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Economics

SF State Economics Students Educate Peers on National Debt

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By Beth Tagawa, SF State News

The U.S. national debt is currently estimated at $18 trillion — and constantly rising. While that is a staggering figure, most of us do not spend much time pondering its implications. A group of SF State students hopes to change that.

Five economics majors — Bryan Bone, Bria Grant, Emmanuel Lemire, Estevan Lopez and Louay Mardini — have been selected to participate in the “Up to Us” competition, a national contest sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative and other nonprofits. From Jan. 26 to Feb. 20, these students, along with 43 other groups at colleges across the country, led a campus campaign to encourage awareness and discussion of America’s long-term fiscal challenges.

Team leader Estevan Lopez explains his interest in the issue and what the group hopes to accomplish.

What is the single most important message you would like to get out to your peers?

A lot of people don’t even realize that we’re in debt, so it’s basically about making sure that people are aware that this issue exists. The main thing is to tailor it to our audience — millennials, college students — personalizing it and making it clear why they should care.

What are your concerns about how the national debt might affect the country’s future?

I think one major problem is student loans. As the national debt increases, interest rates on student loans will also increase. Due to a higher opportunity cost of attending university, many people will likely decide to enter the labor market instead. And due to higher tuition costs, we may not be able to afford to send our children to college. This is a very pressing issue: College is already expensive — but just imagine the future.

How do you feel about the fact that this country has amassed such a huge debt?

I feel empowered because we can share our knowledge with people. The debt has been passed down to us, but it is up to us to make a change. This is something we’ve learned about in our classes, and it’s cool to take knowledge that I’ve gained here and put it out into the world to benefit society.

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Advice

The Perfect Time to Lock in Your Mortgage Rate, Keep Rising Housing Costs Under Control Is Now

Despite a challenging homebuying environment with high demand and historically low inventory, purchasing a home is still attainable – and you don’t have to go through the process alone. Getting connected early with a home lending advisor will better prepare you for the homebuying process, help you understand how much home you can afford and get you prequalified so you can shop with confidence.

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There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to locking in a mortgage rate and there are many factors to consider.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to locking in a mortgage rate and there are many factors to consider.

By Christina Dello Buono

Surging mortgage rates combined with double-digit price gains are putting homeowners and potential buyers in a tough spot. First-time homebuyers, in particular, are being squeezed out of the market – due to the fact they don’t have equity or an additional boost from the sale of an existing property.

Despite those challenges, buying a home may not be as out of reach as you think.

We sat down with Denise Richardson, Community Home Lending Advisor at Chase, to discuss how to navigate the mortgage process, what resources are available, and how increasing mortgage rates can impact your family’s homebuying dreams.

Q: How do increasing mortgage rates impact prospective homebuyers?

Richardson: Mortgage rates have nearly doubled in the last six months – from 3% in 2021 to more than 6% in 2022 – making it increasingly difficult for many Americans to purchase a home, especially those on a limited income. That difference is significant by any measure, but it could result in hundreds of dollars added to your monthly payment and thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Despite a challenging homebuying environment with high demand and historically low inventory, purchasing a home is still attainable – and you don’t have to go through the process alone. Getting connected early with a home lending advisor will better prepare you for the homebuying process, help you understand how much home you can afford and get you prequalified so you can shop with confidence.

Q: Is it a good idea for homebuyers to lock in a mortgage rate as soon as possible?

Richardson: There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to locking in a mortgage rate and there are many factors to consider. This is where your home lending advisor can provide more individualized counsel specific to your situation and your market.

Given the volatility of interest rates right now, we recommend locking in rates as soon as possible so you can be certain what your payments will look like on your loan. Many lenders require you to have a purchase contract in-hand before locking in your rates, but that isn’t always the case. Chase offers a Homebuyer Advantage Program, which allows you to get conditionally approved while you shop for a home.

Q: What happens if mortgage rates drop after a homebuyer locks in their rate?

Richardson: There isn’t an exact science to timing the market, and while interest rates have risen in recent months, it’s always possible that interest rates could fall. Some lenders offer a mortgage rate lock float down, which allows you to lock in an interest rate with the option to reduce if market rates fall during the lock period. This option provides you with a little more security in a volatile market and allows you to take advantage of falling interest rates.

You may be able to move to a lower rate even without the float down option, but it may require additional fees. Additionally, your lender may have particular requirements, such as being at a certain stage of the loan process, for the customer to be eligible to lower their rate.

Q: Can a homebuyer potentially let the rate lock expire by pushing back their closing date? 

Richardson: It’s certainly possible, but it isn’t likely to be beneficial for the customer. Oftentimes, lenders will only allow you to move forward with the rate you originally lock in – or the rate on the day you relock, whichever is higher.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the ability to move quickly in this environment is critical. It’s important to do your research on lender-backed resources available to you, such as Chase’s Closing Guarantee. This guarantee commits to closing customers in as little as three weeks, or they receive $5,000. The program offers buyers peace of mind knowing that they can close on their new home without delay or receive compensation that can be put toward additional costs.

There are plenty of other resources available to help boost your homebuying knowledge – especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. The Beginner to Buyer podcast is a great resource for prospective homebuyers to get answers to all their homebuying questions. Every episode offers conversations with real buyers and expert guests about each step of the process, from mortgage rates and application to closing.

Christina Dello Buono is a vice president in the Dept. of Communications, JPMorgan Chase/Northern California. 

