In 1921, it was considered the most horrifying, gruesome murder in East Tennessee history.
Starting in Knoxville, with a sickening murder in Robertsville, Tennessee (pre-Oak Ridge), to an attempted bank robbery in Oakdale-this story has it all- ending with four men executed in Tennessee’s electric chair on the same day (a dark state record).
Murder Will Out
Co-Host Mark W. Griffith
(Click on ‘DOWNLOAD’ under thumbnail of book-cover)
It seems like every 100 years, or so a sensational trial occurs in communities across the country. Most of them maintain only a local level of interest but occasionally some reach the attention of the national media. The story of George Lewis and Andrew Crumley reached a national audience; its horrific tale of a brutally cruel murder and attempted murder caught the ire and sympathy of the nation. After the sensational trial, verdict and death sentence, the country seemed to wait in anticipation for the execution. On March 1, 1922, Tennessee executed four men; national news headlines exploded with the news.
In the trials closing augments, prosecuting attorney W. H. Buttram predicted the trial would be, ‘….remembered a hundred years hence.’ But in reality, with justice being served quickly and inexorably, memories of the horror soon faded.
Murder Will Out rekindles some of the emotions undoubtedly felt at the time and attempts to honor the memories of two innocent lives that fell victim to such a despicable plot.
The housing crisis is an issue that needs to be faced and tackled by the next administration. Both presidential candidates have contrasting stances on the issue along with different backgrounds. Trump, a real estate mogul, should be better for housing, but his history in the industry is questionable. Eighteen months before the housing crash, Trump started a mortgage company that would go on to fail. The company offered residential mortgages with quick approval, and aggressive salesmen; the same kind of mortgages that led to the housing crisis in the first place. After it failed, Trump distanced himself from the company and claimed he wasn’t involved with it, blaming the people he hired to run the business. The failed business left behind unpaid employees as well as unpaid taxes. Today, he claims that he predicted the housing crisis, but the facts tell a different story.
On the other hand, Clinton has no background in real estate but experts believe that she would be better for the housing industry. Her biggest challenge is getting voters to trust her.
The question then becomes: with a unique track record for Trump, and a general sense of mistrust surrounding Clinton, who would be better for the housing industry and why?
Housing Crisis Background: The current housing crisis, while not as bad as the one from last decade, is still an issue. One of the biggest issues is the lack of affordable housing. The current housing market isn’t in bad shape, but there is a problem with inventory.
What are the challenges facing the next administration when it comes to housing?
11 million households spend more than half of their income on rent
There is a shortage of affordable rental homes
The available houses are being rented by higher-income households making it so only 3 in 10 extremely low income renters have access to affordable housing
Millennials aren’t buying homes
More people are remodeling than buying
Which candidate do voters believe will be best for the housing crisis?
33% of current homeowners believe Trump would be better, while 31% believe Clinton would be better
35% of perspective homeowners believe Clinton would be better, while 27% believe Trump would be better
According to a survey conducted by Berkshire Hathaway in June, 66% of existing homeowners see the current market as favorable, which is up 5% from the spring
Housing Plan Comparison Background: the next president has to deal with the current housing issues. Clinton has laid out a specific plan, and Trump has mentioned what he would but has no released a plan.
In an address to the National Association of Home Builders Board of Directors, he said he plans to slash regulations to give the housing industry a boost by:
Getting rid of any regulations that kill jobs
Reducing income taxes on businesses up to 15%
Removing bureaucrats who have implemented regulations that hurt job growth
Appointing Supreme Court Justices who would have a positive impact on the industry
Help responsible homeowners save for a down payment by providing funding initiatives in underserved communities to match up $10,000 in savings for “responsible homeowners who earn less than the area median income to put towards a down payment on a first home”
Increase funding and broaden credit terms for housing counseling programs shown to help borrowers become sustainable homeowners
Update underwriting tools to reflect today’s job market by pushing congress to government agencies to use a new generation of credit testing tools
Clarify the rules to expand access by giving every government agency that supports mortgage lending 90 days to present a plan to clarify their lending terms
For renters, she plans to reduce the cost by defending the current supply of Low Income Housing Tax Credits and providing additional credits to communities where demand for the credits exceeds the supplies
Construction Background: one of the issues facing the housing industry is a problem with inventory. Because construction relies heavily on foreign born workers, the candidates’ policies on immigration is very important.
What does the construction industry currently look like?
The business is four years into a shortage of framers, roofers, dry-wallers, and painters
This has rained the cost of construction, as well as slowed it down
This was caused by the decrease of illegal immigration vs a few years ago
Mexicans are returning home in huge numbers; more Mexicans have returned home since 2009 than there were when migration peaked in 2006 (Pew Research)
14% of construction jobs go to undocumented workers
As of August, there are 454,000 unemployed construction workers in the US
This is the lowest number for the month of August in more than 16 years
Which candidate is better for construction?
