Trump’s Tax Bill Has Cost Homeowners a Trillion Dollars | Fortune


In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has been talking about plans for, as he put it, a “very substantial tax cut for middle income folks who work so hard.”

But before Congress embarks on a new tax measure, people should consider one of the largely unexamined effects of the last tax bill, which Trump promised would help the middle class: Would you believe it has inflicted a trillion dollars of damage on homeowners—many of them middle class—throughout the country?

That massive number is the reduction in home values caused by the 2017 tax law that capped federal deductions for state and local real estate and income taxes at $10,000 a year and also eliminated some mortgage interest deductions.

The impact varies widely across different areas. Counties with high home prices and high real estate taxes and where homeowners have big mortgages are suffering the biggest hit, as you’d expect, given the larger value of the lost tax deductions. But as we’ll see, homeowners all over the country are feeling the effects.

Source: Trump’s Tax Bill Has Cost Homeowners a Trillion Dollars | Fortune

Double tipping points in 2019: When the world became mostly rich and largely old


The classic population pyramid (with many young and few old people) was typical only 100 years ago. Not anymore. The shape will soon look more like a rectangle, with age cohorts of approximately equal size stretching out to 80 years of life expectancy.

These demographic shifts are also reshaping the perception of age. Historically, until about 2000 years ago, humans only lived for 30 years, which was also the typical lifespan of a forager in the Savannah.

But since the beginning of modern economic growth, sometime between 1850 and 1950 depending on the country, lifespans started to increase rapidly across the world. But because of the pattern of demographic change, with young cohorts expanding more rapidly than older cohorts, most people were in their formative years—children, teenagers, young and mobile.

Those who were married, with a steady job and a settled lifestyle were in the minority. This has now changed.

For the first time ever, there are as many people over the age of 30 as under the age of 30, a tipping point that has profound implications for the global economy.

Source: Double tipping points in 2019: When the world became mostly rich and largely old

For a few dollars more: global funds take on FX risk | Reuters


Some European and Japanese bond investors are taking on more currency risk by buying dollar debt without protecting themselves against potentially devastating exchange rate swings as they seek ways to compensate for sub-zero yields at home.

A fund manager in Germany can buy 10-year U.S. Treasuries that offer minimal credit risk at yields of up to 1.6%, more than 2 percentage points more than for German Bunds.

Source: For a few dollars more: global funds take on FX risk – Reuters

Rising old used car prices help push poor Americans over the edge | Reuters


For America’s working poor, an often essential ingredient for getting and keeping a job – having a car – has rarely been more costly, and millions of people are finding it impossible to keep up with payments despite prolonged economic growth and low unemployment.

More than 7 million Americans are already 90 or more days behind on their car loans, according to the New York Federal Reserve, and serious delinquency rates among borrowers with the lowest credit scores have by far seen the fastest acceleration.

The seeds of the problem are buried deep in the financial crisis, when in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, automakers slashed production.

Source: Rising old used car prices help push poor Americans over the edge – Reuters

Sudan’s Fragile Transition


The international community must remember that it was an economic crisis that was at the heart of former President Bashir’s ouster.

Elites in the security services, aware of the $50 billion-plus debt burden and the absence of deep-pocketed rescuers willing to bet on Bashir, recognized that their interests could not be served by the status quo, and so, at least for a moment, found common cause with the brave Sudanese citizens who had taken to the streets.

Those same elites should be reminded that economic lifelines will be linked to real transition milestones going forward. They need reasons not to stall progress, as well as reasons to isolate and abandon those who would.

The United States should not rely on Gulf States to send this message, or on Gulf money to incentivize democratic progress.

Source: Sudan’s Fragile Transition

FAA failed to properly review 737 MAX jet anti-stall system: JATR findings | Reuters


The Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) was commissioned by the FAA in April to look into the agency’s oversight and approval of the so-called MCAS anti-stall system before the fatal crashes.

