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Dr. Mark Calabria, FHFA Director Interview, Front Lines of GSE Reform, Manufactured Housing Impacts Ahead

May 16th, 2019 Comments off

 

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Mark Anthony Calabria is the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). He was formerly the chief economist for Vice President Mike Pence,” per Wikipedia.

 

A release by the FHFA on April 15, 2019 said in part that: Dr. Mark Calabria Sworn In as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

 Roll Call said this week that the Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria said he hopes to have a roadmap for ending the federal conservatorship…” of the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

HousingWire reported on December 11, 2018 that “Calabria has been a critic of the GSE model…”  Let’s flash back to see HousingWire’s point.

 

 

Or consider this discussion with Dr. Calabria in the housing and finance debate, which will also give a good sense of Dr. Calabria’s thinking, in his own words.

 

 

Finally, the Daily Business News on MHProNews has previously reported the ongoing controversies over the Duty to Serve Manufactured Housing (DTS) and other underserved markets that were part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008.

With the former director of the FHFA, Mel Watt – considered by some going into the role as a ‘friend’ to manufactured housing – leaving under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations, and with very little progress toward fulfilling the DTS mandate, there are open questions about what Calabria will do during his time at the helm at FHFA.

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The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) on April 4th, 2019 touted Calabria’s appointment confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

In that e-mailed statement, MHI said: “The U.S. Senate has confirmed Dr. Mark Calabria as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, by a vote of 52 – 44. At his confirmation hearing, Dr. Calabria reaffirmed his commitment to the FHFA’s Duty to Serve mandate. Throughout his confirmation process, MHI sent numerous letters of support and worked with the White House and Senate leaders to secure his confirmation.”

MHI also provided their readers with their routine ‘photo op,’ an apparent part of their “got clout? get it here” theme, which has in recent years witnessed plenty of meetings, but what actual progress?

MHARRshipmentProductionMarch2019ManufacturedHousingReportMHProNews

While MHI in their monthly shipment report doesn’t deny the decline, neither are they addressing the underlying causes, nor have they proposed a remedy via their messages to the industry. Why not?

After all, manufactured home shipments are now had 7 months of declines during an affordable housing crisis.  If that is MHI’s vision of “clout,” please – “spare us oh, Lord…”

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MHI went onto say, “Dr. Calabria has extensive experience in housing and financial services issues, as well as a thorough understanding of the importance of manufactured housing as an affordable source of quality homeownership. As the top housing staff member on the Senate Banking Committee for many years, he took the lead in drafting the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which created the FHFA as a strengthened regulator of the GSEs and established the Duty to Serve requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, requiring both entities to support manufactured housing in the secondary market. Previously, Dr. Calabria served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regulatory Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during President George W. Bush’s Administration, where he led the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Manufactured Housing.”

That biographical information aside, MHI added: “Dr. Calabria has served as a keynote speaker at MHI events, most recently in 2017 where he provided attendees with insights about the Administration’s housing and economic development priorities. In 2012, when he was Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the CATO Institute, he spoke to MHI’s members about the impact the Dodd-Frank Act could have on the housing finance sector.”

Those references to MHI should not be construed to diminish Dr. Calabria, now the Director of the FHFA, in any way. Federal officials meet with trade groups and others, it is part of what they do.

However, that recitation by MHI subtly suggests the opposite of what they are arguably seeking to portray to their members and readers.  Bear in mind that MHI pursued the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act during all of the Obama Administration years after the CFPB regulations were put in place, even though Warren Buffett backed the former president in both of his campaigns.

 

WarrenBuffettBarackObamaClassWarfareRichMakingWarWinning-Rule1NeverLoseMoneyRule2RememberRule1Luckiest1PercentThinkaboutOther99PercentMHProNews

Credits are as shown.  Buffett may indeed ‘think about’ the other 99 percent, but how are his surrogates policies in MHVille actually treating the other 99 percent?

 

MHI’s own Senior VP (SVP) of governmental affairs – or top lobbyist – Jason Boehlert, said in 2012 the following.

 

 

So, to borrow the phrase from the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform’s President and CEO, Mark Weiss, JD, there was an “Illusion of Motion” at MHI, which led nowhere after years of pursuing Preserving Access.  MHProNews’ publisher recently laid out a detailed review of how MHI’s chase of Preserving Access was arguably a “Rope-a-Dope” style ploy, that fostered industry consolidation while creating the impression that the Arlington, VA based trade group was ‘doing something.’ Yes, and no.

