Monday, April 6, 2020

COVID-19; Homeowners with federally backed loans can skip mortgage payments for up to a year, regardless of what their banks say"

"The federal CARES Act for the COVID-19 pandemic gives borrowers of federally backed loans the right to contact their mortgage loan servicer and demand what’s called forbearance, skipping their mortgage payments, simply by attesting that the coronavirus crisis has resulted in financial hardship.

No documentation of the hardship is required.

About 70 percent of home loans in the United States — about 33.4 million — are actually owned by an agency backed or controlled by the federal government, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

For Fannie Mae, go to

For Freddie Mac, go to

Mortgage servicers, however, are allowed to approve forbearance periods for 90 days at a time. Before those 90 days are over, customers need to reach out again if they need another 90 days, and so on, up to a year, said Raphael Williams, spokesman for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, guarantors of nearly half of all U.S. loans.

At the end of that forbearance period, when you are ready to resume making monthly payments, servicers of federally backed loans must give customers several repayment options, including add the entire missed amount to the end of the loan, extending the loan by the number of missed months.

The CARES Act doesn’t specify how mortgage servicers should handle the escrowed portion — property taxes and insurance — of mortgage payments."

Hat Tip Joe Coleman

Saturday, March 28, 2020

North Carolina Lockdown; Greensboro's started at 5pm last night (3/27/2020) and links etc...

After dark, not a car was seen on the road while walking the dog around the block.

Took a bike ride around again @ 10:30pm, everyone was home, cars parked.

Didn't see a car, didn't hear a traffic.

Calm as a Hindu cow, only different.

The bars are closed.

Movie theaters.

It will probably be (should be?) mandatory take out restaurant employees wear masks and gloves at some point.

A lot of freaked out people.

Like Wuhan, some folks around the New York area are fleeing elsewhere.  Hundreds of dead, lines at the hospitals and not enough ventilators.  Same thing happened in Italy before the lockdown of the whole country.  It's spreading via panic.

The Feds waived the 10% penalty for taking 401k and IRA money out, but it will still be taxable, meaning more than a few are going to liquidate investments to get the cash out.

We spent a good chunk of dinner prep time making Phyllo dough Ricotta pastries which we have never done etc..., like riding around the block on bikes at night.

It was great fun, but probably not something that would happen otherwise.

The way we live is going to change.

The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearance
 as though they were realities,
and are often more influenced by the things that seem than those that are.

Niccolo Machiavelli

If there’s less risk and higher return with a plan matching circumstances than forcing circumstances to fit a plan, relax, accept and embrace uncertainty, concentrate, question the status quo, consider the counter-intuitive, anticipate anticipation, find strength in weakness, weakness in strength and advantage in disadvantage.

Respect, listen, question, reflect, accept, balance, affirm, praise and improve by helping others.

Rise above and control emotion, respect momentum, adjust, accept responsibility and pay yourself forward.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

City of Greensboro's 2019/2020 Budget and Covid-19 Effects; Where is the money going to come from?
From the City of Greensboro's ADOPTED BUDGET 2019-2020;

"The FY 19-20 net adopted budget (all funds) of $566,586,409 is $26.6 million, or 4.9%, higher than the revised FY 18-19 budget.

The City plans to spend $143,818,005 more in 2019/2020 than 2009/2010

The Infrastructure service area is the largest service area at $296.9 million. The service area budget is $12.5 million, or 4.4% greater than the revised current year budget. This service area includes the Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, which will open in late FY 19-20 with a partial year operating budget of about $5.5 million. 

...The FY 19-20 adopted budget shows a net increase of thirty-three (33) full-time equivalent (FTE) positions across all operating funds. Eleven (11) FTE positions are added in anticipation of the March 2020 opening for the Tanger Center for the Performing Arts. "

If there are no performances, the operating budget should be lower

Was taxpayer money supposed to cover the $5.5 million operating budget for Tanger
and the additional employees after borrowing $43,450,000?

Have the private contributions been recieved?

