Taibbi’s Divide a warning to Australia

the Divide
An email from listener, radio show guest and long time Prosper member John Jamieson, too good to hide in my inbox.

I managed to track down a copy of “The Divide” written by Matt Taibbi and published by Scribe Publications earlier this year.

This book really offers an insight into where Australia is going, as we have set our agenda to following the USA down a similar path to disaster.

Over the last two decades, America has been falling deeper and deeper into a statistical mystery (possibly rubbing off into our own ABS!). As poverty has gone up, crime rates have come down, but the prison population has doubled (I think OZ is following suit). Certainly our local regional prison in Albany is currently about 60%-70% over its design capacity at the last count.

Meanwhile fraud by the rich wipes out 40% of the world’s wealth – yet the rich get massively richer and no one has gone to jail!

In search of a solution, journalist Matt Taibbi discovered the Divide, the seam in American life where two troubling trends – growing wealth-inequality & mass incarceration – come together. Basic rights are now determined by wealth or poverty, allowing the hyper-wealthy to go unpunished, whilst poverty itself has been turned into a crime!

In his book “The Divide”, Taibbi takes us on a galvanising journey through both sides of the American justice system and uncovers the startling looting that preceded the financial collapse as well as the story of a whistle-blower who got in the way of the largest banks in America, only to find herself in the crosshairs. On the other side of the Divide, he shows how the newly punitive welfare system treats its beneficiaries as thieves, whilst stop-and-frisk practices have led to people being arrested for simply standing outside their own homes having a quiet smoke in the evening!

Taibbi lays bare America’s perverse new standard of justice – a system that devours the lives of the poor, turns a blind eye to the destructive crimes of the wealthy, and implicates us all. We in Australia are implicated by association, as we often blindly go “wham, bam with Uncle Sam!”

The book focuses on the banking and financial structures that have risen into a position where the large private banking cartel in the US & its connection with the UK banking cartel have completely corrupted the financial system, after the Clinton administration removed the Glass-Steagall Act from their legislation, which formerly had some semblance of stabilising the banking fraternity. [Glass-Steagall was introduced by the Roosveldt government to re-generate the US economy after the depression of the 1930’s].

He demonstrates how the derivatives market sponsored the massive real estate bubble that then led to the US government bailing out all the private banks who were “too big to fail” to the tune of about $3 – $4 trillion dollars; these banks then manipulated these “bank guarantees” to make further in-roads using methods that should have resulted in their owners and directors all going to jail for at least 200 years, instead they were simply given some small fines of a few million here and there (& probably the fines were paid from the money they were given by the government!)

It seems like our own financial system is closely aligned with the way the US & UK operates and we should be not supporting and giving any guarantees to all those banks that are supposed to be “too big to fail”. Even in the UK they are trying to re-institute Glass-Steagall, but so far without success. The US should have simply nationalised the banks along the lines of our old “peoples bank” Commonwealth Bank of Australia, or the existing Peoples Bank of China.

The Chinese government banking people, I understand, are at present financing a huge 633-unit high rise building project in Melbourne, I suspect to chew up quite a few millions of their US dollars that they currently hold and want to get rid of in quite a smart way to help their domestic pension funds. In the meantime the BRICS international finance group have been launching its own path into the future in global finance [BRICS is the “cooperative” financial model of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa] with an Asian Infrastructure Bank. This has been set up to promote infrastructure and development in areas of the world previously being raped and pillaged by the “western democracies”.

When I’ve spoken to Asian business men they see the US as a “dying corpse” and that Australia is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

See if you can lay hands on a copy of The Divide and I’m sure it will give some food for thought on the Renegade Economists program, broadcast on 3CR, Melbourne. This book is a devastating account of the inequality in America’s justice, immigration and social-service systems; it’s probably what Abbott & Hockey picked up last time they were over in the USA, so that they could frame their new policy programs!

Image – Molly Crabapple

40% of UK MP’s own investment property, 94% in Australia

40% of UK MPs own real estate, 94% in Australia by Renegadeeconomists on Mixcloud

Renegade Economists Show 364

As broadcast on 3CR, Wednesday 22/10, 5.30 – 6pm
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Jacob Wills (radicalhousingnetwork.org) discusses the protest movement against the international property convention MIPIM, held in London last week. Some shocking stats are revealed in this candid discussion on the commodification of housing. www.earthsharing.org.au (excuse the audio quality :(

Show Notes

The Radical Housing Network is at the vanguard of a global movement concerned about the rapid escalation in housing costs (read land prices). This is particularly the case so soon after the Global Financial Meltdown that was precipitated by the US fall in land prices in the June quarter of 2006.

