Los Angeles Dodgers: The Roberts Lament


above caption:  Roberts pulling Hill.  Digital First Media.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 28: A view of the World Series Trophy after the Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game Five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

[Chavez Ravine]   Many die-hard Los Angeles Dodgers fans, like myself are finally awakening from the nightmare of losing games four and five of the 2018 World Series, resulting in the Boston Red Sox achieving the championship.  As tough as it is, most will salute the Red Sox for executing when they had too.  At the same time, they applaud the effort of the Dodgers for making the tough journey through the regular season and going through the gauntlet of the playoffs to be in a position to play in the coveted World Series.  But the facts are the facts, even in Little League if you only get three hits, more than likely you will be on the losing end, as was the case in game five.  Unfortunately that was the case in games two and five.

“Today is the first day I am able to talk about it.  I have been upset since Sunday” A. Tillman, Dodger fan

It seems longer, but Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts just finished his third year.  In all of those years his team has made the playoffs.  Remarkable, the last two years he took his team to the World Series.  As impressive of what he has achieved, including the admiration of most fans, many will still hold his decision in game four of pulling Rich Hill as the death knell of the series, thus ending our season.

Baseball – a game of failure!

Baseball is an interesting game.  Those who are not diehards define the game as boring, too long to complete a game, on and on.  It’s a very technical game which is why some make comments, having very little understanding of the nuances.  It is a game of failure!  Most hitters hit between .250 – .300, which translates if you have ten at-bats, you can rest assured you will make an out in seven or even eight times!  Unlike other sports such as basketball where you can score quite frequently, games are long due to commercial breaks versus length of actual play.  The 18 inning game the other night will be noted in years to come.  As was the case in that game, runs or a score can be tough to come by, and the only way a team can be victorious is to outscore the opponent, yet in many innings, like the 18th inning doozy, no runs might be scored at all!

The Wild Horse strikes again

The decision to pull Hill will go down in history as a key point in the 2018 World Series.  Just minutes earlier, Yasiel Puig sent Dodger fans into a frenzy by blasting a three-run home run making the score 4 – 0.  Surely the Dodgers could secure nine outs and snag a win?  In doing so it was a sure bet they would even the series at 2 wins a piece, giving the team the much-needed momentum, they were seeking?

 

The baseball god’s thought otherwise.  While Roberts decision has been the focal point and much consternation of the fans, those who truly understand the game know better.  Baseball is a game of statistics and super-charged analysis.  In 2018 in the games Rich Hill pitched he normally lasted 5.2 innings.  No doubt, in game four he was exceptional and at times appeared ready to break Don Newcombe’s record of pitching complete games of a double-header, on the same day!!  He breezed through the sixth inning BUT his pitch count was near a record high of 91.  In the bottom of the sixth he told Roberts to “keep an eye on him.”  Again, just nine outs to secure a win.  He started the seventh inning and walked Aruban sensation Xander Boegerts.  Roberts still did not pull the plug.  The next batter was the pesky Eduardo Nunez.  Hill blew him away with three pitches to strike him out.  Apparently, it was at that point that Roberts felt Hill had given his all and wanted him to go out on a high note.  In comes Scott Alexander and to the surprise of the nearly 55,000 who were packed in the Ravine, as well as the millions who were watching on television, he walked the next batter on four straight pitches!!!  Ouch!

World Series 2018: Dave Roberts on the Dodgers losing Game 4

The rest is history as even though the Red Sox put up nine runs in three innings, there was still hope.  Team leader Justin Turner led off the ninth with a hit.  The next batter, Kiki Hernandez blasted one of Craig Kimbrell’s pitches into the left field pavilion for a home run, and there were no outs!  The enthusiasm quickly dampened as Cody Bellinger meekly flied out to end the game.

 

Yes, in his usual professional and political demeanor Dave Roberts accepted the blame for the loss, even while trying to explain why he pulled Hill.  As mentioned in a game of statistics he had no idea Alexander would walk Benintendi on four straight pitches.  Surely, he may have thought about it but he figured the odds were long that recently acquired Ryan Madsen would offer up one of his coveted home run pitches.  Worse, perhaps trying to assuage Kenley Jansen’s ego, Roberts called on him in the eighth.  Clinging on to a one run lead, many felt it was a likely possibility but Roberts went with his gut which was torn apart as Jensen’s cutter didn’t cut and professional hitters like Steve Pearce earn their millions by being able to handle mistakes, or a pitch which doesn’t cut, instead transforming it to a basic fastball – waist high.  Many could hear the great Jim McKay of Wide World of States belting out his famous quote, “the thrill of victory….the agony of defeat.”