Clinton because Trump’s plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants would have a huge, negative impact of the construction industry
According to Mark Boud, the Chief Economist at Hanely Wood, deporting the millions of undocumented immigrants who stayed would result in “fewer homes built in an industry already short in terms of housing supply”
The National Association of Home Builders has even been lobbying for a new guest worker program where foreign nationals would be allowed into the US for temporary stretches for jobs, including construction
David Weekely, of David Weekely Homes, claims that reporting all of the laborers would put various different industries in bad shape
The Fr*ee Architecture Firm has proposed that instead of building a wall, build a border city to accommodate the 100 million people living there
Overall, most housing professionals agree that Trump’s stance on immigration is problematic for housing and will have negative long term effects
Solar Energy Background: Solar energy is and housing are intertwined and a hot-button issue with long-term repercussions. The GOP and the Democratic Parties have always have very different views on this issue, and it has become increasingly important in the past few years.
Where does the solar power industry fit into the election?
Democrats back government incentives and funding, which is opposed by Republicans who believe in market-based mechanisms
Currently at the federal level, there is a 30% solar investment tax credit which is the most important policy mechanism for supporting the solar energy sector
There are also state-level regulations like net metering and renewable portfolio standards which require/encourage utility companies to derive a certain minimum of their electricity supply from renewable sources
The federal government plays a role by incentivizing renewables by lowering emissions for conventional fossil fuel sources
What is the future of solar energy?
Solar is becoming increasingly economically feasible, reaching grid parity in many southwestern US states
Where does each candidate stand in terms of solar energy?
Plans to install 500 million solar panels during the first time
Intends to defend, implement, and extend pollution and efficiency standards, including the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan
Part of her plan requires congress approval but would be very good for solar demand and boosting near-term pricing
Has not outlined specific agenda or target for renewables, and has expressed skepticism about man-made climate change
Intends to rescind the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan and potentially cancel the Paris climate agreement that world powers signed in December 2015
This would be beneficial for the oil and coal industries
Which candidate is better for solar energy?
Clinton has better solar power policies that if implement could provide long-term effects and essentially lead the path for other countries to follow suit
Trump would have no negative sort-term implications but would have negative long-term implications because the US is a world leader – if the US is against solar energy, other countries are likely to follow our lead
Overall, who would be better for the housing industry?
Trump has not released a plan for dealing with housing
While Trump has a background in real estate, Clinton’s proposed housing policies would be more beneficial for dealing with the housing crisis
Natural stone is one of the most beautiful materials available for residential and commercial design. Each piece is unique, not man-made, and can fit effortlessly into a variety of decors, making it a top choice for consumers and designers. While natural stone is a popular material, there are several myths surrounding its use that cause homeowners to question its practicality.
Myth #1: Natural Stone Stains Easily.
Staining is a big concern for many homeowners considering natural stone. A common misconception is that common products like red wine, cosmetics, or coffee will stain natural stone countertops beyond repair. While staining can occur on any light colored material, including some lighter stones, Carl Vona Jr., president of Paramount Stone in Stamford, Connecticut, says that most stains are treatable: “We can always troubleshoot the problem. If you know the origin of the stain, you can care for it.”
Jennifer M. Foresman, owner of Madison & Wells Design in Atlanta, Georgia, recommends being mindful of material choice if stains are a concern: “If a client wants white marble for their bathrooms, I would recommend using it in the master bath rather than a child’s bathroom. White granite would be a beautiful option for a child’s bathroom—it gives a similar look but is more stain resistant.”
Myth #2: Natural Stone is Expensive.
Natural stone is often found in high-end projects, but that doesn’t mean it is out of reach for more modest budgets. The cost of natural stone depends on a variety of factors, including availability and demand.
Susan Thiel, founder of Susan Thiel Design in Los Angeles, remarked that natural stone is often in a similar price range as many man-made materials. “Prices vary depending on the movement of the slab and the color. Sometimes we find that natural stone is less expensive than man-made materials.”
Myth #3: Natural Stone is Delicate and Requires Too Much Maintenance.
Softer stones, such as marble or limestone, can be susceptible to etching or scratching. However, this can be prevented by taking simple preventative measures. Always use a cutting board when preparing food on natural stone countertops, especially with acidic foods such as tomato sauce or lemons. Consider using coasters and trivets under glasses and hot pans. Clean up spills as quickly as possible. Do not use harsh cleaning products on natural stone—instead, choose a gentle cleanser and a soft cloth.
Myth #4: Natural Stone Goes Out of Style.