Read more about the RHN’s MIPIM agenda. We sent a statement of support:

We at Prosper Australia fully support the UK MIPIM protest “Say NO to MIPIM: YES to housing justice for all!”
Rental Backed Mortgage Securities, the increasing use of Property Options and the control that lobbyocracy has over our MPs threatens our right to a place on this planet. The myriad of tax loopholes, derivatives and massive infrastructure projects delivering windfall gains to insiders can all be addressed with a very simple alteration to our tax code. Switch taxes off productive workers and onto landowners. Land Value Tax is the best and fairest way to share the naturally increasing value of the earth amongst all. The property that IS genuine theft is the rising value of the earth, the economic rents. Why? Because it is community created. If no-one lived in London, what would happen to the Duke of Westminster’s land holdings? Karl Fitzgerald, Prosper Australia

94% of Australian politicians own an investment property.

Boris Johnson speaks over the protest noise, mentioning that he bought an apartment for £93,000, now those in the same street are valued at £1.6m. An increase of £83,000 occurred in the last year alone.

My commentary on the video: Boris dispels the blame game behind ‘Bashing London’ and ‘Foreign investors’. He states the real solution – more housing. But his predictable response avoids the lightly taxed capital gains delivered to those who own prime locations on earth. With published vacancy rates ignoring those held empty for speculative gains, a better answer would be for more efficient use of our land, at prices more closely aligned to the earning capacity of people who live in the area. That’s whats possible with a Land Value Tax.

Boris is proud that (only) 100,000 houses will be built under his 8 year mayorialship. When investors can buy and sell from anywhere on the planet for great profit, that argument is old hat. More investment on a fixed land mass leads to higher land prices.

No MIPIM behind the scenes

Bursting the Bubble – Say No to MIPIM

Insider deals between councils and developers

39% of private renters in London live below the poverty line.

23 Advantages for Investors

Policy Fraud

Policy Fraud: with Matt Elliis by Renegadeeconomists on Mixcloud

Renegade Economists show 362

As broadcast on 3CR, Wednesday 15 October.
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Matt Ellis (rationalradical.me) discusses his petition calling out Senator Nick Xenophon for pushing superannuation access as a vehicle for housing affordability. More money on a fixed land mass = higher land prices AKA a seller’s subsidy. Policy fraud must end!

Show Notes

Matt’s Petition
His open letter to Nick Xenophon
The report back on phone call

Here is the South Australian government body HomeStart Finance, offering risky 3% deposits or 97% LVR. Anything above a 90% LVR is frowned upon. Here’s another similarly named group with $2,500 deposits.

For Nick to be taking advice from HomeStart rather than listening to people like Matt and his incredible list of evidence compiled (on the original petition) is frustrating.

Let’s see if the Senator accepts our challenge to appear on the show and counter this discussion with scientific evidence. Will it be any different to what happened in Canada?

23 Advantages for Property Investors

Property Options for Some

Property Options for Some: Karl reports back from a seminar on this new property speculation weapon by Renegadeeconomists on Mixcloud

Renegade Economists Show 361

Broadcast on 3CR, 5.30-6pm Wednesdays
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Karl reports back from the Ultimate Positive Cashflow Breakthrough seminar on this property speculation weapon delivering thousands to some for a few hours work. Is it by accident and how does it effect the rest of the community?

Follow the tweets @earthsharing.

With Rental Backed Mortage Securities, Self Managed Super Funds (exempt from Capital Gains Tax if sold in the pension phase & able to borrow), Negative Gearing, Capital Gains Tax exemptions, foreign investment, superannuation investing in housing, the advantages for the investor class continue to grow. Now listeners need to get up to speed on Property Options, a tool that has been around for years (Kerry Packer reportedly made millions out of it). Its popularity continues to grow as the pressure on affordability ramps up. Passive income for some.

Show Notes

Options ”An option is defined as the right to buy a property for a specified price (strike price) during a specified period of time. An owner of a property may sell an option for someone to buy it on or before a future date at a predetermined price. The buyer of the option hopes the value of the property will either go up or is already low. The seller receives a premium called “option consideration”. The buyer may then either exercise the option by buying the property or sell the option to someone else to exercise (or sell). This is often done to obtain control over a property without much cash. Option premiums are typically non-refundable. The option represents an equitable interest in the property and may be recorded at the county recorders office.”

Bird Dogging, links to Creative Real Estate investing.

Other comments on the Mark Rolton presentation:
Talks about US middle class evaporating but there is no connection to how such property investment, the profiteering off the fruits of the earth, leads to the divide!

