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TV maker laying off most workers, blaming Trump tariffs

MLI - Tue, 08/07/2018 - 19:00
President Donald Trump's tariffs against China are causing a South Carolina television maker to lay off nearly all of its employees because of the sudden increase in the price of components for its products. Element TV Company will let 126 workers go, most of them on Oct. 5, leaving behind a skeleton crew of eight employees to watch the Fairfield County plant in hopes it can reopen in three to six months, the company said in a letter to state employment officials Monday.... The Element plant opened to huge fanfare about five years ago. Trump's current U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley, was South Carolina governor at the time. In August 2014, she did a live video feed from the plant beamed to a Walmart manufacturing summit, where she spoke about how to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. by selling her state....Tariffs could lead to more job losses in the state, especially in the auto industry. Swedish carmaker Volvo has said tariffs could prevent it from reaching its goal of 4,000 workers by 2021 at its just opened plant near Charleston. BMW has warned Trump administration officials that some if not many of its 10,000 workers at its plant near Spartanburg could have their jobs at risk if tariffs continue.
Categories: Real Estate News

Commerce secretary Ross reportedly stole $120 million (LIKE TRUMP, APPARENTLY ANOTHER PETTY GRIFTER)

MLI - Mon, 08/06/2018 - 19:00
An investigation by Forbes' Dan Alexander found that Ross stole and siphoned millions of dollars in assets from his business associates. Alexander's conclusion: "all told, these allegations -- which sparked lawsuits, reimbursements and an SEC fine -- come to more than $120 million."...He has admitted to shorting stocks months after attaining office. Ross has owned stakes in Chinese government-owned companies, a shipping company called Navigator with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and banks that are under federal government investigation. The New York Times reported last month: "Three business days after Mr. Ross was contacted by The New York Times for a forthcoming article about those ties, he took out a short position valued at between $100,000 and $250,000 on Navigator's stock -- essentially a bet that the stock's value would decrease -- putting him in a position to potentially profit from negative news about the company." These are not just ethical red flags, but potentially huge conflicts of interest....Ross, who Forbes had listed in previous years as being worth $2.9 billion, actually revealed a comparatively smaller net worth of $700 million last year when he had to cough up paperwork required to work for the federal government. Ross initially said that he had transferred $2 billion to a family account before submitting the filings, but Alexander concluded in a November 2017 report something which may not be entirely shocking: "That money never existed." Lying about one's own material wealth is not a unique sin, but doing it on such an outrageous and public scale can mean business opportunities and more valuable branding for people like Ross, and his boss, Donald Trump.
Categories: Real Estate News

Wells Fargo apologizes after hundreds of customers lose their homes due to ‘computer glitch'

MLI - Sun, 08/05/2018 - 19:00
Wells Fargo's actual banking practices continue to be at odds with the increasingly cheerful and apologetic tone of their advertising copy. This week, a new regulatory filing revealed that hundreds of customers -- 625 in total -- were denied loans and, in many cases, foreclosed upon because a company computer glitch marked "certain accounts" between April 2010 and October 2015 as undergoing the foreclosure process. The company said in the filing that it set aside $8 million to pay off those affected. It later issued a statement saying it was "very sorry," according to CNN.  ...Since 2000, the federal government has slapped Wells Fargo with a grand total of $12.5 billion in fines, for a range of unlawful practices including mortgage abuses, banking violations, toxic securities abuses, and False Claims Act violations, according to the corporate watchdog group Good Jobs First. But, Republicans, through the passage of its corporate tax cuts over the winter, have ensured that the fines will not be damaging to the bank's bottom line. Wells Fargo was estimated to save $3.7 billion from that corporate tax rate reduction. In an interview, CEO Tim Sloan made it clear that the bank planned to return that money to its shareholders. The company, nevertheless, did not disabuse anyone of the notion that its tax reform windfall made it back to its average-Joe American employees when the bank implemented a previously-planned minimum wage hike, which really only cost the bank $80 million....In February, the Federal Reserve told the bank it could not grow beyond $2 trillion in assets until it was determined that they can function without scamming people. The bank agreed to remove four people from their board of directors by the end of the year, with Sloan insisting that the bank was "focused on addressing all of the Federal Reserve's concerns."
Categories: Real Estate News

Vornado's Roth Rings Bell of Distress In Retail Sector; Punts on Ultra-Lux NYC Condo Sales Progress

MLI - Sun, 08/05/2018 - 19:00
During Tuesday's call, Roth stuck to other topics, namely signs of distress in the retail sector, as assets bought at the top and loaded with debt have started to struggle. He said if he could buy retail today at a 10 percent discount to peak values from three or four years ago, he "wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole." "This game plays out very slowly," Roth added, noting that the first cracks are appearing. "We're beginning to see lenders who are out of the money," he said. "We're beginning to see mezz lenders and debt funds and private lenders beginning to become aware of the fact that they are impaired."
Categories: Real Estate News

