Perhaps the most fundamental problems with the recently-passed stimulus bill is not just the pettiness of the $600 one-time “relief” payment for Americans nor the enormity of the debt our government is currently stacking up for future generations to pay. Its biggest problem is that it does not adequately address the massive transfer of wealth that has taken place amidst almost a year of pandemic and lockdowns.
And that’s not to mention the enormous budget deficit. Indeed, this looks bad…
Yet, even if the debt was not approaching $28 trillion and the deficit was not going to double revenue in 2020 and even if the stimulus payment was enough to keep afloat Americans who are living on the edge, the bill would still not suffice.
The bill simply doesn’t address the massive transfer of wealth and consolidation of industry that has taken place in the last nine months.
As The New York Times has noted, “More than 400,000 small businesses have already closed and millions more are at risk.” And some entire sectors have been simply devastated. As of September, a full 37 percent of small businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry were either temporarily or permanently closed. And this is unlikely to get much better with a new wave of lockdowns in many states.
Many Americans are also hurting. While the economy is unlikely to collapse at this point and the unemployment rate has fallen back into the “bad, but not catastrophic” territory, many have had their savings wiped out. One survey back in September found that 14 percent of respondents had had their savings entirely depleted while another 11 percent had been forced to borrow money from a friend or family member.
The new round of PPP in the stimulus bill is a good thing for hurting small businesses, although I doubt the $600 is going to help replenish Americans’ savings accounts.
As of yet, there has not been the avalanche of evictions or foreclosures many have feared. Even still, various studies have alluded to the possibility of one in the near future and as many state’s lift eviction moratoriums in the next three to six months, what lies in store is yet unknown.
If states and municipalities decide to leave those moratoriums in place indefinitely, many landlords will be pushed into foreclosure. Too many landlords (and homeowners too, of course) being foreclosed will cause banks to start failing. And at some point, if the government is going to bail all of these entities out with endless “stimulus,” the government will either run out willing lenders to borrow from or people’s faith in the dollar if they continue to print more.
And if the world loses confidence in the dollar and the dollar proceeds to lose its status as the world’s reserve currency, it would trigger massive inflation that would wipe out whatever is left of America’s middle class.
There’s another problem with simply trying to keep the economy afloat with monetary policy and unfunded stimulus, though. By doing everything in its power to keep interest rates low, the Fed raises demand for real estate and financial assets. More often than not, these assets are owned by the wealthy. And as economics 101 tells us, increased demand leads to an increase in price. Thus, much of what the federal government did to relieve the economy aided the wealthy by increasing the value of financial assets while at the same time, much of what they did to prevent Covid-19 from spreading aided big business because many small businesses were all but forced to close.
And for this discussion, it doesn’t much matter whether you think the lockdowns were a sound policy based on science or a wild overreaction. You could believe absurdities like the entire virus was a hoax, Covid-19 is actually caused by 5G or, on the other side, that what we are going through far exceeds the Spanish Flu or even the Black Death. I believe the lockdowns were an overreaction but that’s beside the point. What matters here is that what has been done has been done.
And as we have already seen, what was done made big business the big winner of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. You could argue (probably correctly) that big government is a winner too in terms of the powers it has accrued. But in purely financial terms, we have witnessed the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the modern world and it went to the top.
Tech companies in particular were well-placed to benefit from the pandemic as doing things online is something close to your only shopping option when a stay-at-home order is in place. Here, for example are the stock performances of Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Microsoft and Facebook. Each is up between 20 and 60 percent in one single year.
I’ll remind you that 400,000 small businesses have gone under.
Amazon’s market cap (the total value of their outstanding shares) tells an even more startling story. In a single year it has almost doubled, from $915 billion to $1.65 trillion.
Do you know anyone who’s seen their net worth almost double in 2020? Indeed, we should probably ask whether the stock market should be hitting record highs in the middle of a recession at all.
Many have also made a big deal about how US billionaires have increased their wealth by over a trillion dollars since the beginning of the pandemic. This is a bit misleading since they use a starting point right after the stock market crashed in mid-March. Therefore, billionaires have made a trillion dollars after having lost a bunch of money. Despite that caveat however, billionaires are still up big in 2020 while most of the rest of the country is hurting.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, we were certainly not “in this together.” Big business and billionaires have made fortunes. The government has gained all sorts of new powers. Some people who had government jobs or essential jobs or jobs that could be done from home have at least done OK. On the other hand, many small businesses or those with jobs that were “not essential” got wiped out. And that doesn’t even go into the deaths from Covid-19 and rapidly declining mental health across the country.
