Archive

Archive for the ‘housing and real estate’ Category

New From the GAO

October 30, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Pension Plan Valuation: Views on Using Multiple Measures to Offer a More Complete Financial Picture. GAO-14-264, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-264
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666288.pdf

2. DOD Business Systems Modernization: Additional Enhancements Are Needed for Army Business System Schedule and Cost Estimates to Fully Meet Best Practices. GAO-14-470, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-470
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666294.pdf

3. Federal Real Property: More Useful Information to Providers Could Improve the Homeless Assistance Program. GAO-14-739, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-739
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666258.pdf

4. VA Health Care: Management and Oversight of Consult Process Need Improvement to Help Ensure Veterans Receive Timely Outpatient Specialty Care. GAO-14-808, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-808
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666249.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/666528

5. Energy Policy: Information on Federal and Other Factors Influencing U.S. Energy Production and Consumption from 2000 through 2013. GAO-14-836, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-836
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666271.pdf

6. Disability Compensation: Review of Concurrent Receipt of Department of Defense Retirement, Department of Veterans Affairs Disability Compensation, and Social Security Disability Insurance. GAO-14-854R, September 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-854R

7. DOD Space Systems: Additional Knowledge Would Better Support Decisions about Disaggregating Large Satellites. GAO-15-7, October 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-7
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666715.pdf

About these ads

Consumer Credit in Canada

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Consumer Credit in Canada
Source: IBISWorld

Record low interest rates and rising house prices in Canada have encouraged Canadians to take on more debt over the 10 years to 2014, with similar trends expected over 2015. IBISWorld estimates that overall debt per capita including mortgages for Canadian consumers will increase at an annualized rate of 3.7% to $49,634 over the five years to 2014, while debt per capita excluding mortgages will increase at an annualized rate of 1.8% to $17,338 over the same period. IBISWorld expects overall debt and debt excluding mortgages to increase to $52,547 and $17,893, respectively, by the end of 2015. While the massive increase in consumer debt has enabled higher spending by Canadian consumers, benefiting many segments of the economy, high consumer debt could have potentially devastating consequences for the economy in case of any negative exogenous changes, such as a drop in house prices or an increase in interest rates.

Tackling the world’s affordable housing challenge

October 27, 2014 Comments off

Tackling the world’s affordable housing challenge
Source: McKinsey & Company

Decent, affordable housing is fundamental to the health and well-being of people and to the smooth functioning of economies. Yet around the world, in developing and advanced economies alike, cities are struggling to meet that need. If current trends in urbanization and income growth persist, by 2025 the number of urban households that live in substandard housing—or are so financially stretched by housing costs that they forego other essentials, such as healthcare—could grow to 440 million, from 330 million. This could mean that the global affordable housing gap would affect one in three urban dwellers, about 1.6 billion people.

A new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, A blueprint for addressing the global affordable housing challenge, defines the affordability gap as the difference between the cost of an acceptable standard housing unit (which varies by location) and what households can afford to pay using no more than 30 percent of income. The analysis draws on MGI’s Cityscope database of 2,400 metropolitan areas, as well as case studies from around the world. It finds that the affordable housing gap now stands at $650 billion a year and that the problem will only grow as urban populations expand: current trends suggest that there could be 106 million more low-income urban households by 2025, for example. To replace today’s inadequate housing and build the additional units needed by 2025 would require $9 trillion to $11 trillion in construction spending alone. With land, the total cost could be $16 trillion. Of this, we estimate that $1 trillion to $3 trillion may have to come from public funding.

However, four approaches used in concert could reduce the cost of affordable housing by 20 to 50 percent and substantially narrow the affordable housing gap by 2025. These largely market-oriented solutions—lowering the cost of land, construction, operations and maintenance, and financing—could make housing affordable for households earning 50 to 80 percent of median income.

Who Pollutes? A Household-Level Database of America’s Greenhouse Gas Footprint

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Who Pollutes? A Household-Level Database of America’s Greenhouse Gas Footprint
Source: Center for Global Development

This paper describes the creation of a database providing estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints for 6 million US households over the period 2008-2012. The database allows analysis of footprints for 52 types of consumption (e.g. electricity, gasoline, apparel, beef, air travel, etc.) within and across geographic regions as small as individual census tracts.