While particular colors and finishes may come in and out of fashion, natural stone is a timeless, classic material. “You can’t go wrong,” says Thiel. “Natural stone is beautiful and durable.” Natural stone also adds a level of romance not found in any other product, adds Foresman: “It offers a sense of history, nature, or drama to a space while always feeling authentic,” she says. “Stone also brings depth and texture to a space that is hard to replicate. It’s been used for centuries as a building material; while it can change in appearance over time, most styles age very gracefully.”
For more information on natural stone care and maintenance, and to find a stone supplier in your area, visit www.usenaturalstone.com.
The State of South Carolina prepares for the 6th annual, ‘Salute from the Shores’, on July 4th. This event gives family, friends, and the country a chance to honor our Armed Forces on Independence Day. Various WWII vintage aircraft escorted by F-16’s will fly the coastline of South Carolina, from slightly North of Myrtle Beach to just a little south of Hilton Head. Beach-goers have the opportunity to watch the historic flight while waving flags and writing encouraging messages on the sand.
Having participated in the solute for the past five years, I can tell you there is nothing more exhilarating than holding the US flag, high overhead as then planes roar down the coast. It’s a memory that will last a lifetime.
Mortgage Investors Group and The Housing Hour would like to celebrate our countries independence by thanking all our military veterans and those who are currently serving our country. We understand and are so grateful for the sacrifices you have made for her freedom. MIG would also like to honor the memory of those who have died defending our nation and their families who have given so much for her defense. Happy 4th of July and God Bless Our Country!
By the summer of 1945, WWII was over in Europe. Hitler and Mussolini were dead, and the German armies had surrendered. However, the war was still waging in the Pacific, and uncertainty was felt throughout the world. By mid-July, Oak Ridge, TN was going to supply enriched uranium for the first atomic bomb to be tested in the New Mexico desert; this test would change the course of history and usher in a new age.
July 4, 1945 was a time of paramount celebration. Life for Oak Ridgers was reshaping. As they worked tirelessly on their contributions to ending the war, plans were also being developed for leisure activities in their Secret City. The large spring located across the street from Grove Center was converted to a public pool and was scheduled to open mid-week, on the 4th of July, for the week-long festivities. Life in Oak Ridge had ushered in a new age: an age of freedom, growth, prosperity and inexplicable joy.
For years to come, the new Oak Ridge community swimming pool had bragging rights. However, at that time the Secret City was still on lock-down. If allowed, Oak Ridge could have boasted on having the largest swimming pool in the world with over 2 million gallons of refreshing cool spring fed water and over an acre of surface area to splash, dive and swim.
Keeping the two plus million gallons of water clean was quite difficult. Due to lack of proper valves (the plants were using them) a filtration system was not available, that would come later. By the end of the swimming season, after long hot summer days, the increasing algae levels would turn the water green. But the former Recreation Director for the City (and a major party responsible for the pool creation), Carl ‘Rabbit’ Yearwood had devised a chlorination plan and method. After buying thousands of gallons of liquid chlorine, recruiting three lifeguards, obtaining two sets of swim fins, and procuring one boat, the chlorination system was ready to be deployed. Two lifeguards would swim alongside the boat, pulling and guiding it while one would sit at the stern and pour the chlorine into the water. They would have to crisscross the one acre of surface area until the proper amount of chlorine was determined. They would repeat this process constantly. Obviously, it wasn’t the most effective method, but like everything else about that generation, whatever it took, that’s what they did.
There have been several improvements to the pool over the years with the latest major renovations occurring in the early 90’s.
During a renovation project in 1955, the city had to order paint for the pool bottom. After placing the order, the paint company called the city back to confirm the quantity amount. Certain there had been an extra zero mistakenly added to the number of gallons needed, the city confirmed the amount was correct (900 gallons). The company informed them that this was the biggest order in their history. As things would turn out, an additional 300 gallons had to be ordered to finish the job. Whatever project the city planned for the pool, it was certain, that it would be on a big scale.
The spring filled pool has certainly been refreshing for Oak Ridgers from the early days of the Manhattan Project, but many may not realize the natural spring lake has been refreshing people for hundreds of years. The history of the area around the city pool is fascinating. The pool, located on Robertsville Road, was originally granted to its namesake, Collins Roberts in the early 1800’s. Collin Roberts was given 4000 acres(a disputed number perhaps more like 400 acres) to settle in that East Fork Valley area of Poplar Creek. Robertsville Road used to be called East Fork Valley Road and was a part of the historic Emory (Emery) Coach Road. The Oak Ridge pool used to play an important part in travel history. The large fresh spring fed lake, called Cross Springs (quite possibly named after farm owner and revolutionary drummer boy, William Cross ), was a stopping point for travelers to water their horses and refresh themselves. Emory Road ran from Blaine, TN, through Oak Ridge, Oliver Springs, Wartburg and crossed into the middle part of that state at Lansing. The road eventually made its way to Monterey, Tn. The eastern section of Emory road was blazed by Peter Avery and sometimes was referred to as the Avery Trace Trail and known originally as the Indian trail, Tahlonteeskee (originating from a Cherokee Village in present day Rockwood, Tn). An original section of the road can be found hidden in the tree line of Oak Ridge next to the Oak Ridge High School football practice field just north of the Oak Ridge Turnpike. A State Historical Marker on the Turnpike describes the location as being, ‘…60 yards north-northeast.’In that location, you can find the historic Rock Pillar Bridge. The bridge was built in the early 1900’s, and the asphalt road bed is still partially visible a few yards to the west. The partial route of Emory Road through Oak Ridge has been recreated on google maps starting from the Bull Run Steam plant, through the center of Oak Ridge, past the Oak Ridge pool onward toward Oliver Springs. (Map of OR section of Emory Road)
So as the Oak Ridge pool reaches its 70th birthday and you and your family visit for its cool refreshing waters, be sure to reflect on the rich history of the area, and the wonderful men and women that have maintained the splendor of the body of water once secretly known as, ‘the largest pool in the world’.
