The Deed is Done

A View from the Beach

ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
June 20, 2017 –

 

The Federal Reserve Board’s Open Market Committee met last week to consider raising short-term interest rates. As we approached the meeting, the consensus was that the Fed would move their Discount and Federal Funds Rate higher by one-quarter of one percent. The weaker than expected jobs report put a bit of doubt in some analysts’ minds; however, most were still expecting the increase to be approved.

Thus, no increase would have been somewhat of a surprise and an increase of more than one-quarter of a percent would have been a major surprise. Therefore, the fact that the Fed moved by one-quarter of one percent was seen as somewhat of a non-event. Just as importantly, their statement released at the conclusion of the meeting provided us clues as to what the members thought of the state of the economy. The statement lauded the progress of the economy and downgraded their forecast for inflation. They continue to espouse a gradual rise in rates and, in the fourth quarter, the Fed expects to start selling off some of the assets they have amassed in the past to help the economy.

Anytime we are focused upon actions by the Federal Reserve Board, we have to remind our readers which interest rates the Fed controls directly. The Federal Funds Rate and the Discount Rate are rates the Fed charges member banks and member banks charge each other for overnight funds to balance their sheets. Thus, when we indicated that these are short-term rates, they are very short term. In reaction, other short-term rates such as three- and six-month T-Bills are affected most directly. On the other side of the coin, long-term rates, such as home loans, can move in tandem or have a different reaction, especially if the markets feel that the Fed is staying ahead of any threat of inflation. Thus, an increase in interest rates for home loans are not guaranteed to follow suit, though certainly the Fed’s action last week does pose that possibility.

 WEEKLY INTEREST RATE OVERVIEW

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Fed Meeting Amid Shortages

A View from the Beach

ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
June 13, 2017 –

 

We have previously brought up the listing shortages which seems to be constraining the real estate market while price growth continues. This shortage of listings presents a major opportunity for builders. Of course, builders are facing several shortages as well and these are constraining their ability to keep up with demand, especially within the first-time buyer market. These shortages include a lack of skilled labor and a lack of buildable lots in many areas. Thus, there are several shortages which are constraining the growth of the real estate market.

Could these shortages be related to the labor situation? We had another jobs report recently which showed a similar pattern. The number of jobs added was disappointing again. Yet, the unemployment rate moved to lows not seen since 2001. Could it be that we are running into a labor shortage? With the overall labor participation rate low, we expected that people would be coming back into the labor force as jobs were created, but perhaps their skills do not match the types of jobs that are open. Similarly, there are plenty of buildable lots in America, but not near many cities which are growing.

If the Federal Reserve Board meets this week feeling that we are facing a labor shortage and that wages are about to rise, they are likely to raise rates. If they feel that we just need to create more jobs, then they may not raise rates. While this one question may be an over-simplification of the situation and will not be the only one they face, it will be interesting to hear their statement after the meeting.

 WEEKLY INTEREST RATE OVERVIEW

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Recycling Facts I’d Like to Share with You

Recycling is one of the easiest ways we can help save the environment.  I wanted to share a few facts that made me realize the impact we can all have if we take the time to sort paper, plastic and glass.

Paper

 By recycling just 1/10th of newspapers distributed, it would save 25,000 trees per year.

  • The average household throws away 13,000 pieces of paper a year.
    • That includes – magazines, catalogs, phone books, direct mail, brochures, pamphlets, booklets, cereal, cake, cookie and cracker boxes.

Plastic

 Americans generate 10.5 tons of plastic per year with only 2% being recycled

  • Plastic items to recycle
    • Remove plastic tops from containers.
    • Empty content and Rinse plastic jars with water before recycling.
    • Crush plastic containers to create more space in your recycling bin
    • Check the bottom of the plastic containers to make sure they are recyclable.

Glass

  • All glass is 100% recyclable
  • Recycled glass is reusable and lowers manufacturing costs when reformed into a new glass container.
  • Glass items to be recycle
    • Dump and rinse out contents of the glass container
    • Remove the plastic tops and recycle with plastics
    • You do not have to remove the labels from the glass as they are incinerated during the crushing or melting process

Do you have any other recycling tips that I can add to this list?  I’d love to hear from you.

8 Things You can do to Spruce Up Your Yard

1.    Trim trees and bushes

Stand in front of your home and take a good look.  Are there any dead tree branches?  Dead or scrawny-looking bushes? Can you see your home or it is hidden from view because of the over growth.  Now go to your back yard and do the same thing.

2.    Get rid of stuff

Is there a ladder next to your home?  Paint cans?  Tools?  Toys everywhere?  Sometimes, it’s been there so long you don’t notice it anymore.  Just put everything in its proper place.

3.    Add some color

Plant flowers that are suited for our climate.  Invest in colorful flower pots and place them on your porch, patio or deck.

4.    Remove dead plants

Not all flowers or plants that you plant will live.  Remove those immediately.  Also remove them at the end of the growing season.

5.    Add mulch

Mulch is like icing on a cake.  Distribute it around trees, bushes and flowers.  It’s on the least expensive ways the spruce up your yard and make it look spectacular.

6.    Outdoor furniture

If you already have outdoor furniture, does it need a facelift?  Replacing cushions or spray painting furniture will bring them back to life.  Should you add a few pieces of furniture?  Maybe a small bench by the front door.  A small table and chairs for the back yard.  Maybe some lawn are.  Or a bench under a tree.

7.    Outdoor lighting

Are light bulbs burned out?  Is the glass dirty or have cobwebs?  Are they rusted and need to be replaced?  Outdoor light fixtures are relatively inexpensive and also can make a huge impact.

8.    Pressure washing

The equipment can be rented.  Pressure wash patios, sidewalks, the siding on your home.  This will turn the dull look into a fresh look.

By keeping your yard looking great, there won’t be much you need to do when you are ready to list your home for sale.

Avoiding Ransomware Attacks!

A View from the Beach

What is “ransomware”?

It’s a cybercrime where hackers hold your computer files for “ransom” and ask you for money to release the files back to you. When you log on to your computer, a screen will pop up, telling you that you cannot access your files unless you pay them money (they usually ask for a dollar amount to be paid in bitcoins so the money can’t be traced) and they will also give you a time limit to pay the money or you will lose your files forever.

Here are some of the ways they are able to access your files:

Baiting: Attackers will leave a USB flash drive in a place sure to be found. A person thinks they have just found a spare flash drive, but when they plug it into their computer, they have unintentionally installed malware.

Phishing: A person received what they “think” is a legitimate email, from a trusted source. But it is meant to trick you into sharing personal or financial information. Or you may be asked to click a link, which installs the malware and takes control of the computer.

Whaling: A type of fraud that targets high-profile end users, such as corporate executives, politicians and celebrities. It’s meant to trick the receipt into generating a transfer of funds into their financial institution, but the link actually goes to the attacker’s untraceable bank account.

Pretexting: This is usually a phone call or text where the attacker asks personal information to gain access to your accounts or computer.

Scareware: Tricking the person to make them think that their computer has been infected with malware or that illegal content. The attacker then offers to fix the problem by downloading software to fix the problem. In reality, you are installed malware.

Often times, the email will look authentic. They copy logos. They use words to make you think that they are specifically talking to you.

Check the email address that appears after the @ sign. It’s usually phony or has letters, numbers or the company name is “almost” correct.

If you really think that it’s an email from your bank, your mortgage company, your insurance agent, call them or forward the email to them and ask them if they actually sent this to you.