrupted the traditional labor market, for the worse. Increasing numbers of workers, especially janitors and maintenance staff, are no longer salaried employees with benefits and a chance to move up in the company; instead, they're hired as contractors. The result is that greed and brutal economics are valuing profit over basic facets of human well-being, like a roof over one's head. The manic, speculative real estate market has led landlords to charge rents that cannot be survived. While it can get complicated in the law, refugeeism is simple from a moral perspective: People who have been forced to leave their homes through no fault of their own deserve hospitality, and we have an obligation to house and welcome them. Where do we go from here? The homelessness crisis is a social creation, a danger so much larger than any one individual or their choices. The response, then, must take place at the societal level. For both Afghan refugees trying to make a new life for themselves and unhoused people across California, the answer is simple: Massive public investment. The US government had a direct role in the crisis that forced Afghans to flee, so it should be responsible for their rent and any other costs of relocation, now that Afghans are in the country. Likewise, the thousands of people forced out of their homes in the Bay Area have been forced out by the failures of our society at large, rather than any personal failings. The costs here will be massive: A recent report estimated that it would take $11.8 billion investment to end homelessness in the Bay Area alone. To put that in perspective, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the largest ever effort to address homelessness last year, with $1.4 billion designated in the state's budget. However, the costs of homelessness already exist: They're simply being felt by the economic refugees from Hunger Games-esque inequality we've allowed to fester in the Bay. To fix this problem, we will all need to pay our part. In California, this will require levying taxes on the corporations and real estate interests that have created such a horrific housing market in the first place.And on a personal level, my neighbors in this city need to abandon a mindset that blames an unhoused person for their own homelessness. They are refugees from a society and an economic system we created, and our responsibility to help them comes not just from a place of charity, but from moral obligation. We are all part of this society; they are owed our help.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 10th, 2021

The 5 best cordless vacuum cleaners of 2021 - and Dyson didn"t make the cut

Battery-powered vacuums save you from having to look for a convenient outlet when cleaning. These are the best cordless vacuum cleaners in 2021. Connie Chen/Insider Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky Cordless vacuums are convenient, but they shouldn't sacrifice cleaning power or comfort. The Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless Vacuum picks up all kinds of particles on a variety of surfaces. It reaches low and deep under furniture and has a cleaning path light. It's also reasonably priced. Compared to a clunky corded vacuum, a sleek cordless stick vacuum is a lot more convenient. Cordless vacuums tend to be lighter and more compact, and they don't have a long cord to trail behind you or trip you up. While the downside is that they have a limited battery life, we still love cordless vacuums for making the dreaded task of cleaning a bit easier - maybe even enjoyable. As with any other type of vacuum, the cleaning ability and suction power of a cordless vacuum are top considerations. The best cordless vac for most people should handle all kinds of small particles on a variety of surfaces, from smooth hardwood to thick carpet. Some cordless vacs are better suited to pick up pet hair or excel on hardwood floors, so it's also important to think about where and when you'd use your vacuum the most, and shop accordingly. Josh Mutlow, the Design Manager at Dyson, said, "The motor, cleaner head, cyclone, and filtration are the main key technologies that achieve the essential jobs of a vacuum cleaner." "Some [other] basic things to consider when you begin your search are the vacuum's dimensions, weight, canister size, and how long the cordless vacuum can run between charges," said Chris Doscher, a rep for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.Learn more about the differences between corded and cordless vacuums, additional features to consider, and vacuum FAQs. For our first major rewrite of this guide, we tested seven cordless vacuum models and landed on the top five. We're planning to test many more down the line. Here's how we tested the contenders on cleaning ability, ease of use, and battery life.Here are the best cordless vacuum cleaners in 2021Best cordless vacuum overall: Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless VacuumBest cordless vacuum on a budget: Hoover OnePWR Evolve Pet Cordless VacuumBest cordless vacuum for pet owners: Tineco Pure One X Smart VacuumBest cordless vacuum for hardwood floors: LG CordZero A9 Compressor Stick Vacuum with Power MopBest cordless vacuum for carpet: Hoover OnePWR HEPA+ Vacuum The best cordless vacuum overall Connie Chen/Insider The Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless Vacuum is a strong performer all around, picking up particles of most sizes on a variety of surfaces in a smooth and efficient fashion. We also love the light that illuminates your cleaning path and the flexible hose that lets you reach under low spaces better than any other cordless vac.Cleaning head size: 10.24 inchesWeight: 7.17 poundsDust bin capacity: 0.34 gallonsFilter type: Washable HEPA, no extra filters includedBattery life: 25 minutes Wall mount: No Attachments: Crevice tool, pet multi-tool, anti-allergen brushWarranty: Five years on parts and laborPros: Versatile, strong suction, cleaning path light, great for under-furniture cleaning, comes with attachments Cons: Loud and high-pitched noise, thick grip that may be uncomfortable for small hands, weaker on high-pile carpet and rug  This Shark vacuum isn't perfect and we can't guarantee it'll pick up every size particle you throw its way, but it gets pretty close and has the best overall cleaning performance of all our contenders. On hardwood and tile, it picked up every last bit of flour, cat litter, ground coffee, and dog hair with no problem, and it was the best at sucking up whole Cheerios (most of the other vacuums just pushed these large crumbs around). On a high-pile rug, it had a little difficulty moving back and forth smoothly, so you should only get this vacuum if you have low-pile rugs and carpeting, or if you're okay with buying a second vacuum for your carpet. It has a thick grip and somewhat heavy dust bin, making it a bit uncomfortable to use for long cleaning sessions. However, several other features make up for the slight discomfort. There are distinct settings for hardwood and carpet located near the grip and they're easy to slide between. There's also a power boost trigger that you can hold down whenever you need some extra suction power. Rolling the cleaning head around hardwood and tile feels very smooth and soft, instead of clunky and abrasive. The cleaning head also has two useful features: a light that shows you exactly what you're cleaning and highlights small particles you might've otherwise missed, and a green alert button that turns red when a blockage occurs, so you can address the problem right away. My favorite part of using the vacuum is how low and flat it can get. In other cordless vacuums, the stick can't be moved or repositioned, meaning you still have to bend down to reach under furniture. The Shark has a great design where you click a button in the middle of the stick and it bends into a flexible hose "elbow," allowing the entire bottom half of the stick to lay flat and get under beds, couches, chairs, and