“The JATR team found that the MCAS was not evaluated as a complete and integrated function in the certification documents that were submitted to the FAA,” the 69-page series of findings and recommendations said.

“The lack of a unified top-down development and evaluation of the system function and its safety analyses, combined with the extensive and fragmented documentation, made it difficult to assess whether compliance was fully demonstrated.”

Source: FAA failed to properly review 737 MAX jet anti-stall system: JATR findings – Reuters

Are Mega-Deals the New Normal — or a Bubble Soon to Pop? | Fortune


You should keep in mind that it’s no small feat to surpass 2018’s insanity. I called 2018 “the year of the mega-round” because it felt like there was a company raising a mega-round every other day. Last July set an all-time record for the number of $100 million+ venture deals struck in a single month. And then remember December 18, 2008, when five companies raised $100M+ rounds in a single day?

The mentality at that time: capital can act as a differentiator. Armed with a war chest of funding, startups could attract more talent, acquire smaller players, market aggressively, capture customers, and blow past their rivals. With so much money out there, if you didn’t take it, your competitor certainly would.

Source: Are Mega-Deals the New Normal — or a Bubble Soon to Pop? | Fortune

Turkey’s Endgame in Syria


Once the self-proclaimed magnanimous patron of all Sunnis, Erdogan now wants the refugees to go home. Turkish authorities have stepped up house searches and arrests of Syrian refugees. The state has tried to move refugees out of the major cities, and the police have set up a hotline to collect information on those who enter the country illegally. Some have reportedly been deported to the Syrian city of Idlib, even as the fighting there intensifies.

Forcing hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of Syrian refugees out of the country and back into a war zone is nearly impossible, but Erdogan thinks otherwise. His solution, recently laid out in a speech at the UN General Assembly, is to carve out a large buffer zone along Syria’s border with Turkey. The area would be 300 miles long and 20 miles deep, under Turkish control, and off-limits to Kurdish forces. According to Erdogan, this “safe zone” would host two million to three million refugees, thus ridding Ankara of a major domestic headache.

It would boast 200,000 homes, along with hospitals, football pitches, mosques, and schools, Turkish-built but financed internationally—a setup that would provide much-needed revenue for Turkey’s struggling construction sector at a time of economic downturn.

Securing funding for this idea is a tall order, but Erdogan is willing to push the envelope. In September, he threatened that he would “open the gates” and set off another European refugee crisis if he did not get his way.

Source: Turkey’s Endgame in Syria

NSA official: ‘Dumb’ software supply chain attacks still prevalent | FCW


While much of the discussion around supply chain security has focused on the parts, components and gear that make up an organization’s physical IT assets, a growing number of experts are making the case that vulnerabilities in the software supply chain may represent the larger cybersecurity threat over the long haul.

A 2018 survey of 1,300 IT security professionals by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike found that nearly 80% of respondents said their organizations needed to devote more resources to their software supply chain, and 62% said the issue was being overlooked during IT spending decisions.

That lack of attention may be creating easy pathways for malicious hackers. According to Cheri Caddy, director of public private partnerships at the National Security Agency, rudimentary, easily exploitable software vulnerabilities are still the most common ways bad actors get into systems and networks.

Source: NSA official: ‘Dumb’ software supply chain attacks still prevalent — FCW

Why are millennials unfazed by the national debt?


.. while young Americans are increasingly concerned about college loan debt they feel personally, few are stirred to demand action to tackle the national debt, with its climate change-like threat to our economic and social future.

Why is this?

At Brookings, we are trying to understand why young people react so differently to climate change and the national debt, even though both will affect them profoundly and both require urgent steps now to forestall serious damage in the future. Thanks to interesting work by a range of organizations, such as the Pew Research Center, the FrameWorks Institute, and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, it may be possible to glean some clues from climate change about ways to communicate with younger people about the fiscal problem

This generation of younger people also tends to look for ways to take action themselves, even when there are costs involved; they are less inclined to rely only on action by government and corporations.

Source: Why are millennials unfazed by the national debt?