3/15/21 Power Five

1. Where Have All The Houses Gone?“The supply side is really tricky,” said Benjamin Keys, an economist at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. “Who wants to sell a house in the middle of a pandemic? That’s what I keep coming back to. Is this a time you want to open your house up to people walking through it? No, of course not.” A majority of homeowners in America are baby boomers — a group at heightened risk from the coronavirus. If many of them have been reluctant to move out and downsize over the past year, that makes it hard for other families behind them to move in and upgrade. There are lots of steps along the “property ladder,” as Professor Keys put it, that are hard to imagine people taking mid-pandemic: Who would move into an assisted living facility or nursing home right now (freeing up a longtime family home)? Who would commit to a “forever home” (freeing up their starter house) when it’s unclear what remote work will look like in six months?”

2. The Average American Woman Weighs as Much as the Average American Man – Not so rosy for men either. “The average American is 33 pounds heavier than the average Frenchman, 40 pounds heavier than the average Japanese citizen, and a whopping 70 pounds heavier than the average citizen of Bangladesh. To add up to one ton of total mass, it takes 20 Bangladeshis but only 12.2 Americans.

3. Where Does the Royal Family Get it’s Money From? – “As head of state, the monarch technically owns the crown estate, a collection of land and assets that includes Ascot racecourse, a big chunk of central London and half of the foreshore (the coastal land between the high and low tide marks) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But the crown estate is run independently, and its profits—£345m last year—go to the government.”

4. On the Experience of Being Poorish, for People Who Are Not – “It also implies there’s no place left to cut – you don’t have a car payment, and your insurance is minimal if it hasn’t lapsed already. You don’t have cable. You are eating a lot of rice. There’s simply nothing “extra” left to cut, and now you are choosing between things like power and internet (which you need to work and find work, these days) and water (which you need to survive). Often you’ve already even prioritized those things, because as I’ve said they don’t turn off your water for a while; you’ve been juggling things like power and water, now with late fees, for a while. And one day your wife calls you and tells you the water is off, and there’s nothing you can do; maybe some family member can help you out, or maybe you live without utilities for a week or so until you get paid and start the next pay cycle that much more behind.”

5. 17 Reasons to Let the Economic Optimism Begin “Shake and shake the ketchup bottle. First none will come and then a lot’ll.”