Mortgage rates jump to highest level of 2018


The news is not enough to create panic but mortgage rates reached their highest level of 2018 and now sit at 4.470%.  That is the rate reported by Freddie Mac from their weekly primary market rate survey, which is the industry standard for gauging consumer mortgages.  It represents the benchmark thirty-year mortgage.  The survey is compiled from a sampling of lenders who sell mortgages to them.

The increase represents a five-basis point increase from week over week reporting.  Among other things the rate increase is attributed to the uncertainty over the impact of tariffs which the Trump administration recently announced.

 

Most consumers understand mortgage rates are cyclical and even the five-point increase would be considered normal movement.  On the other hand, those in the market for a mortgage pay attention to trends as positioning is a big factor in determining when to apply for a loan.  Purchase transactions are driven by the close of escrow and refinance transactions take approximately sixty days to close.  So, if the assumption is that rates will further increase it is more prudent to lock in the rate at time of application.  Of course, if your analysis conclude rates might drop, then your strategy might be to submit your application but “float” the rate or lock in at a later time.


Tax Cuts

 

The financial projection for 2018 was that rates would increase from their 2017 level.   There was much fanfare about the historic tax bill which was passed in December 2017.  Hopefully you were lucky enough to receive bonuses touted by the majority political party as well as Donald Trump?

“Still, the vast majority of adults don’t seem to have sensed the effects of the tax cut on their personal finances.” Politico

Although the public still hasn’t been told of how the government plans to pay for the tax cuts which by 2020 will push the tax deficit pass the TRILLION-dollar mark, many have taken the position to support anything which puts a little money in their pocket, even on a temporary basis.

Donald Trump proclaims tax cuts will revolutionize economy. Some are still waiting on promised bonuses or larger paychecks.

Expect Mark Short to be taken to the woodshed

Perhaps he misspoke but later this week do not be surprised if Trump and his strong allies do not take one of their own directly to the woodshed.  Why?  There was so much hype in attempting the justify the tax cuts and/or more money in worker’s paychecks, one would surely assume the numbers would be more than five percent!!!!

However, contrary to what the Trump administration has been boasting their own Director of Legislative Affairs and Assistant to the President for U.S. President Donald J. Trump, Mark Short belted out on “Meet the Press” that there is good news as five million people have financially benefited from the tax bill passed in December.  The problem with Short’s assessment is while five million represents lots of folk, it represents less than five percent of the total workforce which is nearly 125 million, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Wasn’t it presented that nearly every worker would see an immediate gain?  Maybe you were one of the lucky five million?

Hear Short’s specific comment at the 40 second mark.


Cost of good increase

 

Everyone appreciates a good economy.  The result is consumer confidence has increased and that is a positive sign which doesn’t get much debate..  The impact for most consumers is even though they have more money in their pocket, the increased cost of goods has eaten away at those gains.

People take part in a protest against the Republican tax bill in Los Angeles, California on December 4, 2017. Democrats and many economists warn that the GOP tax plan gives large tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy and will hurt middle class families. (Photo by Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto)

On the mortgage front today’s rate represents a fifty-basis point increase from year over year reporting.  The result is the average consumer ($244,000) is paying an additional $102 per month over a tad over $1,200 for the year.  Based on those numbers you will need more than a tax cut or bonus to break even.

Current rates for popular programs**

April 19, 2018

30-Yr FRM 15-Yr FRM 5/1-Yr ARM
Average Rates 4.47 % 3.94 % 3.67 %
Fees & Points 0.5 0.4 0.3
Margin N/A N/A 2.76

** source – Freddie Mac rate survey

Our 2018 Southern States Trek – Dr. King, Jim Crow, et. al


Our recent Southern States trek featuring some new sites, as well as those we were familiar with, and even included some from days of the past.  We ventured into Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas and covered about 1,500 miles.

 

Dr. King

 

Our dear friend James from San Francisco connected with us in Memphis, TN.  This was our primary destination as the world commemorated the 50th anniversary on April 4th which was the day of Dr. King’s assassination at the Lorraine Motel.   At the time of Dr. King’s death we were teenagers.  Now as adults we had a sense of urgency and consciousness which highlighted the historical importance of joining the hundreds of thousands who were also making the pilgrimage to Memphis.

 

Iconic Mountaintop Speech

 

Dr. King had an oratorical gift and many of his speeches are historic.  Most had no idea that his “Mountaintop Speech” at Mason Temple on April 3, 1968 would be his last.  Mason Temple through their connection with AFSME and the “I AM A MAN 2018” organization hosted an event where the full speech would be heard.  We were blessed to be in attendance to hear the speech and pay homage to Dr. King and the sanitation worker’s.

