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Showing posts from September, 2014

Home Sales Fall in August

Fewer Americans bought homes in August, as investors retreated from real estate and first-time buyers remained scarce. Sales of existing homes (as opposed to new construction) fell 1.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. That snapped a four-month streak of gains. August sales were down from a July rate of 5.14 million, a figure that was also revised slightly downward. Much of the decline came from the exodus of investors, who had been buying properties in the aftermath of the housing bust and recession. Investors accounted for just 12% of August purchases, compared to 17% a year earlier. Overall, the pace of home sales has dropped 5.3% year-over-year. The August figures show that real estate recovery has depended largely on investors and all-cash sales, instead of families looking to purchasing a house.  "It is apparent that much of the juice in the existing-home sales market remains centered in all-cash purchas…

Chopin FREE Concert Series Piano Recital by Ivan Moshchuk

Southern Wine and Spirits of America’s Chopin for All  FREE Concert Series presents a Piano Recital by Young American Pianist, Ivan Moshchuk



The Chopin Foundation of the U.S. opens the new season of Chopin for All FREE Concerts  on October 11 & 12, 2014, with young outstanding American pianist, Ivan Moshchuk, in an all-Chopin program.   Each concert in the Chopin for All series is presented twice:

On Saturday at Broward County Main Library in Fort Lauderdale,
and on the following Sunday at Granada Presbyterian Church in Coral Gables.

FREE ADMISSION No Tickets Required

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 3:00 PM, Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave, Ft. Lauderdale

Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM, Granada Presbyterian Church, 950 University Drive, Coral Gables

Twenty-three-year-old Ivan Moshchuk is among the most promising young artists of his generation, aiming to redefine the limits of classical music in the context of the 21st century. When asked about the purpose of his …

Stock Gains Lift U.S. Household Wealth of Top 10% to a Record High

Strong stock market gains and higher home prices boosted Americans' net worth in the 2014 April-June quarter to a record high, a trend that could encourage more spending.

U.S. households also took on the most new debt in five years, driven mostly by student and auto loans. More borrowing can be a sign of confidence, although greater student debt can pose a burden for younger households.

The Federal Reserve said Thursday that household wealth rose 1.7% in the second quarter of 2014 to $81.5 trillion. Americans' stock and mutual fund portfolios gained $1 trillion. The value of their homes increased $230 billion.

Greater wealth can make people feel more financially secure and encourage them to spend more. This "wealth effect" could boost the economy, although analysts note that it may not produce as much benefit as it did before the Great Recession. That's because most of the wealth gains over the past five years have occurred in the stock market, rather than in home v…

Florida remains cruise capital of the world

The number of people boarding cruise ships within the nation dropped last year for the first time since the recession, but passenger counts increased globally and in Florida, according to a new report from the Cruise Lines International Association.

Last year, 9.96 million people embarked on cruises from U.S. ports, a 1.3% drop compared to 2012. Though, globally, the number of passengers taking cruises on North American cruise lines increased nearly 4% to 17.6 million, according to the Miami Herald.

Florida remains a cruise industry powerhouse, with the number of embarking passengers increasing 1.3% to 6.15 million in 2013. Miami led the growth with more than 2 million passengers boarding ships, a 6.8% increase; Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale saw a 2.7% increase to more than 1.8 million embarking passengers.

Read more here.

How the Recession Beefed Up Sister City Relationships

U.S. cities traditionally develop relationships with foreign cities for diplomatic, cultural or educational purposes. But more and more are looking to them for economic development.

Sister Cities International reports that in the past several years more and more cities have been approaching the organization asking for help to expand their existing partnership toward economic development.

The shift began following the Great Recession, when many local governments began an earnest push to expand economic development and business opportunities beyond not just their immediate borders, but across international borders, said Adam Kaplan, membership director at Sister Cities International. Cities that already had sister city relationships began asking if those relationships could be used to stimulate trade and whether they could do so on their own, without the federal government’s help.)

Read the full article at Governing.com . . .

Florida's revenue collections could surpass pre-recession high

When the 2015 Legislature convenes in Tallahassee, it is expected to have nearly $30 billion in General Revenue to create the state budget for FY 2015-16, according to a Budget Watch from Florida TaxWatch, the privately supported think tank examining government spending. However, after this month's GR Estimating Conference, the new General Revenue projection is $141.6 million less than previously thought.

The state's estimators attribute the scaled back projections to normal fluctuations, not any underlying weaknesses in the economy. The final estimate for next year's budget won't be announced until March.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, actual GR collections fell short of projections made last March by $106 million. The revenue collection estimates for the current fiscal year (2014-15) were increased by $49.2 million, but the estimates for the next year (2015-16) were lowered by $84.1 million.


Estimates for the sales tax, the largest source of General Revenu…