“Jansen hasn’t been the same since his heart ailment.  These games are too much pressure for him!”  JLT, Dodger fan

“What was Robert’s thinking?  He knew Jansen hasn’t been doing nothing but giving up homeruns!!! I’m done!  A millennial

So, for Dodger fans 2018 is history.  Most will recover from their wounds.  While some still want Roberts head on a platter, they also realize like the players, managers are not robots and after a couple of months of rehab they, like the other 29 teams who didn’t win the championship will give it another shot in 2019.  Go Dodgers!

President Donald Trump:Kanye West – “Who’s Hustlin’ who?


Cover Photo: Rapper Kanye West hugs U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting in the Oval office of the White House on October 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump meets with rapper Kanye West and former football player Jim Brown (R) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, October 11, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

[Washington, D.C.]  This afternoon was a meeting luncheon that may go down in history as Donald Trump hosted Kanye West at the White House.  Jim Brown tagged along and from a rare moment where White House staff allowed cameras to document the event, it also showcased a diatribe by West that even appeared to stun the usual fast-talking Trump.

 

In 1985 the late legendary singer Aretha Franklin came out with one of her many hits, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” After today’s luncheon Franklin’s beat came to mind and instead of zoomin’, the words were flipped to hustlin’ or “Who’s hustlin’ who”?

 

Trump has shown little appetite to have serious meetings with African-American policy-makers or those who are known leaders in the community.  However, he has been quick to marginalize that group and instead give audience to the likes of West, who shockingly didn’t even vote in 2016, let alone for then candidate Donald Trump.  Although he did clarify his statements indicating had he voted, Trump would have been his choice,

 

I didn’t vote in 2016 but if I did, ‘I would have voted for Trump’, Kanye West

Trump professes to be a master of the media.  Indeed, he gave audience to West but like most manipulators you never fully know his motivation?  Some have intimated the luncheon demonstrated his connection to the African-American community.  Unfortunately, his track record proves otherwise.

 

Justifying their allegiance

West made many remarks during his diatribe.  Highlighting his ignorance of voting, the process and the final selection; he like many who try to justify their support for the republican party make the claim “blacks are locked into voting for the democratic party.”

Perhaps in their mind it sounds cute and maybe something they truly believe?

“As a bloc, African-Americans are very sophisticated.”  Mara Gay, New York Times editorial board.

The basic premise in voting is supporting the candidate or the party who supports your ideals and desires.  It may be too much for West to understand or ponder over the years if the democratic party has shown more support for African-American issues than the republican party?  Of course, that is not to confuse the issue that just because your vote aligns with one party does not mean all is won and you will get everything you desired?  That is why most understand voting is simply one piece of the process, and one that surely does not end after the candidate who won.  The other is holding those you voted for accountable. And yes, despite best intentions sometimes there is failure and disappointment.  But, like any good fight, you get up and keep fighting but the principal of voting for those who support your ideals is paramount.

“many people believe that, if you’re black, you have to be a Democrat and said he was pressured not to wear his red “Make America Great Again” hat. But he said “this hat, it gives me power.” Kanye West

 

Now that Trump has completed his luncheon with West this may be a first step?  Trump has the opportunity to get serious about African-American issues.  West has the opportunity for the African-American community to better understand his sentiments but first things first, let’s make sure he is registered to vote and in fact can participate in the mid-term elections which are just weeks away.

Otherwise, the luncheon may go down in history as “Who’s hustlin’ who?”

Postscript

Much has been said and written about the meeting.  Just to add some levity to the issue here is SNL’s take on it.

 

 

Mortgage rates jump to near 5%


COVER PHOTO.  Traders work on the floor at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange on October 10, 2018 in New York. - Wall Street stocks plunged Wednesday, with major indices losing more than three percent in a selloff prompted by the sudden jump in US interest rates. At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had lost 3.1 percent or 830 points to finish at 25,613.35, in the biggest fall since February. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Mortgage rates jumped to 4.90% which is a number not seen in nearly seven years based on Freddie Mac’s weekly rate survey.  Although an increase was expected the jump of nineteen basis points caught some by surprise.  As strong as the economy is purchasing a home continues to be an illusive transaction for many.  The rise in rates buffeted by the increase in home prices have left many reconsidering their plans as evidenced by the drop in mortgage applications.

