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New home sales: 'Really good news'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Sales of newly constructed single-family homes spiked 11% in June to an annualized rate of 384,000 homes, according to a report released Monday.

The gain over May was much greater than expected. A consensus of housing industry analysts had forecast seasonally adjusted sales of 352,000, according to Breifing.com.

However, sales are still 21% below the levels of a year ago, when new homes sold in June at an annualized rate of 488,000, according to the report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Four years ago, during the height of the housing boom, the sales rate for June was 1,374,000, nearly three-and-a-half times higher than last month.

Still, the report was very positive, according to Peter Morici, an economics professor at the University of Maryland who had forecast June sales to be at the 350,000 level. "That is really good news. Considering what's going on in existing home sales, with all the foreclosure activity sending down home prices, for new homes to jump like that is a good indicator that the economy is bottoming out."
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March 29, 2009

Are Insurance Companies Breaking The Economy?

Filed under: Economy — Tags: — Jim Marks @ 12:52 pm

We’ve become a nation with an insurance-poor economy, or worse, an insurance raped economy. One of the largest contributing factors to our broken economy was the combination of banking and insurance, which had been separated since the Great Depression due to the role that combination played back then. But, it’s greater than that. In fact, it’s pervasive.

If you owned a vacation home anywhere near the areas affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, you probably know very well just how unfair and useless insurance companies can be. Insurance is no longer a loss/coverage proposition. Most often it’s an agreement as to how insurance companies can pay the absolute least amount, or find a reason or loophole to deny coverage. Worse yet, they recover any payouts by raising premiums against those who dare to file claims. It’s now recommended that you get a high-deductible plan for homes and auto insurance, so you’ll pay the first $1,000 on your own in order to avoid steep premium increases if you file a claim. By any standard, that’s a ridiculous proposition.

Consider health insurance. They’ve raised the cost of it by double digits every year for the last 2 decades. In fact, the average cost of healthcare for an individual is now more than 5 times higher than it was in 1990. In 1990, the average health care cost per employee was approximately $145/month. In 2009, companies can expect to pay an average of $805/month. Salaries and wages have not even begun to keep up with this runaway train. And, during this time, the healthcare system has declined dramatically in comparison to rest of the industrialized world. The average life expectancy in 1990¬† was 71.8 for men and 78.8 for women. The latest information for¬†2005 shows the lifespan for men increased to 73.5, and decreased to 78.65 for women. You’d expect with the huge increases we’ve been paying that we’d be living to 120. The cost of healthcare in the US is now nearly double of what it would cost anywhere else on earth. Yet, we’ve gone down from a ranking of 11th to 42nd in terms of life expectancy over the last two decades when compared with other countries.

Do you see a common thread here? I work for a real estate company, and the error and omissions insurance will go up 10% this year, despite the fact that the company expects to do less business or the same as last year. There were no claims filed. Yet, a 10% increase seems to be in order to the insurance companies. Why? Because insurance companies invested heavily into the market and lost. The same thing has happened to life insurance companies. But, of course, they’ll just raise the premiums, and voila… it’s no longer their problem. It’s yours. They don’t lose. Of course, that’s the business model. But, shouldn’t they be responsible for the risks they take? It’s time we make these companies accountable. The era of deregulation was the biggest disaster for US workers in modern times. The most lucrative consumer market in the world has been fleeced, and can no longer support the legal theft that has been going on for nearly three decades. But, that’s about to change. Now, if it’s not a bargain, it’s not going to sell. If it’s not needed, it’ll sit in the showroom.

We just have to figure out a way to apply this to insurance companies, and still be able to drive, go to the hospital, get a mortgage, and run a business.¬† Note, this has very little to do with your local insurance agent or agency, who actually work for you to find the best deal possible to fit your needs. This is another corporate/conglomerate issue focused on quarterly profits, and oblivious to the needs of it’s customers. It’s about monetary control of the government to the point where they write and manipulate¬†the laws at both the federal and state levels. Maybe we could regulate them back to reasonable standards? No loopholes? No constant escalation of cost to value?

Any ideas?


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