by ilene - March 29th, 2011 12:56 pm
Courtesy of Henry Blodget at The Business Insider
GE had taken to Twitter to blast the New York Times for "misleading" everyone about this fact.
So, naturally, when we saw that GE was trying to set the record straight, we asked some specific questions of GE--because we wanted to determine whether the New York Times was wrong or whether GE was just trying to spin everyone.
Either was fine with us, by the way — especially after New York Times editor Bill Keller’s latest lecture this weekend about why the New York Times is great and everyone else sucks.
Bill Keller’s message in his latest lecture was "We believe in verification rather than assertion."
Ex-Swiss banker to give Wikileaks 2,000 “celebrities, business leaders and lawmakers from US, UK who secreted away money for tax-evasion purposes”
by ilene - January 17th, 2011 5:35 pm
Courtesy of Mish
Yahoo!Finance reports Ex-Swiss banker to hand account files to WikiLeaks.
A former Swiss banker was on Monday due to hand over files to WikiLeaks which he alleges detail attempts by wealthy business leaders and lawmakers to evade tax payments.
Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Swiss-based Bank Julius Baer, told Britain’s Observer newspaper on Sunday that the documents include details of about 2,000 accounts held in offshore financial centers. He says the account holders include "high net worth" celebrities, business leaders and lawmakers from the U.S., Britain and Asia.
Elmer’s press conference comes two days before he is due to appear before a Zurich regional court to answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland’s strict banking secrecy laws.
He told the Observer newspaper he planned to disclose the new set of files to expose activities in offshore financial centers. "The one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know, and the big boys know, that money is being secreted away for tax-evasion purposes," he was quoted as telling the newspaper.
Fox News has a few additional quotes in Ex-banker says he’s giving Wikileaks files on rich
Rudolf Elmer, an ex-employee of Swiss-based Bank Julius Baer, said there were 2,000 account holders named in the documents, but refused to give details of the companies or individuals involved.
He has previously offered files to WikiLeaks on financial activities in the Cayman Islands and faces a court hearing in Zurich on Wednesday to answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland’s strict banking secrecy laws.
"I do think as a banker I have the right to stand up if something is wrong," said Elmer, who addressed reporters at London’s Frontline Club alongside WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
"I am against the system. I know how the system works and I know the day-to-day business. From that point of view, I wanted to let society know what I know. It is damaging our society," Elmer said.
Britain’s tax authority declined to comment when asked about Assange’s plan to supply details of alleged wrongdoing.
Under the terms of his release on bail, Assange must live at the mansion home of Vaughan Smith, the owner of the Frontline Club. He has compared the regime to "high-tech house arrest," but has recently promised that the flow of leaked documents published by his organization would increase.
by ilene - December 31st, 2010 5:20 am
Shadow Banking and Tax Avoidance – privileges for the ultra-wealthy… Ilene
Courtesy of Michael Snyder of Economic Collapse
You and I live in a totally different world than the ultra-rich and the international banking elite do. Many of them live in a world where they simply do not pay income taxes. Today, it is estimated that a third of all the wealth in the world is held in offshore banks. So why is so much of the wealth of the globe located in places such as Monaco, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Isle of Man? It isn’t because those are fun places to visit. It is to avoid taxes. The super wealthy and the international banking elite think that it is really funny that our paychecks are constantly being drained by federal taxes, state taxes and Social Security taxes while they literally pay nothing at all. These incredibly rich elitists make a ton of money doing business in wealthy western nations and then they transfer virtually all of their profits offshore where they don’t have to contribute any of it in taxes. It works out really great for them, but it sucks for the rest of us.
It is estimated that approximately $1.4 trillion is held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone. According to an article in Forbes magazine, there is a total of approximately 15 trillion to 20 trillion dollars in offshore bank accounts, brokerage accounts and hedge fund portfolios.
A recent article in the Guardian stated that a third of all the wealth on the entire globe is held in offshore banks and that the vast majority of international banking transactions take place in these tax havens….
On a conservative estimate, a third of the world’s wealth is held offshore, with 80% of international banking transactions taking place there. More than half the capital in the world’s stock exchanges is "parked" offshore at some point.
All of the biggest banks in the world are involved in playing this game. All of them have big branches in these various tax havens. All of them work very hard to ensure that the tax burdens on their ultra-rich clients are as light as possible.
by phil - December 7th, 2010 8:29 am
Thank you Republicans!