Remember that tax break earlier in the year?

Last December president Trump and the GOP controlled congress touted the tax cut as a “cure-all” and justification of their leadership prowess.  Indeed, a good chunk of working people did receive benefits from the tax cut and a few were lucky enough to get bonuses.  The average cut was about $1,600.


For those who were positioning to buy a home or refinance their existing mortgage the recent mortgage rate hike has wiped out that savings.

Time Rate Payment Annual
Oct. 2018 4.90% $1,252
Oct. 2017 3.90% $1,113
Diff $139 $1,668
**based on average mortgage of $239,000

Cyclical

Most understand rates and economic metrics are cyclical.  In other words when you have an improved economy, you will also see a rise in consumer goods.  Also, recently the Feds increased the discount rate.  This was done as a preventative measure to thwart inflation.  Normally political leaders stay out of the Fed’s business but Donald Trump has continued to intimate their move has contributed to rate increases claiming they will result in a negative impact.

“I think the Fed is making a mistake. They are so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy,” President Donald Trump 

Tariffs

Another pressure-point for the economy is the recent drop in the DOW Jones and financial markets.  Business leaders, especially those in the real estate sector attribute the decline to the uncertainty of the Trump imposed tariffs and other measures.  They feel recent gains may be wiped out.

“These tariffs will translate into higher costs for consumers and U.S. businesses that use these products, including home builders,” Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders 

Here is a snapshot of this week’s rate survey

October 11, 2018

30-Yr FRM 15-Yr FRM 5/1-Yr ARM
Average Rates 4.9 % 4.29 % 4.07 %
Fees & Points 0.5 0.5 0.3
Margin N/A N/A 2.77
Freddie Mac produces the weekly rate survey.  It is the industry standard for consumers and mortgage professionals to gauge consumer mortgage rates.

 

Mortgage Fraud on the rise


Today mortgage information provider CoreLogic released its “Annual Fraud Report” documenting a rise in consumer mortgage fraud.  The report highlights that recently convicted former Trump campaign manager isn’t the only one who submitted false applications to secure mortgage loans.  As in the case of Manafort, mortgage fraud is a federal offense and the penalties can be stiff, including incarceration.

ALEXANDRIA, VA –  Manafort was charged with financial frauds and is the first defendant in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to face trial. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Even though the economy has improved, the rise in home prices and corresponding amount of income needed to qualify for a loan has increased.  Although it is a risk management issue the numbers note approximately 1 in 109 applications have some type of fraud.  The report reflects the fraud index has increased for the past seven quarters.

Two fraud issues that are top of mind for risk managers right now are false credit disputes and income misrepresentation.

Video discusses the report shown here

https://players.brightcove.net/75895570001/EJUJuZYOl_default/index.html?videoId=5822617829001

 

 

Unemployment numbers dip to 3.7%


 

US President Barack Obama shakes hands as Republican President-elect Donald Trump thanked him for creating a positive economy. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Publishing numbers not seen since 1969, yesterday the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its October jobs report.  The numbers reflect data compiled for the month of September as unemployment dipped to 3.7%, with new jobs pegged at 134,000.  That is good news for the Trump administration as it validates their message of a strong economy.  The news was expected and comes at a good time for them as even though they inherited the foundation of a good economy from the Obama administration, they have been mired in a string of self-inflicted blunders ever since taking over the reins. 

They view those blunders as attacks from those who are upset they won the 2016 election.  Others view them as leaders who are inexperienced at managing a government, fraught with suspicious characters linked to criminal behavior.

In addition to the Mueller investigation, they are dealing with a majority of the public not in support of their United States Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.  Earlier today Kavanaugh squeaked by with a 50-48 vote.  While there is jubilation from those who support Trump and Kavanaugh, the untold cost may not be realized until the mid-term vote slated for November 6th.   Some fear this and other moves by the administration might cost the GOP control of congress.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D, Mass.) speaks to protestors gathered at the steps of the US Supreme Court as the Nation waits for the expected confirmation Judge Brett Kavanaugh, in Washington, D.C., on October 6, 2018.
(Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

 

Trump understands the media dynamic

As September numbers are a positive sign, Trump no doubt will use the data to proclaim the numbers reflect the lowest, specifically among African-Americans and other minority groups.  While the numbers are real and give great justification to those who support Trump, it must be noted he is a master manipulator of the spoken-word and you really have to ponder how serious he is about the claim?  Or, is he appeasing to the conscious of those who have very little knowledge of the historic perspective of employment gaps between whites and minority groups?  Oftentimes they view any news spouted from Trump as near-gospel, certainly not worthy of understanding the overall context of such statements. 

