A new era has dawned: there is now a consensus that this is a stock market bubble. We’re back where we were during the last bubble, or the one before it. How do I know it’s not just some intrepid souls on the bleeding edge who are claiming this, but a consensus?
Entries in California Daydreaming (62)
BYD, the name of a Chinese electric vehicle and solar panel maker, stands for “Build Your Dream.” Maybe that’s what they’re trying to do in China. But here, they’re building a nightmare: broken promises, falsehoods, design flaws... all lushly funded by American taxpayers. And they paid Chinese workers in California $1.50 per hour to do it.
The costs of nuclear accidents can be catastrophic, for generations. But there are also the routine costs after reactors are shut down, when decommissioning expenses pile up, for timeframes beyond human comprehension. True costs are unknown. Now, the scandal-plagued San Onofre plant in Southern California has become a test case – indefinitely.
You can’t get away from it. The media fawn over it. Rational neighbors drool unexpectedly. Ads flood the airwaves. "Learn our simple three-step system on how to flip homes," the announcer says. Everyone knows: untold riches are waiting for you. "Right here in the Bay Area," he says. It’s hot, so hot that people will get burned. And banks will get hit (again).
Oaktree Capital and Carrington Mortgage are trying to dump a portfolio of 500 single-family homes they’d bought out of foreclosure. They’re trying to get the heck out of the once hot buy-to-rent trade. Blackstone, which gobbled up 32,000 of these homes, is trying to get its money out. They all are. That trade is turning sour. Trouble in the housing market!
By Chriss Street: The FBI confirmed that a Task Force from the FBI, the IRS, the District Attorney’s Office, and the US Attorney’s Office is investigating political campaign corruption in Orange County, California. A Democrat Attorney General targeting Republican politicians in America’s most Republican county? Um, the District Attorney on the Task Force is a Republican. No, this is real.
A technology that surreptitiously captures data of people out on the street, combines it with other data, and mines it ad infinitum? Local and federal government agencies love it. It’s increasingly sophisticated and cheap. It’s spreading. And it led a professor at West Point to warn: “We don’t have a police state in this country, but we have the technology.”
The last big thing was green tech – from wave-power generators to the smart grid. Hyped in the bipartisan stimulus bill, it promised gobs of jobs, billions in revenues, and untold riches. Private investors plowed in billions too. It ended up in a massive pileup of capital destruction. Fatalities were everywhere.
Contributed by Chriss Street: The Eagles got it right with Hotel California: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!” The San Jose City Council, facing huge budget deficits, tried to terminate life-time pension benefits for Council members. Turns out, ending wildly expensive benefits may be wildly more expensive than staying in the plan.
Contributed by Chriss Street: US Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein ruled in the Stockton, CA, municipal bankruptcy case that public employee pension obligations are nothing more than a “garden variety creditor.” As Barrack Obama, after winning the Presidency in 2008, had put it: “At this defining moment, change has come to America.”
That state and local government pension funds are going broke isn’t a new problem. That it’s much worse than reported by those pension funds isn’t a new problem either. Last June, Moody’s determined that the already dizzying unfunded pension liabilities were actually three times higher than reported. To top it off, trustees are blowing a bunch of retiree money on an exotic boondoggle.
Contributed by Chriss Street. State tax collection beat Governor Brown’s Budget by $4.3 billion, or 39.1%, last month—due to two one-time events that took place by December. But in what should be very disturbing to giddy state politicians and lobbyists who are cranking up for a new spending spree, January sales taxes plunged by $582.7 million, or 27%.
The California Division of Occupational Safety & Health just slammed Chevron with massive, record-breaking penalties related to the refinery in Richmond—the one that ended up in a fireball last August and caused 15,000 people to seek medical treatment. Purpose: to teach the mega-company an excruciatingly painful lesson. Alas....
Contributed by Chriss Street. With California running new deficits even after raising income taxes to the highest in the nation, homeowners should be prepared for politicians to try to overturn Proposition 13 that for 35 years has limited property tax rate increases.
Contributed by Chriss Street. State Controller John Chiang announced that revenue for November fell $806.8 million, or 10.8%, below budget. Democrats thought they could hammer “the rich” by convincing voters to pass Proposition 30 to create the highest state income tax in the nation. But it appears high-income earners have “voted-with-their-feet”, resulting in a $1 billion shortfall in taxes, and the beginning of a new financial crisis.
Contributed by Chriss Street. When President Obama met with the new President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, the press focused on the Administration's talking points on issues ranging from energy to climate change. But the Mexican economy is outperforming the U.S., and the real immigration concern is Americans illegally moving to Mexico.
Rarely has a city council received so much worldwide attention as San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. Yesterday, accompanied by booing and heckling and shouts of approval, they voted 6 to 5 to ban public nudity. A close decision, after months of hot debate. And protests, when it wasn’t too cold, by naked people outside City Hall. “Ban” in the San Francisco sense.
Career Education, when it reported its quarterly results, shed light on an industry that had ruthlessly taken advantage of the American way of funding higher education, and that had preyed on gullible prospective students who were trying to better their lives. Then it handed the tab to the taxpayer. A perfect scam. Now the industry is in a vise between government crack-downs and reluctant students.
Contributed by Chriss Street. Support for Proposition 30, the income and sales tax increase touted by Gov. Brown, has fallen below 50%. Now public employees’ unions are spending fortunes to get voters to rescue their lifestyles. Meanwhile, state politicians have increased deficit spending this year by more than the $6 billion Prop 30 might bring in—and Gov. Brown is threatening with a doomsday scenario if it fails.
Contributed by Chriss Street. President Barack Obama has not had to campaign in California; he is leading by 15 points. But what if all 55 of California’s Electoral College votes were awarded to whoever wins the national popular vote? That almost happened as Governor Jerry Brown signed the National Popular Vote bill. Can you imagine the shock if the “Left Coast” were responsible for electing Mitt Romney President?