other tricky spots. Instead of bending my knees or waist, I could just drop my arm and continue cleaning with little disruption. The best cordless vacuum on a budget Connie Chen/Insider This affordable Hoover vacuum impressed us with its quiet but strong cleaning power. It feels light and easy to maneuver since the dust bin is located at the base of the vacuum, though this design also prevents you from cleaning under low spaces.Cleaning head size: 11 inches Weight: 8.2 poundsDust bin capacity: 0.3 gallons Filter type: Washable HEPA, no extra filters included Battery life: 30 minutes Wall mount: No Attachments: NoneWarranty: Three years on parts and laborPros: Quiet, cleans well on all surfaces, less tiring to use because dust bin is located at base of vacuum, large dust bin Cons: Doesn't come with attachments, dust bin location means you can't get under low spots, a little heavy You won't compromise cleaning ability and price in this budget-friendly vacuum. Though it may not come with bells and whistles like a storage dock and extra attachments and batteries, it picks up most small and fine particles effectively on carpet, hardwood, and tile. Faced with Cheerios, its performance is disappointing and it merely pushes the cereal around, so you'll be better off sweeping up with a broom. But for all other materials, the vacuum does an easy and thorough job. The vacuum is on the heavier side compared to others, but it doesn't feel like it because the dust bin is located near the cleaner head, rather than the handle. This makes vacuuming feel more comfortable and less tiring. It's also really quiet and smooth as it cleans, and you can barely tell it's picking small particles up (rest assured, it is). The dust bin placement does have its drawbacks. It obstructs access to low spaces under furniture, so you'll need to figure out another way to clean under your bed and couches. In addition, the power and various mode buttons are located on top of the dust bin, so you need to bend down any time you want to turn your vacuum on and off or change modes. Still, I loved this vacuum for its consistent and reliable cleaning ability, reasonable battery life (that's actually longer than the Shark's), and quiet motor. If you don't want to spend more than $200 or you only need a basic vacuum, this vacuum will meet your needs and exceed your expectations. Along with our other Hoover pick in this guide, it's part of Hoover's ONEPWR collection, which was a 2020 Product of the Year winner.  The best cordless vacuum for pet owners Connie Chen/Insider Owners of constantly shedding pets will benefit from the lightweight yet powerful Tineco Pure One X, which picks up fine pet hairs from floors with its standard cleaning head, but also comes with attachments to get hair off of furniture, car seats, and delicate decor.Cleaning head size: 8.4 inches Weight: 3.5 pounds Dust bin capacity: 0.1 gallons Filter type: Washable HEPA, one extra filter included Battery life: 30 minutes Wall mount: YesAttachments: Mini power brush, crevice tool, dusting toolWarranty: 2 years on parts and labor of vacuum; 1 year on parts and labor of accessories and batteryPros: Really light, quiet, regular cleaning head and attachments all work well with fine pet hairs Cons: Small dust bin, feels a little cheap, weaker on high-pile carpet and rug  For the pet hair portion of the test, I spread clumps as well as individual hairs of my friend's Pekingese dog over various surfaces. All the vacuums I tested actually did a thorough job of picking up these long, fine hairs, but the Tineco stood out for its super lightweight and useful attachments. As any pet owner knows, you spend a lot of time picking up after your constantly shedding pets, which is why we recommend a vacuum that's comfortable to carry around and comes with specialized tools for those especially stubborn bits of hair.The Tineco has the smallest cleaning head and dustbin of our best picks, so you might need to empty it out a few times if you're cleaning a large house. However, the light weight and easy maneuverability more than make up for it. While you must press down the trigger every time to start the vacuum, there's a locking mechanism you can use if you don't want to hold a trigger the whole time. I knew exactly when I picked up dirt, hair, and other particles because there's a ring that lights up red when the vacuum is sucking up something and turns blue once the cleaning path is clear again. This vacuum also has a cleaning head light to illuminate your path. It's generally pretty quiet, but I noticed the wheels squeaked a little from time to time. The attachments also make cleaning pet hair from every surface other than your floor more manageable. The mini power brush is strong and goes deep into fabric upholstery and mattresses to pick up particles and hair you didn't even know were there, while the dusting tool lets you pick up errant hair sitting on shelves and blinds. The crevice tool fits into the cracks and crevices of your car, so you can take your pet on car trips without dreading the clean up afterward. It was when I was wriggling around my car seats that I really appreciated the light and compact design of the Tineco. The combo of convenience and suction power made the process so much faster, easier, and more comfortable. This vacuum is technically a "smart" one — it pairs with an app to provide cleaning performance information and maintenance reports, but I personally didn't find it useful and the vacuum itself is enough reason to justify the purchase. The best cordless vacuum for hardwood floors Connie Chen/Insider The LG Cordzero A9 is a vacuum that can turn into a mop, letting you clean your hardwood floors gently but thoroughly with just one appliance. It shines when cleaning super tiny particles like flour.Cleaning head size: 10.2 inches Weight: 5.95 pounds Dust bin capacity: 0.26 gallons Filter type: Washable HEPA, one extra filter includedBattery life: 35 minutes, one extra battery includedWall mount: YesAttachments: Power mop nozzle, combination tool, crevice tool, cleaning brushWarranty: 1 year on parts and labor of vacuum; 10 years on parts of smart inverter motorPros: Fairly light, adjustable stick, easy-to-use mop feature, comes with extra battery Cons: Struggles with large particles like Cheerios, disposal method could be more sanitary  This LG cordless vacuum is a sleek and beautiful model that gives you an all-in-one cleaning solution. In addition to the vacuum itself, you get tons of extra accessories like a wall mount, extra battery, and the unique Power Mop nozzle. It was one of the best performers in our flour test and picked up every last bit of flour on hardwood and tile, even in the cracks. It also did really well on high-pile rug, sucking flour out of the tall, loose loops. The only challenge might be with large particles like Cheerios; you'll have better luck picking those up with a manual sweep. For a truly thorough clean of your hardwood floors, the Power Mop nozzle is very useful. The process involves wetting and attaching the soft mop pads (the pack comes with four total), filling the water tank in the nozzle, and choosing the setting for more or less water. Then, when you start the vacuum, it starts to slowly spin the mop pads instead of activating suction. They're gentle and won't damage your floors. The attachment also has a built-in light so you can see what you're mopping. The vacuum is on the lighter side of all those we tested, and it has a comfortable grip. There's no trigger, just an on/off button. The stick and cleaning head pivot smoothly, and you can extend or shorten the stick depending on your height and how far you need to reach the vacuum. While I liked all the cleaning capabilities of the vacuum, the dust bin disposal design could be more sanitary. After clicking open the bottom of the bin, there's a lever that you push down to release the bin's contents. The problem is that the contents sometimes don't come out quickly, and you have to