PANDEMIC PRICING AND HOMEBUILDING
by Andy Bozeman
Never Buy High to Sell Low. But if You’re Building or Remodeling, Right Now, That’s EXACTLY What You’re Doing.
At this moment, if you are trying to build anything related to ‘home’ and you are paying the surprisingly high prices for materials, which have soared during the Covid-19 era, then in the not too far future, after construction costs have returned to normal (whatever that might mean), you will find yourself upside down on the ratio of equity to debt for the value of your house. The history of the 2008 economic collapse will repeat itself as you may have to sell your high-priced home for less than it cost to build – for a big loss.
Pandemic Pricing is the term coined in 2020 to describe the sudden rise in the cost of building materials. Often perceived as being associated with the concept of supply and demand, it has appeared as if normal economic circumstances and forces have come together to cause the rise in prices. On the surface, it has been easy to justify the reduction of supply by the attrition by Covid-19 on the population of workers who produce construction materials, specifically lumber and plywood.
But under the surface, economic forces are in action, fostered by opportunistic speculators who are buying up the supply in huge quantities, then waiting for a significant rise in prices. This sort of manipulation has happened before. A few examples: [1. with plywood during U.S. sponsored reconstruction of Iraq after the first Gulf War; [2. with sugar in the 1980s; [3. with silver in the 70s; [4 with onions in the 50s; [5. more recently with the conversion to a commodity of mortgage-debt in the early 2000s.
The current manipulation has affected an entire population (world-wide by the way) of people who were either burned in the economic collapse of 2008 or were left out of the frenzy because they were too young or arrived too late to the party. The panic-driven demand of every man and woman who is caught in the struggle of finishing any type of building project, mid-pandemic, only adds to the staged shortage. To finish building anything, the ever-rising prices must be paid, which forces those who are building to borrow more money from whatever source is available, including banks, friends, relatives, and personal retirement accounts, so they can spend whatever is necessary to reach a point of completion identifiable as something recognizable as home.
Worse still is the position taken by the speculators of private investment groups, national professional-member associations and of government agencies, all of which tout their loyalty to the wellbeing of the general population but are so controlled by either the lure of money or the cloud of gullibility, that such loyalty is turned only inward, leaving the general population to foot the bill for outlandish profiteering camouflaged as normal economics.
How is such a betrayal of fellow citizens even possible? Picture the proverbial 500-pound gorilla riding the elephant in the room. To miss such a sight the viewer must choose not to see it or see it and choose to deny it. The only thing that can make such a choice possible, the only thing to make member-organizations and congressional leaders turn a voluntary blind eye is…personal profit.
For the unwitting home-building individual, the danger of becoming upside down on equity vs. debt is real. This looming specter first reared its head between 2000 and 2008 when too many unqualified borrowers, who were unable to pay for anything but temporary subprime mortgages, committed to monthly payments. When the subprime part disappeared, so did their prospect of long-term homeownership. As foreclosures washed over the entire global dwelling industry (in fact over all industries), real money was washed away from personal bank accounts which were based on the equity of homes purchased at inflated prices during a bubble. The bubble exploded, equity vanished, literally overnight; and people found themselves the not-for-long owners of homes worth far less than their purchase price; upside down on the mortgage.
The 2008 financial catastrophe was created by the same type of money mongers as now, using a money-collecting device called a Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO). It is still in existence. Watch the videos, HARVEST IS YOU and SUBPRIME SINKHOLE, which are temporarily unlocked for this article, here, at https://homebuildingtimeline.com/videos/
The CDO combined with supply hoarding is creating another bubble which will yield the same type of upside-down mortgage position for millions of people trying to force their way through the disproportionately high cost of pandemic pricing.
Venture Capitalists come in all sizes from vastly wealthy and impervious to quakes of finance, all the way down to entry-level confederacies of newbie wannabes who are on a razor’s edge where too long a wait for profit and the tiniest of financial tremors can result in a life sliced in half, unhealable.
The goal of investors trying to corner any commodity market is to accumulate as much of the production of that commodity as possible to artificially cause a supply shortage, only meeting the demand of those who will pay the highest price, whenever the targeted peak is attained. Though the risk is mighty, the reward is great for whoever can outlast the time-lag between investment and payoff. The hoarding will end, and prices will fall, suddenly, when either riches roll-in or razors cut deep.
There are only so many ways it will end :
- Government intervention: Officials empowered to make the rules are the very ones who benefit from the lack of those rules. The accumulation of wealth at the expense of the nation is easily set aside in the moneyed halls of private accounts, investment corporations, and polluted political powers, so don’t hold your breath waiting for congressional action to save the day.
- Election Year Upheaval: In every election cycle, since before the nineteenth century became the twentieth, whether presidential or congressional mid-term, no matter which political party has been in power, that administration has manipulated the prices of food, fuel, automobiles, building materials, manufactured goods, and imported products for the purpose of gaining votes. Expect the same thing to occur prior to the next mid-term congressional elections, and again just before the next presidential election. To the fullest extent that political pressure can be brought to bear, coercion by the current congress will be inflicted on venture capitalists, speculators, banks and the importers and producers of building materials. Be ready to leap by having your house plans ready and your finances in order.