The party of fiscal responsibility has strong-armed the President and what little is left on the Democrats in Congress to extend the Bush Tax cuts for another two years at a cost of "just" $830Bn to the little people who still have to pay taxes. They accomplished this by allowing the Democrats to extend $56Bn of additional unemployment relief to the 2M families who were cut off on Friday and were about to go their first week without checks with just 17 shopping days left until Christmas. Of course, the Democrats don't just bend, they BREAK and the Republicans also got a 30% reduction in the estate taxes that are projected to cost an additional $66Bn to the people who don't have $5M estates. Merry Christmas, rich folks – Lloyd bless us, everyone!
"But Phil," you may ask "who actually does pay taxes?" When your deficit is about as high as your net collections – the answer is: No one really – or no anyone who matters, anyway. As I've often told you, our Corporate Overlords actually pay just 2.4% of our GDP in taxes, just $138Bn last year which was less than the $6Tn in bailouts they collected by a factor of 43 – no wonder they are doing so well! As you can see from the chart, Estate and Excise taxes are barely a point on the graph and Individual income taxes are barely 6% while Employment Taxes have jumped from 1.5% of GDP in 1950 to 7.5% today – that's a 400% increase but don't worry, it only affects your first $106,800 in income – after that, ZERO! That way, if you earn $1M, the jump in payroll taxes from $1,250 to $6,250 is just 0.5% of your income vs the 5% increase borne by a person earning $100,000 or less.
Imagine if all 140M US workers were given an even $6,000 break ($840Bn divided by 140M) on their take-home pay by just eliminating those SS deductions (it's not like they'll ever get that money back anyway)? Why everyone would immediately be taking home $500 more per month. Of course we know that the poor people would only "waste" it on food, shelter and clothing so our wise government has guided the bailout to the places it will…
by ilene - December 6th, 2010 10:28 pm
Courtesy of Mish
President Obama has agreed to a tax deal that’s bound to please deficit-hawk hypocrites on both sides of the aisle. The cost is a mere $30 billion spread over 10 years. Spreading the cost over 10 years is an interesting concept given that the extensions are "temporary" for only 2 years.
Of course the last extension was "temporary" and the next extension will be "temporary" as well which makes me wonder about that $30 billion cost.
I have a better idea, why don’t we just "temporarily" extend these deals until 2020 and be done with it? We might be in a genuine recovery by then.
Of course we will then have to factor in the idea that we may need to "temporarily" extend the benefits "one" more time lest we sink the nascent 2020 recovery.
Obama’s Proposed "Compromise"
Inquiring minds may be asking "Just how compromising is the compromise, and more importantly, what’s in it for Susie?" Those are very good questions. The answers can be found in the article Obama Agrees to Extend Tax Cuts for Everyone for Two Years.
President Barack Obama said he’ll agree to a two-year extension of all Bush-era tax cuts in exchange for extending federal unemployment insurance. The plan also would cut the payroll tax by 2 percentage points.
Obama said he would accept a lower rate for the estate tax than Democrats wanted in order to break a stalemate over extending the Bush tax cuts before Congress adjourns. The current tax rates, enacted in 2001 and 2003, are set to expire Dec. 31.
Without the compromise, middle-income families would become “collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington,” Obama said in televised remarks. He said he still believes the nation can’t afford to permanently extend the top tax rates.
“This compromise is an essential step on the road to recovery,” Obama said.
In addition to keeping the current tax rates for all Americans, the plan outlined by Obama would extend aid for the long-term unemployed for another 13 months. The payroll tax — which funds Social Security and Medicare — would be cut by 2 percentage points during 2011 to help spur hiring.
Obama also endorsed allowing a full deduction for equipment purchases that currently must be deducted over time. The proposal would accelerate $200 billion in tax savings for companies in the first
by ilene - November 28th, 2010 6:07 am
Courtesy of Michael Hudson
Tax-Avoidance – The Worst is Yet to Come
“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”
“The Rich Boy,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The 30-year campaign of the wealthy to rig our economic system – especially the tax component – for their own benefit will accelerate with the GOP capture of the House of Representatives and the likely capture of the presidency and Senate in two years. For a foreshadowing of what is to come, a dress rehearsal has been conducted in Latvia, Iceland, Ireland and other financially strapped countries. Latvia has been burdened with the world’s most regressive tax system, while Iceland and Ireland have become record setters in tapping taxpayers to bail out financial crime syndicates, a.k.a. banks.