shake the bin quite a bit or reach inside. Other times, they spill out immediately. Either way, it's not a pleasant experience and we recommend wearing gloves when dealing with the dust bin after your cleaning session. The best cordless vacuum for carpet Connie Chen/Insider The Hoover HEPA+ vacuum has all the advantages of a trusty bagged vacuum cleaner: large cleaning head, large dust bag capacity, and powerful suction that easily takes on high-pile carpet and rug.Cleaning head size: 13 inchesWeight: 10.2 pounds Dust bin capacity: 2.25 gallons Filter type: HEPA filter bag, one extra filter includedBattery life: 25 minutes, one extra battery includedWall mount: NoAttachments: NoneWarranty: 3 years on parts and labor of vacuumPros: Powerful, can cover a lot of area, bagged design is more sanitaryCons: Heavy, can't reach under low spacesThe Hoover HEPA+ bears the most resemblance to a traditional corded vacuum. The only difference is the cord-free convenience. It's an all-around powerful performer and cleaned everything from finely ground coffee to grainy cat litter almost perfectly, every single time. And whereas I could tell some of the vacuums struggled on high-pile rug, the Hoover HEPA+ rolled over the rug smoothly and got deep between the rug fibers. The large cleaner head and bag make the vacuum heavy and unable to clean under low spaces. Plus, it's loud. But since the bag is so big, it'll take a long time before you have to replace it, and you can just throw it away directly without interacting with all the dust and other bits. Hoover also throws in an extra bag for you. The vacuum's power switch and two mode buttons (carpet and hardwood) are located at the large and ergonomic handle. The vacuum will also stop running if you bring it back to the upright standing position. Like a few of our other top picks, the cleaning head has a built-in light to show your cleaning path. Unfortunately, this vacuum doesn't come with attachments, so you'll need to supplement it with a handheld vacuum for your other needs. As a main vacuum for a large house with lots of ground to cover, it's a reliable choice. What else we tested Connie Chen/Insider What else we recommend and whyDyson V11 Torque Drive ($359.99, currently out of stock): This Dyson model is powerful, reasonably priced, and has a long battery life (around 60 minutes on Eco mode). As a newer Dyson vac, it has a special LCD screen that lets you know exactly how much battery you have left on each mode (Eco, Normal, Boost). Because you must hold down a trigger to start the vacuum, it can be tiring on your hands. Dyson V11 Animal ($599.99): Based on testing from my colleague James, the V11 Animal is another great choice for picking up pet hair. It costs a lot more than the Tineco, it's less comfortable to hold, and the battery life is short, but it does do a thorough job at sucking up all kinds of pet hair on a variety of surfaces. What we don't recommend and why Dyson V11 Outsize ($799.99): For most households, this large and heavy vacuum is probably overkill. Though it has a great battery life (around 72 minutes on Eco mode), it's uncomfortable to hold and use for that long. In our testing, the cleaning ability and suction power did not outperform the other contenders. It was also difficult to move back and forth on a high-pile rug. Our testing methodology Connie Chen/Insider 1. Vacuuming ability: I tested each of the vacuums against five materials (flour, ground coffee, cat litter, whole Cheerios, and dog hair) on three different surfaces (carpet/rug, hardwood, and tile). I scattered half a cup of each material on each surface — resulting in 15 tests for each vacuum — and rated each vacuum on its ability to suck up the material powerfully, cleanly, and thoroughly. If the vacuum came with attachments, I also tested the attachments on appropriate surfaces (e.g. crevice tool on furniture cushions and car seats) and rated their effectiveness. An example of one of the test results:Cat litter testCarpetHardwoodTileShark Anti-Allergen Cordless Vacuum3/5: Powerful and thorough, but could only push forward. Got stuck when I tried to move backwards5/5; Sucked up all particles completely and quickly, cat litter did not fall back out of cleaning head5/5; Sucked up all particles completely and quickly, cat litter did not fall back out of cleaning head2. Battery life: I used each vacuum until its battery died and compared the actual battery life to the advertised battery life. 3. Comfort and ease of use: I noted the ergonomics of each vacuum: how tiring it is to hold, how easy it is to maneuver, and the effort required to activate the power button. I also noted whether it could fit under low spaces and any additional helpful features like a headlight to illuminate your cleaning path. 4. Disposal method: I evaluated the cleanliness and ease of emptying the dustbin after a cleaning session. How is the bin opened? Do I have to reach inside and touch dirt and dust that didn't empty out completely? 5. Storage: I noted how the vacuum breaks down into multiple parts and whether it comes with a wall mount or docking station. 6. Warranty and customer service: I registered each vacuum, noted warranty terms, and spoke to customer service reps to evaluate the ease of registration and quality of service. What we're testing next Walmart Eufy HomeVac S11 Go: We love Eufy's robot vacuums and we're interested in seeing how its cordless vacs compare. It has a lightweight body, powerful suction, and 40-minute run time, and it's reasonably priced for everything you get (a wall mount and attachments are also included). Roborock H6: This vacuum is efficient, quiet, and easily maneuverable, though some reviewers say it doesn't do well on tile so we're looking to test that directly. It has a five-stage HEPA filter purification system and a 90-minute advertised battery life. What to consider when buying a cordless vacuum The dust bin is often located at the top of a cordless vacuum, a design that lets your vac reach under low spaces but can also become tiring to hold. To power your vacuum, you may need to hold down a trigger or simply press an on/off button. Connie Chen/Insider Cordless vacuum vs corded vacuum: how do they compare? Cordless vacuumCorded vacuumPower sourceRechargeable batteryElectrical outletWeightLighter; 3-8 pounds on averageHeavier; 8-15 pounds on averageSizeMore slim and compact; width of 10 inches on averageLarger; width of 14 inches on averageNoiseUsually more quietLouderPriceUsually more expensive; $200-$300 on averageMore affordable; $75-$150 on averageFeatures to look for in a cordless vacuum Weight/distribution of weight: A cordless vacuum will feel heavier or lighter, and less comfortable or more comfortable, depending on where the bulk of the weight is. To allow for better flexibility and access, brands often place the dust bin near the top and handle of the vacuum. This can make it tiring to use a cordless vacuum over a long period of time. If the bin is placed at the bottom, near the cleaning head, the weight will be less of a burden, but that placement may get in the way of your cleaning. Size: Keep the size of your living space in mind as you shop for a cordless vac. If you live by yourself in a studio, for example, you can look for vacs with smaller cleaning heads and dust bins. Also pay attention to the length of the vacuum and whether it will be comfortable for your height. Some vacuums have adjustable sticks. Battery: Read product info carefully to see whether the advertised battery life refers to that of one battery or multiple batteries. Generally, we've found that advertised battery life is longer than actual battery life. Follow manufacturer directions on how to care for and dispose of batteries. Docking/storage: Cordless vacuums are typically composed of two to three parts that you put together yourself (not including separate attachments). This design also makes it easy to store your vacuum in a compact space. Some vacuums may come with a wall dock or