Also by Mark, a 1921 murder in pre-Oak Ridge, Tn.
The spring also used to be referred to as ‘The Duck Pond’ in the late 30’s. (per Eva Wells McCarty)
Oak Ridge Public Library Digital Collection and Teresa Fortney, Library Assistant, Reference, Tennessee Certified Archives Manager (Teresa found the rare, hardly ever seen before, photo of the springs from the Ruth Carey collection.)
joins The Housing Hour to discuss the big change in home loan closing procedure issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that will take effect August 1st. The change may seem to be confusing and cumbersome but with the experienced team at Mortgage Investors Group, our customers closing will remain smooth and worry free.
For more than 30 years, Federal law has required lenders to provide two different disclosure forms to consumers applying for a mortgage. The law also generally has required two different forms at or shortly before closing on the loan. Two different Federal agencies developed these forms separately, under two Federal statutes: the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (RESPA). The information on these forms is overlapping and the language is inconsistent. Consumers often find the forms confusing, and lenders and settlement agents find the forms burdensome to provide and explain.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) directs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) to integrate the mortgage loan disclosures under TILA and RESPA Sections 4 and 5. Section 1032(f) of the Dodd-Frank Act mandated that the Bureau propose for public comment rules and model disclosures that integrate the TILA and RESPA disclosures by July 21, 2012. The Bureau satisfied this statutory mandate and issued proposed rules and forms on July 9, 2012. To accomplish this, the Bureau engaged in extensive consumer and industry research, analysis of public comment, and public outreach for more than a year. After issuing the proposal, the Bureau conducted a large-scale quantitative study of its proposed integrated disclosures with approximately 850 consumers, which concluded that the Bureau’s integrated disclosures had on average statistically significant better performance than the current disclosures under TILA and RESPA. The Bureau has now finalized a rule with new, integrated disclosures – Integrated Mortgage Disclosures Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (Regulation X) and the Truth In Lending Act (Regulation Z) (78 FR 7973, Dec. 31, 2013) (TILA-RESPA rule). The TILA-RESPA rule also provides a detailed explanation of how the forms should be filled out and used.
First, the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and the initial Truth-in-Lending disclosure (initial TIL) have been combined into a new form, the Loan Estimate. Similar to those forms, the new Loan Estimate form is designed to provide disclosures that will be helpful to consumers in understanding the key features, costs, and risks of the mortgage loan for which they are applying, and must be provided to consumers no later than the third business day after they submit a loan application. Second, the HUD-1 and final Truth-in-Lending disclosure (final TIL and, together with the initial TIL, the Truth-in-Lending forms) have been combined into another new form, the Closing Disclosure, which is designed to provide disclosures that will be helpful to consumers in understanding all of the costs of the transaction. This form must be provided to consumers at least three business days before consummation of the loan.
The forms use clear language and design to make it easier for consumers to locate key information, such as interest rate, monthly payments, and costs to close the loan. The forms also provide more information to help consumers decide whether they can afford the loan and to facilitate comparison of the cost of different loan offers, including the cost of the loans over time.
The final rule applies to most closed-end consumer mortgages. It does not apply to home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), reverse mortgages, or mortgages secured by a mobile home or by a dwelling that is not attached to real property (i.e., land).
The TILA-RESPA rule is effective August 1, 2015.
A long time East Tennessee appraiser, Tom has seen market chances and fluctuations that most professionals don’t see in a life time. His experiences give our listening audience a unique perspective of home values.
Home Values With Tom White
On this weeks show, we discuss Collateral Underwriter (CU). CU is a proprietary model-driven tool developed by Fannie Mae that provides an automated appraisal risk assessment to support proactive management of appraisal quality. CU is now available in to provide transparency and help lenders more effectively and efficiently identify issues with appraisals. Tom unwraps the particulars regarding CU and helps us understand how this FNMA system will benefit the home valuation process.