 

On April 4th events were going on all over the nation.  We participated in the events sponsored by the National Civil Rights Museum of which the Lorraine Motel is part of.


Roland Martin of TV took time to capture the day’s event

Later that evening, we were present to hear icons from the Civil Rights era participate in “An Evening of Storytelling.”


Capping off the commemoration was “An Evening of Storytelling” hosted by the MLK50 organization

 


clip courtesy of Roland Martin


Jim Crow

A typical Jim Crow sign highlighting customs Blacks must follow

Jim Crow is not a new foodie item!  It is the euphemism White leadership created once legalized slavery ended.  The emphasis was to develop a system and to establish customs which Blacks and other non-whites were mandated to follow.  Failure to abide resulted in harsh punishment and for many; DEATH!!!

This is the site – Arcade theater in Ferriday, LA where my brother and I first experienced southern Jim Crow. In 1962 we were directed upstairs to the colored section to see the movie

As African-Americans were emancipated from slavery, many whites or those in control could not fathom they had the same rights as them.  Those who were in power took on a very stubborn attitude.  The result was for them to create regulations, codes, customs to minimize or thwart African-Americans from obtaining equal rights.   As mentioned they cleverly called the system Jim Crow.

The legacy of Jim Crow is evident even in 2018 as some whites have never accepted African-Americans as equal.  It is engrained in the culture (in the United States and around the world).  Interestingly the psyche affects whites and even Blacks who invariably marginalize other blacks.

“if we are to implement the American dream we must get rid of the notion once and for all that there are superior and inferior races.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

While Jim Crow was beaten down with legal victories during the civil rights movement, just like the Civil War; some uninformed Whites want to keep fighting it, as if it never ended.   They do not accept the fact their ancestors or those who they revere participated in treason!  The result in today’s reality is Jim Crow has spawned into a more sophisticated dynamic called James Crow, Esq.  From voter suppression to economic discrimination; the bottom line is to do what is necessary to keep certain segments of the population in check.

more Jim Crow

Many stops

 

There where many stops we made during our trek.  Some were event specific or where we had reservations to attend.  Others were the type of stops you make on a “day trip.”  In addition to the Lorraine, we swung by Ruleville to finally get to see the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden.

Fred & Judith at the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden

 

A bigger find was traveling about forty minutes southeast through the Mississippi Delta and winding up in Money.  For those who don’t know, Money is the site of Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Store and where 14-year-old Emmett Till while in the store allegedly whistled at the store’s owner, Mrs. Carolyn Bryant.  The act cost Till his life as he was accosted at 3am the next morning from the home where he was staying, which was with his uncle Moses Wright.  Like most homes in the rural south, it was in the woods (or in the country) about three miles from the store.   At gunpoint, Bryant’s husband, brother and others who formed a posse  demanded Wright turn him over.  After being savagely beaten and lynched the incident became national news as his mother, Mrs. Mamie Mobley shocked the world during the funeral and took the brave act insisting the casket remain open for all to see what Bryant’s posse had done.

Money, MS. A shadow of the store can be seen in the foreground.
Bryant’s Store – courtesy of Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
This was one of the boldest moves of the time!!! It shows Till’s uncle, Moses Wright testifying at the trial. Like many who were untrained Wright spoke in broken and barely audible vocabulary but he spouted off “Dar he” (there he is) as he pointed out Bryant as the person who came to his door and took his nephew. photo courtesy of Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Claim recanted

Sadly fifty-three years later or in 2008, Carolyn Bryant recanted her claim that Till EVER whistled at her!!!!!!.  Her interview is chronicled in a book which came out in 2017.  Regardless, that was the custom of the south or behavior certain Whites took toward harassing Blacks.   Through the years many who made claims or assertions against Blacks, which caused great harm have been found to be untrue.

For those like us who had never been to Money, we quickly realized the town is more of an outpost of Greenwood.   Our next stop took us two hours to the south and we finally arrived at the state capitol in Jackson.  The site we were eager to see was the new Mississippi Civil Rights museum.  The organizers have done an amazing job of interpreting Mississippi’s involvement as it relates to African-American’s. The violence showcased is incredible.

Fred & Judith pose with Mrs. Pamela Junior who is the Executive Director of the new Mississippi Civil Rights museum

Following Jackson we ventured another two hours to antebellum Natchez.  Crossing the mississippi river we finally landed into Louisiana and made some stops in Vidalia, Ridgecrest and Ferriday, which is where my father hails from.  In summary, the four-state trek was a blessing and something we will remember for the rest of our lives.  Here are some scenes we are happy to share.

Just when you thought you had ENOUGH art!!!!