mount, so you can hang your vacuum on the wall. Inclusion of other cleaning tools: Consider whether you might need additional attachments, such as a crevice tool or dusting brush. These may come with your vacuum, or can be available for separate purchase. Warranty: Look for a one year warranty (at minimum) on both parts and labor of your entire vacuum. Beyond that, the manufacturer may offer additional warranties on specific parts like the motor. Once you receive your vacuum, register it online to speed up the warranty process later. If you're comfortable shopping for a vacuum in the store, "there's no substitute for trying it out and seeing for yourself how it operates. Ask the retailer if you can turn on the vacuum and try it out before you make a choice," said Doscher. The best time to buy a cordless vacuumCordless vacuums tend to be more expensive than corded ones. The good news is that most brands discount their cordless vacuums around Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday/Cyber Weekend. We typically see discounts of $50 to $200 off Dyson, Hoover, and Shark cordless vacuums. If you're able to wait, your patience will pay off in big savings. Cordless vacuum FAQs Here's your sign to check and clean your vacuum filter. Connie Chen/Insider Are cordless vacuums worth it?In a word, yes. Cordless vacuums offer flexibility and ease of use that you just can't get from a corded vacuum. Modern cordless vacuums can be every bit as powerful as corded models, and allow you to effortlessly move from room to room without worrying about cords or outlets. They're also usually slimmer and quieter than corded models.How often should you clean and change your vacuum filter? The guidance varies model by model and there are different kinds of filters (cartridge, disk, foam, cloth), so you should check your product manual. Generally, you should wash and dry it when you notice a smell or if you observe a decline in vacuum performance. Some vacuums will also alert you when you need to change the filter. A clean filter is important for effective cleaning; a dirty filter restricts airflow and decreases suction power. Which cordless vacuums are allergy- or asthma-friendly? Look for cordless vacuums with HEPA filters, which are recommended for allergy and asthma sufferers. Without a HEPA filter, these small particles are likely to be released back into the air after being sucked up. All the vacuums we recommend are equipped with HEPA filters. What does a HEPA filter do? A true HEPA filter traps and removes at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. According to the EPA, 0.3 microns is the most penetrating particle size, so this specification refers to the worst case. If the particle is larger or smaller than 0.3 microns, it will be trapped with even higher efficiency. Why is my vacuum's battery life decreasing?If your vacuum's rechargeable battery is made from nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) or nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH), then it can experience "memory effect." Memory effect happens if you charge the battery when there's still some power left. Your battery starts holding less charge over time because it "remembers" how full it was the last time you charged it and won't charge past that point the next time. Even though the original power of the battery is the same, the maximum battery voltage has decreased. To prevent memory effect, you should drain your nickel-based battery completely before charging it. Lithium-ion batteries do not experience this effect. What's the difference between amps, watts, and volts? Which one matters most for cordless vacuums? Amps, watts, and volts are related to each other. Amperage is the electrical current (or volume of electrons), wattage is the rate of power flow (or how much power the motor is using), and voltage is speed at which electrons pass a specific point within a closed circuit (or the amount of power needed to support an electrical current). Watts = volts x amps. A high wattage means the vacuum will use a lot of energy, and thus more battery. Since the type of motor can also affect vacuum power, high wattage doesn't automatically equate to a powerful vacuum. Instead, you should focus on suction. "The motor is at the heart of driving the performance of a vacuum cleaner. The motor takes electrical power from the power source and converts it into mechanical power, or suction. So, the more powerful your motor is, the more air you're able to pull through the machine," said Mutlow.  We've decided to leave quantitative specs like wattage and voltage out of our reviews because they're not useful as standalone numbers. Instead, we focused on suction and evaluated that based on how well the vacuums sucked up different kinds of particles. Glossary Connie Chen/Insider HEPA: Stands for high efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter traps and removes at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns and can be found in air purifiers and vacuums. Whole machine filtration: The entire machine is sealed to prevent unfiltered particles from escaping. All air passes through the filter before it is expelled. Dustbin: Where all the dust, dirt, and hair are stored as you vacuum. The dustbin should be emptied out into the trash after you're done cleaning. Brush roll: A cylinder with bristles located in the cleaning head that rotates and helps release dirt from carpets and rugs. The bristles of a brush roll may leave scratches on hardwood and tile, so you should turn off the brush roll if possible. Replace your brush roll when the bristles wear out (like on your toothbrush). Crevice tool: A long, flat attachment with an angled tip. It's good for getting into tight corners including baseboards and stairs and between couch cushions. Dust brush tool: A small attachment with soft bristles. It's good for blinds, windowsills, and delicate objects. Upholstery tool: A wide, flat attachment that allows for strong suction. It's good for furniture with fabric upholstery like mattresses, chairs, and couches. Lithium ion battery: A type of rechargeable battery that uses lithium ions and can store high amounts of energy and deliver higher voltage than nickel-based batteries. It doesn't display memory effect, but it is less stable than nickel-based batteries and has a tendency to overheat. Nickel battery: A type of rechargeable battery that comes in either nickel-cadmium (Ni-Ca) or nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH) form. It can store high amounts of energy, is more difficult to damage than Li-ion batteries, and suffers from memory effect. Check out our other guides to great vacuum cleaners iRobot The best robot vacuumsThe best vacuumsThe best affordable vacuumsThe best vacuums for pet hair For cleaning the rest of your floors, check out these guides Shutterstock The best mopsThe best floor cleaners Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 7th, 2021

Futures Tumble As Nat Gas Prices Explode, Stagflation Fears Surge

