It Begins: One European Bank Fails, Another One Needs An Urgent Cash Injection!

Interesting news this week as Belgium-based Optima Bank has been shut down by both the National Bank of Belgium (which also acts as the Belgian regulating body) as well as the ECB. According to the national supervisor, the bank  would have been unable to meet its commitments to its clients and was forced to cease all banking activities after some potentially fraudulent transaction were unveiled.

It’s surprising to see the main media have tried to keep this silent as even the website of the National Bank of Belgium didn’t bother to issue the press release in English (whereas all other press releases on the home page can be read in English). There’s no statement from the ECB either, nor has this news been translated on the English version of website of the state-owned national television station. Continue reading

Preparing for a Potential Economic Collapse in October

There’s no question that the world economy has been shaky at best since the crash of 2008.

Yet, politicians, central banks, et al., have, since then, regularly announced that “things are picking up.” One year, we hear an announcement of “green shoots.” The next year, we hear an announcement of “shovel-ready jobs.”

And yet, year after year, we witness the continued economic slump. Few dare call it a depression, but, if a depression can be defined as “a period of time in which most people’s standard of living drops significantly,” a depression it is. Continue reading

Homeownership rate lowest in 25 years

Eventually, and sooner rather than later, even the news won’t be able to continue whitewashing the fact that America is in serious decline.

 

Home prices are rising, and homeownership is falling. How can that be?

If prices are rising, it must be because there is increasing demand for homes, but if there is increasing demand, then why are there fewer homeowners?

It has to do with this: math. The homeownership rate in the first quarter of this year fell to 63.7 percent, the lowest since 1990, according to the U.S. Census. The homeownership rate is the ratio of households that own to overall households—the remaining being rental households. Continue reading

The New Beverly Hills: Riyadh Overruns Rodeo Drive

One Saudi bought a $27 million estate by helicopter without walking inside, while the Peninsula hotel offers Muslim prayer rugs; those are just two examples of how the super-rich Saudis and Chinese are changing the culture and consumer habits of the Golden Triangle, with 63 percent of spending now coming from international travelers

“I’ll take that one,” said a Saudi Arabian royal, pointing down from a helicopter while with his realtor on an aerial tour over Beverly Hills’ tony Trousdale Estates. He was picking out a massive 11,000-square-foot estate (complete with pool, picturesque views and two acres of property) — before stepping one foot inside the off-market listing, which was then home to Mary Hart and Burt Sugarman. Instead, according to property records, he paid north of $27 million from the sky to get the couple, who had lived there 25 years, to move out in three weeks so he and his family could celebrate Ramadan in their new digs (once owned by Elizabeth Taylor), says a source close to the owners.

Across town, a woman mulled over a coveted Celine trapeze bag that had just been placed on a Barneys shelf. “You’d better make up your mind fast,” a clerk warned. “If you don’t, within 15 minutes 15 Chinese ladies will snap up all 15 of these bags” at $2,500 a pop. Continue reading

Qatar is suddenly investing heavily in the U.S., bankrolling D.C.’s City Center, other projects

There shouldn’t be much of a mystery as to why any country, including Qatar, is investing in the United States. Like any business that is poorly managed has a higher risk of being bought out. In other words, America is for sale and new management is being brought in.

Eight years after Washington’s biggest construction project in two decades was launched, City Center was just a sad expanse of parking lots on seven blocks of prime downtown real estate, a project paralyzed by the economic downturn, according to city officials.

Then came Qatar. A tiny nation of sand dunes and salt lakes jutting into the Persian Gulf, Qatar has only about 250,000 citizens, but it is also home to the world’s largest natural gas field and, therefore, unimaginable wealth. Continue reading

Chinese buying up California housing

At a brand new housing development in Irvine, Calif., some of America’s largest home builders are back at work after a crippling housing crash. Lennar, Pulte, K Hovnanian, Ryland to name a few. It’s a rebirth for U.S. construction, but the customers are largely Chinese.