The Irish bailout will encumber its people with perhaps as much debt as a $9 trillion bailout would be here in the United States. The Irish also are expected to also gut unemployment insurance, their minimum wage and similar social safety nets while boosting interest rates and home property taxes to pay tribute to the European creditor agencies that have “rescued” them. They will relinquish ownership of much of Ireland to their creditors, capped by ownership of government policy-making. The new banks will be owned by foreigners, who will put Ireland on a debt treadmill to transfer its taxable surplus to mainland Europe and Britain.
Just as the U.S. taxpayer saved Goldman Sachs and the other high rollers from taking a loss, the Irish are being forced to “socialize” (that is, oligarchize) the losses of the banks. Think of how the Federal Reserve gave the banks 100 cents on the dollar for the some $2 trillion of toxic assets they took off the books of the banks and you get a sense of how the Irish bailout money will be used. It will keep the banks and creditors whole.
Bad banking is going unpunished. Shareholders, bondholders, large depositors and bank executives are not facing constraints on moral hazard. The European Central Bank (ECB) has cleaned up their mess, enabling and their wealth to grow on its trajectory as before – at the price of impoverishing the non-financial parts of society. Every effort will be made to re-inflate the property bubble putting off the day of reckoning. Taxes – like accountability – are for what Leona Helmsley referred…
by ilene - November 22nd, 2010 4:49 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
David Rosenberg provided a nice list of risk in this morning’s client letter. The one major risk that Rosenberg and the market is largely overlooking at this juncture is the housing double dip. This has the potential to be THE most important story of 2011. As I’ve previously explained, declining asset values are highly destructive during a balance sheet recession. If the housing double dip surprises to the downside the problems that we’ve swept under the rug will quickly reemerge and this time there won’t be any political will for government intervention.
I still believe we are mired in a balance sheet recession that will result in below trend growth, deflationary risks and leaves us extremely vulnerable to exogenous risks that could exacerbate the current malaise. Rosenberg’s excellent list follows:
1. China is getting more active in its policy tightening moves as inflation pressures intensify. It’s not just food but wages too. Headline inflation, at 4.4%, is at a 25-month high. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) just hiked banking sector reserve ratios by 50 basis points to 18.5% — the second such increase in the past two weeks and the fifth for the year. This could well keep commodity prices under wraps over the near-term.
2. European debt concerns will not be fully alleviated just because a rescue plan has been cobbled together for Ireland as it deals with its banking crisis. The focus will now likely shift to other basket cases such as Portugal and Spain. Greece has a two-year lifeline before it defaults. This saga is going to continue for some time yet.
3. Massive tightening in U.S. fiscal policy coming via spending cuts and tax hikes. This is the part of the macro forecast that is not given enough attention. See States Raise Payroll Taxes to Repay Loans on page A5 of the weekend WSJ.
4. Gasoline prices are about six cents shy of re-testing the $3-a-gallon threshold for the first time since mid October 2008. On a national average basis, prices at the pump are up 26 cents from a year ago — effectively draining about $25 billion out of household cash flow. Tack on the coming
by ilene - November 17th, 2010 4:42 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Rising costs and taxes and declining income have mugged Main Street while Wall Street revels in the Fed-engineered "recovery"--in the stock market.
The Fed would have us believe that the stock market is the leading indicator of the economy: if stocks are rising, then that is strong evidence the economy is improving.
This is the bogus "wealth effect" I have taken pains to discredit:
Fraud and Complicity Are Now the Lifeblood of the Status Quo (Nov. 12, 2010)
Fed’s QE2 Misadventure Costs U.S. Households $4.6 trillion (Nov. 10, 2010)
Main Street didn’t buy "the stock market is rising, so you must be richer" either, for the simple reason that Main Street’s wallet is now much thinner. Even as the S&P 500 has soared 80% from its March 2009 lows, 70% of Americans don’t believe the recession is over.
That must really hurt the apparatchiks in the Ministry of Propaganda and the Fed. Here they go to all this trouble to orchestrate a bogus stock market rally and Mainstream Media propaganda campaign hyping "the recovery," and Main Street America refused to buy it. How irksome.
It seems Main Street’s grasp on reality is firmer than that of either the Fed or its partner, Wall Street.
Let’s consider income.
