Video “Forget About The Price Tag” Wins Paltry $2000 HHS Grand Prize for Promoting Obamacare; What’s Next for the Winner?
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 9:07 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
The Daily Caller reports Video called ‘Forget About The Price Tag’ wins HHS grand prize for promoting Obamacare.
The Department of Health and Human Services has crowned a YouTube video entitled “Forget About The Price Tag” as the grand prize winner in a contest meant to encourage young people to sign up for Obamacare.
The video contest, announced in August — in partnership with a group called Young Invincibles — encouraged participants to produce clips filled with pro-Obamacare messaging.
HHS’s grand prize-winning video, announced Monday by the White House, features a young woman named Erin McDonald singing an Obamacare-loving version of Jessie J’s hit single, “Price Tag.”
Video of Erin McDonald
“You are young and wild and free but you need to stay healthy …. Ain’t about the, uh, cha-ching cha-ching. Ain’t about the, yeah, bla-bling bla-bling. Affordable Care Act. Don’t worry ’bout the price tag.“
If the video does not play, click on the top link.
What’s Next for the Winner?
For her efforts Erin McDonald wins a paltry $2000. I am quite sure Mish readers could come up with far more than that to get her to sing “Audit the Fed“.
Alas, that can never happen.
Erin has a beautiful voice and just won the political jackpot and probably an invite to the WhiteHouse.
More importantly, I bet she gets a multimillion dollar contract from some record company to sing whatever the heck she wants (and I highly doubt it’s about Obamacare or the Fed)….
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 4:46 pm
It was anything but boring cooking the books to make Bernard Madoff's returns seem smooth and steady, the arch-fraudster's former CFO testified yesterday.
Frank DiPascali, in his first day on the stand in the trial of five former Madoff employees, said that each of them were intimately involved in deceiving Madoff's investors and regulators—a deception that kept the wraps on a $65 billion Ponzi scheme for decades. DiPascali, who worked for Madoff for more than 30 years, told the jury that the fraud went on "as far back as I can remember" and that "it was virtually impossible not to know what was happening."
The five former employees—Daniel Bonventre, Annette Bongiorno, Joann Crupi, Jerome O'Hara and George Perez—have said that they had no idea Madoff was a fraud, in part because DiPascali hid it from them. But DiPascali regaled the jury with anecdotes about close calls averted with the help of each of the defendants, with whom he said he worked closely on the fraud.
In one case, an auditor for KPMG asked to see daily trading logs. DiPascali said that the defendants had prepared trading records for one day, but that the auditor asked for another.
So, DiPascali said, he called O'Hara and told him to fetch the non-existent records from "the archives." He and the others than spent several hours dummying up the records, which they then put into a refrigerator—to cool down the hot-off-the-printer documents—and then tossed them around "like a medicine ball" to create creases and give a patina of age to the new records.
Picture: Banksy’s stenciled elephant from “Barely Legal,” 2006.
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 3:53 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Most understand the “too big to fail” banks have gotten bigger and bigger over time as they swallow up smaller banks bit by bit.
Here is the concept in picture form courtesy of reader Tim Wallace. Click on any chart for sharper image.
Number of Banks Over Time by Type
Total Number of Banks
Percent of Banks Vs. 1990 Total
Anyone feel any safer by this?
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 3:27 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
With the almost extinction of 'bears' we noted last week, the bull-bear index has now crossed the Rubicon into a euphoria mode that marked the turning point before the last 2 major corrections in the US equity market. Of course, we are sure, this time is different; but hasn't the Fed 'always' had our back? Perhaps, as GenRe's CIO notes, "gravity will win," after all?
Shrugging that off… this has happened 15 times in the last 24 years with stocks falling 79% of the time in the following 3 months…
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 2:55 pm
Morgan Housel lists 50 Unfortunate Truths About Investing from simple observations to warning signs of bad advice from media experts. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Saying "I'll be greedy when others are fearful" is much easier than actually doing it.
2. The gulf between a great company and a great investment can be extraordinary.
3. Markets go through at least one big pullback every year, and one massive one every decade. Get used to it. It's just what they do.