 

Rope-a-Dope – Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, Mom, Dad, & You

As recently as May 31, 2017, Patricia Boerger, per the MHI website said: Keep the Momentum Going – Ask Your Representative to Cosponsor H.R. 1699, the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act Twenty-one members of the U.S. House of Representatives have added their names as a cosponsor of H.R. 1699…” Momentum?  Hardly.

Preserving Access never passed.  The one thing that was obtained was S 2155, which ‘gave’ MHI the revision to the MLO rule – something that consumer groups were willing to do by agreement years before.  To understand the backstory and evidence on that, see the report linked below.

 

 

MHARR’s president said this in a recent “Issues and Perspectives” – Now, though, both the absence of an independent, national trade representative for the post-production sector [i.e.: MHI] and the related long-term failure of the broader industry to effectively address crucial issues within that sector…” MHARR announced this spring that they were going to go beyond their core mandate of dealing with federal regulatory issues that deal with production concerns, by working with state association on specific placement and zoning challenges, as well as: “(3) to publicly expose the failure of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) to fully and properly implement existing law, thereby forcing manufactured housing consumers into higher-cost, allegedly “predatory” purchase loans, while excluding other potential purchasers from the manufactured housing market altogether.”

 

“Lead, Follow … Or Get Out of The Way”

 

It is so-called predatory loans that was part of the assault by John Oliver’s errantly named “Mobile Homes” video that exposed problematic business practices – each of which was apparently tied to an MHI member.

MHARR’s perspective on Dr. Calabria was outlined in their report linked below.

 

President Trump Announces Nominee Dr. Mark Calabria to Become New Director of Federal Housing Finance Agency

 

It is with that backdrop, that the Daily Business News on MHProNews turns to Dr. Calabria’s first in-depth interview since becoming the director of the FHFA in an interview with Fox Business News (FBN).

 

 

Per right-of-center FBN, on May. 10, 2019 – “President Trump’s new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency says he’s considering an initial public offering of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as early as the first half of next year to raise capital.”

FBN said that, “since taking the helm of the FHFA, Mark Calabria, says that allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to simply rebuild capital by retaining earnings isn’t enough to get the mortgage giants in a strong position quickly.”

Rephrased, the administration wants to untether the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) as much as possible from federal conservatorship, and from the implied taxpayer backstop.

As FBN put it, “Right now, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are under control of the federal government since being bailed out by taxpayers during the financial crisis. Both send all of their profits to the U.S. Treasury, in what’s called a net worth sweep, while maintaining a thin capital cushion of $3 billion. Calabria says a sufficient amount of capital is what’s needed to exit conservatorship or government control.”

Calabria made a number of points, including that he feels that the law allows him to make several moves without further approval by the Congress.  That said, the new head of the FHFA also believes that Congress should be given some time to weigh in on changes to the current structure of housing finance.

Some other bullets from the FBN interview:

  • Calabria is currently waiting on a plan from the U.S. Treasury on reform for Fannie and Freddie, which he expects this summer. Then he will negotiate with Treasury and hopes to come to an agreement by the fall that would then allow them to stop Fannie and Freddie from sending all profits to Treasury later this year….By January (2020), Calabria wants to start the capital-building process and thinks it’s possible an IPO could occur at the earliest in the first half of next year.
  • Calabria maintains Fannie and Freddie should be treated like banks and have capital requirements akin to the ones the Federal Reserve requires of banks – that is, 4.5% of risk-weighted assets. “How do you get Fannie and Freddie to look no worse than other large financial institutions?” he said.
  • Raising capital is the first step to exiting government control…Calabria wants to see an entirely new housing finance system, both to improve pricing for consumers and to safeguard against another taxpayer bailout.

 

That is an item that should be closely watched.  It must be recalled that Berkshire Hathaway held stocks in the GSEs for years, and then dumped them.  See a report that deals with some of that history, linked below.

 

‘Minorities Aren’t Being Well Served in Housing Finance’ Today, per Mozilo – Former Exec Near Eye of the 2008 Housing/Mortgage Storm

 

Calabria also favors fully privatizing Fannie and Freddie, and hopes Congress will offer additional charters to create more GSEs to foster competition.

There are aspects similar to Senator Mike Crapo’s plan outlined earlier this year, which also aim to place Fannie and Freddie back into privately held hands, add additional GSE charters, and use Ginnie Mae and the full government backstop. Calabria said that Crapo’s plan is a “good framework.”