It won’t require much convincing for socialists or left-leaning individuals to get onboard with a large redistributive Covid-19 tax on companies like Amazon and individuals like Jeff Bezos. But libertarian or market-oriented individuals will obviously be more hesitant. Indeed, I personally fall in the latter category.
Usually arguments for low taxes note that we aren’t divvying up a static pie. Great entrepreneurs and business leaders (tend to) expand that pie, thereby it’s justifiable for them to keep a bigger share. While this is true in general, it doesn’t apply here. The pie isn’t bigger now than it was at the end of 2019. It’s smaller.
A lot smaller.
I would ask market-oriented individuals to consider the lockdowns to be an indirect but absolutely enormous form of corporate welfare. Again, we can argue all day as to whether the lockdowns were and are necessary or not, but the effect of those lockdowns clearly was and is corporate welfare.
The great free market economist Ludwig von Mises once argued that one government intervention will almost inevitably require another to fix the problems caused by the first. Perhaps that is true. In this instance, it is absolutely true and if the words “require another” ever applied to a previous government intervention, it would be to the lockdowns.
Perhaps you cannot “fix” the first intervention. But something needs to be done to right the ship, even if it inevitably won’t be perfect.
Merely borrowing and printing more money is not going to undo or even mitigate the corporate welfare that was and is the lockdowns. Instead, a one-time Covid tax that scraped back a substantial share of the $735 billion in market cap Amazon has gained this year as well as much of the other gains made by Wall Street and various billionaires should be in order. It won’t be easy to execute and the government will likely have to buy stock with the tax revenue it accrues to prevent a market crash and then slowly sell off those shares over the next few years. And yes, I’m sure there will be plenty of pork and grift involved. But hasn’t there been plenty of that already?
The risks of not doing it are much greater in my humble opinion. Right now the United States’ is at risk of turning into an outright plutocracy and plutocracies are notoriously unstable (and unpleasant). Furthermore, the revenue the Covid-19 tax brings in would be a huge boon for struggling families and small businesses (and perhaps the deficit too).
Longer term solutions to the deficit, the growing displacement of workers by technology and increasing concentration of industry are necessary. But first and foremost, the glaring consolidation of wealth brought on by the lockdowns and pandemic need to be addressed. And that requires a targeted solution.
And a large, one-time tax on the “winners” of the pandemic is the best solution I can see to achieve that.
If the American Empire is diminishing as it certainly appears to be, it would certainly make sense that despite a deep recession, pandemic, major political unrest and some eight wars going on simultaneously that the Congress would make it the top priority to impeach someone from an office they no longer hold.
Is this actually important? Well, did Trump attempt a coup de tat on January 6th? Of course he didn't. His presidency and even "stop the steal" thing was mostly just a grift.
Well, did he want some of his supporters to storm the capital? No and there's no evidence he did. Did he rile them up? Yes. Did he "incite" and insurrection with provactive statements. Sure, but what does it mean to "incite?"
No one is ever going to charge a Democratic Senator or Congressmen with "inciting" a BLM or Antifa riot. So this seems like little more than setting a precedent. And with many on the Left and Neocon Right wanting to launch a War on Terror against the American citizenry, this would seem like an absolutely horrendous precedent to set. Give a fiery speech and then one of the people in the audience shoots someone a few days later? Off to jail speaker (if speaker holds the wrong opinions, of course).
Trump's presidency was a clownshow and it's good that it's over. Let's leave it at that and move on to fixing (and also not breaking more) the country.
Well boy did we libertarians from the Bush era call it. The Patriot Act was never only going to be targeting those bad foreigners from the other side of the world who were in the United States for some reason. These things are always going to be turned on their own citizens. Governments crave power and they only like pushing it forward. So NPR is writing puff pieces about CIA operatives calling for a literal war against our own citizens,
When it comes to domestic extremists such as those who stormed the Capitol, a longtime CIA officer argues that the U.S. should treat them as an insurgency.
"Those used in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."
Yes, a war against our own people. Because of one riot that made AOC cry because a capitol police officer looked at her mean.
One riot that they've been lying about to say was a "coup" or some nonsense. The hundreds of riots that happened during the Summer don't matter of course. What riots are you even talking about?
Wait, why are we in Iraq and Afghanistan again? Oh yeah, they lied us into those wars. I forgot.
But why should you listen to me? According to former communist and torture afficiando John Brennan, libertarians need to be looked at as potential terrorists now.
We are now looking forward that the members of the Biden team who have been nominated or have been appointed, are now moving in laser like fashion to try to uncover as much as they can about what looks very similar to insurgency movements that we've seen overseas, where they germinate in different parts of the country and they gain strength and it brings together an unholy alliance frequently of religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, Nativists, even libertarians.