4. There is virtually no accountability in the financial pundit arena. People who have been wrong about everything for years still draw crowds.
10. Time-saving tip: Instead of trading penny stocks, just light your money on fire. Same for leveraged ETFs.
11. Not a single person in the world knows what the market will do in the short run. End of story.
12. The analyst who talks about his mistakes is the guy you want to listen to. Avoid the guy who doesn't — his are much bigger.
13. You don't understand a big bank's balance sheet. The people running the place and their accountants don't either.
14. There will be seven to 10 recessions over the next 50 years. Don't act surprised when they come.
15. Thirty years ago, there was one hour of market TV per day. Today there's upwards of 18 hours. What changed isn't the volume of news, but the volume of drivel.
16. Warren Buffett's best returns were achieved when markets were much less competitive. It's doubtful anyone will ever match his 50-year record.
17. Most of what is taught about investing in school is theoretical nonsense. There are very few rich professors.
18. The more someone is on TV, the less likely his or her predictions are to come true. (U.C. Berkeley psychologist Phil Tetlock has data on this).
19. Related: Trust no one who is on CNBC more than twice a week.
20. The market doesn't care how much you paid for a stock. Or your house. Or what you think is a "fair" price.
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 2:36 pm
Courtesy of John Rubino.
Let’s say you’ve got some traditional mutual funds full of stocks and bonds and they’re way up. You’re worried by all the taper talk and the charts that show share prices and margin debt back up to pre-crash levels, and you’re wondering whether it’s time to redirect some of that capital to someplace that no one is calling a bubble.
Meanwhile, you’ve noticed that precious metals mining stocks are in another of their periodic corrections, with this one looking a lot like 2008’s bloodbath — which was followed by an epic bull market:
But with gold and silver below the production cost of a lot of miners, there’s a ton of risk to go with the seemingly huge upside. So committing to individual miners is terrifying. Still, that’s how it always looks at the bottom.
So if you’re going to buy one, which would it be?
Let’s start with the premise that at a bear market bottom investors, having been faked out so many times on the way down, don’t trust the turn. So to the extent that they buy anything, they buy the safest names. If the miners keep to this pattern, next year will be good for the best and mediocre for the rest. And in mining the safest bets are the royalty and streaming companies that don’t actually mine metal themselves but contract with other mines to take part of their future output. They do this in a variety of ways ranging from buying up existing royalty agreements that call for a given number of ounces delivered over a specified period of time, to in effect making equity investments in mines in return for some portion of future production. The first is passive investing, the second more like venture capital.
The biggest companies in this space have been able to gain interests in lots of mines on generally favorable terms. Here are the three to consider:
A lot of these companies’ investments depend on mines expanding or continuing to produce as expected. Should the price of gold and silver fall much from here there will be wholesale project cancellations and mine shutdowns, which would mean less cash flow from their positions. This is a very real risk, but even so, the impact on the royalty/streaming companies would be less than on the typical miner…
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 2:17 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
In a feudal as well as futile attempt to keep wealthy French citizens from leaving the country, France hikes the “Exit Tax” on transfers of wealth to outside of France. They also lower the base and increase the number of things on which the tax applies.
According to a “pay-walled” article on Le Monde of which I can only read a part … “The exit tax was established in 1999, repealed in 2005, then reintroduced in the first Amended Finance Act for 2011. The law was intended to limit the temporary exile of entrepreneurs wanting to sell their stakes in more favorable tax conditions than under domestic law.”
Reader Bran informs me the the article states they plan to integrate collective investment in realty into the realm of the exit-tax.
Taxed to the Point of No Recovery
Here are some pertinent points on exit taxes and taxes in general by Veronique de Rugy writing for the National Review: France to Beef Up Its Exit Tax.
The French government seems committed to taxing itself beyond the point of no recovery. You’ve heard me talk about how over the years, and in particular over the last four years, France has relied heavily on tax increases in trying to contain its huge deficits. Everyone knows about how President Hollande campaigned for and then proposed a 75 percent tax rate on personal income above €1 million.