Potential research applications with respect to carbon pricing and tax policy are discussed. Preliminary analysis reveals:

  • The top 10% of US polluters are responsible for 25% of the country’s GHG footprint. The least-polluting 40% of the population accounts for only 20% of the total. The average GHG footprint of individuals in the top 2% of the income distribution is more than four times that of those in the bottom quintile.
  • The highest GHG footprints are found in America’s suburbs, where relatively inefficient housing and transport converge with higher incomes. Rural areas exhibit moderate GHG footprints. High-density urban areas generally exhibit the lowest GHG footprints, but location-specific results are highly dependent on income.
  • Residents of Republican-held congressional districts have slightly higher average GHG footprints than those in Democratic districts – but the difference is small (21.8 tCO2e/person/year in Republican districts; 20.6 in Democratic). There is little relationship between the strength of a district’s party affiliation and average GHG footprint.

Tons of Toilets: Which City Sits Atop the Throne?

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Tons of Toilets: Which City Sits Atop the Throne?
Source: Redfin

Using census and housing data, we calculated which cities had the most residential toilets per person and we had a clear winner: Boulder, Colorado. Boulder is the only city with more residential toilets than actual people. For every 100 Boulderites, there are an estimated 102 residential toilets. That’s 305,200 total toilets, which use 5,341,000 gallons of water per day (for more on water use, see our chart and infographic below). In other words, if you’re home shopping in Boulder and can’t find a three-bedroom home with three bathrooms, you’re doing something wrong.

The Middle-Class Squeeze: A Picture of Stagnant Incomes, Rising Costs, and What We Can Do to Strengthen America’s Middle Class

October 21, 2014 Comments off

The Middle-Class Squeeze: A Picture of Stagnant Incomes, Rising Costs, and What We Can Do to Strengthen America’s Middle Class
Source: Center for American Progress

The American middle class is in trouble.

The middle-class share of national income has fallen, middle-class wages are stagnant, and the middle class in the United States is no longer the world’s wealthiest.

But income is only one side of the story. The cost of being in the middle class—and of maintaining a middle-class standard of living—is rising fast too. For fundamental needs such as child care and health care, costs have risen dramatically over the past few decades, taking up larger shares of family budgets. The reality is that the middle class is being squeezed. As this report will show, for a married couple with two children, the costs of key elements of middle-class security—child care, higher education, health care, housing, and retirement—rose by more than $10,000 in the 12 years from 2000 to 2012, at a time when this family’s income was stagnant.

As sharp as this squeeze can be, the pain does not stop at one family, or even at millions of families. Because of the critical role that middle-class consumers play in creating aggregate demand, the American economy is in trouble when the American middle class is in trouble. And the long-term health of the U.S. economy is at risk if financially squeezed families cannot afford—and smart public policies do not support—developing the next generation of America’s workforce. It is this workforce that will lead the United States in an increasingly open and competitive global economy.

This report provides a snapshot of the American middle class and those struggling to become a part of it. It focuses on six key pillars that can help define security for households: jobs, early childhood programs, higher education, health care, housing, and retirement. Each chapter is both descriptive and prescriptive—detailing both how the middle class is doing and what policies can help it do better.

Why Are Wal-Mart and Target Next-Door Neighbors?

October 21, 2014 Comments off

Why Are Wal-Mart and Target Next-Door Neighbors? (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Board

One of the most notable changes in the U.S. retail market over the past twenty years has been the rise of Big Box stores, retail chains characterized by physically large stores selling a wide range of consumer goods at discount prices. A growing literature has examined the impacts of Big Box stores on other retailers and consumers, but relatively little is known about how Big Box stores choose locations. Because Big Box stores offer highly standardized products and compete primarily on price, it is likely that they will seek to establish spatial monopolies, far from competitor stores. In this paper, I examine where new Big Box stores locate with respect to three types of existing establishments: own-firm stores, other retailers in the same product space (competitors), and retailers in other product spaces (complements). Results indicate that new Big Box stores tend to avoid existing own-firm stores and locate near complementary Big Box stores. However, there is little evidence that new Big Boxes avoid competitors. Firms in the same product space may not be perfect substitutes, or firms may prefer to share consumers in a desirable location rather than cede the entire market to competitor firms.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 946 other followers