- Conscience of the Industry: There have been instances where the conscience of a few corporations gleamed, brightly, against the dark void of their industry. It takes all participants in any given industry, coming together at precisely the right time, to be effective. Sadly, the few noble standouts are alone.
- Lowe’s Retail Company stood almost alone and refused to raise prices for plywood already on hand before the United States began to buy up the supply to rebuild Iraq, after the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But they were a singular member in a non-participating industry.
- After the 2008 money-mangling collapse, most banks and insurance companies eagerly held out their hands to receive bailouts as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Hundreds of financial institutions took the handout, while only 58 refused to participate, safe and secure in a position already bought by conducting safe lending practices all along. They were well capitalized and had very little exposure to the subprime mess. As of last count, there have been 555 banks in the United States that have required government money to continue operating. But safe practices are not the norm. Until they are, the moneylending and investing industry will be ineffective as a unified force for good.
- The home-building industry stops dead in its tracks and with it comes the financial destruction of an uncountable number of wish-to-be homeowners who bought in for too high a price: Member-based organizations are charter-bound to first represent the most profitable positions for the wellbeing of their members. Member-based associations concerned with homebuilding, remodeling and real estate are duty-bound to always promote industry profits ahead of and at the expense of people who make up the target market. As an element of free enterprise, this is not a wrong reason to exist. However, when deliberate misrepresentations of the state of the economy are weaponized to coerce citizens to ignore conservative financial planning and build anyway, then obvious, and risky conditions and poor timing will probably cause failure for the buyer who is already financially at risk. Hope reigns supreme for both promotional associations and private households. Hope for institutions involves the ever-present wish that the power of suggestion will cause enough confidence in buyers to instill sufficient faith in the ‘system’ to cause them to take the leap and assume huge debt for the purchase of a home. Hope for private households comes from trusting that the establishments, which are urging the unwise assumption of debt, are friendly at best and benign at worst, when the opposite is true.
- The weakest link breaks the chain: Though bolstered by billions of dollars, worldwide, the construct of this method of controlling the buying and selling of building materials is a house of cards. The gentlest money-based breeze can dislodge any given ‘card’ at any given moment, collapsing the potential of the whole structure. While there are many ‘players’ who can withstand such a breakdown, most are micro-investors who cannot act alone, who must join confederations of other stakeholders; and even then, must borrow money to join. Borrowed money has a due date for repayment. If that moment approaches faster than the payoff, such investors will become first anxious then fearful then hysterical, dreading the ultimate failure of the scheme. When only one sells their inventory, and fails to make a profit, then others will follow, and the rout will begin. “Get out while you can” will become the rallying cry all the way from bottom to top because even investors impervious to loss will want to avoid financial hemorrhaging. Prices will fall, perhaps even collapse, and the advantage will suddenly shift to the regular person, the one who just wanted to build or remodel for a reasonable price in the first place. The individuals who prepare, while the strangle-holding-chain is strong, will be ready to act when the weakest link breaks.
- Personal Restraint, along with practiced Wisdom, Prevails. In the 1980s, when sugar became the commodity to be cornered, its price went so high that restaurants were forced to remove sugar packets from their tables because diners were stealing the much sought-after sweetener. It didn’t take long to push the sugar-using population to the breaking point when the universal cry of anguish became “Forget it, I’ll quit it,” and people stopped buying sugar. With that inadvertent joining of the force of consumers, the factions seeking to control sugar’s value broke. The price fell back to normal. It may be much the same with the runaway pandemic-pricing of building materials. When (or if ) homebuilding consumers will say “ENOUGH” in concert with one another, exhibit restraint for starting new builds and remodeling projects, stop trying to fulfill artificially created financial shortages by self-loaning from hard-earned retirement accounts, and refuse to be held hostage just because they want a place to call home, then speculators will fail, the stranglehold will break, high prices will collapse, and life will return to normal.
THEN THERE’S THE SUPPLY CHAIN DEBACLE
So many were bemoaning the high cost and short supply of building materials caused by intentionally concealed speculation, and so many were distracted and caught off guard when a plentiful quantity of goods of all types were available but prevented from arriving because ships could not get into port, that no one noticed the speculators quietly slipping their hidden troves back into circulation. Some speculators made a little money from the scheme, but the real triumph was to avoid two things: 1) the revelation of hoarding which was criminally detrimental to every facet of the global construction industry, 2) prosecution for their contrivance and ascension to that pinnacle of selfishness.
But just as the problems and solutions began to balance out, and the principle of supply and demand began to once again favor the people trying to build homes, there came political policy shifts. The initiation of grand social programs for immigration, climate rehabilitation, and equitable economic balance – each item worthy by itself but all to be simultaneously funded by money which did not exist – triggered the ill-timed practice of turning on the federal printing presses and stamping out trillions of dollars – I say again…trillions – which triggered a global economic reaction: inflation.