 

Understanding media, Trump has woven unemployment data into his rallies and other talking-points.  The issue for some regarding this sentiment is whether Trump is genuine, as his tone appears to mock the point which is a very serious issue for African-American’s who have been systemically unemployed at a rate at least twice that of whites.  This has been lingering problem presidents have been dealing with ever since the notion of race entered the American nomenclature.  It was created to divide people and groups.  While the numbers in fact have declined, the real gap is a constant historical fact; a key metric providing evidence to the wealth gap that highlights the polarization of our nation. 

In attempting to proclaim his support for the African-American community, who can forget this quote Trump made while on the campaign trail?

“Oh look at my African-American over here,” Mr. Trump said. “Are you the greatest? Do you know what I’m talking about?”

 

 

OMAHA, NE – MAY 4:
Isaiah Hall, 21, responds to a question from Crystal Sauser, a public relations manager, during a job interview at AirLite Plastics in North Omaha on Friday, May 4, 2018, in Omaha, NE. “We’re going to offer you the position,” Sauser said, and the stoic face Isaiah began to melt into a smile. Isaiah finally had a job.
Only seven of the overall 13 students (one student started a day after the initial 12 students) would make it through the training and to this morning of job interviews.
Over the past decade, concentrated efforts by various organizations in Omaha have helped drastically drive down the unemployment rate among African Americans, particularly in North Omaha, which is majority Black. While Donald Trump brags about how he has helped lower the national unemployment rate among Blacks, the city of Omaha has shown how a small group doing targeted employment bootcamps and workshops can help boost statistics with minimal help from the local, state, or federal government.
(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Indeed, unemployment numbers are down but a nagging question remains which is why is there a disparity with white workers versus other ethnic groups?

 

“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for Whites
(3.3 percent) declined in September.  Blacks (6.0 percent), Asians (3.5 percent), and Hispanics (4.5 percent)stagnation”  Bureau of Labor Statistics (October 2018)


The jobs report will continue to boast consumer confidence.  However, the issue for many is keeping pace with rising consumer cost.  The Fed’s recent rate hike is the reality of a cyclical economy.  Some things go up and others go down.  As an example, housing prices continues to soar resulting in many who are employed to delay buying a home, simply because the percentage needed from their paycheck to handle the monthly payment has increased year over year.

Here is an example of 1969:2018 –   Wages & percentage of income needed for monthly payment.

Monthly Income Home Price Int. Rate P & I Pct. Of Income needed
1969 $492 $24,400 8.42% $186 38%
2018 $4,326 $539,000 4.75% $2,811 65%
Averages based on California

Reverse Mortgages:  Tougher guidelines effective today


(cover photo by Mindy Schauer/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
(Photo by Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Reverse mortgages, technically known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM) have tougher underwriting guidelines effective October 1st.

The announcement was made by the Federal Housing Administration (HUD) which is part of the United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency.  HUD insures the mortgages which are originated by lenders at the consumer level, thus allowing borrowers a tool to utilize the equity in their homes to obtain a loan.

 

The move essentially means in addition to the initial appraisal used to determine property valuation, a second independent appraisal will now be required.  The borrower’s loan will be based on the lower of the two appraisals.  In a gesture to appease the borrower’s chagrin of the new requirement, the cost of the second appraisal is allowed to be financed as part of the closing costs.  In making the move HUD announced it needed extra protection for the collateral being used to obtain the loan, as it battles with a shrinking insurance pool.

 

House rich, cash poor

HECM’s have picked up in popularity since the early 2000’s.  As people have lived longer lives, it was a statistical reality that many seniors were dealing with a precarious situation.  For a variety of reasons their cash reserves were being depleted and the result was a negative impact to their day-to-day living.  It was also noted many in that population who were homeowners were sitting on large equity positions.  Unfortunately, underwriting guidelines made it prohibitive for them to obtain standard mortgage loans.

HECM’s solved that solution, at least for those who were at least 55 years of age and had sufficient equity.  Instead of a regular loan where you make monthly payments, the loan actually provides the borrower income based on the equity position.  Paying off the debt was not required until the borrower deceased or it was somehow refinanced.

 

The new guideline is not expected to thwart the popularity of the program.  But, it is one critical guideline that HUD feels will help sustain the viability of the program.

Read the updated guideline here