Patriot Act 2 is already being discussed despite most not wanting Patriot Act 1 anymore (or at least wanting it heavily reformed).
Thank God we got rid of that authoritarian in the White House who was going to usher in an era of authoritarianism.
And all we had to do was create a totalitarian police state in order to do it...
I'm not a big fan of wholesaling real estate. It's too similar to a net listing in my opinion and some wholesalers rip off unsophisticated homeowners to pocket a massive spread. Others are just terrible and don't know what they're doing so they push junk on you.
But there are decent wholesalers out there and there are good deals to be had buying through wholesalers. Which is what my latest article for BiggerPockets discusses,
Socheck it out!
The article also features a video on the same topic from our YouTube channel which you should watch as well:
My newest article for BiggerPockets is up and goes into detail on how to scale a real estate investment company out of a plateau. Because as you grow your company larger, you will need to change the way you operate quite substantially.
"As you scale, there is another transition to make. This happens when there are at least three tiers in your company flow chart and you have to manage through managers because you aren’t working directly with frontline employees (such as maintenance technicians, leasing agents, etc.). This transition is, in many ways, even more difficult than the first. But it is necessary if you truly want to scale to 100-plus units."
Check the article out here.
The article also features a video from our YouTube channel on the same topic which you should check out as well:
Once again, The Babylon Bee has summed up the current political stupidity as well as it could be (in this case, shilling for big tech):
On the other hand, it's nice to see much of the rest of world come out strongly against this even if US liberals (lol, as if they're "liberal") demand more and more censorship by the tech oligarchs. Here's Mexico's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (who's growing on me) blasting big Tech's decision:
Well boy do I find myself in a weird spot. It would seem to me that there was a reasonable likelihood of voter fraud in the 2020 election. (There always is some, but I mean enough to shift the result in the electoral college.) I also think Trump is a clownish grifter who needs to go. I also thing the LARP-de-ta (as I call it) was bad but anyone calling it a "coup" is a liar a moron or both. I should note, that sums up 100 percent of the people call it a "coup."
Given this wasn't a coup and that Trump and company riled up the crowd that got out of hand and turned into a riot (and some may have planned to rush the capital before), I don't think Rudy Guilliani and company need to be pardoned. But who knows? With Patriot Act 2.0 looming (thanks "liberals") they may just throw out every convention there is and charge everyone Trump ever knew.
But worry not, Trump is handing out pardons... for a fee that is.
An associate of Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, told a former CIA officer seeking a presidential pardon that Giuliani could help arrange one for $2 million, The New York Times reported Sunday.
If true, that's one of the most pathetic things I've ever heard (as well as corrupt, obviously).
But Trump's pardons make it plausible. While I think Flynn deserved a pardon, that's about the only one I am in favor of. Others who obviously deserve pardons, like Snowden and Assange, are instead persecuted. On the other hand, the Blackwater murderers and the corrupt father of his son-in-law get bullshit pardons.
The only defense of Donald is how insane the Left is right now. And, of course, the only defense of the Left is how much of a grifting asshole Donald is. What a wonderful political environment we live in. Luckily, the capital right now just screams "we live in a free country!"
My latest article for BiggerPockets is up that asks whether the most important thing you should look for is built-in equity when buying (i.e. getting in at 75 to 80 percent of the ARV) or cash flow. My answer is equity.
Buying with built-in equity allows us to BRRRR a property, get all (or most) of our money out, and repeat the process more quickly than we would have otherwise. Even if the "otherwise" here involved a house with better cash flow. Furthermore, it's built-in equity that protects us from the dangers of leverage and allows us to take advantage of its upsides (which are very big)
Although I make an important cavet which many seem to have misunderstood. (Some in the comments falsely assert I am comparing cash flow to potential appreciation.)
This doesn’t mean that cash flow doesn’t matter. You still need to buy properties that cash flow. There are a few occasions when the trends in an area are so strong it makes sense to hold a property even if it bleeds each month. But these instances are few and far between and should only be done with a small percentage of your portfolio. Going big on properties with negative cash flow is, more or less, just speculating.
The article is also based on a video we did for our YouTube channel which you should check out as well:
My newest article for BiggerPockets digs into a study highlighted by The Visual Capitalist from a study done by doxoINSIGHTS. It shows that American savings are being depleted and many people are missing payments or putting them off due to the pressures of the pandemic/lockdowns/recession. As the report notes,
“Unsurprisingly, worrying about personal finances also means that more Americans are deferring their bill payments during the pandemic. However, these vary depending on the type of bill, total amount, and immediate urgency.”
Here's how it shakes out:
Check out the rest of the article here. It's quite sobering.
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