NOW, ADD INFLATION TO THE MIX
To make money available for the ambitious programs to ‘build back better’, because sufficient, tangible national wealth does not exist, the administration in power must literally manufacture money. Printing presses for currency have been brought to maximum output. Alongside this, creative bookkeeping is used to make money appear out of thin air, no printing needed, by simply writing numbers in columns on balance sheets. Need five hundred million dollars for some senator’s pet project? Just write that number in an accounting column and, poof, there’s five hundred million dollars.
The problem comes when any of that fabricated money is converted to real cash and put in the hands of those hired to do the build-back-bettering. Conversion from invented cash to hard currency increases the supply of currency floating around, unbacked by any actual wealth whatsoever. Remember the concept of supply-and-demand? Decrease supply; increase value. Increase supply; decrease value.
By excessively increasing the supply of cash in circulation, the value of that cash falls, meaning more is needed to make purchases of anything and everything, whether it’s a gallon of gasoline or a gallon of milk. That’s inflation.
TWO TYPES OF INFLATION : 1) Real; 2) Strategic.
Inflation is the rate at which the general price-level of goods and services rises, based on changes in quantity of the available supply for things and thing-makers. This, in turn, causes a drop in purchasing power.
1. REAL INFLATION Can Be Induced when demand remains constant while the supply of goods and services decreases. One example is the oil crisis of the 1970s. Member nations of OPEC agreed to restrict production to cause an increase in the price of oil and gasoline. However, demand for petroleum-based fuels remained the same. As the price continued to rise, the costs of all things associated with higher fuel costs also increased, resulting in inflation.
2. STRATEGIC INFLATION is caused by savvy business owners who seize the opportunity to raise the cost for their involvement in production processes, even when their production-related involvement is unaffected by surrounding economic factors; not to be confused with increased costs caused by rising energy prices. This is not a wrong thing for them to do. The ability to recognize favorable conditions, which reveal the juncture of good fortune and high levels of skill and knowledge of their craft, is a much-needed talent to have, so their service-business can grow.
Strategic Inflation is most obvious within – but not confined – to the service-trades. For example: A highly skilled plumber, or a gifted drywaller or creative designer may raise their price-of-service over-and-above the obvious inflation-caused increase in their cost of doing business related to materials and energy. One example is a Mural Artist. It doesn’t cost any more to move a paintbrush across a surface after the effects of inflation than it did before. But because of the inarguable presence of inflation, a highly skilled artist whose talents are already widely known and appreciated, has the opportunity to increase the fee for the service of painting a mural, beyond the rising cost of buying paint and the gasoline needed to travel to supply stores and work sites.
Whether REAL or STRATEGIC, inflation is disruptive to every economy in every nation on Earth.
The thing called Pandemic Pricing has been caused by:
- Unscrupulous Speculators – beginning in 2019.
- Covid-19 Pandemic – beginning early 2020.
- Unethical Manipulation of Mortgage-Debt as a Commodity – beginning in 2000 and continuing through today.
- Supply-Chain disruption.
- Bipartisan Leadership Failure within ALL halls of government.
- Unwise spending by individuals, encouraged by membership-organizations within the global dwelling industry.
- Overprinting of Currency.
- Fabrication of monetary numbers without the backing of actual value.
- A Multi-national Spending Binge to soak up fabricated money.
- Incumbent Administration’s intentional manipulation of the costs-to-buy of food, fuel, automobiles, building materials, manufactured goods, and imported products.
- Real Inflation.
- Strategic Inflation.
All these factors have come together in a perfect storm that threatens to flood over, tear off, wash out, blow down, burn up, and rip away entire financial systems and monetary gains, the world over.
Individual survival depends on how you respond to this perfect storm.
What’s Next? Opportunity Favors the Prepared.
Be smart with your money. Refuse to pay high prices. Protect assets, especially retirement accounts. Read the book MONEY MISTAKE to learn how to avoid the biggest homebuilding-related financial error, ever. Be sensible with your desires. Be patient to achieve your goals. Refuse to be led by your nose by any salespeople at all. It is your right to be in full control of your own money and your own home. But this right of freedom must be protected. It is all within your independent power.
If restraint is practiced, if self-accountability becomes a personal benchmark, if resilience is nourished, if moderation becomes the battle cry of a way of life, then freedom is within reach, followed closely by prosperity. For one and all, that will lead (whether it’s July the Fourth or not) to a Happy Independence Day.
Implement these important steps:
- Read GET READY TO BUILD – here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0822Y6RW9/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0
- Follow HomeBuildingTimeline.com.
- Apply the BEADS Keystone found inside HomeBuildingTimeline.com.
- Choose a home site, wisely. Or consider renovations carefully.
- Make sound decisions about your finances. Read MONEY MISTAKE – here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M1Y3IL0/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i3
- Get your house plans ready. For more information contact Andy Bozeman – 334-834-1714; email: Andy@AndyBozeman.com
- Involve a trusted contractor.
- Understand the projected costs with and without Pandemic Pricing.
- Invoke the wisdom to “look before you leap.”
- When the time is right, and ‘opportunity’ presents itself, you will already be prepared.
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