Futures Tumble As Nat Gas Prices Explode, Stagflation Fears Surge In our market comments on Tuesday we were stunned by the resilient surge in tech names and the broader market, even as yields soared on the biggest jump in breakevens since the presidential election, noting that something is very broken with this picture. Well, one day later normalcy is back: US stock index futures tumbled as much as 1.3% on Wednesday before paring some losses, after soaring oil and gas prices (rising as much as 40% in Europe today alone) fed into fears of higher inflation and fueled concerns of sooner-than-expected tapering, which in turn pushed 10Y yields just shy of 1.57%. At 730 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 309 points, or 0.9%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 49 points, or 1.12%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 181 points, or 1.23%, to the lowest level since June 25 on a closing basis, signaling more downside for tech shares after Tuesday’s short reprieve Up to Tuesday’s close, the S&P 500 index logged its fourth straight day of 1% moves in either direction. According to Reuters, the last time the index saw that much volatility was in November 2020, when it rose or fell 1% or more for seven straight sessions. The selloff was much more severe in Europe, with the Stoxx 600 falling as much as 2% to a 2 month low, with every industry sector firmly in the red as the region’s natural gas prices soared to catastrophic levels... ... even as the European Union pledged swift action to ensure the spiking costs don’t stifle the economy (it just didn't explain precisely what it would do). Asian stocks also dropped amid continued China property contagion fears. The 10-year TSY yield touched their highest since June, slamming shares of mega-cap FAAMGs; tech shares led the stocks selloff Apple (AAPL US -1.5%), Facebook (FB US -1.6%), Microsoft (MSFT US -1.6%), Tesla (TSLA US -1.4%) down in U.S. premarket trading. Economy-sensitive parts of the market also came under pressure, with lenders such as Bank of America Corp , JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley shedding more than 1% each. Boeing and industrial conglomerates Caterpillar Inc and 3M Co dropped between 0.8% and 2.0%. Ironically, even though Brent remained well above $82, energy names also slumped with Exxon sliding 1% on what appears to be profit taking to plug margin holes elsewhere. American Airlines’ shares fell 3.7% in U.S. premarket session after Goldman cut its recommendation for the stock to sell. Meanwhile, Palantir Technologies extended its gains to rise 9.3% as the company said it won a U.S. Army contract to supply data and analytics services. Here are some of the other notable market movers: Gogo (GOGO US) drops 5.3% in U.S. premarket trading after Morgan Stanley downgrades to underweight, with competitive landscape expected to pressure valuation and free cash flow over coming year American Airlines (AAL US) slides 3.6% in U.S. premarket trading on Goldman Sachs downgrade, according to Bloomberg data U.S. Steel (X US) down more than 5% in U.S. premarket trading on Goldman Sachs downgrade, according to Bloomberg data Calyxt (CLXT US) shares jump 5.4% premarket after the company said it will focus on engineering synthetic biology solutions for customers across the nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, pharmaceutical, advanced materials, and chemical industries Indus Realty Trust (INDT US) fell postmarket Tuesday after launching a 2 million stock offering Noodles & Co. (NDLS US) shares rose 2% in Tuesday postmarket trading after Stephens started coverage with an overweight rating, saying the restaurant chain is poised for strong growth that should lead to higher multiples Allison Transmission (ALSN US) is accelerating the development of electrification technology for integration into the U.S. Army’s ground combat vehicle fleet Palantir (PLTR US) shares rise 14% in U.S. premarket trading after the the software company said Tuesday it was selected by the U.S. Army to provide data and analytics for the Capability Drop 2 program "Right now you’re seeing inflation risk really start to percolate and I do think that you’re going to see that really eat into margins as we go through the fourth quarter into 2022,” Erin Browne, multi-asset portfolio manager at Pimco, said on Bloomberg Television. “The energy crisis that’s starting to loom in Europe is a real risk that is being underestimated by the market right now." “The spike in energy prices continue fueling expectations of higher inflation for longer. Therefore, central banks will be forced to cool down the overheating in inflation rather than trying to boost recovery,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank. “Any weakness in the jobs figure could send the U.S. equities back below their 100-dma levels, as soft economic data could no longer revive the central bank doves." As such, all eyes will be on the U.S. private payrolls data, due at 8:15 a.m. ET. The numbers come ahead of the more comprehensive non-farm payrolls data on Friday, which is expected to cement the case for the Federal Reserve’s slowing of asset purchases. Meanwhile, a stalemate over Republicans and Democrats about the debt limit showed no sign of abating, with President Joe Biden saying that his Democrats might make an exception to a U.S. Senate rule to allow them to extend the government’s borrowing authority without Republican help. European stocks fell even more, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index plunging 2% to lowest since July 20; Travel, autos and retail names are the weakest sectors although all Stoxx 600 sub-indexes are off at least 1%, tech was also underperforming. As noted above, gas prices remain a focal pressure point with several measures hitting record levels. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Adler shares extend decline to 21% in Frankfurt after Viceroy Research publishes a report saying it is short Adler Group SA and its listed subsidiaries. Deutsche Telekom shares fall 4%, close to the level at which Goldman Sachs offered about EU1.5b worth of shares, as part of a deal to swap some of Softbank’s T- Mobile stake for one in Deutsche Telekom. Ambu shares fall as much as 8.1%, most since Aug. 17, after company cut its FY financial outlook. IP Group shares drop as much as 8.1%, their worst day in nine months, after CEO Alan Aubrey and CIO Mike Townend retire. GN Store Nord shares rise as much as 7.5% as it agrees to buy SteelSeries, a maker of software-enabled gaming gear, from Nordic private equity company Axcel for an enterprise value of DKK8b on a cash and debt-free basis. Tesco shares rise as much as 4.6% to an eight-month high after Britain’s biggest supermarket operator said it will buy back GBP500m of stock and raised its FY profit forecast. HSBC rises as much 2.5% as UBS upgrades the Asia-focused lender to buy from neutral, saying the market is taking a risk by being underweight. PageGroup shares jump as much as 6.9%, most since April, as the staffing firm boosts its profit forecast. Peer Hays also gains. Dustin shares jump as much as 11%, most since April 13, after the IT solutions provider’s Ebit for the fourth quarter beat the average analyst estimate. Atlantic Sapphire gains as much as 15% as Pareto sees improvements ahead. Asian stocks headed for their longest losing streak since August as a selloff in the heavyweight tech sector deepened amid rising Treasury yields. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined as much as 0.8%, in its fourth day of decline, with Samsung and Tencent among the biggest drags. A benchmark tracking Chinese technology stocks in Hong Kong closed at a record low. Japan’s Nikkei 225 and South Korea’s Kospi were the biggest losers, sliding more than 1% each. China Tech Stock Gauge Falls to Test Record Low as Yields Rise Investors have yet to digest issues such as the inflation outlook, among other concerns including gridlock over the U.S. debt ceiling and higher global energy prices. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is approaching year-to-date lows seen in August.  “At the moment, given all the uncertainties regarding the growth, inflation and policy outlooks, we are still in the middle of the tempest, so to speak,” Kyle Rodda, an analyst at IG Markets, said by email.  