...The Parking Fund will continue accumulating funds for debt service associated with new downtown parking decks under construction during FY 19-20. Downtown parking deck rates will increase January 1, 2020 to partially support this capital improvement project.

Parking revenue is probably tanking, especially at the Coliseum

...The Public Safety service area increases from $145.1 million to $150.6 million.

...Within Parks and Recreation, salary funds for seasonal and roster employees increase from
$2.20 million to $2.65 million as the City continues to move these position hourly minimum salaries toward an eventual $15.00 per hour.

The Debt Service service area increases from $30.0 million to $36.4 million. The Debt Service Fund expenditures include principal and interest payments for all outstanding general obligation bonds, including bonds approved by voters in 2016.

The City is required to increase its contribution to the North Carolina Local Government Retirement System on behalf of its employees, resulting in a $2.4 million increase in retirement contribution costs.

How much are expected Retirement System contributions going to spike, 
now that financial markets have crashed?

Maintenance and Operations (M/O) costs, which include transfers from operating funds to capital projects or capital reserve funds and debt service expenditures, increase from $281.7 million to $297.7 million, or about 5.7%. Principal and interest payments for various outstanding debt are a primary driver of this budget increase. For the Debt Service Fund, budgeted principal and interest expenses will increase from $23.9 million to $34.0 million.
City of Greensboro's 2009/2010 budget was $422,768,404;
"The City of Greensboro relies on property taxes to raise about one-third of the net revenues needed to support municipal operations in all funds.   The FY 19-20 adopted budget is balanced with a property tax rate of 66.25 cents, a three cent increase over the adopted rate for 18-
Since July 2016, the City of Greensboro increased its budget by $46.9 million per year, more than 11%, while overall taxation increased by about 15% to pay for it

City of Greensboro raises taxes by 7.5%, but most don't know, as our local media didn't tell anyone
"Sales tax revenue for FY 19-20 is projected at $58.5 million, roughly 5.4% higher than revised current year estimates of $55.5 million. Local option sales tax revenues constitute about 9-10% of total net revenues."

Sales taxes are going to take a big hit
along with Hotel/Motel tax revenues;

So what's the plan City Council?

Monday, March 23, 2020

High blood pressure and Covid-19 with links etc... Guilford County NC at 11 cases

"Doctors have identified hypertension or high blood pressure as ‘a key dangerous factor’ that leads to distress and death in patients with the coronavirus.  ...doctors have identified hypertension as “a key dangerous factor” that leads to distress and death in patients with the coronavirus. In January, for example, nearly half of the fatalities in one group of Covid-19 sufferers occurred in individuals with high blood pressure.

...while three other doctors hypothesized that patients who take common hypertension drugs (ACE inhibitors) are at risk of developing worse Covid-19 infections. Other underlying ailments — especially diabetes — and also contributed to deaths among patients with the virus, but none was so predictive as hypertension. isn’t too soon to be alarmed that coronavirus fatalities appear to happen at a higher rate in people with a well-known condition — hypertension...

"The following is a list of the ACE inhibitors that are available in the United States:

benazepril (Lotensin, Lotensin Hct),
captopril (Capoten),
enalapril (Vasotec),
fosinopril (Monopril),
lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril),
moexipril (Univasc)
perindopril (Aceon),
quinapril (Accupril),
ramipril (Altace), and
trandolapril (Mavik)."

"Alamance County has three positive coronavirus cases
Forsyth County has 12 positive coronavirus cases, Two are identified as community-spread
Guilford County has 11 positive coronavirus cases
Montgomery County has one positive coronavirus case
Randolph County has one positive coronavirus case"

Saturday, March 21, 2020

I hear there were nine presumptive cases of Covid-19 at Cone Health's Wesley Long as of a couple of days ago; "America's... healthcare system is putting the country at risk" and links etc...

"The debate over Medicare for All in the age of Covid-19 is complicated by the fact that it is our public health agencies – and not the medical care system – that serve as our first line of defense against novel epidemics. In that regard, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot with a 12-gauge shotgun: year after year of under-funding our federal, state and local public health agencies has left us ill-prepared for the Covid-19 challenge (as evidenced by the testing fiasco).