“They see the market here still has room for appreciation,” said Irvine-area real estate agent Kinney Yong, of RE/MAX Premier Realty. “What’s driving them over here is that they have this cash, and they want to park it somewhere or invest somewhere.” Continue reading

Revealed: Iran’s Supreme Leader is a Billionaire

Iran’s supreme leader controls a business empire worth around $95 billion, exposes Reuters.

While Iran has been buckling under the sanctions that have been crippling its economy, the country’s supreme leader is apparently enjoying the billions he has in the bank.

The Reuters news agency exposed on Monday that supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei controls a business empire worth around $95 billion, a sum exceeding the value of his nation’s current annual petroleum exports. Continue reading

Wealthy Chinese snap up homes in Southern Europe as governments offer visas for buying

Southern Europe’s cash-strapped governments are courting wealthy Chinese homebuyers, seeking to bolster their battered real estate markets by offering visas to those who purchase prime properties.

Cyprus, Greece and Portugal are providing resident permits to foreign buyers, while Spain is about to adopt a similar measure. The chance to purchase a home at depressed prices in southern Europe and gain what’s known as a golden visa is mostly being sold to Chinese investors, according to brokers. Continue reading

Goldman’s Blankfein: The Worst Case Scenario ‘Absolutely Will Happen’

Blankfein, who’s been Goldman CEO since 2006, steered it through the fallout of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. He said the experience had taught him to accept that the worst thing you can imagine will inevitably happen.

“Most risk management is really just advanced contingency planning and disciplining yourself to realize that, given enough time, very low probability events not only can happen, but they absolutely will happen,” said Blankfein. Continue reading

Chinese Weibo users are salivating over Detroit’s bankruptcy

Downtown Detroit has long been one of the nation’s worst housing markets. Home values have plummetedVacancies abound. And foreclosure numbers are through the roof. Not that that’s surprising; who’d want to live in a neighborhood with soaring unemployment and the highest rate of violent crime in the US?

The bad news for Detroiters is that the city’s bankruptcy will likely only deepen the decay of its downtown housing market.

That might deter most prospective home buyers. But some look at Detroit’s hard times and see profit.

Specifically, bargain-hunting Chinese investors. Since the bankruptcy was announced on July 18, talk of snapping up Detroit housing for a pittance has picked up on Sina Weibo (link in Chinese), reports Sina Finance. And it appears to be translating into real interest; Caroline Chen, a real estate broker in Troy, Michigan, says she’s received “tons of calls” from people in mainland China. Continue reading

China’s property bubble will burst in latter half of 2013, says research firm

Inflated by high-end speculation and the flow of cheap money, China’s property bubble seems to keep on growing and now it’s nearing its popping point, says the founder of a Hong Kong-based research firm.

Gillem Tulloch of Forensic Asia told Reuters the “bubble” will burst in the second half of this year once China stops “injecting ridiculous amounts of credit into the economy.” Continue reading

Why Miami Is Becoming the ‘Russian Riviera’

Essentially, real estate brokers are letting in the Russian mob — not Russians simply wanting to ‘escape the cold.’ Today, most (if not all) of the rich Russians are part of the communist oligarchy. If you’re not part of the team, then you’re one of the serfs with no future prospects. Real estate brokers today are motivated by both greed and an easy sell to countrymen awash in oil & gas revenue as well as a fractured American economy that has Americans selling their homes or losing them. They essentially have no clue who or what they are letting in.

On a recent afternoon, Miami real-estate agent Jill Eber is taking a Russian millionaire on a mansion-shopping trip.

“This is the Versace Room,” Eber says, walking into a vast living room of blue velvet sofas and gold French Imperial lamps. “It really makes a statement.”

The mansion, “Castello del Sole,” sits on an exclusive island on Miami Beach and has eight bedrooms, nine baths and a three-story foyer with fresco ceilings. The grounds include two yacht docks, a tennis court, guest villas, a five-car garage and a lagoon-style pool with over 100,000 gallons of water.

The asking price: $37 million. Continue reading

Spain’s Prime Minister: “This Year Is Going To Be A Bad One”

“This year is going to be a bad one,” said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a press conference. He reaffirmed the previous forecast of a 1.7 percent shrink in GDP in 2012. The country forecast 24.3 percent unemployment in March, and Spainiards under 25 have a 52 percent unemployment rate.