[Memphis, TN]   If you appreciate culture you more than likely have art hanging on your wall.  If you are like me you treasure great work but have run out of wall space or money?   However, just when you thought you had enough art you come across a piece that you must have.

On the 50th commemoration of the day Dr. King was assassinated, Judith and I were trekking down south Main street near Talbot avenue, which is down the street from the National Civil Rights Museum and came across this artist who was just setting up.  We now know his name is KOLONGI.  Once he pulled out his prints, all manner of being broke as a belglade Indian or being financially embarrassed disappeared, as we knew this was a special piece which we had to have.

 

It is a remarkable piece.  It has an African-American theme and Kolongi calls it, “Summoned by the Ancestors.”  However, regardless of your ethnicity if you too appreciate art, history or culture I would encourage you to add this to your collection.

 

It depicts President Barack Obama during a meeting. He was summoned by the ancestors to discuss issues of importance to the African American community and the best path forward for our people. The ancestors that summoned him were Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali.

 

I asked Kolongi what was his inspiration for creating this masterpiece?  He indicated, “I always look for things which are unique and because so many people appreciated Obama and what he represented I wanted to create a piece featuring him while calling on the ancestors for guidance.”

 

I was happy to hear the large supply of prints Kolongi made sold out within hours and I am glad we had sense to scrape up enough money to grab it and have it framed.

Kolongi’s website HERE

The Confederate Battle Flag


[Natchez, MS]  We recently completed a trek which took us to the south, specifically Natchez, MS.  My father is buried in the National Cemetery which is reserved for those eligible from their military service.  Down the road is the Natchez City Cemetery, which I also visited as relatives are there as well.

If you have never been to the “south” or unfamiliar with the history, customs or the culture you may come across……. you might have the reaction as my wife Judith in seeing gravesites highlighted with confederate battle flags.

The flags were a sense of pride for those supporting the confederacy.  There are many today, from all over the world who still proudly display support and recognize it as part of their “tradition.”  Whatever the explanation, I respect their choice to be honored by that symbol.  Although, I would encourage those who in 2018 claim the flag as some type of honor (unless, they are burying someone from that era) to immediately enroll in my american history class!!!!

It boils down to education or knowledge

 

The confederate battle flag was created to provide a distinct difference.  In its day it was known as the “Stainless Banner.”  The confederacy was created as opposition to those in the united states who wanted to abolish slavery, among other things.  The result was the Civil War.  The confederacy was basically identified as states in the southern region (i.e., Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, etc.).

I have friends or know of folk who even today, have adopted the confederate flag.  Their explanation is it has been a “family custom” or “tradition” and such, embrace it with pride.  While some would go ballistic or be willing to disown them, I respect their opinions.  Instead of vilifying them or excoriating them from planet earth I view it as an opportunity to educate and have dialogue, as long as there is genuine communication.

 

What you don’t know, you don’t know!!!!

 

While the flag is embraced by some, and perhaps by more than you might imagine……many do so because they simply conflate reality or historical facts.

 

Treason & Fear

 

The fact the confederacy wanted to have their own flag to identify allegiance is understood.  Fortunately, the Civil War ended and the desire of the confederacy to have their own government was squashed by their defeat.  Interestingly, some still fight the tenets of the civil war as if it never ended.

 

trea·son

ˈtrēzən/

noun

  1. the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.

 

So, from most historical accounts the actions of the confederacy were treasonous as their primary attack was to overthrow the current government.

As the Civil War ended, the dynamic of racial equality resulted in violence which still exist in some pockets of our country.  Those in opposition of equality, particularly terrorist groups such as the Klu Klux Klan adopted the confederate battle flag.   That is why even today, many who see the confederate battle flag being used, especially if they are African-American or non-white are reminded of the terror and oppression meted out by those who embrace the flag.

 

I recall during the Trayvon Martin murder and was completing some research in Sanford, we came across several confederate battle flags flying from homes.  Remarkably, these were noticed in the same tract as the police department!  We simply concluded  that for many they embrace the flag and don’t associate the negative reaction, or don’t care from those who are not like them.

 

The confederate battle flag is a part of history.  It may be easy to dismiss or prevent honest dialogue, even with those you may consider as friends?  I understand the sense of pride of those who used it during the participation as part of the confederacy.    However, for those who continue to embrace it, perhaps that represents the great opportunity for some basic conversation, education and reality.

Fannie Lou Hamer Complex – Ruleville, MS


The Fannie Lou Hamer complex is a MUST-SEE!!!

Ruleville is in the “Delta” and is about 2 hours southeast of Memphis and about 2 miles northwest of Jackson.  Fannie Lou’s story is remarkable and we were blessed to finally be able to visit the site and pay our respect.