How we finance medical care, however, is also critical. On the most basic level, containing the coronavirus will require those infected to seek medical care, so that they can be diagnosed and isolated. Fear of devastating ER or hospital bills, however, could keep some home – or at work. 

What's your deductible?

Total out of pocket?

How many in our system are going to be bankrupted by our healthcare providers?

As a Taiwan government spokeswoman, lauding her country’s single-payer system for its successful containment of Covid-19, told NBC News, “Taiwan’s health insurance lets everyone not be afraid to go to the hospital. If you suspect you have coronavirus, you won’t have to worry that you can’t afford the hospital visit to get tested.”

How many doctors etc... are filling out paperwork instead of taking care of people right now?

On Wednesday, Trump signed into law a bill that would make Covid-19 testing – but not treatment – free.  It’s hence inadequate, given the predicted looming surge in hospitalizations from Covid-19 pneumonia. After all, 30 million Americans are uninsured – a number that will surely grow as the economy tanks and millions or tens of millions of Americans lose their jobs. Even more are underinsured, and for these individuals, co-pays and deductibles will only become more unaffordable as disposable income falls and savings dwindle. For both groups, medical bills for an intensive care unit (ICU) stay for Covid-19 could be devastating. People, of course, will also not stop having heart attacks, cancer or traffic accidents during this outbreak – on the contrary, medical needs are likely to rise in the face of a recession, as unemployment and misery takes its toll on the nation’s health. Financial ruin from medical costs – whether it stems from Covid-19 pneumonia or the looming Covid-19 recession – is financial ruin all the same, and will compound the harm of the epidemic.

Self inflicted wounds enabled by our purchased politicians 
and their crony capitalist healthcare industry lobbyists

...You may have also heard in recent years about an epidemic of hospital closures in poorly served rural areas, or the 2019 closure of a major academic safety-net hospital in Philadelphia. These hospitals closed not because they are unneeded, but because they are unprofitable. For the American hospital landscape is shaped by market forces, which largely determine where hospitals grow and where they wane. in America is uncoordinated – and ungoverned. Since the epidemic’s onset, hospital and city and state governments have waged “bidding wars” over crucial supplies and ventilators, the New York Times noted. It’s every hospital for itself: some are resorting to pleas to the community for donations of masks; presumably, others are well-stocked – but who knows? “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment – try getting it yourselves,”

This is not a healthcare system – it is atomized chaos.

For again, in the American way of paying for healthcare, our hospitals (or increasingly, our multi-hospital systems) are silos, some rich and some poor, each fending for themselves, locked in market competition.

This is neither necessary nor rational, leading both to excess and shortfalls, to generous overall health system funding yet care that remains unaffordable for many. A single-payer national health program would allow us to move past the market-driven status quo to remake this chaotic healthcare landscape of simultaneous healthcare plenty and poverty. It would, in short, allow us to begin to plan – not merely for this epidemic, but for the one that follows.

Adam Gaffney is an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and a pulmonary and critical care doctor at the Cambridge Health Alliance.
Landlords who borrowed big to expand have to pay the monthly debt payment, or the banks come in a take the properties. Tenants are near insolvent.

Sunday, March 8, 2020; Should the ACC and NCAA eliminate the audiences for the upcoming tournaments? There has been a failure to test and track Covid-19, and other observations.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020; February 2020 Stuff; Corona Virus, Bloomberg, Covid-19 Economics, Healthcare, Bernie Sanders and some fun etc...

Acts of cowardice by Greensboro's News and Record and its editorial page editor Allen Johnson

Sunday, July 14, 2019; News and Record's "Cone Health, state remain at odds over new State Health Plan" with no investigative reporting on health care pricing

2/17/14; A conversation between Ed Cone and George Hartzman on Obamacare etc...

Cone Health is a Racket;

America is getting Ripped Off on Healthcare

How many lawsuits has Cone Health filed against patients over the last five years?
. .

