Posts Tagged ‘tax credits’

It’s the Jobs, Stupid.

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

President Obama recently took a short stroll from the White House and through Lafayette Park to give a speech in what might be termed enemy territory – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The subject was jobs and what the Chamber can do to jump start hiring by the companies that form its membership.  Noting that American companies are sitting on approximately $2 trillion in cash, the president challenged the Chamber to invest some of that money by hiring Americans who are out of work.

“Many of your own economists and salespeople are now forecasting a healthy increase in demand.  So I want to encourage you to get in the game,” Obama said, referencing the tax credits his administration negotiated to spur new investments.  “As you all know, it is investments made now that will pay off as the economy rebounds.  And as you hire, you know that more Americans working means more sales, greater demand and higher profits for your companies.  We can create a virtuous cycle.  Not every regulation is bad; not every regulation is burdensome on business,” he said.  “Moreover, the perils of too much regulation are matched by the dangers of too little.”

Relations between the president and the Chamber – one of the nation’s most powerful lobbying groups — have been chilly and the speech was an effort to find common ground.  Since the Democrats’ defeat in the November mid-term election, Obama has been trying to mend fences with big business.  One part of that strategy was to hire Bill Daley, a former Chamber board member and JP Morgan Chase executive, as his new chief of staff to replace Rahm Emanuel.  Additionally, he named General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to head an economic advisory panel dedicated to job creation.  According to the president, “I will go anywhere anytime to be a booster for American business, American workers and American products, and I don’t charge a commission.”  

The Chamber gave the president a warm welcome, with the organization’s president Thomas Donohue expressing the body’s “absolute commitment” to working with the White House on turning around the economy and creating new jobs.  “Our focus is finding common ground to ensure America’s greatness in the 21st century,” he said.  “America works best when we work together.”

The president’s remarks came on a day when several Illinois firms warned that they are planning to lay off employees or close facilities. For example, Kmart is planning to close several stores in Illinois.  Gold Standard Baking, Inc., will close a commercial bakery in Chicago, slashing 73 jobs.  Another 67 employees are likely to be laid off at Itasca-based C. D. Listening Bar Inc., which sells DVDs, CDs, books and video games online at DeepDiscount.com.  AGI North America, LLC, a paperboard box manufacturing company in Jacksonville, is closing at the end of March, putting 70 employees out of work.  Gray Interplant Systems, Inc. – a warehousing and storage company in Peoria and Mossville – is planning to lay off 167 employees in April.

So why are American companies not hiring – or not hiring on their home turf?  According to the Chamber’s Donohue, it’s a variety of reasons, including new regulations contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Additionally, companies are holding onto their cash to fund future acquisitions.  Consolidation makes new regulatory burdens easier to bear.  Once companies’ regulatory costs are clear and under control, they can begin hiring, he said.  Finally, demand remains relatively low.  Once spending improves, the Chamber believes that companies will have no choice but to invest in additional personnel to meet that demand.  As consumer and business spending grows, so should jobs.

And, the jobs are going elsewhere. The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, says American companies created 1.4 million jobs abroad in 2010, compared with less than 1 million in the United States. The additional 1.4 million jobs would have cut the unemployment rate to 8.9 percent, according to Robert Scott, the institute’s senior international economist.

Better Building Initiative Will Green Commercial Buildings

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

President Barack Obama recently visited Penn State University to introduce his Better Buildings Initiative, an incentive program intended to stimulate energy-efficient retrofits to existing commercial buildings.  The initiative is also designed to create jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries.

Despite the long-term economic benefits of energy efficiency, many building owners often run into difficulty raising capital to make improvements.  To resolve this problem – with the aim of increasing commercial building efficiency by 20 percent by 2020 – the Obama initiative proposes loan guarantees and corporate tax credits for commercial building owners who retrofit their portfolios.  Additionally, it will reward local and state governments for taking leadership in requiring enhanced building performance.  Business and political leaders and industry groups agree that the initiative will create green jobs in the design, construction, and manufacturing industries.

Although several items on the president’s ambitious list require legislative action, federal agencies can take preliminary steps using existing authority, said Lane Burt, director of technical policy at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). A pilot program guaranteeing loans for building owners could “run through existing programs at the Department of Energy,” he said.  Although tax credits for green upgrades will need Congressional approval, existing tax incentives like the Commercial Building Tax Deduction (CBTD) could be used almost immediately.  “The deduction was designed for energy-efficient new construction,” said Burt, so it can be difficult to claim the deduction for retrofits.  Burt said the Internal Revenue Service will clarify its guidance on using the CBTD for improvements, potentially helping more building owners deduct as much as $1.80/ft2 from their gross income on tax forms.

The White House highlights five points that comprise the building efficiency plan.  It didn’t say how much the program will cost, but at least four of the programs are likely to require new or expanded outlays, including: turning tax deductions for commercial building retrofits into tax breaks, a move the administration said “could result in a ten-fold increase in commercial retrofit take up”; boosting access to Small Business Administration loans; introducing Race to Green, modeled after the Race to the Top education program that would reward states and municipalities that encourage retrofits; and expanding job-training programs in energy auditing and building operations.

“That’s money that could be spent growing those businesses and hiring new workers,” Obama said.  The president argued that the U.S. needs to “out-educate” and “out-innovate” the rest of the world.  “In America, innovation isn’t just how we change our lives; it’s how we make a living,” he said.

Two groups that applauded news of the initiative are The National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA). The organizations released the following statement about the Better Buildings Initiative. “We commend the Obama Administration for its focus on energy efficiency in commercial properties, including apartments, and for taking an incentive-based approach to achieving meaningful reductions in our building energy usage.  Energy consumption and energy policy are priority issues for the apartment sector.  The plan announced today includes several items long advocated by NMHC/NAA, most notably reforming the existing building efficiency tax incentives.  Many apartment firms have voluntarily established energy efficiency and green building programs throughout their portfolios, but many more have been stymied by the lack of sufficient tax incentives and financing for building retrofits.”

