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The Challenge of Closing Tax Loopholes For Billionaires

"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 

The Challenge of Closing Tax Loopholes For Billionaires

Income Tax: John Bull

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.

Nor…
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Social Unrest Spreads to Slovenia and Spain; Images Around the Globe; US Not Immune to Protests

Social Unrest Spreads to Slovenia and Spain; Images Around the Globe; US Not Immune to Protests

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:

Hi Mish!

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/

Luka Gubo

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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


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Union Battles In Las Vegas, Simi California, Hawaii, Massachusetts

Union Battles In Las Vegas, Simi California, Hawaii, Massachusetts

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.

USA, Nevada, Las Vegas, The Strip at dusk, elevated view

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


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The credibility of farmers, priests and prostitutes – and bankers?

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

The credibility of farmers, priests and prostitutes – and bankers?

chinese prostitute - credibility highCourtesy 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…
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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible.  Feel free to contact me directly at jennifersurovy@yahoo.com with any questions.

Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts.  After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.)  Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

Thank you for you time!

 
 

Chart School

Population-Adjusted Real Retail Sales: Another Perspective on the Economy

Courtesy of Doug Short.

In real, population-adjusted terms, Retail Sales are at the level we first reached in December 2004.

Earlier this month, the Advance Retail Sales Report showed that sales in September declined 0.3% month-over-month, as I reported in my real-time update.

With the subsequent release of the Consumer Price Index, we can now dig a bit deeper into the "real" data, adjusted for inflation and against the backdrop of our growing population.

The first chart shows the complete series from 1992, when the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking the data in its current format. I've highlighted recessions and the approximate range of two major economic episod...



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Zero Hedge

ISIS Claims It Hit US Embassy In Baghdad's Green Zone

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

"They know Baghdad. They've lived in Baghdad," said Lt.Col Oliver North, warning over the weekend that sources in Iraq believed ISIS was planning a "major attack" against the embassy in Baghdad. Yesterday we get some confirmation - via ISIS - that they did in fact reportedly strike the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. As Inquisitr reports, on Tuesday the Islamist militant group took credit for a mortar attack against the embassy in Baghdad. The group bragged about the attack on social media, claiming that there were likely casualties - “Four rockets strike Green Zone in #Baghdad; helicopters hovering over the Green Zone; ambulances heading that way after strikes!!” one ISIS mil...



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Phil's Favorites

Poster Children

Poster Children

Courtesy of 

IBM, Coca-Cola and McDonalds are three of America’s largest corporations and most well-known brands. They are true multinationals in every sense of the word and they dominate their industries both at home and abroad. They are numbers 23, 58 and 106 on the Fortune 500 list, respectively. Together, they make up 12 percent of the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s total weighting.

And all three are plagued by the same problem – they’re shrinking. More than this, their shrinkage is finally being recognized on The Street, now that investors are peeling back all of the layers of buybac...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Sharp selloff in stocks sets up long-awaiting buying opportunity

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.

Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...



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Digital Currencies

Goodbye War On Drugs, Hello Libertarian Utopia. Dominic Frisby's Bitcoin: The Future of Money?

Courtesy of John Rubino.

Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?

With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of October 20th, 2014

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Market Shadows

Falling Energy Prices: Sober Look takes a Sober Look

Falling Energy Prices: Sober Look takes a Sober Look

What do falling energy prices mean for the US consumer? Sober Look writes a brief yet thorough overview of the consequences of the correction in the price of crude oil. There are good aspects, particularly for the consumer, bad aspects, and out-right ugly possibilities. For more on this subject, read James Hamilton's How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices?  In previous eras, Saudi Arabia would tighten the supply to help increase prices, but in this "game of chicken," the rules m...



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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

Here's this week's Stock World Weekly. Just sign in with your PSW user name and password. (Or take a free trial.)

#457319216 / gettyimages.com

 

...

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Option Review

Release Of Fed Minutes, Icahn Tweet Boost Shares In Apple

Shares in Apple (Ticker: AAPL) are near their highs of the session in the final hour of trading on Wednesday, adding to the muted gains seen earlier in the day, following the release of the September FOMC meeting minutes and after activist investor and Apple shareholder Carl Icahn tweeted, “Tmrw we’ll be sending an open letter to @tim_cook. Believe it will be interesting.” Icahn’s tweet hit the ether at 2:33 pm ET and was met with a spike in volume in Apple shares. The stock is currently up 2.0% on the day at $100.75 as of 3:15 pm ET.

Chart – Apple rally accelerate...



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Promotions

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Pharmboy

Biotechs & Bubbles

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely.  From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.

First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices.  Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment.  Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer.  For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...



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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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