It can’t be this quasi are you private or you public is there something in the middle,” said Calabria. “It really has to be private capital at risk so the taxpayer is not on the hook… If you have several of these companies you know any one of them can fail and it’s a little less disruptive.”

Calabria admitted that getting Congress to go along with a plan is tough, but he is hopeful and will work toward that possibility. “I think we can come back and try to do that again. I’m hopeful that working with Chairwoman Waters in the House, Chairman Crapo in the Senate, I think that there are some areas for agreement. It’s not going to be easy, but I think that there are some areas we can work on.”

But if lawmakers don’t pass something, he will take action unilaterally. “Well I think I’m actually obligated to,” under the law that established the FHFA, he said. “As far as I see it, I don’t really have any choice but to fix them and get them out because that’s what the statute demands.”

Calabria wants to make sure that Fannie and Freddie play by the same rules as other private sector lenders.  That means that the GSEs should be held to the same rules, including the qualified mortgage (QM) rules.

Qualified mortgage rules went into effect as a result of the housing crisis, with the goal of strengthening underwriting standards for mortgages – except that Fannie and Freddie are exempt from the rule.

Calabria stated that means the GSEs are allowed to make riskier loans than what is allowed under the qualified mortgage rule. He believes the mortgage giants should be subject to the rule and hopes to work with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to modify that scenario.

We’re going to continue to have I think to me historically low mortgage rates for next number of years,” he says.

But FBN noted that bringing private capital into the center of the GSE housing finance system could result in higher mortgage rates, because private companies are in business to earn more money.

Calabria is more concerned about affordability due in part to low housing supply. He wants to encourage more single family homes to be built, but also wants to ensure it’s stable and sustainable. “One of the lessons from last time around is we got a lot of people on housing and they weren’t able to stay in the housing,” he says. “So how do we make sure that if there’s another downturn … that homeownership or is sustainable.”

Each of these last views should be considered through what HUD Secretary Ben Cason said last week in New Orleans.

 

 

Oddly, as of this morning at the time shown, Secretary Ben Carson’s address – which was given to MHI members – is still missing from the MHI website.  What is it about that speech that has MHI and the powers that be nervous?

 

HUDSecretaryBenCarsonManufacturedHousingInstituteLogoMHILogoMHISiteSearchMHProNews

That’s a good reason for you to know that address, backwards and forwards. See the link above, and share it with your customers.  Because 15 years after Clayton was purchased by Berkshire Hathaway, manufactured housing is selling fewer homes today than then.  That’s the acid test of fact-based measurement of performance.

3ErasMobileHomesManufacturedHomesManufacturedHousingImprovementActEraSkylineChampionShipmentProductionGraphicMHProNews

In 1998, manufactured homes (MH) outsold RVs by some 3 to 2. In 2017, RVs outsold MHs by some 5 to 1. RVs recovered far more quickly from 2008. The facts raise questions. One, is the effectiveness of MHI as the post-production or ‘umbrella’ association in the country. The other question is more sobering. Has Buffett-Berkshire “Moat” strategies kept manufactured home production at historically low levels to allow a few big boy brands to consolidate others at a discounted ‘value’ by MHI insiders?

That’s this Thursday morning’s first episode of manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com. Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

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Emerging Trends, Opportunities, Reflected in Interview with America’s First Black Billionaire, Robert Johnson

April 16th, 2018 Comments off
RobertJohnsonBETRLJCompaniesDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Credit, CNBC.

Industries, companies and professionals ignore or overlook emerging trends to their own peril.

 

Significant trends are emerging in the black community, that bear close attention, as a recent interview with America’s first black billionaire, Robert Johnson indicates.

 

Background

Nationally, under 9 percent of manufactured home residents are blacks or African Americans, per the research done by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for their 2014 white paper on manufactured housing.

CFPBWhiteppaerRaceEthnicBreakdownManufacturedHousingIndustryHomeOwnershipResidentsDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

In places like the Chicago metro, there are some land lease communities that have sizable black populations.  In various parts of the country, the black population presents a well-established customer base for manufactured housing sales.

But more is possible, and needed.

As HUD Secretary Ben Carson, M.D., noted last year, home ownership is statistically one of the keys to wealth building. Carson said that the typical renter has a net worth of about $5000, while the typical home owners net worth is about $200,000.

ManufacturedHousingShareofOccupiedHousingUnitsByStateCFPB2014MHIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews793

In that observation, Carson echoes research produced by CFED (rebranded as Prosperity Now), or commentary by manufactured home advocate, the Rev. Donald Tye, Jr.