On the way from Memphis, surprisingly you will pass Parchman prison which is where Fannie Lou wound up simply for attempting to register folk to vote!!!!  It was also the temporary home for many other civil right heroes, especially Freedom Riders who too took great risk of their lives in the fight of equality.

The Fannie Lou Hamer Park is part of the Fannie Lou Complex. In addition the museum (currently being updated), next door is the memorial garden
Judith and I take time for a quick pose at the great Fannie Lou Hamer statue

 

If you want to learn more about Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer please see this clip from the iconic “Eyes on the Prize” as it chronicles the Mississippi movement as well as her role, including the sacrifices she had to endure.


 

 

 

What were you doing April 4, 1968 at 6:01pm????


[Memphis, TN]     For a good many of you the question is moot because you were not born!  But there are a good many like me who were around that first Thursday of April 1968.

Dr. King and entourage getting ready to go to the Kyles for dinner. Dr. King had ordered Rev. Jackson to go and put a tie on. His famous quote was, “Dr. King the only thing you need for dinner is a good appetite!!!”

My memory is foggy but being a student of history, particularly the Civil Rights movement one thing I do remember is it is one of those days where you try and remember what you were doing or where you were at.

 

Pomona

 

I was a student at Ganesha High School in Pomona, CA.  More than likely it was a basic day and the week was rolling by.  At 6:01 pm (CST) a bullet tore threw Dr. King’s lower jaw and neck.  While many have accepted the notion James Earl Ray was the lone assassin, I defer to the King family, Judge Joe Brown and others who accept the fact the bullet that fell Dr. King was not fired by Ray………but that’s another post for another time.

 

Being a motely student-athlete, in Pomona 6:01pm, translates into 4:01pm so more than likely I was at baseball practice.  I can’t patch much more because there was not 24/7 cable news and if I recall the news at the “major” channels (2,4,7, etc.) was a whopping thirty minutes!  Most of the news was communicated by CBS’s perennial anchor, Walter Cronkite.  You can even do a search and see the iconic clip of him informing the nation.

6:01pm folk came running to the spot were Dr. King lay

After practice, I don’t remember if I went to work or went straight home?  My mother was a “news junkie” so more than likely the reality of Dr. King’s death was  the focus of discussion later that evening.

 

What about you?  Do, you remember anything from the news that rocked the nation at 6:01 pm, Thursday evening, April 4, 1968

Dr. King’s room 306 is memorialized at the Lorraine Motel, which is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum

Donald Trump’s amazing economic record since taking over as President


You’ve seen the character who professes everything he touches turns to gold?  Or, they profess being truly self-made while convincing themselves and those who fall prey to their hustle they possess the magic to make lives  better?

In the example of Donald Trump, he has convinced those who believe him that anything and everything President Barack Obama accomplished, in fact had a negative impact to their lives.  Worse, he has convinced them any success they currently have or that they project to have is the direct result of him taking over as the 45th president of the United States.

 

Hundreds of thousands have already started the pilgrimage to Memphis, TN.  Millions more are expected to join those for local activities or tune in to participate on Wednesday, April 4th in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King was an influential leader who had developed exceptional oratorical skills.  As Donald Trump continues to boast his prowess, including his followers or base supporters who feel he is the core reason for the success of the economy, they are unfortunately missing a basic reality!  No doubt there is positive movement in the economy but what gets lost with partisanship or trained pundits who have taken a blood-oath to never make any comments which might be perceived as minimizing Trump’s achievements are the facts of what he inherited in what most agree were positive signs targeted for future growth.

 

 

One of Dr. King’s famous quotes in trying to help leaders understand the plight of negroes (African-Americans) and the negative legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and institutional racism which resulted in insuring that population would always remain deficient, was the bootstrap example.

 

“It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. April 1, 1968

Barack Obama made sure Trump had boots

Dr. King’s words have an interesting parallel with what Barack Obama received when he assumed the presidency versus what he left for Donald Trump.

Many have forgotten or have wiped out of their minds what was going on in 2007 and 2008.  Economically, things were as bad as one could imagine and president Obama could have been defined as that “bootless man.”

Eight years later or when he handed over the reins to Donald Trump the economy had already made a recovery.  There were unprecedented measures of success that even the most ardent Obama critic would have to admit.  The result is yes, the economy continues to rack up impressive numbers but the notion that Donald Trump has achieved it all by himself or didn’t inherit anything positive from the Obama administration would leave a reasonable person scratching their head.  Dr. King would caution Trump to be a bit humbler and remind him it is more honorable to give credit where credit is due versus proclaiming to never receiving a helping hand, especially from the lad he convinced millions that he was not a legitimate citizen.  The boots president Obama left for Trump have helped improve his step.