Indonesian, Malaysian and Philippine stock benchmarks were among the region’s best performers. In Japan, the Topix closed 0.3% lower while the Nikkei225 capped its worst daily losing streak since July 2009 and entered a technical correction, as Japanese equities tumbled while Treasury yields climbed. Fast Retailing Co. and Tokyo Electron Ltd. were the largest contributors to a 1.1% loss in the Nikkei 225, which fell for an eighth-straight day. The gauge, which had risen as much as 1.4% earlier in the day, closed more than 10% down from its September high. The broader Topix dipped 0.3%, erasing an early 1.6% advance, driven by losses in automakers. Banks climbed on the spike in Treasury yields. Japanese stocks had opened the day higher, following a rebound in U.S. shares. Both major gauges fell for a seventh day Tuesday amid market disappointment with the new government and a host of threats to global economic growth. ‘Kishida Shock’ Hits Japan Markets Wary of Redistribution Plan “Technicals such as RSI and Bollinger are showing that these moves may have been overdone in the short term, but Japan is hostage to the continued global concerns regarding inflation, supply chains and Chinese credit along with PM Kishida’s ‘new capitalism’ concept,” said Takeo Kamai, head of execution services at CLSA Securities Japan Co Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6% to close at 7,206.50, reversing an earlier advance of as much as 0.4%. Banks contributed the most to the benchmark’s decline after Australia’s banking regulator raised loan buffers in a bid to cool the nation’s booming housing market. a2 Milk was the worst performer after a class action lawsuit was filed against the company. Whitehaven was the top performer, rising for a fourth straight day.  In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3% to 13,166.44. The nation’s central bank raised interest rates for the first time in seven years and signaled further increases will likely be needed to tame inflation. The RBNZ lifted the official cash rate by a quarter percentage point to 0.5%. In rates, Treasuries were off their worst levels of the day after the 10Y yield rose briefly topped 1.57%, and remained cheaper by more than 2bps across long-end. The 10-year yield was around 1.55%, cheapest since June 17; U.K. 10-year cheapens by further 1.8bp vs U.S., German 10-year by 0.5bp. In the U.K., the 10-year breakeven rate climbed above 4%, twice the Bank of England’s target, spurred by soaring energy costs. Money markets have almost fully priced a rate hike as soon as December, in what would be the central bank’s first increase in over three years. Peripheral spreads widen to core with long-dated BTPs widening ~3bps to Germany. In FX, USD is well bid with risk assets trading poorly. Bloomberg dollar index rises 0.5%, pushing through last Friday’s highs. NZD, NOK and AUD are the weakest in G-10. Crude futures trade a narrow range near Asia’s opening levels. WTI is down 0.4% near $78.60, Brent briefly trades above $83 before dipping into the red. Spot gold extends Asia’s weakness to print fresh lows for the week near $1,745/oz. Base metals are in the red. LME copper the worst performer, dropping 1.9% to trade near the $9k mark. In commodities, crude futures trade a narrow range near Asia’s opening levels. WTI is down 0.4% near $78.60, Brent briefly trades above $83 before dipping into the red. Spot gold extends Asia’s weakness to print fresh lows for the week near $1,745/oz. Base metals are in the red. LME copper the worst performer, dropping 1.9% to trade near the $9k mark Elsewhere, Bitcoin traded around the $51,000 mark. Looking at the day ahead, data releases include German factory orders for August, the German and UK construction PMIs for September, Euro Area retail sales for August, and the ADP’s September report on private payrolls from the US. From central banks, we’ll also hear from the ECB’s Centeno. Market Wrap S&P 500 futures down 0.9% to 4,294.75 STOXX Europe 600 down 1.5% to 449.34 MXAP down 0.7% to 191.25 MXAPJ down 0.8% to 622.40 Nikkei down 1.1% to 27,528.87 Topix down 0.3% to 1,941.91 Hang Seng Index down 0.6% to 23,966.49 Shanghai Composite up 0.9% to 3,568.17 Sensex down 0.2% to 59,596.78 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6% to 7,206.55 Kospi down 1.8% to 2,908.31 Brent Futures up 0.1% to $82.67/bbl Gold spot down 0.7% to $1,747.69 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.32% to 94.28 German 10Y yield up 2 bps to -0.168% Euro down 0.3% to $1.1560 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Boris Johnson’s insistence that higher pay for U.K. workers is worth the pain of supply chain turmoil is generating buzz among Conservative Party members that he’s planning to raise the minimum wage in a keynote speech on Wednesday European energy prices extend their blistering rally as the supply crunch shows no sign of easing and the European Union pledged a quick response to keep the crisis from damaging the economy Chinese Fantasia Holdings Group Co., which develops high-end apartments and urban renewal projects, failed to repay a $205.7 million bond that came due Monday. That prompted a flurry of rating downgrades late Tuesday to levels signifying default. The stumble stirred broader angst in volatile markets amid public holidays in China and uncertainty about Evergrande President Emmanuel Macron nominated Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau for a second term, opting for stability in one of the most important appointment decisions on European Central Bank policy making for years to come The German Green Party is seeking to start exploratory talks with the SPD and liberal FDP party on forming a governing coalition, Green Party co-leader Annalena Baerbock said Saudi Arabia reduced oil prices for its main buyers, a day after OPEC+ sent crude futures surging by sticking to a plan for slow and steady supply increases A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk: Asia-Pac bourses traded mostly lower after failing to sustain the initial momentum from Wall St, where all major indices gained as investors bought back into tech and with sentiment helped by better-than-expected ISM services PMI, while continued upside in oil prices and a higher yield environment also underpinned energy and financials. This initially lifted the overnight benchmark indices although gains in the ASX 200 (-0.6%) were later reversed as the strength in energy and tech was overshadowed by weakness in the broader market including underperformance in the top-weighted financials sector after the regulator announced a loan curb measure targeting mortgage lending. Nikkei 225 (-1.1%) faded its opening gains and brief foray into 28k territory with auto names among the laggards amid ongoing production disruptions and with PM Kishida’s new cabinet beginning on shaky ground as polls showed his approval rating was at just 55% heading into the upcoming election, which was also the lowest for a new leader in 13 years, while KOSPI (-1.8%) gave up initial spoils with firmer than expected CPI data supporting the case for another hike by the BoK this year. Hang Seng (-0.6%) conformed to the soured mood amid weakness in property and biotech with participants also focusing on Chief Executive Lam’s final policy address of her current term where she proposed measures to address the housing issue, although this failed to lift the property sector as Evergrande concerns lingered after Hong Kong property agencies sued the Co. to recover overdue commissions and with shares in its New Energy Vehicle unit suffering double-digit percentage losses. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower on spillover selling from T-notes and despite the downturn in stocks, while the absence of BoJ purchases in the market today added to the lacklustre demand with the central bank instead offering to buy JPY 125bln in corporate bonds from October 11th with 1yr-3yr maturities. Top Asian News China Tech Stock Gauge Falls to Record Low as Yields Rise Top Glove Says Cooperating in Investigation Over Worker’s Death China Resources Unit Said to Be in Talks for JLL China Business Asian Stocks Drop as Tech Selloff Deepens Amid Rising Yields Stocks in Europe have extended on the losses seen at the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 -2.4%; Stoxx 600 -1.8%) with risk aversion intensifying from a downbeat APAC session as markets grapple with the prospect of stagflation, the energy crunch, Evergrande woes, and geopolitics. US equity futures have conformed to the losses across stocks with the ES (-1.3%) RTY (-1.5%), NQ (-1.5%) and YM (-1.0%) all softer, whilst the former two dipped under 4,300 and 2,200 respectively. From a news-flow standpoint, fresh catalysts have been light. Euro-bouses see broad-based losses whilst the FTSE 100 (-1.6%) is somewhat cushioned (albeit under 7k) by a softer sterling alongside some heavyweight individual stocks including HSBC (+3.3%) following a broker move, and Tesco (+4.5%) after topping H1 forecasts, raised guidance and a GBP 500mln share buyback scheme. Sectors in Europe are all in the red. Banks are the best of the bunch amid the favourable yield environment. On this note, SocGen suggested that the banking sector should benefit from the rise in yields and limited exposure to China, higher energy and supply-chain bottlenecks, while that market consolidation offers some opportunities in the European tech and industrial sectors. Back to sectors, the downside sees some of the more cyclical sectors including Travel & Leisure and Auto names. In terms of some individual movers, Deutsche Telekom (-5.6%) is hit after a bookrunner noted a share offering of some 90mln shares priced at a discount to yesterday’s close. Top European News German Greens Seek Talks With SPD, FDP on Post-Merkel Government European Industry Buckles Under a Worsening Energy Squeeze Polish Central Bank Unbowed Despite Price Spike: Decision Guide Bayer Shares Turn Lower After Initial Gains on Roundup Win In FX, the Dollar is firmly back in the driving seat and the index is eyeing YTD highs having reclaimed 94.000+ status amidst another sharp downturn in risk appetite just a day after what some pundits were dubbing as a ‘turnaround Tuesday’. Instead, Asia-Pacific bourses were reluctant to pick up the baton from Wall Street and the failure to keep the ball rolling against the backdrop of ongoing strength in gas and oil prices has rattled EU equities to the extent that the Dax has lost grip of the 15k handle and FTSE is down below 7k regardless of the fact that the UK benchmark has some positive impulses beyond the obvious revenue implications for the energy sector. Back to the DXY 94.448 is the best so far ahead of 94.500 for sentimental reasons and the current y-t-d peak just a fraction above at 94.504. In terms of fundamentals, next up for the Greenback is ADP as one of the usual pointers for NFP, while Fed speak comes from Bostic who is down to talk twice today. NZD/AUD - Ironically perhaps, the Kiwi is underperforming even though the RBNZ matched market expectations with a 25 bp OCR hike overnight, and this could well be described as a classic ‘buy rumour, sell fact’ reaction given that the move was all priced in. Moreover, the accompanying statement has not altered expectations for further measured tightening and this could compound the inclination to re-position/take profit/cut longs to the detriment of the Nzd. Indeed, the Kiwi has retreated from around 0.6980 vs its US rival to circa 0.6878 and is struggling to tread water on the 1.0500 mark against the Aussie that is also losing out to its US rival on the aforementioned risk dynamic, as Aud/Usd hovers towards the bottom end of 0.7295-0.7227 parameters ahead of AIG’s services sector index. CAD/GBP - Also somewhat perverse, though a measure of the degree that the market mood has changed since yesterday, the Loonie and Sterling are both struggling to derive much from the latest advances in WTI or Brent. In fact, Usd/Cad approached 1.2650 having breached the 50 DMA (1.2626) and pulling away from a cluster of decent option expiries that start at 1.2520-25 (1 bn) and continue through 1.2550-60 (2.1 bn) to 1.2600 (1 bn) and end between 1.2720-30 (1.5 bn, while Cable has reversed through 1.3600 and the 10 DMA (1.3592) with little assistance from a sub-consensus UK construction PMI. EUR/CHF/JPY - All unable to escape the Buck’s clutches, with the Euro down to a minor new 2021 low and probing barriers at 1.1550, while the Franc is treading water around 0.9300 and the Yen is thriving to keep tabs on 111.50 due to its renowned safe-haven properties, and with the prop of JGB yields reaching multi-month peaks, albeit in catch-up trade with US Treasuries and other global bonds. SCANDI/EM - Little solace for the Nok via Brent almost touching Usd 83.50/brl at one stage, though it is holding a firm line following its ascent beyond 10.0000 vs the Eur, while the Sek has largely taken mixed Swedish data and Riksbank rhetoric from Skingsley in stride (caution warranted and now is not the time to change monetary policy), but EM currencies are all floundering with the Try sliding to yet another record trough and on course to hit 9.0000. Ahead, the Zar will be looking for something supportive from SARB Governor Kganyago via a webinar on the economy, jobs and growth. RBNZ hiked the OCR by 25bps to 0.50% as expected and the committee noted further removal of monetary policy stimulus is expected over time. RBNZ added that it is appropriate to continue reducing the level of stimulus and that future moves are contingent on the medium term outlook for inflation and employment, while policy stimulus will need to be reduced to maintain price stability and maximum sustainable employment over the medium term. Furthermore, it noted that cost pressures are becoming more persistent and capacity pressures are still evident, but added that demand shortfalls are less of an issue than the economy hitting capacity constraints and that economic activity will rebound quickly as alert level restrictions ease. (Newswires) In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are choppy in early European trade with a downside bias amid the risk tone, but ultimately, prices remain near recent highs with the WTI Nov contract north of USD 78.50/bbl (78.25-79.78/bbl) and Brent Dec around 82/bbl (vs USD 81.92-83.47/bbl range) at the time of writing. Nat gas has once again been the focus in the energy complex, with the UK Nat Gas future surging some 40% intraday at one point, although its US counterpart has lost some steam. A lot of attention has been the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to alleviate some of the supply/demand imbalances in the gas market heading into the winter period. Yesterday, an EU lawmaker suggested that the pipeline does not comply with EU rules, although an EU court adviser noted that Nord Stream 2 could challenge the energy rule and the decision is not final. European natural gas futures climbed to a fresh all-time high. Back to crude, it’s worth being cognizant of the underlying demand that could be fed via the higher gas prices as other energy sources are more sought after, including diesel generators for electricity usually produced by Nat Gas. Over to metals, spot gold and silver are pressured by the firmer Buck with the former back under USD 1,750/oz and at session lows at the time of writing. The downbeat tone has also taken a toll on the base metals complex, with LME copper again dipping below the USD 9,000/t from a USD 9,135/t intraday peak. US Event Calendar 7am: Oct. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -1.1% 8:15am: Sept. ADP Employment Change, est. 430,000, prior 374,000 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Risk appetite returned to markets yesterday, but not without some astonishing moves in commodities and inflation markets alongside a selloff in bonds. On top of that, we also had a fresh round of signals that supply-chain issues and inflation were beginning to have real economic impacts, thanks to the global September PMI readings. The most eye catching stat of the last 24 hours is probably that the UK’s index linked bonds are now implying that the April 2022 YoY UK RPI print will be c.7%. Thanks to DB’s Sanjay Raja for pointing this out to me. That’s the point in time where Ofgem next updates its price cap for utility bills. This comes after further astonishing moves in natural gas. In the UK, gas prices were up +19.54%, marking the biggest daily percentage increase in over a year and a +183.3% move since the start of August. 