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Landlords who borrowed big to expand have to pay the monthly debt payment, or the banks come in a take the properties. Tenants are near insolvent.

The system doesn't provide these conditions.  It was designed for a tiny political and banking elite to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.  Transparency is anathema to cartels, which is why the actual cost of healthcare is obscured by providers desperate to avoid competition.

This place needs a major revolution.

It’s precipitated by one basic principle: money.

All people really want is to be in a place where they can improve their lives.  Where their children can have a brighter future than they did.

This revolution will be borne from economic frustration.

Each time the economy tanks, all they really did was change the players, not the game. They just ended up with a different set of criminals in charge.

A handful of people at the top made a boatload of money thanks to quantitative easing, some upper-middle class did fairly well, but the average guy pays higher prices for food, fuel, education, medical care, etc...

A tiny elite showered itself with free money and political favors at the expense of everyone else without consequence and they are doing it again.

We continue down the path of more debt, more money printing, more regulations, and less freedom.

How long can this really go on without backlash?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

North Carolina State lab says "can test 1,300 people" for COVID-19 total and "has conducted a total of 329 tests" and Twitter roll

"As of 11 a.m. today (3/17/2020), there have been 33 cases of COVID-19 reported in 14 counties in North Carolina. One person has been hospitalized.

The state laboratory has conducted 329 tests, Tilson said, and can test an additional 1,300 people.

Commercial and hospital labs have expanded their testing as well.

However, some people have reported to the media that they have been denied testing, even though they have symptoms: cough, fever, and a negative test for flu.

Tilson said DHHS has been “developing more health provider guidance,” which includes submitting tests to laboratories that can handle the workload.

“We know there’s a demand for testing,” Tilson said. “We’re in a better place today [in terms of barriers to testing] than we were yesterday.”

Although the number of reported cases has increased by only one over the last day — the latest being a student at Campbell University — Tilson said it’s important not to read too much into the pace of the disease’s spread.

“We’ll probably see more and more cases,” she said.

DHHS’s coronavirus hotline has been overwhelmed with calls from people, many of which have not been returned. “We’re working on tackling that,” Tilson said.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

If North Carolina wants to invest $1 billion plus, why not design and build cars in the Piedmont Triad?

North Carolina could create more than 10,000 jobs by designing and manufacturing a high quality, simply designed, inexpensive, fuel efficient, modifiable category killer automobile with easily interchangeable parts between different model years, like Jeep CJ’s, vintage VW Beetles, Toyota Camry's or Kia Souls, turning the global auto manufacturing industry business model upside-down and changing the future of our communities.

The current auto industry's business model, infrastructure and baked in legacy costs could not adapt or compete with an end user oriented, relatively lower cost model, located within easy reach of the rest of the world.

If North Carolina wants an new auto plant even as car sales decline, why not also have a new corporate headquarters as well offering thousands more jobs than a plant owned by an out of state entity?  As economic times get tough and manufacturers with headquarters elsewhere are more likely to idle or shut down plants farther from home, the best way to preserve locally created jobs is to have more company headquarters located in North Carolina, especially if the state wants to invest hundreds of millions in automotive manufacturing.  Why not make sure the corporate headquarters of the company is also located here as an insurance policy on the likelihood of the best paying jobs staying here over the long term?

If taxpayer monies are involved, why not limit executive pay to not exceed 10-20 times the average hourly wage, creating consumer goodwill by maximizing employee income as much as possible to create higher rates of state wide economic growth and employment.  With a business model that would overtly fight income and wealth inequality, brand loyalty, which should be easily generated among the consuming public, could sell more cars than any start up in history.

Employee pay based on performance, productivity, quality and profitability could make North Carolina the center of the next era of the auto industry, by simply paying employees as much as possible within the metrics of a profitable company, and less if profit falls, while eliminating top heavy executive compensation.