Uninsured Americans Rose 9.4 Percent of the Population in 2009

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage at record low 4.27 percent. Mortgage rates have hit a record low.  According to Freddie Mac, rates for 30-year mortgages fell to 4.27 percent from 4.32 percent in just one week.  At the same time, safe-haven government debt is more appealing to investors than ever, according to a Freddie Mac survey. The low rates may be a sign that housing sales will pick up since they slumped after the first-time homebuyer tax credit expired last spring.  Rates for 15-year fixed mortgages averaged 3.72 percent, the lowest level since Freddie Mac began tracking these loans in 1971.  In another bit of news, home prices rose 3.2 percent in July from the previous month, the smallest gain since March, according to a report from S&P/Case-Shiller.

“The 12-month growth rate in the core price index for personal consumption, which the Federal Reserve closely tracks, has been drifting lower over the past six months ending in August and suggests inflation is running at a tepid pace at best,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said.  “This allowed mortgage rates to ease to new or near record lows this week,” he said.

Michelle Meyer, senior U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, believes that potential homebuyers are staying on the sidelines despite enhanced affordability resulting from record low mortgage rates.  “The missing link is confidence — consumers are still worried about future income prospects given high unemployment rates and many believe home prices will fall further,” she said.  “In addition, credit conditions remain tight, making it difficult to get financing.  Mortgage rates are only one input into the decision to purchase a home, and seemingly subordinate to current and expected income.”

Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, FL, offers another perspective.  “You’re going to get some people enticed to buy new homes,” he said.  “But people are still a bit shell-shocked by the downturn in prices and they’re going to be a lot more careful than they were before.”

Obama’s Job Plan Will Be More Successful if Driven by the Private Sector

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Job creation is driven by private sector investment, not government stimulus.President Barack Obama is well aware that private sector investment creates the majority of sustainable jobs, even though it goes against human nature to invest during hard economic times.  Federal stimulus money has saved/created between 600,000 and 1,500,000 jobs, according to the Congressional Budget Office – a faction of the 7,500,000 million jobs lost.  Lest we fault the Obama administration, remember that we generated one-third as many jobs during this decade as the 1990s.

According to Architecture 2030’s e-news bulletin, “Funding infrastructure projects with more stimulus dollars will not put America back to work. Why not?  Because infrastructure projects depend on tax revenue and the generator of tax revenue is the private sector.  Funding infrastructure projects with stimulus funds simply substitutes federal dollars for tax revenue dollars.  While some infrastructure spending and financial help to state and local governments is warranted, it will not put America back to work.  Each $1 billion of federal infrastructure spending creates only 7,667 one-time construction jobs and 9,000 indirect jobs.”

So what is the answer?  Architecture 2030 notes that, “The real engine behind American jobs is private building sector construction.  This sector is an amazing jobs machine, employing millions of Americans, spurring economic activity in almost every other U.S. sector, and generating large amounts of private investment and spending, as well as the tax revenue needed for infrastructure projects and other public services.  The bad news is the construction industry is reeling” and impacting many other sectors of the U.S. economy.

Green Buildings Impacted by the Credit Crunch, Recession

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

The credit crunch and sluggish return-on-investment environment are impacting green commercial real estate development – and not in a good way.  Even on projects where dirt actually gets moved, it will be more difficult to incorporate sustainable design principles as companies become more cost conscious.  The greening of the workplace should pick up once again if the high cost and availability of capital eases during 2009.  Already, the Federal Reserve Board’s two half-point interest-rate cuts, which slashed the overnight Fed funds rate to one percent, are having a measured but positive influence. According to National Real Estate Investor magazine, the credit freeze is not the only stumbling block to green projects right now.  Moderating fuel prices, currently at their lowest level in four years, are making renewable power sources – such as solar and wind – seem expensive at a time when people want to save money.  Still, companies with a serious commitment to green principles are motivated by a willingness to minimize their carbon footprint and conserve resources, rather than to just save a few dollars on utilities.

The bad news for sustainable-design proponents is that the recession may frustrate the federal government’s plan to offer tax credits to promote green design.  The reason is that tax credits cut a company’s tax bill; they offer little motivation to firms whose earnings are likely to be flat or suffer net losses during 2009.  Looking on the bright side, the credit crunch may stimulate awareness of sustainability by businesses looking for ways to control expenses over the long term.

The economy shouldn’t put green in the tank, and people should recognize that deflation is always temporary.  The options and futures market will bring energy costs up again.

How Will President Obama Impact Commercial Real Estate? Part 2

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

So what to make of President-Elect Obama’s progressive economic policies?  What his critics miss are some of the most intriguing features of his plan — providing companies with tax credits for hiring new employees; raising the investment expensing limit for small businesses; eliminating the capital gains rate for investing in small businesses; and the massive infrastructure rebuilding plans to fix roads, bridges and schools.  The last initiative has the potential to create millions of new jobs for the construction trades.

Although it will take time, we believe that the incoming president’s stimulus plans are visionary and ultimately will succeed.  In time, these progressive programs will lead to a wealthier middle class, increased consumer spending and overall economic growth.

http://nreionline.com/research/real-estate-community-unfavorably-obama-victory/

http://www.costar.com/News/Article.aspx?id=9AC9C706FEA405FD83297485144907A7

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Commercial-real-estate-stocks-rally/story.aspx?guid=%7BF3669FE9-C7E9-4D5C-9A85-AE7FECF0E5DF%7D