Morning Call: July 3rd, 2018

NATIONAL

SUPREME KOOKS

FULL STEAM AHEAD: President Donald Trump said Monday that he met with four potential Supreme Court nominees earlier in the day and planned to interview “two or three more” ahead of the planned announcement of his decision next week…https://on.wsj.com/2lMV0A9

THE LEFT: As President Trump gets closer to the announcement the left is losing touch with reality and it is starting to affect their oppositional statements.

COURT PACKING: Old is new again as Democrats pull a page from FDR’s book on how to deal with an uncooperative court.  Charle CW Cooke explains how insane this idea is, “It would require the entire federal government acting in concert while under the most withering fire from a unified opposing party. To add more justices to the Court, Democrats would have to amend the Judiciary Act of 1869. And to amend the Judiciary Act of 1869, Democrats would not only have to have complete control of the government, but be willing to abolish the filibuster for legislation, to put the easily-flippable House of Representatives on record as favoring the scheme, and to convince a Democratic president to gamble his or her presidency on what, to most voters, would look like an obvious power-grab.”

TWITTER TROLLING: ABC News actually questioned whether or not Don Willet’s dad jokes on Twitter could be a cause for concern, “But with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announcing his retirement on Wednesday, and Willett’s name appearing on a list of Trump’s potential Supreme Court nominees, the judge’s frequent tweeting last year raises questions for some of judicial impartiality.” https://abcn.ws/2IQV3UQ

This next one is a little more serious…

RELIGIOUS TEST: David Fench, of the National Review, explaisn the latest attack on Amy Barrett, “There’s a different, more subtle attack on Barrett that is already reemerging. Based on a September 28, 2017, New York Times article by Laurie Goodstein, the insinuation is that there’s something not quite right with Barrett’s faith. She’s part of a “small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise,” and this group — not her church — is the real problem…Amy Coney Barrett is at the peak of her profession. She shares faith practices with millions of co-religionists. Her faith experience is their faith experience. And if progressives seek to block her from the nation’s highest court because of it, they’ll betray our nation’s founding ideals.”

Tyler’s Thoughts

This is not the first time a Trump appointee has faced a religious test.  A year ago, Senator Bernie Sanders came pretty damn close to an unconstitutional line of questioning when he attacked Russell Vought during a congressional hearing.  Democrats like to argue that Islam is a religion of peace yet for some reason believe that Christianity is a religion of bigotry.  And they wonder why they can’t win elections…”


No Money, No Problem

DID WE LEARN NOTHING: HomeFundMe, a service launched by lender CMG Financial last year, is among a growing suite of services that help borrowers cobble together the funds to buy homes. These companies — startups and established players in the housing market alike — say they’re offering options for borrowers who have good credit and income but are struggling to save. https://on.wsj.com/2Nikfad

BUT WAIT, IT GETS WORSE: Some banks, including Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley , have programs through which young adults can get a mortgage with nothing down if their parents pledge investment assets as collateral.

ECONOMISTS ARE NOT HAPPY: Economists caution that actions such as loosening credit standards or supplying borrowers with more down payment money worsen the problem by creating more demand in a supply-constrained market, leading to a further overheating of home prices. And if home prices later fall, borrowers with little of their own money invested are more likely to simply walk away, they say.

SPEAKING OF OVERHEATING: A report out Thursday quantifies, again, just how tough the housing market is. Attom Data Solutions’ affordability index shows home prices are the least affordable since the third quarter of 2008, when the financial crisis erupted…https://on.mktw.net/2lSYmBv

Tyler’s Thoughts

“What’s worrying a lot of people is the fact that lenders are chasing this business.  As Market Watch pointed out above, prices in the housing market are maybe not as high in relation to income as they were in 2018, but they are getting there.  A simple downturn in the economy could leave many of these homeowners owing more than the house is worth.  We all remember how that worked out…”


NORTH CAROLINA

Uber Saves Lives

 DATA:  According to the NC Highway Patrol, the number of drunk driving-related deaths have been down significantly in New Hanover County in recent years….http://bit.ly/2z3SBKK

PEAK AND FALL:  From 2008 till 2014 drunk driving deaths averaged 3.85 a year and peaked in 2014 at 7.  After 2014, drunk driving deaths averaged 1.6 reaching a low of 0 in 2017.

UBER’S ARRIVAL: Uber entered the Wilmington market in June of 2014

IS UBER REALLY THE REASON?

SOME SAY YES: A recent independent study found that in four boroughs of New York City, excluding Staten Island, there has been a 25 to 35 percent reduction in alcohol-related car accidents since Uber came to town in 2011, as compared to other places where ride-hailing company doesn’t operate… https://nyti.ms/2KHAgor

OTHERS, NO: One report, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology last year, looked at 100 densely populated counties across the United States and found no correlation between the rollout of Uber services and the number of traffic fatalities.

Tyler’s Thoughts

“One thing not mentioned in the studies above was the possible restrictive policies of certain municipalities.  Before Uber launched in Wilmington the City Council artificially capped the number of cabs who could operate in the downtown area.  Once Uber got here, the City Council could no longer control the options available to consumers.  I’d be very interested to see a study that not only looked at the overall drunk driving rate but also the local policies with regards to cabs before Ube got there.”


Rent is Too Damn High

PRICES RISE: The Port City’s ever-increasing rent prices has seen it enter the top 50 in year-over-year rental price growth among the country’s 250 largest cities, according to a new report.  “Of the 250 largest cities in the country, Wilmington currently ranks #40 for year-over-year rent growth at 3.4 percent,“said the report…http://bit.ly/2KEKMQk

LOCAL SOLUTIONS

VOUCHERS: For the first time in three years, the Wilmington Housing Authority is accepting applications for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8. Families only have two days to pick up applications…http://bit.ly/2NkNI3a

INCLUSIONARY ZONING: “Zapple said county staff are working toward the issue, including potentially setting aside a portion of the forthcoming Project Grace development for affordable housing,” http://bit.ly/2tOX5A4

BOTH ARE WRONG: The concept, called “inclusionary zoning,” has been implemented by 886 communities, nearly 90% of which are in California, Massachusetts and New Jersey. While the intent of these laws is to increase the supply of affordable housing, history shows they increase the cost of housing and limit the supply of new affordable units…https://on.wsj.com/2lQoME2

HERE’S WHY: Policy makers may view inclusionary zoning as a free lunch, but requiring developers to sell or rent 10% of their housing units at below-market prices to “qualified households” means charging above-market prices to everyone else. The affordable-housing requirement increases the median house price in the development by 5.5%.

Tyler’s Thoughts

“The solutions to this are simple.  Make it easier to develop.  It is the basic law of supply and demand.  If we can increase the supply with demand remaining constant you get a lower price.  It’s not rocket science.  Just economics”

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