TFW Appraisal Services provides dependable and accurate appraisals in Oak Ridge and Anderson county.As a licensed appraiser, I have the education and qualifications to provide the type of reliable home values that banks and major lending institutions require for home loans. And with years of experience behind me, I’m prepared to handle a variety of property types.
In addition to mortgage appraisals,
my services are also available for:
Removing PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)
Tax Assessments (reducing your property taxes)
Setting a home’s sales price
Legal matters such as divorce settlements
My investment in technology means faster turn times for you and lower costs for everybody. I take pride in providing personalized customer service whether I’m on the phone, sending e-mail or communicating through this website which you can use 24/7 for placing orders, checking status or downloading completed reports.Thanks for taking time to visit TFW Appraisal Services. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.
REASONS TO GET AN APPRAISAL
Every year, countless people in the United States buy, sell or refinance their own slice of the American Dream. Most, if not all, of these transactions include a simple line item for an appraisal. It has become an understood and accepted part of a real estate transaction. “Let’s bring in the expert and make sure we’re not spending too much on this property.”
But is this the only reason to get an appraisal? Are there other times when the services of a certified, licensed, independent real estate professional might come in handy? You bet.
PURCHASE OF A HOME One of the most important issues involved in purchasing a property is developing an opinion of what it’s worth so that you can make an informed offer to purchase. A professional appraisal report performed by a qualified, state-licensed appraiser can provide you with an objective, third party opinion of a property’s current Market Value. And for the small price of this service, you can give yourself “peace of mind” prior to making an offer to purchase that you’re offering a fair price for the property.
REFINANCE OR GET A HOME EQUITY LOAN
If you need to consolidate bills, have a college tuition to pay, or just want to tap into the equity of your home, you’ll need a new loan, which oftentimes requires a new appraisal of the property.
Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI is the supplemental insurance that many lenders ask home buyers to purchase when the amount being loaned is more than 80% of the value of the home. Very often, this additional payment is folded into the monthly mortgage payment and is quickly forgotten. This is unfortunate because PMI becomes unnecessary when the remaining balance of the loan – whether through market appreciation or principal paydown – dips below this 80% level. In fact, the United States Congress passed a law in 1998 (the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998) that requires lenders to remove the PMI payments when the loan-to-value ratio conditions have been met.
Many appraisers offer a specific service for home owners that believe they have met the 80% loan-to-value metric. For a nominal fee, the appraiser can provide you with a statement regarding the home value. Some will even take the next step and help you file a challenge with your mortgage company. The costs of these services are very often recovered in just a few months of not paying the PMI.
DIVORCE SETTLEMENT A divorce can be a particularly traumatic experience for both parties and is often further complicated by the difficult decision of “Who gets the house?”. In most divorce cases, the Court won’t usually force the parties involved to “buyout” the other party’s interest but it may however order the sale of the home so each party gets an equal share of the equity. Regardless of the situation, it’s a good idea to order an appraisal so both parties are fully aware of what the true market value is.
If the parties want to sell the home, they’ll have a better idea of what price to set. And on the flipside, if a “buyout” is the chosen option, both parties will feel like they’ve gotten a fair assessment.
ESTATE LIQUIDATION The loss of a loved one is a difficult time in life and settling an estate from a death, or probate, often requires an appraisal to establish Fair Market Value for the residential property involved. The ethics provision within the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) binds us with confidentiality, ensuring the fullest degree of discretion.
Unlike many wealthy individuals, the majority of Americans do not have dedicated estate planners or executors to handle these issues. Also, in most cases, a home or other real property makes up a disproportionate share of the total estate value.
Here too, an appraiser can help. Often the first step in fairly disposing of an estate is to understand its true value. Where property is involved, the appraiser can help determine the true value. At this point, equitable arrangements can more easily be arrived at among disputing parties. Everyone walks away knowing they’ve received a fair deal.
RELOCATION We understand the stress involved with an employee relocation. We take great care in establishing a convenient appointment time for the appraisal inspection. During our thorough inspection, we encourage relocating employees to provide input on the positive attributes of their property along with information about any recent sales or listings in their neighborhood that they want considered.
HOME IMPROVEMENTS TO ADD VALUE
Before you decide to sell your home, there are several decisions to be made. First and foremost: “How much should it sell for?” But don’t forget there may be other equally important questions to ask yourself such as “Would it be better to paint the entire house before we sell it?”, “Should I put in that third bathroom?”, “Should I complete my kitchen remodel?” Many things which we do to our houses have an effect on their value. Unfortunately, not all of them have an equal effect. While a kitchen remodel may improve the appeal of a home, it may not add nearly enough to the value to justify the expense.
