December 2011 archive

Americans’ unused vacation time can hurt both employees and employers

With the holidays upon us, it is interesting to note that many Americans do not take all their annual vacation.  The following statistics were reported in various conducted: The average American worker earns 14 days of vacation but will only take 12 of them (Expedia survey) The average American employee leaves 6.2 days of paid …

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PCAOB finding more and more “audit failures”

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”) recently released its 2010 inspection report on Ernst & Young (“E&Y”).  Upon review of 62 audits and one assignment where E&Y had a role but was not the primary auditor, the PCAOB concluded that there were problems with 13.  Certain problems were of such significance that they constituted …

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New Rules and Reporting for Investment Gains & Losses

This year, taxpayers will receive a revised Form 1099-B form which contains additional transaction information. The new reporting rules arise from the 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which laid out a three-phase process for submitting cost-basis information to the Internal Revenue Service. Commonly known as the bank bailout bill, the 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act …

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The Big Business of Mail-In Rebates

Many of you are in the midst of (and the most diligent of you have already completed!) your holiday shopping, so you have likely encountered one or more “mail-in rebate” offers which caught your discriminating eye.  If not, you are in the minority, as one source estimates over $8 billion of rebates were issued to …

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Fraud On The Rise in U.S. Companies

This week, PWC released their Global Economic Crime Survey [Click here to see the actual survey].  No company is immune from fraud risk.  Significant motivators of fraud are economic pressure, rationalization and opportunity (often described as the “Fraud Triangle”).  Although the study reports that account fraud has dropped to 16% compared to 24% in 2009, …

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“Checking it twice” is a good suggestion beyond Santa’s list…

News reporting is notorious for requiring rapid turnaround on emerging stories and budget cuts have certainly increased the pressure.  Perhaps as a result, there have lately been a number of glaring mistakes from organizations that pride themselves on their economic and business reporting.   For instance, Business Insider recently provided an article regarding “6 Awesome Math Tricks That Will Make Your Life …

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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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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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