Corruption ceases to be corruption when it becomes the Status Quo; what was once recognized as corruption is seen as just another cost of doing business. Our political order is structurally corrupt: the key dynamic in every level of governance is favoritism and extortion.
From 1998 to 2013, Barclays and Deutsche Bank sold 199 basket options to hedge funds which used them to conduct more than $100 billion in trades. The subcommittee focused on options involving two of the largest basket option users, Renaissance Technology Corp. LLC (“RenTec”) and George Weiss Associates. The hedge funds often exercised the options shortly after the one-year mark and claimed the trading profits were eligible for the lower income tax rate that applies to long-term capital gains on assets held for at least a year. RenTec claimed it could treat the trading profits as long term gains, even though it executed an average of 26 to 39 million trades per year and held many positions for mere seconds. Data provided by the participants indicates that basket options produced about $34 billion in trading profits for RenTec alone, and more than $1 billion in financing and trading fees for the two banks.
Yes, the nonfarm payroll clocked in at 138.5 million jobs and thereby retraced for the first time the point at which it stood 77 months ago in December 2007. This predictably elicited another “milestone of progress” squeal from the mainstream media. So you have to wonder. Did these people skip history class? Do they understand the vital idea of “context”? So if you want to try a little “context” absurdity recall this. So far we have created a trifling 100k “new” jobs since the last cyclical peak. During the equivalent 77 months in the Reagan era the US economy actually generated 150 times more jobs!
NY Republican Congressman, and former FBI agent (ironically), Michael Grimm - who became infamous for threatening an NY1 reporter "I'll throw you off the fucking balcony... I'll break you in half" - has been indicted on campaign finance charges as well as mail, wire, and healthcare fraud. Oh and since he seemed such a trustworthy and honest chap after his apology for the prevous threats, he is also being charged with perjury after lying about all the other shit he did... Welcome to American politics... As AP reports, he has pleaded not guilty to the 20-count federal indictment.
If you read this without saying "umm, what?" read it again... USA Today notes that a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration shows the IRS handed out $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with disciplinary issues - including more than $1 million to employees who didn't pay their federal taxes.
One of the most consistent debates emanating out of Washington in the past 6 years has been that dealing with income tax. Whether high, low, "fair" or "unfair", said discussions, however, focus solely on tax paid at the Federal level, and largely ignore that "other" key tax: state. Which is surprising, considering some states such as California demand a total contribution amounting to a third of the highest marginal Federal tax bracket, which could make some wonder if those bracing sea breezes are really worth it. But what about the other states? Here is the full breakdown of the states with the top income tax rates, those with the lowest, and all the states inbetween.
When it comes to the real world, the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is semantic.
If you are like most Americans, paying taxes is one of your pet peeves. The deadline to file your federal taxes is coming up, and this year Americans will spend more than 7 billion hours preparing their taxes. When the federal income tax was originally introduced a little more than 100 years ago, most Americans were taxed at a rate of only 1 percent. But once they get their feet in the door, the social planners always want more. Since that time, tax rates have gone much higher and the tax code has exploded in size. Why do we have to have the most convoluted tax system in the history of the planet?
After less than three months consideration, the IRS has issued its statement clarifying th etax treatment of Bitcoins (and other virtual currencies) before the April 15th Deadline. The finding, summarized, is that Vitual currencies will be treated as property (not as a currency) which, as WSJ notes, means an investor who buys bitcoin would typically have a capital gain or loss when it’s sold. The price of Bitcoin is rising modestly on this news...
Warren Buffett epitomizes everything that is wrong with the global economy, and the U.S. economy specifically. He is the consummate crony capitalist, a brilliant yet conniving oligarch who intentionally plays on the gullibility of the masses to portray himself as one thing, when in reality he is something else entirely. He publicly talks about how rich people need to pay more in taxes, then turns around and pioneers new ways for his company Berkshire Hathaway to avoid hundreds of millions in taxes. He thinks that by going on television stuffing ice cream cones and hamburgers in his mouth and acting all grandfatherly that no one will notice who he is really is and the incredible hypocrisy of his actions. Buffett’s latest elaborate scheme to avoid $400 million in capital gains taxes from the disposition of a large chunk of Berkshire Hathaway’s Washington Post stake (which was acquired in the 1970s for $11 million) absolutely takes the cake.
Three days ago it was S&P that opened the can of Puerto Rico junk worms. Moments ago it was Moody's turn to downgrade the General Obligation rating of the Commonwealth from Baa3 to Ba2, aka junk status. We note this just in case someone is confused what the catalyst was that just sent stock to a new intraday high in the aftermath of today's disappointing jobs number which until this moment barely managed to push the S&P higher by 1%. From the report: "While some economic indicators point to a preliminary stabilization, we do not see evidence of economic growth sufficient to reverse the commonwealth's negative financial trends. Without an economic revival, the commonwealth will face difficult decisions in coming years, as its debt and pension costs rise. The negative outlook signals the remaining challenges facing the commonwealth."
With an unofficial tax rate for healthcare and college tuition that makes Scandinavian countries look like low-tax havens, no wonder the middle class in America is vanishing like mist in Death Valley. The political class is now bleating about the erosion of the middle class and rising wealth inequality. There are two primary sources of rising inequality in America: the Federal Reserve and the higher-education and healthcare cartels that so generously fund the campaigns of the bleating politicos.
Malodorous taper emanations and bankruptcies are a toxic mix for munis
By standards of previous generations, the middle class has been stripmined of income, assets and purchasing power. So what does it take to be middle class nowadays? A recent paper used Census data to discuss what sort of income it takes to qualify as middle class but income is not the only the metric - indeed, it can be argued that 12 other factors are more telling measures of middle class membership than income.
Ignoring the facts won't help us address the insolvency of pay-as-you-go social programs.