One aspect of France’s confiscatory taxes that’s often overlooked by Americans is that previous President Nicolas Sarkozy was almost as bad as Hollande when it came to raising taxes. In fact, data compiled by taxpayers’ watch groups and newspapers show that between 2007 and the end of 2012, taxpayers were subjected to 205 separate increases in their tax burden, from excise levees on televisions, tobacco, and diet sodas to multiple increases in the capital taxes and a wealth-tax hike. Sarkozy is also responsible for increasing the top marginal income tax rate from 40 to 41 percent in 2010, and again, to 45 percent, in 2012.
Le Monde published a special report in September 2013 in which the liberal newspaper used data from the Ministre des Finances to show that, since 2009, under both Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande, 84 new taxes have been instated. The article also
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 1:04 pm
By Jillian Berman, The Huffington Post
Fast-food giants save money by paying their typical workers very little, but they also save money by paying their CEOs millions, thanks to a quirk of the tax code. In both cases, American taxpayers cover the cost.
McDonald’s saved $14 million in taxes over the past two years using a loophole that lets companies deduct the costs of performance-based executive pay, according to a report released Monday by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank. McDonald’s isn’t alone: Over the past two years, the six largest fast-food companies have used the loophole to save an estimated $64 million in taxes, the report found. (Story continues after graphic)
Infographic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post.
Companies of all types can and do take advantage of the performance-pay loophole, but this study focused specifically on fast food. It's at least the second way the industry hits the federal government's budget: Low wages at the nation’s 10 largest fast-food companies -- which typically hover about a dollar above the federal minimum wage -- cost taxpayers $3.8 billion per year, because workers have to rely on government assistance to get by, according to a recent study by the National Employment Law Project.
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 11:45 am
By Lynnley Browning, Newsweek
James S. Chanos, a prominent short-seller in New York City known for wagering on falling stock prices, counts shares in CGI Group, the parent company of CGI Federal, as among his “largest short positions,” according to persons briefed on the matter. That means Chanos, the founder of Kynikos Associates (the name means cynic in Greek), has placed potentially lucrative bets that CGI shares will fall in value.
CGI Group, whose CGI Federal is the main contractor behind the glitch-plagued Healthcare.gov, has been an investor favorite for nearly five years. Headlines on troubles at the federal health-insurance website, intended to be the showpiece reform of Obama’s presidency, are drawing growing attention to the company, often called Canada’s most valuable technology firm.
by ilene - December 4th, 2013 4:03 am
Courtesy of Mish.
Citing Dick Bove, Yahoo!Finance reports Government About to Destroy American Mortgages Permanently.
Mortgages as we know them are going away in the next four years, warns Dick Bove, vice president of research at Rafferty Capital. Bove, one of the most widely-respected banking analysts in the world, is certain that will have devastating consequences for housing and the rest of the American economy.
The removal of the two most important players in American mortgages – the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) – threatens the very foundation of the American economy, according to Bove.
These two government-sponsored entities – along with the smaller Government National Mortgage Association (“Ginnie Mae”, a government corporation that broke off from Fannie Mae) – issued 98% of the $1.4 trillion in mortgage-backed securities in the United States so far in 2013. These securities are sold in order to add liquidity to the mortgage market, thereby making funds available to borrowers.
“If Fannie and Freddie go away, what then happens to the mortgage markets?” asks Bove. “The answer to that question is that we no longer have things like 20-year and 30-year mortgages because banks are not going to put that type of mortgage on their balance sheets. And we won’t have fixed-rate mortgages.”
Bove says the banks he spoke with won’t be able to provide 30-year mortgages in large quantities without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the markets. “I’ve called a number of very large banks – the largest issuers of mortgages in the United States – and asked them, ‘If there was no Fannie and Freddie, what would be the typical mortgage in the United States?’ And, the answer is a 10- to 15-year adjustable rate mortgage.”
The end of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is a major sea-change in how the government views affordable housing, according to Bove.
“It is no longer the goal of the United States government that every household should have its own home,” say Bove. “In my view, that’s a call for a return of public housing and all of the ills that went with public housing.”
Affordable Housing Nonsense
The results of “affordable housing” programs speak for themselves.
In the last decade, hundreds of “affordable housing” programs at the federal and