…she just bought another house near her home in Port Charlotte, Fla. This one — two bedrooms, one bath — cost $17,500. (The first one, which she split with her mom, cost $12,000, down from a value of roughly $100,000 at the peak of the boom.)

I wasn’t surprised that she bought a second house. She was clearly a savvy, ambitious kid. What struck me was how much Willow herself had changed.

When I talked to her this spring, she didn’t think about herself as remarkable in any way. But after our story aired, she became a minor celebrity. She went on Ellen. And Ellen DeGeneres kept telling Willow what an amazing kid she is.

"Everyone started calling," Willow says. Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper, some show from Korea. "I thought, ‘Oh my goodness.’ "

theatlantic
theatlantic:

5 Non-Partisan Job Creation Ideas That Could Actually Work

Address the housing market overhang with a new visa mechanism
The problem: Approximately 20 percent of homeowners owe more on their home than it’s worth. Households have depleted their savings and taken on additional debt in an attempt to remain in their homes, while many have decided to stop making mortgage payments. Rising shadow foreclosure inventory (delinquent homes that are not yet on the market), the prospect of falling prices, and tight loan requirements continue to exacerbate the housing overhang.
The solution: In order to absorb inventory, put a floor under housing prices or possibly boost them. Capitalize on pent-up foreign demand, by creating a new visa mechanism for the first two million non-U.S. residents to purchase a home in the U.S. in the price range of $200-500K, depending upon regional housing prices. Set the residency requirements at three months for the program to have maximum impact.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

theatlantic:

5 Non-Partisan Job Creation Ideas That Could Actually Work

Address the housing market overhang with a new visa mechanism

The problem: Approximately 20 percent of homeowners owe more on their home than it’s worth. Households have depleted their savings and taken on additional debt in an attempt to remain in their homes, while many have decided to stop making mortgage payments. Rising shadow foreclosure inventory (delinquent homes that are not yet on the market), the prospect of falling prices, and tight loan requirements continue to exacerbate the housing overhang.

The solution: In order to absorb inventory, put a floor under housing prices or possibly boost them. Capitalize on pent-up foreign demand, by creating a new visa mechanism for the first two million non-U.S. residents to purchase a home in the U.S. in the price range of $200-500K, depending upon regional housing prices. Set the residency requirements at three months for the program to have maximum impact.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

So here’s my question for all of you China skeptics that insist they are building way too much housing, infrastructure, heavy industry, etc. What precisely do you want them to build more of? And what are the 100s of millions of Chinese living in tiny ramshackle homes to do? Sit tight for a few more decades while resources pour into nice urban services for the pampered elite?

I want them to start building leaf blowers, so we don’t have so many Chinese people in the low productivity position of sweeping streets. I want them to start building farm equipment, so we don’t have so many Chinese farmers tending the fields. I want them to build more laundry machines, to free the rural Chinese from scrubbing clothes on washboards. I want them to build electric stoves, so my Grandpa can put away the coal fired outside oven. I want them to build computers that can deliver cheaper education to the masses.

Instead of just focusing on “building,” I want them to invest in human capital, so productivity can be at a level that we don’t need “make work” jobs. I want them to build more schools and hire better teachers, so classes aren’t as large and you’re not damned if you can’t make it in a top elementary school. I want productivity to be high enough that high end stores don’t need more clerks than actual customers.

cnbc
cnbc:

One of the unfortunate results of a bad housing market are empty homes. Vacant properties have increased by 43.8 percent nationwide since 2000.

1. Orlando, Fla.

12-Month Averages:  Rental vacancy rate: 18.8%  Homeowner vacancy rate: 2.2%  The emptiest city in the United States is Orlando, Fla. The 12-month average for rental vacancies stands at a staggering 18.8 percent, while in the first quarter of 2012 this number was 22 percent, highest in the nation. Florida’s third largest city also has an above-average homeowner vacancy rate,

cnbc:

One of the unfortunate results of a bad housing market are empty homes. Vacant properties have increased by 43.8 percent nationwide since 2000.

1. Orlando, Fla.

12-Month Averages:
Rental vacancy rate: 18.8%
Homeowner vacancy rate: 2.2%

The emptiest city in the United States is Orlando, Fla. The 12-month average for rental vacancies stands at a staggering 18.8 percent, while in the first quarter of 2012 this number was 22 percent, highest in the nation. Florida’s third largest city also has an above-average homeowner vacancy rate,