A high quality, easily maintained vehicle should cost at least half as much over the auto's life compared to what's currently offered by manufacturers who rely on planned obsolescence and monopolistic business practices.  Essentially the entire global auto industry's profit margins are dependent on a non-consumer friendly business model that can be attacked by an upcoming competitor from a non-union oriented state which prioritizes the best interests of its workforce.

If the global auto industry's revenues are dependent on relatively protective business practices that can be negatively compared to an upcoming lower cost, higher quality American competitor from North Carolina with pre-owned equipment purchased at discounts as auto manufacturing contracts in the near future, we can create high paying employment within an industry hamstrung by unsustainable legacy costs and bloated balance sheets.

As we enter what very much looks like a global economic downturn after ten years of global central bank intervention, auto manufacturing equipment should be relatively inexpensively acquired in the near term future, as some auto makers succumb to the actual realities of our current unstable, artificially sustained global economy dependent on central bank intervention.

If North Carolinian taxpayers invest, they should own shares along with the public.  If any taxpayer monies are utilized to create jobs via a automobile company, then individual taxpayers should literally own shares of the company.  Citizens who've never owned equity in an entrepreneurial enterprise would have a better understanding of how to create wealth in our community, thereby teaching as many in our area how to "fish".  Millions in financial backing from municipalities and the state can be leveraged into billions in equity offerings to exponentially generate debt free capital funding opportunities and interested, willing and qualified consumers, easily repaying taxpayer funded capital investment as soon as practicable.

A category killer like Apple's smartphone, Google's search engine or Amazon's business model could dramatically increase North Carolina's standard of living if workers, taxpayers, those involved or with a stake can own shares of a company who's value could exponentially increase in the near to long term.

If Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering and raised $226 million, we can raise exponential multiples as much for an automotive company that could sell 100 times more in quantity, which would employ thousands with less automation involved, specifically to increase incomes, brand recognition, loyalty, employment and economic growth in our state by changing the future of the global auto manufacturing industry.  North Carolina can create somewhere between $5 and $15 billion of direct investment into our state with this strategy, while not increasing outstanding debt.

The current auto industry's infrastructure and baked in union related legacy pension costs etc..., could not adapt and compete with an end user and employee focused start up producing lower cost, higher quality products.

An easily repairable/modifiable automobile produced by employees who have a stake in a high quality product should create an active aftermarket for enthusiasts, sparking small businesses to create alternative parts for trending modifications.

Lowering carrying costs means lower consumer payments for insurance and maintenance.  With easily acquired and inexpensively obtainable replacement parts over the auto's longer lifespan, vehicle owners should fair well financially, increasing state wide discretionary income.  If parts were made to be easily replaced and widely available without prohibitively expensive specialized proprietary tools and diagnostic equipment, they should cost much less, which would dramatically lower warranty and long term carrying costs to consumers, building brand loyalty.

If a bumper gets scratched in an accident, a modern automobile's replacement is relatively very much more expensive than 30 years ago.  Modern replacement costs are most likely only available at a premium as consumers have become dependent on the industry's exclusivity of non-aftermarket parts and labor for profitability.

By designing and producing an easily up-gradable and/or modifiable automobile, which would create an active aftermarket for enthusiasts as imagination and enjoyment kick in on something that is relatively the same, but can be made different, catering to individual styles of diverse owners, we can create thousands of high paying domestic jobs.

Include a Smartphone/tablet instead of installed, overpriced in-dash components;

Cars with easily replaceable smartphones and tablets for on board computers instead of expensive to replace installed systems could revolutionize the auto manufacturing industry by clearly saving consumers money over time.

Owners can save big money with high level diagnostics at their fingertips,  Imagine the long term cost savings of engine lights not just alerting drivers of relatively unknown or unknowable issues, but an inexpensive app informing much more about what an actual problem may likely be earlier, with easily replaceable, lower cost ubiquitous parts.

Higher levels of reliability and economy should lead to lower insurance premiums and increased resell values relative to competitors.  A global economic downturn should provide a once in a generation opportunity to create a large market share quickly by producing relatively lower cost, reliable, longer lasting cars.