December 2011 archive

Paul Allen Gives Southern California Aerospace a Big Boost(er)

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen this week announced his first new space venture since winning the Ansari X-Prize in 2004.  Stratolaunch brings together Allen, his X-Prize partner Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX corporation located in Hawthorne CA.  Musk is also known as the founder of Paypal and Tesla Motors.  Stratolaunch’s headquarters will be …

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Details of the Federal Reserve’s Mammoth Secret Loan Program

In a November 29, 2011 article entitled “Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress”, Bloomberg provided details of detailed original analysis of the Federal Reserve’s loan program that began in 2008 and continued at a high level throughout 2009. This Federal Reserve loan program has not received anywhere near the attention that …

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The 12 Days Of Christmas – A Lesson In How a Complex Appraisal Can Go Astray

For the first time ever, the cost of the gifts featured in the Christmas carol, “Twelve Days of Christmas,” totals more than $100,000. Financial services company, PNC Wealth Management, just released its 28th annual estimate of the “Christmas price index”, a whimsical economic indicator that tallies the prices of the following basket of Christmas gifts …

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A History of Progressivity in the US Income Tax

One hundred years ago, in 1912, the presidential contest also had the income tax as a major issue.  However, in that year all three major presidential candidates (Wilson, Taft, and Roosevelt) were in complete agreement:  They all said that we should have one. The 16th amendment was submitted to the states in 1909, and was being …

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Federal Reserve’s statistics show pain at U.S. households

On December 8, 2011, the Federal Reserve released its third quarter 2011 report, “Flow of Funds Accounts in the United States”. A virtual cornucopia of data, the report is 127 pages of detailed tables of assets, liabilities and changes in the U.S.  If you are an economic data nerd, it is almost all one could …

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EU proposes Big Changes for the Big Four Auditors

In October, we summarized a leaked draft that proposed significant restrictions in the European Union regarding public accounting firms. On November 30, the revised proposal was made public. The released European Commission’s proposal includes: Requiring mandatory auditor rotation after six years. A four-year period would be required before a firm could audit the same client …

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Qualifying for the home office deduction

More employers are allowing telecommuting as a work option. Additionally, high unemployment causes some to work out of their homes as a way of making ends meet. Consequently, more people are working out of their homes. To qualify for a home office deduction, you have to meet each of the following four requirements (questions): 1. …

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Internet Sales Taxes Get New Momentum.

I was skeptical when Amazon (i) reached an agreement with California to drop its opposition to California’s Affiliate Nexus law in exchange for a one year delay in opposition and (ii) declared that it would use the year to lobby for a nationwide solution.  Amazon’s prior reactions to state sales taxes was so swift and strong, …

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Taking STOCK of Congressional Trading.

Practically every law has some winners and losers in the marketplace.  Some laws, for example the recent congressional battle on debit card swipe fees, involved billions of dollars.  There are also winners and losers as programs are expanded and cut back, contracts awarded, etc.  By their nature Senators, House Members, and their staff have an …

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Making sense of the unemployment statistics – .4% unemployment drop is baloney

Last Friday, the Department of Labor released its first employment estimates for November 2011. Most news reports of the monthly unemployment data stopped at the headline rate, and then added some spin that the economy was getting better. An examination of the November 2011 data should cause one to be more subdued. The unemployment rate …

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