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Looming Real Estate Crash? And geoff’s Folly. February 17, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

The Federalist had a depressing article today depressingly entitled, “Key Indicator Hints America Is Headed For Its Worst Real Estate Crash In History.” The author says we’re caught between the Scylla of a real estate bubble and the Charybdis of rampant inflation:

Whatever the final numbers end up being, the evidence is clear: based on data reported over the past six decades, America appears to be on the verge of an epic real estate crash.

As painful as such a correction would be, it is likely necessary. The price increases we’ve been seeing in recent years are primarily the result of inflation and reckless monetary policy, not real economic growth.

However, there is a chance that housing prices will not drop, or only drop minimally. If the Fed decides to continue to keep interest rates low, despite the ongoing inflation crisis, it might prevent a real estate crash the size and scale of the one discussed above. It will come at a cost, though — more inflation, even bigger market distortions, and perhaps the collapse of the dollar.

This is all well known, of course. We’ve been worrying about this for several years. It’s why I sold my house back in 2018. But how bad is it?

There are two obvious takeways from this chart. First, the price increases in 2020 and 2021 have been insane. Second, never take real estate advice from me.

In my feeble defense, you can see that there had been a 35% price increase from 2012 to 2018, and that prices leveled off in 2018. So selling then wasn’t ridiculous, I tell myself as I cry myself to sleep.

But as you can see, we have a long, long way we can fall from today’s prices. That doesn’t even factor in the bank crash that could happen with inflation being 2X higher than interest rates. Dark times could indeed be coming soon.

I’d try to give you advice on how to weather this situation, but . . .

Sinojingoism February 13, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.
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Not to unduly alarm anyone, but I noticed a trend in Chinese nationalism that disturbed me. So consider this as me duly alarming everyone.

Without any real intro, here are the top three films from China in 2021 (as ranked by their government), with blurbs from the state-run China Internet Information Center:

  • The Battle at Lake Changjin. “The phenomenal box office records of the film were made because of its high-quality, massive production, and broad resonance. The film, built around brothers played by two iconic Chinese actors, Wu Jing and Jackson Yee, and their band of heroic brothers in an epic battle, is packed with actions, sacrifices, patriotism, and the undefeated Chinese spirit that inspired them and will continue to inspire Chinese people.”
  • The Pioneer. “A lot of excellent films were released in 2021 to mark the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), such as “1921” and “The Pioneer.” . . . …portrays Li Dazhao, one of the founders of the CPC. Covering 1912 to 1927, the film tells the revolutionary stories of Li’s short life. It leads audiences on a journey to revisit how he sought to change China and save the nation…”
  • Cliff Walkers. “Zhang Yimou, one of China’s most renowned directors, made the spy thriller “Cliff Walkers” to commemorate China’s secret heroes who traded their lives for today’s peace. Starring Zhang Yi, Yu Hewei, and Liu Haoran, the suspenseful secret agent film is one of the best spy films with a textbook aesthetic style from Zhang. It prompts the audience to look inside and feel grateful for sacrifices and struggles by those nameless martyrs.”

Ya notice any kind of theme here? I’ll also note that the list came out on January 1st, which is awfully quick to compile “…the 10 Chinese films to be remembered for 2021 amid the COVID-19 era.” It’s almost like the Chinese government had them picked out early on.

It’s pretty clear what the government is going for – perhaps even more clear when you look at this years’ sequel to The Battle at Lake Changjin:

Water Gate Bridge. Follows the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) soldiers on a new task, and now their battlefield is a crucial bridge on the retreat route of American troops.

I enjoy many, many Asian films and TV series, but it seems like the Chinese government has a large and growing influence over the film industry (worldwide), and has a particular message for its native filmgoers.

. . . and that message seems to be preparing its population for military action. Against us.

Natural Immunity FTW February 9, 2022

Posted by skinbad in News.

I read a short article in the The New England Journal of Medicine that sounds like pretty good news for those who have had the bug. Previous infection gives about 90% protection against re-infection from the Alpha, Beta, and Delta variants. For Omicron, it’s close to 60%. HOWEVER–it gives good (“robust” seems to be medical-speak) protection against SEVERE Covid from any of the variants: 70% against Alpha, 88% against Beta, 100% against Delta, and 95% against Omicron. I don’t know if the link will let you in or not. Anyway, sounded hopeful to me.

Protection against the Omicron Variant from Previous SARS-CoV-2 Infection

NBC Lies Right in Your Face February 4, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Of course, it’s your own fault if you believe them. Why? Because the crappy article they published includes data that refutes its own headline.

Here’s their headline and subhead of the article:

900,000 dead: Covid deaths are surging in low-vaccination states

Four of the five states with the highest shares of population-adjusted deaths over the past month have fully vaccinated less than 60 percent of their populations.

Sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it you moronic anti-vaxers? Here’s the above-the-fold proof the author supplies, which definitively shows that the states with low vaccination percentages have the highest death rates.

State/territoryPer 100kPercent fully vaccinated
New Mexico4968.4

But if you look below the fold, he’s included data for all the states, which I plotted up just for you:

As you can see, there’s a very mild correlation between the percentages of vaccinated people vs. the death rate. If you get rid of Tennessee (the outlier in the upper left), the trendline is even flatter.

This suggests that other factors are far more important than the vaccination rate, which might be reporting differences, demographic differences, healthcare quality, etc.

But back to the errant headline. “Covid deaths are surging in low-vaccination states” it blares! But as you can see, in states with less than 60% vaccination, the death varies from North Carolina at 19 per 100K to Tennessee at 73 per 100K. And Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio (the leftmost 3 diamonds between 50 and 60 deaths per 100K) are doing about as well as Pennsylvania and New Mexico (the highest diamonds between 65 and 70% vaccination rate).

So the headline, based on their own data, should have been, “Vaccination rates have little effect on Covid deaths.”

But, as Russell Brand says, there’s a message the media wants to deliver, and they won’t let the facts get in the way of that.