by ilene - May 23rd, 2010 9:02 pm
"Call me old fashioned but I just think it’s wrong that a single hedge fund manager earns a billion dollars, when a billion dollars would pay the salaries of about 20,000 teachers." Guess I’m old fashioned too. I find the bonuses and tax evading practices of the ultra-weathy financiers even more outrageous than Mish’s Union examples. If free markets are a contradiction of terms – while we’re headed in the opposite direction at lightening speed – maybe we could at least strive for fairer markets? And good luck with that given we need the participation of our corrupted, banker and lobbyist-owned politicians. – Ilene
Courtesy of Robert Reich
Who could be opposed to closing a tax loophole that allows hedge-fund and private equity managers to treat their earnings as capital gains – and pay a rate of only 15 percent rather than the 35 percent applied to ordinary income?
Answer: Some of the nation’s most prominent and wealthiest private asset managers, such as Paul Allen and Henry Kravis, who, along with hordes of lobbyists, are determined to keep the loophole wide open.
The House has already tried three times to close it only to have the Senate cave in because of campaign donations from these and other financiers who benefit from it.
But the measure will be brought up again in the next few weeks, and this time the result could be different. Few senators want to be overtly seen as favoring Wall Street. And tax revenues are needed to help pay for extensions of popular tax cuts, such as the college tax credit that reduces college costs for tens of thousands of poor and middle class families. Closing this particular loophole would net some $20 billion.
It’s not as if these investment fund managers are worth a $20 billion subsidy. Nonetheless they argue that if they have to pay at the normal rate they’ll be discouraged from investing in innovative companies and startups. But if such investments are worthwhile they shouldn’t need to be subsidized. Besides, in the years leading up to the crash of 2008, hedge-fund and private equity fund managers weren’t exactly models of public service. Many speculated in ways that destabilized the whole financial system.
by ilene - May 20th, 2010 4:08 pm
Courtesy of Mish
The wave of social unrest is spreading. A new round of protests has hit Spain with a public sector strike set for June 8. In Slovenia, students are protesting new rules that limit their work hours and pay.
"Luka Gubo" an economist from Slovenia writes:
First I must say that I love your blog. Great job!
I just wanted you to know that Slovenian students are protesting too.
The main reason for organizing protests is changes in law regarding student jobs. Current tax law makes average workers uncompetitive because businesses pay about 15% income tax for students and more then 35% income tax for average worker (average net income is 930€).
Bear in mind that the average time for a student to complete his higher education here is 6 years and that more then 20% of "students" do not to school at all. Instead, they just enjoy student benefits like lower income taxes, food stamps, etc.
I think that everyone would agree a new law is needed in Slovenia. However, the new will limit the maximum hours worked by students to one third of full work time, and put a limit on maximum hourly wage at 8€ per hour.
That one *ing great free-market solution, wouldn’t you agree?
Here is the Slovenian parliament building after 2 hours:
The protests went smooth for a while, but it did not last long. You can find a series of 39 images at http://www.finance.si/galerije/2139/3/
Greece, Spain hit by strikes over cuts
CNN Reports Greece, Spain hit by strikes over cuts
Public sector union ADEDY and private sector union GSEE called the strikes against the government’s austerity measures, in particular the pension reforms announced last week. The reforms include raising the retirement age, which varies in different professions.
It is the first major strike since May 5, when violent protests against the austerity measures resulted in the deaths of three people in the capital, Athens.
Spanish government workers were set to protest at 6 p.m. (noon ET) outside the Ministry of the Treasury in Madrid and outside the central government offices in their respective towns. Spanish government workers were set to protest at 6
by ilene - December 30th, 2009 3:56 am
Courtesy of Mish
Union battles over benefits are starting to appear all over the place. Here are a few stories from the past two days.
Las Vegas: City firefighters launch campaign against cutbacks
Las Vegas’ firefighters union has taken a hard stance against the city’s budget cuts, alleging that reductions will hurt emergency responses along with fire insurance rating for homes and businesses.
City officials, meanwhile, said the union is engaging in irresponsible “scare tactics” at a time when the city is facing economic difficulties.
The back-and-forth comes as the city readies for a series of town hall meetings scheduled from January to March to hear resident feedback on what city services are most important.
It also comes as the city is considering back-to-back 8 percent salary rollbacks and freezes for all employees, including firefighters, although a union official declined to comment today on the union’s positions on these wage proposals.
The union has created a Web site as well as a radio advertisement warning that cuts could increase response times, result in fewer people on duty, reduce the city’s ability to respond to disasters and hurt the city’s fire insurance rating, which is at the highest level.
This discussion is just one part of the ongoing wrangling over the city’s budget, which has seen an ever-widening deficit since the economic downturn began.
The city has already cut operating costs, eliminated vacant positions and announced some layoffs. City management has also proposed an 8 percent wage rollback in each of the next two budget years to avoid layoffs, a proposal being evaluated by the unions that represent city workers.
My recommendation to Las Vegas is to declare bankruptcy and let the unions see what they can get in court.
Simi California: Simi, police union agree to contract
The Simi Valley City Council on Wednesday approved a new agreement with the Simi Valley Police Officers’ Association for an 18-month employee contract that includes a 3 percent salary decrease for sworn police officers and sergeants.
The unanimous approval came after the council went into a closed session meeting late Wednesday afternoon with attorneys and representatives from both the city and police association.
Significant provisions of the MOU approved Wednesday include:
For fiscal year 2009-2010, the base
by ilene - August 29th, 2009 2:51 pm
First, welcome to Michael Pettis. Michael is a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, where he specializes in Chinese financial markets. He is also Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Second, this is an excellent article that provides insight into the thoughts of the Chinese people. – Ilene
Courtesy of Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets
Three weeks ago China Daily published a pretty funny article about a recent survey on credibility that had taken place in China. According to the article,
At a time when shamelessness is pervasive, we are often at loss as to who can be trusted. The five most trustworthy groups, according to a survey by the Research Center of the Xiaokang Magazine, are farmers, religious workers, sex workers, soldiers and students.
A list like this is at the same time surprising and embarrassing. The sex business is illegal and thus underground in this country. The sex workers’ unexpected prominence on this list of honor, based on an online poll of more than 3,000 people, is indeed unusual.
It took the pollsters aback that people like scientists and teachers were ranked way below, and government functionaries, too, scored hardly better. Yet given the constant feed of scandals involving the country’s elite, this is not bad at all. At least they have not slid into the least credible category, which consists of real estate developers, secretaries, agents, entertainers and directors.
I am not sure what secretaries have done to get themselves such poor rankings (could they mean party secretaries?), and I am not sure what kind of directors they mean (movie directors? managing directors?) but not everyone found this survey funny. Last week a columnist in the People’s Daily had this to say about the same survey:
In recent years, China has already paid a high price for the prevailing credibility crisis. The annual losses caused by bad debts have reportedly amounted to about 180 billion yuan, and the direct economic losses induced by contract fraud each year is also up to 5.5 billion yuan. Besides, shoddy and fake products contribute to another great loss involving at least 200 billion yuan. Generally, credibility crisis would cost China as much as 600 billion…