Now till 2020 – 4m boomers retire – reduced UE -> increased immigration, increase retirement age.

Pension just $14k pa, by 2021 it to end. Maybe he talking about the assets test

Staggered Options
dont sell all the properties, keep 10 / 14

One couple kept 46 properties in just 1 year. DA adds massive value. You cant borrow that kind of money, but you can with soft equity. Soft equity – option owner doesn’t own property but can use the option as a deposit to garner loans!!!!!
Gotta be curbed.

Loves land subdivisions, “its insane how much money is made.”

If it sounds too good to be true – it is. This is a corruption on the very fabric of a democratic society. We the people have lost control, lost even an insight into what the property lobby are able to do to OUR land. $15K for 5 hours work – another example of economic rents being forfeited by the public financing system. We are demeaning our earth rights, in preference for a place on the beggars table.

How Options Can Help Minimise Tax

“As illustrated, an option may be used to manage the timing of when a CGT event happens to a property sale, which may be very useful in a variety of scenarios.”

Under the law, if a vendor enters into an option to sell a property, no tax will generally be crystallised at that point, provided the option is exercised at a later date.”

I did my 1st Option Deal at 72 and made $160K

What is a Popi (Property Options for Pensioners & Investors)?

The investor pays the pensioner a monthly fee in exchange for the option to buy the pensioner’s home in the future but at today’s price.

Generally, a pensioner is “asset rich but cash flow poor”. They own their own home, which may be worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars, but have to live off an aged pension which is only a few hundred dollars per week.

In effect, a Popi allows the pensioner to receive cash from an investor on a regular basis, and in return the capital growth of the property will be passed on to the investor.

A Popi allows an investor to get into the property market without requiring a deposit or taking out a loan. Providing the investor has sufficient cash flow, all they need to do is pay a monthly fee and they are able to benefit from the capital growth of the property. However, my favourite is that there are no tenant hassles; the pensioner still owns the house and is technically not a tenant.

The downside is that the investor isn’t able to control when they can buy the property; that is controlled by the senior and is triggered when the pensioner wants/needs to sell their home. So a Popi isn’t ideal for people who need maximum control over their investment timelines

Popi is a lifestyle solution for retirees! Essentially, a Retiree exchanges the uncertainty of future capital growth on their property, for the certainty and financial security of a monthly income today, without putting their existing household equity at risk.

How To Buy Property When You Don’t Have Money

What you’re aiming to do is use other people’s money (OPM) to organise you deals or to net you a buy and hold investment.

3. Option agreements

Strategy: Get the vendor to agree to an option agreement, where you have the right, but not the obligation to buy the property. Find a way to increase the property value and onsell it for a profit

Requires: A vendor who will agree to an option agreement, usually a distressed seller

When a buyer and seller agree to an option, it means the buyer will pay the seller a specified amount – usually a couple of thousand dollars, depending on the property – to acquire the right to purchase the property at an agreed price until a certain date.

This amount, say $4,000, will usually be credited against the purchase price of the property should the buyer purchase the property. If the buyer does not exercise the option, the seller retains the payment.

During the option period, the buyer has the option and exclusive right (but not the obligation) to buy the seller’s property. Before signing the option, there will usually be a contract of sale already drawn up, which means that if the option is exercised it will be under terms already agreed to.

An investor can use these types of agreements to raise finance if they can find some way to increase the property’s value. This way they can sell the option to purchase to another buyer who is willing to buy the property at its new value and net the profit.

It’s a risky strategy and relies on the investor having two skills: the ability to add value to the property in a cost effective way (such as a cosmetic renovation), as well as the ability to negotiate a fairly low purchase price for the option.

The other issue is that few vendors will be willing to agree to an option unless they have had some trouble selling their properties.


Think Tanks Blow Public Opinion

Think Tanks Blow Public Opinion: Prof Michael Hudson on the most influential US think tanks by Renegadeeconomists on Mixcloud

Renegade Economists show 360

Subscribe to the weekly podcast, broadcast 5.30-6pm on 3CR.

Prof Michael Hudson is a compelling interviewee – could you imagine him at a dinner party? During this discussion we investigate the most influential think tanks in US economic history, along the way Michael reveals insights into what really drives US foreign policy, how fracking fits in and the state of democracy. He also provides a unique insight into how Bill Clinton got off his impeachment charges. We finish with commentary on speculative housing and the future economic plays now that US interest rates seem set to rise.

Read Michael’s work and his outstanding book The Bubble and Beyond.

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Opportunity and Equity