10 year UK breakevens closed at an incredible 3.979% (+9.6bps on the day). To be fair this is based on RPI not the CPI that other index linked markets are. As of early next year the UK is moving to a CPI-H benchmark so these numbers will come down but it’s still an astonishing reflection on expectations for 10-year average inflation numbers. Benchmark European natural gas futures weren’t much different and were up by +20.04% to a record €116.02 per megawatt hour. That’s also the biggest daily percentage increase in over a year, and the absolute increase of €19.37 is actually more than the level at which natural gas was trading as recently as Q1 this year! That leaves natural gas prices up more than six-fold since the start of the year, and up more than three-fold since the start of July. In comparison the US gas future was “only” up +9.20%, but still reached its highest closing level since December 2008. And oil itself saw another round of gains, with Brent Crude (+1.60%) rising to its highest in almost 3 years, at $82.56/bbl, whilst WTI was up +1.69% to $78.93/bbl, its highest since 2014. This fresh round of price surges has led to another spike in inflation expectations across multiple countries even in 10 year markets, so way beyond the transitory stage. We’ve already highlighted the UK number but the 10yr German breakeven (+7.6bps) saw its biggest daily increase in nearly a year, hitting a fresh 8-year high of 1.796%. Its Italian counterpart (+8.3bps) hit a new high for the decade at 1.715%. Even in the US, where breakevens have been trading in a fairly tight band recently, we saw a +6.8bps rise to 2.460%, which is its highest closing level in 4 months. With breakevens moving sharply higher, this was clearly bad news for sovereign bonds, which sold off on both sides of the Atlantic across different maturities. Yields on 10yr Treasuries were up +4.7bps to 1.53%, with the entirety of that move resulting from higher inflation expectations rather than real rates, which actually fell on the day (-2.0bps). Over in Europe, gilts saw the biggest declines as investors continue to anticipate a potential BoE rate hike in the coming months, with 10yr yields rising by a further +7.3bps, whilst the spread of UK 10yr yields over bunds actually widened to its biggest level since the day of the Brexit referendum in 2016. That said, yields were also moving higher on the continent, with those on 10yr bunds (+2.6bps), OATs (+2.5bps) and BTPs (+3.0bps) all moving to their highest level in 3 months. The case for inflation was given further support by the September PMI releases, which pointed to supply-chain issues across multiple countries. In the Euro Area, the composite PMI was revised up a tenth to 56.2, but the release said that input prices were rising at the joint-fastest on record. Over in the US, the composite PMI was also revised up half a point from the flash reading to 55.0, but the release similarly mentioned labour shortages and capacity constraints holding back growth. The US composite PMI of 55.0 was its lowest level in a year, albeit still above the 50-mark that separates expansion from contraction. The September US ISM services reading rose 0.2 to 61.9 (59.9 expected) with the report suggesting that delta variant concerns are easing as 17 of the 18 industries reported growth over the last month. However, there were still comments in the report highlighting supply chain issues and some inability to retain or hire labour. In spite of the renewed inflation concerns clouding the Q4 outlook, the major equity indices managed to post a decent rebound from Monday’s losses, although it’s worth noting that many were only recouping those declines rather than advancing to new heights. The S&P 500 was up +1.05%, so still just beneath where it started the week after Monday’s -1.30% decline, whilst the NASDAQ was up +1.25% and the FANG+ recovered +2.23%. It was the 4th straight day that the S&P 500 moved more than 1% in either direction, the longest such streak since November 2020. While yesterday saw a broad-based rally with 21 of the 24 S&P 500 industries gaining, financials were the big outperformer thanks to higher yields. The US Financials sectors added +1.78%, whilst in Europe the STOXX Banks index (+3.99%) hit a post-pandemic high, well outpacing the broader STOXX 600 (+1.17%). Overnight in Asia, most markets continued to slide with the Nikkei (-1.00%), Kospi (-1.00%), Hang Seng (-0.71%) and Australia’s ASX (-0.68%) all moving lower on the back of higher energy prices and inflation concerns. In Japan the Nikkei extended losses for an eighth consecutive session on concerns that new PM Fumio Kishida could be outlining a redistribution plan that includes higher taxes, including on capital gains, although he’s yet to outline the specifics of the policy. Separately the Reserve Bank of New Zealand joined the club of central banks raising rates, hiking by 25bps in a move that was the first rate rise in seven years, as they also indicated more hikes might be warranted. In terms of the latest on Evergrande, the firm is still yet to release details of the “major transaction” we mentioned on Monday, with the company’s shares still suspended, whilst Fantasia saw its long-term rating cut to selective default by S&P yesterday, down from CCC. US futures are pointing to further declines later with those on the S&P 500 down -0.39%. Turning to the ongoing debt ceiling saga, the US Senate has a cloture vote scheduled for today to suspend the ceiling, but Republican leadership are confident they can block the measure and force the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally using the budget reconciliation process (which only requires a simple majority of votes in the Senate). So this would tie a move on the debt ceiling into the reconciliation bill that includes President Biden’s “Build Back Better” economic plan. However, the Democrats are maintaining that the reconciliation process takes too long, with the Treasury estimating it will run out of funding around October 18, and have made the case that both parties have a duty to raise the ceiling, since it reflects debts racked up under administrations of both parties rather than just the Democrats. Irrespective of the debt ceiling though, it does continue to sound like there’s movement toward a deal amongst Congressional Democrats on the size of the plan, withSenator Manchin (a key Democratic moderate) reportedly not ruling out a $1.9-2.2 trillion spending plan price tag, which is also the level that President Biden had been floating to House Democrats last week. Speaking of the Senate, yesterday Senator Elizabeth Warren had yet more strong words for Fed Chair Powell. Warren has already said she opposes giving Powell a second term as the Fed Chair, and yesterday’s speech criticised him for his lack of oversight of the trading activity of Federal Reserve officials. She said Powell has “failed as a leader” and that there are “legitimate questions about conflicts of interest and insider trading” around the actions of certain Fed Officials. This follows her actions on Monday, when she called the SEC to investigate Federal Reserve officials for insider trading. At the same time, Chair Powell asked its inspector general to conduct a review of trades made by Federal Reserve members to ensure they complied with the law and Fed rules. While a White House spokesperson said yesterday that President Biden continues to have confidence in Chair Powell, Senator Warren may be setting up to float an alternative candidate for Chair in the coming weeks ahead of Powell’s term ending early next year. To the day ahead now, and data releases include German factory orders for August, the German and UK construction PMIs for September, Euro Area retail sales for August, and the ADP’s September report on private payrolls from the US. From central banks, we’ll also hear from the ECB’s Centeno. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/06/2021 - 08:07.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 6th, 2021