Rajoy has cut government programs and raised taxes to combat the deficit, leading to protests.

Spain is the fourth and largest country in the euro zone to accept financial assistance, joining Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Rajoy stressed that the aid was limited to the country’s banks, which have been weighed down by the global recession and toxic real estate holdings, and avoided the term “bailout.”

Full article: Spain’s Prime Minister: “This Year Is Going To Be A Bad One” (International Business Times)

Chinese Cities Coming to America

A Chinese Group Plans To Construct A 200 Acre “China City” In Michigan

A Chinese group known as “Sino-Michigan Properties LLC” has bought up 200 acres of land near the town of Milan, Michigan.  Their plan is to construct a “China City” with artificial lakes, a Chinese cultural center and hundreds of housing units for Chinese citizens.  Essentially, it would be a little slice of communist China dropped right into the heartland of America.

This “China City” would be located about 40 minutes from both Detroit and Toledo, and it would be marketed to Chinese business people that want to start businesses in the United States.  Unfortunately, this is not just an isolated incident.  In fact, Chinese companies have been buying up land and businesses all over the country in recent years.  There has even been talk of establishing “special economic zones” inside the United States modeled after the Chinese city of Shenzhen.  It was inevitable that the Chinese were going to do something with the trillions of dollars that they have made flooding our shores with cheap products.  Now they are rapidly buying up pieces of America, and many of our politicians are welcoming them with open arms.

The town of Milan, Michigan is a small farming community of only about 6,000 people, but big changes are coming their way.  The following is from a recent Dayton Daily News article about this new project….

A group of mainland Chinese known as Sino-Michigan Properties LLC paid $1.9 million for 200 acres of farmland on Milan city limits in purchases this year and in 2011, according to local officials and property records.

Unfortunately, the goal does not appear to be to integrate this new “city” into the existing community in and around Milan.

Rather, it appears that all of the new housing will be sold to people coming over from China.  According to the Milan News Leader newspaper, the new housing units “would be marketed to Chinese business people who want to start companies in the United States”.

In essence, we would be looking at a new Chinese city right in the middle of Michigan.

Doug Smith, senior vice president for business and community development for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., recently said the followingabout what the Chinese group plans to do….

“It’s a group that wants to build a China city, starting with housing over there in Milan”

Milan is not far from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, which is a very popular destination for Chinese students.  Apparently that is one reason why Milan was chosen.

This new project would be a Chinese community built by Chinese and specifically designed for Chinese.

But isn’t this supposed to be America?

Fortunately, the project does not have final approval yet.  It still must be approved by the two townships outside of Milan where the land is located.

For some reason, the Chinese seem to be particularly interested in this area of the country.

For example, a different Chinese investment group has been busy buying up chunks of real estate over in nearby Toledo, Ohio.  The following is from an article in the Toledo Blade on May 26th, 2011….

Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., which has already purchased the nearby Docks restaurant complex for $2.15 million, put its $3.8 million offer to buy the southern 69 acres at the Marina District in East Toledo back on the table for approval by Toledo City Council. Additionally, Dashing Pacific Chairman Yuan Xiaohong, in a letter signed in Hangzhou, said the firm wants a two-year option to buy the decommissioned Toledo Edison power plant property on the site.

So should we be alarmed that the Chinese are buying up pieces of America?

Well, if they simply wanted to enjoy living in America and wanted to integrate into the wider community that would be one thing.

But it is another thing altogether to start dropping slices of communist China inside of U.S. territory.

In a previous article entitled “China Wants To Construct A 50 Square Mile Self-Sustaining City South Of Boise, Idaho“, I discussed a potential deal that Sinomach (a company controlled by the Chinese government) was exploring with the government of Idaho.  The following is a description of that potential project from an article in the Idaho Statesman….

A Chinese national company is interested in developing a 10,000- to 30,000-acre technology zone for industry, retail centers and homes south of the Boise Airport.

Full article: Chinese Cities Coming to America (Right Side News)