Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bits and Pieces (October 2014)

New York Times: "The private sector has now added 10.3 million jobs over 55 straight months of job growth [but] the actual percentage of working-age people with jobs — 59 percent — has not changed for four months, a reflection of just how many people have stopped looking for work ... Republicans blamed Mr. Obama’s economic policies for leaving the labor participation rate at its lowest level since 1978 ... 4.8 million workers are missing from the job force, neither employed nor actively looking for work. Some of that is attributed to demographics: As the large baby boomer population ages, many in that generation will leave the work force. But the participation rate for Americans 25 to 54, considered prime working age, is also at troubling levels."

My Comment: The labor participation rate is at the lowest level since 1978, but the actual decline began in April 2000 during Clinton's reign as Outsourcer-and-Chief, and the first Boomer didn't retire until 2008 (at age 62) when Obama first took office when the economy was already in a freefall. And there are 3 times as many high school grads every year than there are retirees --- so don't blame Boomers either, who have actually been working longer — in part to recoup losses in home equity and 401ks, or to support their unemployed college kids. We don't lack old people in the labor force, we lack jobs for prime-age workers.

New York Times: Apple’s Web of Tax Shelters Saved It Billions - "Thanks to what lawmakers called 'gimmicks' and 'schemes,' Apple was able to largely sidestep taxes on tens of billions of dollars it earned outside the United States in recent years. Last year, international operations accounted for 61 percent of Apple’s total revenue ... [Apple] avoided billions in taxes in the United States and around the world through a web of subsidiaries so complex it spanned continents and went beyond anything most experts had ever seen."

My Comment: Didn't Congress get bribed to write these tax laws?

And speaking of Apple and jobs: According to Politico, Georgia Republican Senate candidate David Perdue, who's touting himself as a "job creator", once said he “spent most of my career” working on outsourcing. (Thanks a rot Dave!)

Agricultural industry insiders, officials, and activists around the world have become anxious about what some say is a global land grab by Chinese firms who have already acquired farms in the United States, South America, Southeast Asia and beyond to supply China’s growing demand for food ... China is home to 20% of the world’s population but just 9% of its farmable land, a proportion that urbanization and worsening soil and water pollution are making more uneven."

My Comment: When we offshore jobs, we also offshore pollution. I just heard on MSNBC that, according to one report, by 2025 China is expected to have over 500 million people in the middle-class. I’m looking for an article on the subject, but haven’t found anything in print. I'll look for a video here later. (Again, thanks a rot Dave.)

More on the Hong Kong protests: "Police have arrested 19 men for allegedly attacking protesters, eight of whom were believed to have links to triad gangs."

My Comment: Google "Sheldon Adelson triad" or "MGM resorts triad" to see what you'll find for these two big casino owners in Las Vegas who built billion-dollar casinos in China.

Reuters: Tax Inversions 101: A pocket guide (My Comment: About corporate tax dodgers again -- which were enabled by Congress)


VOX: Did low interest rates boost households’ consumption? * After reading this, once again I wondered, "Why can't consumers go to the Fed window and borrow at the same low rate (almost zero) as commercial banks?" My related post: Cash Transfers vs. Quantitative Easing 

Paul Krugman: Presidents and Jobs - "The first chart, from CBPP, compares the years following the Clinton tax hike with the years following the Bush tax cuts." (Marginal tax rates on regular wages and FICA taxes may have increased, but didn't the capital gains tax rate go down from 28% to 20%?)

VOX: Can governments raise much revenue by making taxes more progressive? (Increasing the marginal tax rates on higher earners would not raise much additional revenue -- true, but wouldn't increasing the capital gains tax rate? --- such as raising it to match the top margin tax rate of 39.6% (if their AGI qualified) -- or equivalent to the corporate tax rate of 35% (if their AGI qualified)  as more and more of their corporate profits are pushed into stock buy-backs to raise the value of their stock-option grants.

The Guardian: The New Washington Consensus - Time to Fight Rising Inequality: "The year 2014 is when the fight against inequality went mainstream but talk is one thing, action another ... The test is not what policy makers say about inequality, both at home and abroad; it is what they do. It is about being prepared to redistribute resources from rich to poor. It is about creating an international tax system that prevents revenues being salted away in tax havens. It is about ensuring that trade agreements are not written by multinational corporations. It is about strengthening welfare safety nets and the rights of workers. And it is about recognising that both the private and the public sector have a role. Bear all this is mind when Washington resounds this week to calls for inequality to be tackled. There is a mountain to climb. Policy makers are still at base camp."

The Washington Post: A win for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac — and Taxpayers (Judge denies ill-gotten gains by the hedge fund managers. YEAH! Score 1 for the good guys!)

Stumbling and Bumbling: "What exactly is the link between success and narcissistic overconfidence? There might well be causality from hubris and narcissism to economic success."

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