The stock market rally off the March 2009 lows was by some measures the sharpest such advance in the past 100 years. Yet as stocks went on a tear,household income actually declined. According to the Census Bureau, the median household income fell 0.7% to $49,777 in 2009, down 4.2% since pre-recession 2007.
The Federal Reserve’s stated policy objective is to boost the stock market to trigger a "wealth effect" which will then lead consumers to open their wallets.
As noted here before, the Fed failed to notice that only the top 10% of households hold enough stocks to see much benefit from a rising market. Household income actually fell, despite the huge run-up in stocks.
In other words, a rising stock market did not increase household incomes. The Fed is gambling on an effect with no evidence to support it.
How about jobs?
by ilene - November 15th, 2010 5:14 pm
Courtesy of Michael Hudson
Now that President Obama is almost celebrating his willingness to renew the tax cuts enacted under George Bush for the super-rich ten years ago, it is time for Democrats to ask themselves how strongly they are willing to oppose an administration that looks increasingly like Bush-Cheney III. Is this what they expected by his promise of an end to partisan politics?
It is a reflection of how one-sided today’s class war has become that Warren Buffet has quipped that “his” side is winning without a real fight being waged. No gauntlet has been thrown down over the trial balloon that the president and his advisor David Axelrod have sent up over the past two weeks to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% for “just” two more years. For all practical purposes the euphemism “two years” means forever – at least, long enough to let the super-rich siphon off enough more money to bankroll enough more Republicans to be elected to make the tax cuts permanent.
Mr. Obama seems to be campaigning for his own defeat! Thanks largely to the $13 trillion Wall Street bailout – while keeping the debt overhead in place for America’s “bottom 98%” – this happy 2% of the population now receives an estimated three quarters (~75%) of the returns to wealth (interest, dividends, rent and capital gains). this is nearly double what it received a generation ago – while the rest of the population has been squeezed, and foreclosure time has now arrived.
One would not realize that the financial End Time is here from today’s non-confrontational White House happy-talk. Charles Baudelaire quipped that the devil wins at the point where he manages convince the world that he doesn’t exist. We might paraphrase this today by saying that the financial elites win the class war at the point where voters believe it doesn’t exist – and believe that Mr. Obama is trying to help the middle class, not reduce it to debt peonage and a generation of victimhood as the economy settles into debt deflation.
The first pretense is that “two years” will get us through the current debt-induced depression. The Republican plan is to make more Congressional and Senate gains in 2012 as Mr. Obama’s former supporters “vote with their backsides” and…
by ilene - October 29th, 2010 3:18 am
Courtesy of Gordon T Long of Tipping Points
In September 2008 the US came to a fork in the road. The Public Policy decision to not seize the banks, to not place them in bankruptcy court with the government acting as the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP), to not split them up by selling off the assets to successful and solvent entities, set the world on the path to global currency wars.
By lowering interest rates and effectively guaranteeing a weak dollar through undisciplined fiscal policy, the US ignited an almost riskless global US$ Carry Trade and triggered an uncontrolled Currency War with the mercantilist, export driven Asian economies. We are now debasing the US dollar with reckless spending and money printing with the policies of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the expectations of QE II. Both are nothing more than effectively defaulting on our obligations to sound money policy and a “strong US$”. Meanwhile with a straight face we deny that this is our intention.
It’s called debase, default and deny.
Though prior to the 2008 financial crisis our largest banks had become casino like speculators with public money lacking in fiduciary responsibility, our elected officials bailed them out. Our leadership placed America and the world unknowingly (knowingly?) on a preordained destructive path because it was politically expedient and the easiest way out of a difficult predicament. By kicking the can down the road our political leadership, like the banks, avoided their fiduciary responsibility. Similar to a parent wanting to be liked and a friend to their children they avoided the difficult discipline that is required at certain critical moments in life. The discipline to make America swallow a needed pill. The discipline to ask Americans to accept a period of intense adjustment. A period that by now would be starting to show signs of success versus the abyss we now find ourselves staring into. A future that is now significantly worse and with potentially fatal pain still to come.
Unemployed Americans, the casualties of the financial crisis wrought by the banks, witness the same banks declaring record earnings while these banks refuse to lend. When the banks once more are caught with their fingers in the cookie jar with falsified robo-signing mortgage title fraud, they again look for the compliant parent to look the other way. Meanwhile the US debt levels and spending associated with protecting these failed…