Across America, the average worker can't afford the median home

In 74% of US counties, the average worker can't afford the median home. It's getting worse: Six months ago, it was 71% of counties. The results come from Attom's new survey of house prices. Read the rest

High art subprime: borrowing on private art collections surges into billions

The international art market is a looter's go-to gambit for grifting their money out of their national borders and getting it into a no-man's land out of reach of every tax authority in the world, but it is also stubbornly illiquid, because selling your Picasso takes a ridiculously long time. Read the rest

Chinese urbanization has left 25 million vacant homes in rural villages

China is undergoing the largest real-estate bubble in history, and things keep getting weirder and weirder, with the specter of a burst bubble looming overall. Read the rest

Watch this spectacular bubble and laser show

DiscoveryCube's annual Bubblefest pulled all the stops out this year with the Mega Bubblefest Laser Show. Read the rest

Secrets of a mind-blowing bubble artist

The Yang family make some of the most incredible soap bubbles in the world as part of their Gazillion Bubble Show in NYC. In this Wired video, Melody Yang shares some of her secrets.

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Toronto's real estate market is imploding

Toronto is one of the many great world cities that has been rendered nearly unlivable by real-estate speculation, both from onshore investors and offshore ones. Read the rest

This art piece generates a wall of big bubbles

This is really fun. With Japanese artist Rintaro Hara's latest piece, visitors can make giant bubbles simply by pulling on a rope. By doing so, her Projection Wall raises a grid of ropes that have been dunked in a soapy solution. Then, as it's rising, eight fans blow through to create a rainbow-y wall of extra-large bubbles. And, who doesn't love a wall of bubbles?

The concept behind the piece, she writes, "dates back to the representation of water created by Computer Graphics of SF movie "Abyss" by James Cameron (1989)":

In the Hollywood movies since the 1990s, computer graphics became an indispensable image technology, shooting taking advantage of analog until now was superseded by digital, and it became possible to express images that were impossible to realize. "Projection wall" inquires about the difference between analog and digital by reducing the expression born by the evolution of the video to an analog method daringly.

More of Hara's work can be found at her website and on Vimeo.

(Colossal)

photos via Rintaro Hara Read the rest

Financial consultancy says that Bitcoin's value is speculative, and as a currency, it should be worth $810

Wall Street consultants Quinlan & Associates have published "Fool's Gold: Unearthing The World of Cryptocurrency," a $5000, 156-page report that predicts that Bitcoin will drop to $1800 by next December, and down to $810 by 2020 (it is currently trading in the $14,000 range). Read the rest

China's massive property bubble creates mad scramble to take on decades of debt

Massive infusions of cash by way of the central bank, combined with runaway mass panic-buying has stampeded Chinese people into buying into the property markets in boomtowns like Shenzhen, despite the insane prices that almost guarantee that they will default on their mortgages -- because they fear that rising property prices will shut them out forever if they don't buy now, and the new rentiers who've speculated on all that property are cranking up rents so fast that renting is worse than buying. Read the rest

Tulip mania wasn't that big of a deal

Lorraine Boissoneault (citing Anne Goldgar) writes that Tulip mania — the wild trade in Dutch tulips that ended with tulips worth more than mansions and a market meltdown illustrative of capitalism's flaws ‐ is mostly fable. Rather than a classic speculator-driven bubble that affected all levels of society, it was a fad among the rich of little economic consequence.

“There weren’t that many people involved and the economic repercussions were pretty minor,” Goldgar says. “I couldn’t find anybody that went bankrupt. If there had been really a wholesale destruction of the economy as the myth suggests, that would’ve been a much harder thing to face.”

That’s not to say that everything about the story is wrong; merchants really did engage in a frantic tulip trade, and they paid incredibly high prices for some bulbs. And when a number of buyers announced they couldn’t pay the high price previously agreed upon, the market did fall apart and cause a small crisis—but only because it undermined social expectations. “In this case it was very difficult to deal with the fact that almost all of your relationships are based on trust, and people said, ‘I don’t care that I said I’m going to buy this thing, I don’t want it anymore and I’m not going to pay for it.’ There was really no mechanism to make people pay because the courts were unwilling to get involved,” Goldgar says.

Goldgar's book, Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age [Amazon} sounds like a good antidode to Tulip Fever,a recently-released movie that indulges the myths. Read the rest

London house-purchase volume falls off a cliff

In May 2014, 259 Islington homes changed hands; in May 2016, 139 houses were sold in the Borough: this May, it was 89. Read the rest

Crash ahoy! London real-estate prices stagnate

In a world of expensive urbanization where the spiraling cost of basic shelter has forced ever-more people into debt and fuelled a speculative global bubble of criminal money-launderers who use luxury housing as empty safe-deposit boxes in the sky, London is ground zero. Read the rest

More anti-money laundering measures hit China as top three Bitcoin exchanges freeze withdrawals

Bitcoin's spiking prices have been driven almost entirely by Chinese money-launderers trying to beat the country's currency controls -- controls that have tightened so much that it's tanking the world's real-estate markets as offshore buyers abandon their deposits and disappear. Read the rest

China's anti-money-laundering rules could burst Canada's real-estate bubble

China has adopted stringent new anti-money-laundering rules that will make it nearly impossible for small investors -- for example, middle-class families who pool their savings -- to get their money out of the country in order to buy condos in Canada's superheated property market (not just Canada, of course!). Read the rest

Bubble porn aficionados keep refining their NSFW art

Bubble porn is where a non-nude photo or video gets a swiss-cheese-like opaque overlay that gives the illusion of nudity. Since its meme heyday, the practice, known as bubbling, now uses translucent overlays that make the effect even more striking. Read the rest

July: Vancouver imposes a 15% tax on foreign real estate speculators; September: home sales drop by a third

Vancouver has been wracked by a white-hot property bubble driven primarily by offshore speculators, mostly Chinese, who have driven up the price of housing beyond the means of working Vancouverites, crippling the city's daily life as workers, students and families struggle to find somewhere -- anywhere -- to live. Read the rest

Manhattan apartment sales are down 20% in Q3

Sales of Manhattan co-ops and condos have plunged 20% in Q316, relative to the same quarter last year -- sales in excess of asking price dropped from 35% to 17%; days on market before sale increased from 67 to 72; median growth in sale price fell to 2.6% from 18%. Read the rest

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