The ideal outcome for the vast majority of Americans is to see more home ownership, and a decreasing need for subsidized housing.

In that regard, reams of research reflects the fact that manufactured housing is the all-star solution for largely unsubsidized homes that are affordable to the vast majority of the population. This is true in part because of its superior affordability – and as Carson noted – the surprising quality of modern manufactured homes.  See the related reports for more insights, linked at the end of this article.

RevDonaldTyeJrBusinessmanManufacturedHousingAdvocateDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

Tye explained that in his experience, subsidized public housing – an entitlement – often yields addiction and other problems. Ownership vs. renting or living in “projects” leads to integrity, a view he likens to those of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Home sales – conventional and manufactured – often track with employment data. As employment rises, and incomes grow, so too does housing sales.

 

Johnson’s Interview in that Context

In that context, the comments of BET founder Robert Johnson’s interview with CNBC are noteworthy for social, economic, political and opportunities to increase home ownership to a population that lags behind other racial groups.

RobertLJohnsonBETFounderRLJCompaniesFounderWikipediaDailyBusinessNewsMHproNEwsPut differently, the improvements in black employment and earnings, combined with relatively low levels of home ownership are strong potential target markets for manufactured housing companies.

Some of the bullets by CNBC in the video interview with Johnson include:

  • The growing U.S. economy and improving business environment bringing black workers back into the labor force, BET founder Robert Johnson told CNBC.
  • When you look at that, you have to say something is going right,” Johnson says.

 

Highlights from Johnson’s Video Interview

In January, the Labor Department reported the unemployment rate among black workers was at its lowest since at least the early 1970s, when the government began tracking the data.  The unemployment rate for African Americans was unchanged in March at 6.9 percent.

When you look at that [January report], you have to say something is going right,” said Johnson, whom CNBC describes as a Democrat and founder BET and chairman of The RLJ Companies.

You have to take encouragement from what’s happening in the labor force and the job market,” Johnson said “When you look at African-American unemployment, … you’ve never had African-American unemployment this low and the spread between African-Americans and whites narrowing.”

Johnson said that means the jobs market is “soliciting employees who have been out of the labor force, some of it based on discrimination, some of it based on changes in education, access and technology changes.”

Johnson noted several positive initiatives undertaken by the Trump Administration. “I believe if you take into account the Trump tax cut, you take into account the drop in unemployment, … and you take into account that interest rates are fairly stable,” he said.

I believe the economy is on a strong growth path,” Johnson added. He said he didn’t think economic growth would hit 5 percent, which his friend and long-time CNBC contributor, Larry Kudlow, says could happen.  Kudlow recently joined the Oval Office’s economic advisory team.

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Working with POTUS Trump?

Johnson spoke about a job offer he received from Trump during the transition. He said he didn’t take the unnamed position because he didn’t want a government role, not because of any disagreement with the president or his policies.

No matter what the president would do,” Democrats and other political opponents would slam the president, Johnson said. He spoke about concerns over the “deep state.” But he stressed that “Something is going right,” for blacks and the nation as a whole.

 

Rhetoric and Charlottesville

Johnson told the president-elect during the transition, “Do not say, ‘what do you have to lose.’” Rather, he encouraged the president to talk about what they have to gain from a Trump Administration.

Those gains are now being felt.

Johnson said he’s met with the president since the transition. He spoke about his “access” to Steve Mnuchin, the Labor Department, and GOP leaders like Senator Tim Scott (R-SC).  Johnson said he’s working on issues related to “leakage” in “small dollar 401K accounts,” which if changed, would help blacks and others.

He also spoke about serving black banks, among numerous other issues raised.

 

Pressed by CNBC panelists on Charlottesville, the president’s rhetoric, and Donald Trump’s alleged racial bias from some quarters, Johnson said, “I don’t think he’s racist.”

 

RLJ Companies Insights

From third party sources, and from a listing on their website, the influence that Johnson has in the black community is apparent.  A few pull quotes from their website:

  • Johnson was named by USA Today as one of “The 25 Most Influential Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years.”
  • In 2014, three of Johnson’s holding companies were featured on the Black Enterprise 100s list: RML Automotive, LLC ranked 1st in a category of 60 in the auto dealership rankings; RLJ Equity Partners, LLC and RLJ Credit Management, LLC ranked 12th and 14th respectively on the private equity firms list.
  • Currently, Mr. Johnson serves on the following boards: RLJ Lodging Trust; RLJ Entertainment, Inc.; KB Home; Lowe’s Companies, Inc.; Retirement Clearinghouse; Elevate Credit, Inc.; The Business Council; and Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mr. Johnson holds a Master’s degree in international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies from the University of Illinois.