SELLING A HOME
Whether you choose to sell your home on your own or use the assistance of a real estate agent, a professional appraisal can help you make a better educated decision when determining your selling price.
Unlike a real estate agent, an appraiser has no vested interest in what amount the house sells for. It’s easy for them to step in and give you the information to help you make your decision. Appraiser fees are based on efforts to complete the report and not a percentage of the sales price. So seeking a professional appraisal can often help homeowners make the best decisions on investing in their homes and setting a fair sales price.
When the Federal Reserve met earlier this week the governing body did not rock the boat and kept with previous statements and posture. They left rates unchanged, however the statement was tweaked in a way to allow them to start rate hikes (normalizing monetary policy) later this year. They said that economic activity was expanding at a “solid pace” with strong job gains.
Words are powerful: One tool the Fed has is “forward guidance.” This is “wording” that tells markets what to expect in the future. Mrs. Yellen has said that the Fed can be “patient” in raising rates and indicated that “patience” means no changes for at least two more meetings. By including it Wednesday the Fed took rate hikes off the table at their March and April meetings leaving the June 16-17 meeting in question.
Not all Fed meetings are created equal. The governing body meets every six weeks, however they do not always include a press conference and updated economic projections from the members. The meeting this week was one without a press conference or projections, leaving Mrs. Yellen without a soapbox to explain any changes in stance. This was one reason few expected much change from the statement. However the March 17-18 meeting brings updated projections and a press conference. Mrs. Yellen will not remove the “patience” wording without an opportunity to explain her position. Global market participants will be on edge as the meeting approaches.
Data Dependent: As Mrs. Yellen has said repeatedly, any changes to Fed policy will depend on the economy. If inflation remains well below their 2% target or the economy stumbles the Fed will delay rate hikes. One metric they are laser focused on is jobs. As the economy moves to “full employment” (the condition in which virtually all who are able and willing to work are employed) with an unemployment rate of 5.2%-5.5% any sign of wage inflation will pressure them to increase rates.
Global economy: The US is the shining light for economic activity around the world. As central banks of other countries continue to add accommodations, the Fed is poised to move to hike rates. We are seeing bond buying (quantitative easing), rate cuts, and other activities to combat deflation and rising currency values from Europe to Canada to Asia. It is rare to see so much disjunction between central banks.
What about rates: Despite the fact the Fed is jawboning higher rates, yields in the US are falling. One reason is the Treasury rates in the US are much higher than yields available from other strong countries such as Germany. In Germany the 10-year Bund yields 35bps (1/3 of 1%) and the 30-year bund is less than 1%. Rates in Germany are expect to fall further as the European Central Bank kicks off their own QE. That makes a mortgage backed security yielding 3% or a 10-year Treasury bond yielding 1.75% a deal.
What to expect: In a word, volatility. There is no reason to believe mortgage rates will rise substantially in 2015 and they could fall as we have seen recently. Keep an eye on the economic data calendar and prepare yourself and your borrowers for the possibility of rapid rate movements. Not all volatility is bad, however all volatility is disruptive.
The day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, is the biggest shopping day of the year. The origins of the term ‘Black Friday’ have become legendary all on its own. Some people point to the massive chaotic shopping mobs that would invade large cities hunting deals and the local law enforcement agencies pointing to the day as ‘Black’ because of the massive difficulties that it would create. While some point to an accounting ledger entries with ‘red’ meaning negative in earning and the day after Thanksgiving going from ‘red’ to positive earnings or ‘black’. Still others point to a nebulous article printed in some unnamed industrial magazine sighting the epidemic of employees ‘calling in sick’ the day after Thanksgiving as being, “a disease second only to the bubonic plague” implying the day that the population succumbs to Black Death..
Regardless of where the term originated the season typically begins with retailers inserting advertising pieces into local Sunday newspapers around the country. Avid shoppers will prepare their meticulously detailed shopping list weeks in advance, some lining up days before, braving all sorts of weather conditions, just to be one of the first of the stampeding hoards through the front doors.
It is curious, with all the elbows being thrown and shoppers being trampled the name Black Eye Friday doesn’t catch on. Regardless of what it’s called, the day after
Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, is the mother of all shopping days.
But how did this most exciting, yet life threatening, shopping day start?
Hist oric fingers loosely point to one of the largest retailer of its day, Macy’s. The Macy’s Christmas Day Parade began in 1924 on Thanksgiving day as a way to honor their immigrant workers who wanted show to their thankfulness to the country that had given them a new beginning. But once the iconic retailer realized the power of the parade, the event became an annual celebration with the focus on retail marketing. What better way to bring thousands of potential shoppers to your front door, the day before the official Christmas shopping season starts, than by offering a wonderful parade full of clowns, balloons and candy? The parade was renamed to The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with its purposeful marketing angle at the end of the parade with that unspoken but very clear, message from Santa, ‘Thanksgiving is over, let the shopping begin!’