The Stock Market Is: Smaller, With Fewer, Bigger Winners, Mostly Losers, And Fewer Upstarts

MLI - Sat, 08/04/2018 - 19:00
The American stock market has been shrinking. It's been happening in slow motion -- so slow you may not even have noticed. But by now the change is unmistakable: The market is half the size of its mid-1990s peak, and 25 percent smaller than it was in 1976....Because the population of the United States has grown nearly 50 percent since 1976, the drop is even starker on a per-capita basis: There were 23 publicly listed companies for every million people in 1975, but only 11 in 2016, according to Professor Stulz. This puts the United States "in bad company in terms of the percentage decrease in listings -- just ahead of Venezuela," he said. "Given the size of the United States, its economic development, financial development and its respect for shareholder rights," he added, one might expect that tally to be climbing, not falling...."The headline is that the number of public firms is shrinking, but it's not just that," [said René Stulz, an Ohio State finance professor]. Profits in the overall market are now divided among fewer winners. And as capital-intensive companies have been supplanted by those whose value is largely found in their intellectual property, the marketplace is less transparent -- with troubling consequences....The companies on the market today are, on average, much larger than the public corporations of decades ago. Fast-rising upstarts are harder to find. In 1975, 61.5 percent of publicly traded firms had assets worth less than $100 million, using inflation-adjusted 2015 dollars. But by 2015, that proportion had dropped to only 22.6 percent....Profits are increasingly concentrated in the cluster of giants -- with Apple at the forefront -- that dominate the market. For a far larger assortment of smaller companies, though, profit is often out of reach. In 2015, for example, the top 200 companies by earnings accounted for all of the profits in the stock market, according to calculations by Kathleen Kahle, a professor of finance at the University of Arizona, and Professor Stulz. In aggregate, the remaining 3,281 publicly listed companies lost money....Without deep knowledge of a company's critical research -- which businesses may be reluctant to share, for competitive reasons -- it's difficult for outsiders to evaluate a start-up's worth. That makes it harder to obtain funding, and it may be partly responsible for certain trends: why there are fewer initial public offerings these days, why smaller companies are being swallowed by the giants, and why so many companies remain private for longer. Yet another area where we see the cancer of a greater concentration of wealth, and a losing proposition for the "median" (or worse). It's also interesting to note that the trend of blockchain ICOs (initial coin offerings) may be in part a response to the last-mentioned aspect of this trend: the "main" of the stock market (and its VC on-ramp) isn't properly providing capital to innovative, hard-to-value new companies, so an alternative market has developed where the investor "net" is cast much wider and people can place bets based on their understanding of the "intangibles" (the downside being a much higher risk of loss).
Categories: Real Estate News

Kushners Unload 666 Fifth Ave. to Brookfield in 99-Year Lease

MLI - Fri, 08/03/2018 - 19:00
Rather than pay the rent on an annual basis for the so-called leasehold, Brookfield will give Kushner Cos. an upfront sum that will allow the company to pay off outstanding debt on the building, according to people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the details are private. The Toronto-based investor is prepared to inject up to $700 million in equity and will essentially take control of the building unencumbered with a 100 percent leasehold, the people said. A Brookfield representative declined to comment....The building lost $25 million last year and has almost always been unprofitable. As a first step in its latest restructuring plan, Kushner Cos. said in June it would buy out Vornado. Vornado continues to own the retail portion of the property. The cash infusion from Brookfield comes just in time, with a $1.2 billion mortgage on the property coming due in February....The company intends to update the aging property with lighter and airier offices that would command higher rents, the people familiar with the matter said. The update would be similar to those Brookfield has made to properties including Manhattan's old Daily News Building, they said, adding that the Kushner Cos. would not participate in gains from the work until Brookfield earns a return on its investment. Wonder if this results in a softening of the administrations recent "anti-Canadian" stance...
Categories: Real Estate News

Federal Reserve keeps interest rates unchanged, calls economic activity 'strong'

MLI - Wed, 08/01/2018 - 19:00
Markets still expect the Fed to raise interest rates in September and again in December, bringing the total number of rate hikes this year to four and likely raising the Fed's benchmark interest rate target range to a corridor of 2.25%-2.5%. The Fed said Wednesday that the, "stance of monetary policy remains accommodative."  The Fed's latest policy statement was the central bank's first since President Donald Trump voiced his displeasure with Fed policy, saying in an interview that he isn't happy with the Fed's recent decisions to raise interest rates while also airing his frustrations on Twitter. Looks like Trump's easy-money bullying worked.
Categories: Real Estate News

Foreclosure Defense Attorney Mark Stopa's Suspension Is Effective Immediately

MLI - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 19:00
Florida Supreme Court Puts Mark Stopa Suspension Into Effect Immediately
Categories: Real Estate News