 

The Bottom Lines?

Johnson is a highly educated, successful, and a very well-connected professional.  He clearly sees value to the Trump agenda for African Americans, but also for the nation at large.

As Johnson noted, the facts about rising employment, opportunities, and income for blacks are all good signs.

He’s met with the president on a number of occasions.  Johnson seems to believe that the president isn’t the racist that some of his opponents would have people believe. He clearly stated that the agenda is a good one for blacks and for the country.

Black Americans lag behind other ethnic groups in housing ownership.  The comments by Johnso – combined with insights from HUD Secretary Carson about the amazing” quality found in today’s manufactured homes – all point to potential opportunities for more industry professionals to better serve the needs of the black community.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Senator Thom Tillis Discuss Affordable Housing and Manufactured Homes, Video

Carson noted several times last year that home ownership is important for wealth building, a point that manufactured home advocate the Rev. Donald Tye, Jr. has also stressed. ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

(Third party images are provided under fair use guidelines.)

Related Reports:

Trump Administration and the Manufactured Housing Industry

The Ultimate Manufactured Home Industry Fact$, Data, and Insights – Bullets plus at-a-Glance Infographic

Affordable Housing, and Today’s Manufactured Homes, Yesteryear’s Mobile Homes

“Move, Open, Live” De Rose Industries & Senator Thom Tillis’ Mobile Home Comments

YIMBY vs. NIMBY, Obama Admin Concept Could Unlock $1.95 Trillion Annually, HUD & MH Impact

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Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.

Buffett On President-Elect Donald Trump: “He Deserves Everybody’s Respect”

November 15th, 2016 Comments off
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Warren Buffett. Credit: Invest With Alex

Even though he supported Hillary Clinton in this years’ presidential election, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett says that the nation needs to unite.

I support any president of the United States. It’s very important that the American people coalesce behind the president,” Buffett told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in an interview on November 11th.

That doesn’t mean they can’t criticize him or they can’t disagree with what he’s doing maybe. But we need a country unified. He deserves everybody’s respect.

Buffett says that his choice to support Clinton was largely due to her temperament, and that he has not spoken with her since the election. He also shared that he understands that Americans upset about the lack of growth of the economy helped to get Trump elected.

Buffett also said that he would be willing to help the president-elect should he ask.

I would do that with any president. I’ve never called a president in my life. So I don’t initiate ‘em,” he said.

But if any president asks me for help in any way, I mean, that’s part of being a citizen.

Berkshire Hathaway stock has been on the rise since the election, with increase each day. For Buffett, he said that he was never concerned about stories predicting a stock market crash if Trump won, calling the fears “silly.”  For the most recent closing numbers, found on the Daily Business News’ manufactured housing industry connected stocks, please click here.

buffettontrumphedeserveseverybodysrespectcreditbloomberg-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: Bloomberg.

Buffett said that he’s optimistic about the future of the U.S.

America is a fantastic county.

The Manufactured Housing Industry Speaks

MHProNews and MHLivingNews publisher L.A. “Tony” Kovach provided post-election commentary and collected feedback from MH industry pros.

buffettontrumphedeserveseverybodysrespectcreditasshown-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credits: As shown.

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Tim Connor, CSP. Credit: LinkedIn.

I don’t care whether you are a liberal, conservative, independent or something else – the bottom line with this year’s election was simply more of the same or something new, different or unique,” said Tim Connor, CSP.

Eddie Hicks, a long time MH industry veteran and consultant shared his take.

M/H owners are certainly one of the ‘hidden majority’ who may have felt somewhat disenfranchised in recent years,” said Hicks.

It’s the dawning of a new day. After the shock and elation or disappointment wash over us, and we all have taken a collective deep breath, we can begin looking to the future. And in that future I think it is safe to say that changes, well, they are a come’in,” said Texas Manufactured Housing Association executive director DJ Pendleton.

DJ Pendleton. Credit: MHProNews.

DJ Pendleton. Credit: MHProNews.

For any who might not yet be aware, in addition to President-Elect Trump heading to the White House, both the House and Senate will now be controlled by a Republican majority. All three branches of government are in Republican control. What will this mean? It simply means that there is little in the way of the Republican policy agenda.

The full article by Kovach can be found here. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.