The Mayflower and The Letter That Launched A New World
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on a group of pilgrims that braved a vast ocean to settle in a foreign and hostile new world. The 65 day journey was cruel and punishing. At the end of their journey, bad weather prevented the pilgrims from disembarking the Mayflower for a couple of days. In addition, the Mayflower was lost and ended up north of their target. Arguments and bickering between the pilgrims and other settlers began to swell within the confines of its walls. William Brewster and William Bradford, the elders of the group, encouraged the pilgrims to form a pact as a way to calm and refocus the passengers. With winter descending upon them, survival depended on mutual solidarity. A document was penned that would change the course of history and become the foundational basis for the US Constitution. The Mayflower Compact outlined as William Bradford put it, ‘…the first foundation of their government…’ principles that included, civil governmental body, justice, equality and laws for the protection and preservation of its people.
Well-crafted and concise The Mayflower Compact was signed by all parties. History has honored the signatories of this famous contract.
But was the Mayflower Compact the original thoughts and words of the pilgrims during a time of distress and anxiety? Could there have been another person and document that influenced the creation of the Compact?
Napoleon Bonaparte commented once, “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.” Sadly, the ancillary details of history are often forgotten.
The Story of the Mayflower and the Mayflower Compact begins just prior to the pilgrim’s departure. Sitting in the harbor in Delfshaven, the pilgrims began preparations for their historic journey. But it wasn’t without sadness and despair. The family and friends that were left behind understood the consequences of the voyage. Some family members would never see their loved ones again. William Bradford and his wife left behind their 3 year old child. The day before the departure their pastor ,John Robinson preached a sermon that encouraged the pilgrims and congregation to “…humble ourselves before our God, and seeke of him a right way for us, and for our children, and for all our substance.” Robinson also pointed out that the occasion was filled with “pouring out prayers” and an “abundant of tears”. For a long time, the community of Delfshaven remembered the mournful scene the morning the Mayflower left for the new world. William Bradford recorded the events:“The next day (the wind being fair) they went aboard and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to see what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them, what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each heart; that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the quay as spectators could not refrain from tears.”
But history has recorded an ancillary detail just prior to the Mayflower leaving port. John Robinson, their beloved pastor, handed the elders on the Mayflower a letter. William Bradford records the reading of this letter to everyone on board, “All things being now ready, & every bussines dispatched, the company was caled togeather, and this letter read amongst them, which had good acceptation with all, and after fruit with many.”
The letter was full of love, encouragement and Godly instruction and opened with, ‘Loving and Christian Friends…’It’s not hard to imagine that the last link to their old world would be closely read and highly valued. When the arguments, disgruntling and as Bradford described, “discontented and mutinous speeches” began at the end of their journey, it was this letter that was most assuredly on the minds of William Brewster and William Bradford. The letter incredibly predicted malcontent and ‘…a world of offenses…’ and admonishes the group to focus on ‘Heavenly peace with God’ and ‘peace with all men’and not to ‘easily take offense being given by others’but rather, ‘Store up, therefore, patience..’
Robinson’s letter even instructed them how to form the beginnings of a government , ‘…you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government…’.This phrase is directly used in the Compact, ‘…combine ourselves together into a civil body politic…’ Equality and respect found its way into the pastor’s letter as he implored the pilgrims to choose, ‘such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good…’ and not to elevate others to a, ‘specialeminency above the rest.’but yield to, ‘them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations….’These concepts, relayed to them from a pastor’s love, are the core of the compact.
At the ‘Pilgrims’ Day Recalled’ in 1879, the New-England Club’s annual banquet, Rev Dr. H.W. Bellows spoke to ‘the social compact of the Mayflower’ when he said, “The social compact of the Mayflower embodied two principles. That the fortunes of life and the opinion of the individual man must be held in obedience to the common interests and the common good. The individual was not only a member of a race to which he owed privileges and gifts, but the race was the child and servant of the most high God. These were the principles-love of God and love of law.”
The Mayflower Compact captured the foundational spirit of America; freedom to pursue dreams, justice, equality and individual responsibility. It is easy to see the impact it had on our founding fathers when they drafted the US Constitution. All this from a love letter from a simple pastor to his‘Loving and Christian Friends‘.
“Modern” version “In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.: Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith, and the honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another; covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.”