Content sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Black History

Former Slave Bridget “Biddy” Mason, Los Angeles Real Estate Mogul

After 10 years of freedom, working hard and saving her money, Bridget “Biddy” Mason (1818–1891), in 1866, purchased two lots on the outskirts of Los Angeles, which was a small pueblo at the time. She paid $250 for the Spring Street property; the first piece of land Mason owned. This is said to have been a “remarkable feat for a woman having spent the first 37 years of her life enslaved.” But she wouldn’t settle for it being the last. She would become a savvy businesswoman.

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Bridget ‘Biddy’ Mason had made her living as a nurse and midwife. Public domain photo.
Bridget ‘Biddy’ Mason had made her living as a nurse and midwife. Public domain photo.

By Tamara Shiloh

The state of California joined the Union in 1850 as a free state. But after spending five years enslaved there, Bridget “Biddy” Mason (1818–1891) challenged her owner, Robert Smith, for her freedom.

In 1856, a Los Angeles district judge approved Mason’s petition, a ruling that freed Mason and 13 members of her family. She then made Los Angeles her home.

Not much is known about Mason’s earlier life. She was born into slavery, likely in Georgia. She was owned by slaveholders in Georgia and South Carolina before being returned to Mississippi where, as a young adult, she was enslaved in the Smith home. She cared for Smith’s sickly wife and the couple’s children, becoming a nurse and midwife, work she continued throughout most of her life.

After becoming free, Mason met John Griffin, a white Southern doctor who was impressed with her midwife and nursing skills. She began working for him, delivering hundreds of babies in Los Angeles. In her medicine bag, she carried the tools of her trade and the papers the judge had given her affirming that she was free.

After 10 years of freedom, working hard and saving her money, Mason, in 1866, purchased two lots on the outskirts of Los Angeles, which was a small pueblo at the time. She paid $250 for the Spring Street property; the first piece of land Mason owned. This is said to have been a “remarkable feat for a woman having spent the first 37 years of her life enslaved.” But she wouldn’t settle for it being the last. She would become a savvy businesswoman.

In 1884, Mason sold the north half of her first property for $1,500. On the other half, she built a two-story brick building for rentals. That same year she sold another lot for $2,800. She also helped her family buy properties around the city. In 1885, she deeded a portion of the Spring Street property to her grandsons. She signed the deed with an X because she had never learned to read or write.

Mason organized what is now the oldest African American church in Los Angeles: First A.M.E. Church. She used her wealth to give back to and support the entire community, donating to numerous charities, feeding and sheltering the poor, visiting prisoners, and was instrumental in founding an elementary school for Black children.

At the time of her death in 1891, Mason had amassed a fortune of $300,000 (approximately $6 million today), making her the “richest colored woman west of the Mississippi.” She was buried in an unmarked grave in Evergreen Cemetery.

In 1988, the mayor of Los Angeles and members of the church she founded held a ceremony, during which time her grave was marked with a tombstone. More importantly, Mason left a legacy of perseverance, compassion, and triumph.

Encourage young readers to learn more about this real-life champion for civil rights who was born into slavery in Arisa White, Laura Atkins and Laura Freeman’s “Biddy Mason Speaks Up.”

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Bay Area

De La Fuente Runs for Mayor

De La Fuente said he “will not tolerate homeless encampments where violence and drug abuse are rampant.” These encroachers are disrespecting our neighborhoods, our schools, our businesses, our residents, taking over our parks and defacing our city. He said the residents and businesses in our low-income flatland neighborhoods have been disproportionately affected by these encampments, and they deserve better. In collaboration with the county, we will serve our homeless residents who need it most, but not at the expense of other residents and businesses in our city.”

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Photo Caption: Ignacio De La Fuente

By Paul Cobb and news services

Ignacio De La Fuente, the former President of the Oakland City Council for 11 years, says he will run for mayor to rescue the city from its deep troubles.

He said he is returning to political leadership after a 10-year absence. Claiming that he is “sick and tired of what’s happening to our city,” and he can’t just stand by and witness “the city that I love become a place where people are afraid to walk the streets, to take their children to parks, to go out to dinner with their families or to park their cars on the street. I cannot let our city continue [to] be a place where seniors are assaulted and robbed in broad daylight, a place where illegal side-shows are constant throughout the city and a place where children are being shot and killed! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Oakland is not a dumping ground, and it is time to take action!”

He, along with the support of his former council colleague Nate Miley, who is now serving as an Alameda County Supervisor, and who is sponsoring a fundraiser for De La Fuente, has boldly declared that he will “do whatever it takes to increase the number of police officers, but I will give them the resources that they need to help them do their job, but above all, I will provide them the back up and political support that they need and deserve to perform their job for our residents and for our businesses.”

He said he “will not tolerate homeless encampments where violence and drug abuse are rampant.” These encroachers are disrespecting our neighborhoods, our schools, our businesses, our residents, taking over our parks and defacing our city. De La Fuente said the residents and businesses in our low-income flatland neighborhoods have been disproportionately affected by these encampments, and they deserve better. In collaboration with the county, we will serve our homeless residents who need it most, but not at the expense of other residents and businesses in our city.”

He wants to change the focus and emphasis of how the city spends its infrastructure money on what is truly needed by “repairing potholes, taking back and beautifying our parks, fixing our sewers and providing robust programming for our recreation centers and libraries to enrich the lives of our kids and seniors.”

In a characteristic fearless, colorful style that he achieved a no-nonsense reputation De La Fuente announced “The job of mayor is not for the faint of heart! Oakland is a great city that needs a mayor with the political backbone and experience to make the tough decisions to get this city back on track!

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