Loving and Christian Friends,
I do heartily and in the Lord salute you all as being they with whom I am present in my best affection, and most earnest longings after you. Though I be constrained for a while to be bodily absent from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly and much rather than otherwise, I would have borne my part with you in this first brunt, where I not by strong necessity held back for the present. Make account of me in the meanwhile as of a man divided in myself with great pain, and as (natural bonds set aside) having my better part with you. And though I doubt not but in your godly wisdoms you both foresee and resolve upon that which concerneth your present state and condition, both severally and jointly, yet have I thought it but my duty to add some further spur of provocation unto them who run already; if not because you need it, yet because I owe it in love and duty. And first, as we are daily to renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins knn occasions of such difficulty and danger sa lieth upon you, to a both more narrow search and careful reformation of your ways in His sight; let He, calling to remembrance our sins forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage against us, and in judgment leave us for the same to be swallowed up in one danger or other. Whereas, on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance and the pardon thereof from the Lord, sealed up unto a man’s conscience by His Spirit, great shall be his security and peace in all dangers, sweet his comforts in all distresses, with happy deliverance from all evil, whether in live or in death.
Now, next after this heavenly peace with God and our own consciences, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men what in us lieth, especially with our associates. And for that, watchfulness must be had that we neither at all in ourselves do give, no, nor easily take offense being given by others. Woe be unto the world for offenses, for though it be necessary (considering the malice of Satan and man’s corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the man, or woman either, by whom the offense cometh, saith Christ, Matthew 18:7. And if offenses in the unseasonable use of things, in themselves indifferent, be more to the feared than death itself (as the Apostle teacheth, 1 Corinthians 9:15) how much more in things simply evil, in which neither honor of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Neither yet is it sufficient that we keep ourselves by the grace of God from giving offense, except withal we be armed against the taking of them when they be given by others. For how unperfect and lame is the work of grace in that person who wants charity to cover a multitude of offenses, as the Scriptures speak!
Neither are you to be exhorted to this grace only upon the common grounds of Christianity, which are, that persons ready to take offense either want charity to cover offenses, or wisdom duly to weigh human frailty; or lastly, are gross, though close hypocrites as Christ our Lord teacheth (Matthew 7:1,2,3), as indeed in my own experience few or none have been found which sooner give
offense than such as easily take it. Neither have they ever proved sound and profitable members in societies, which have nourished this touchy humor.
But besides these, there are divers motives provoking you above others to great care and conscience this way: As first, you are many of you strangers, as to the persons so to the infirmities one of another, and so stand in need of more watchfulness this way, lest when such things fall out in men and women as you suspected not, you be inordinately affected with them; which doth require at your hands much wisdom and charity for the covering and preventing of incident offenses that way. And, lastly, your intended course of civil community will minister continual occasion of offense, and will be as fuel for that fire, except you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking of offense causelessly or easily at men’s doings be so carefully to be avoided, how much more heed is to be taken that we take not offense at God Himself, which yet we certainly do so oft as we do murmur at His providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such afflictions as wherewith He pleaseth to visit us. Store up, therefore, patience against that evil day, without which we take offense at the Lord Himself in His holy and just works.
A fourth thing there is carefully to be provided for, to wit, that with your common employments you join common affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding deadly plague of your both common and special comfort all retiredness of mind for proper advantage, and all singularly affected any manner of way. Let ever man repress in himself and the whole body in each person, as so many rebels against the common good, all private respects of men’s selves, not sorting with the general conveniency. And as men are careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it be well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you, brethren, much more careful that the house of God, which you are and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof.
Lastly, whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government; let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations, not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God’s ordinance for your good; not being like the foolish multitude who more honor the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better things, and that the image of the Lord’s power and authority which the magistrate beareth, is honorable, in how means persons soever. And this duty you both may the more willingly and ought the more conscionably to perform, because you are at least for the present to have only them for your ordinary governors, which yourselves shall make choice of for that work.
Sundry other things of importance I could put you in mind of, and of those before mentioned in more words, but I will not so far wrong your godly minds as to think you heedless of these things, there being also divers among you so well able to admonish both themselves and others of what concerneth them. These few things therefore, and the same in few words I do earnestly commend unto your care and conscience, joining therewith my daily incessant prayers unto the Lord, that He who hath made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all rivers of water, and whose providence is over all His works, espeically over all His dear children for good, would so guide and guard you in your ways, as inwardly by His Spirit, so outwardly by the hand of His power, as that both you and we also, for and with you, may have after matter of praising His name all the days of your and our lives. Fare you well in Him in whom you trust, and in whom I rest.
An unfeigned wellwiller of your happy success in this hopeful voyage,
“Deetz illustrates a contrast between the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence. In his view, Deetz points out that the Compact “stresses the larger community, and the individual is not considered: ‘[we]… covenant and combine ourselves together in a civil body politic … and promise due submission to the general good of the colony.’” He goes on to quote the Declaration, “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…,” pointing out the difference between the “civil body politic” and “all men.” This difference between the two documents, according to Deetz, is easily understood, and also “peculiarly suitable to the needs of the people for whom it was written” (Deetz 158-59).”
Deetz, James. In Small Things Forgotten: The Archeology of Early American Life. Garden City: Anchor Books, 1977.