February 2013 archive

Some Catholics Will Be Much Better Represented in the Upcoming Papal Election

About two weeks after Pope Benedict XVI vacates the papacy on February 28, the College of Cardinals will elect a new Roman Pontiff. These Cardinal Electors (117 in all) will come from around the world to meet in a Conclave famous for its white smoke/black smoke method of communicating election results to the outside world. …

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Surgical “Never Events” Really do Happen

Many people that think they have suffered from medical malpractice fail to pursue and file a legal claim because of the challenges that lie ahead (e.g., legal fees, risk of the claim not succeeding, etc.). To be successful, a medical malpractice claim generally needs to prove that (i) the treating medical professional fell below the …

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Gushing Actors = Gushing Americans?

At yesterday’s Oscar Academy Awards ceremony, various actors and filmmakers delivered emotional acceptance speeches littered with thanksgiving, superlatives, and mushy words. The Economist asks the whimsical question of whether the Best Actors and Actresses have progressively delivered more gushing speeches since 1972. To answer this question, the publication introduced the “gushing index”, which is calculated …

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Commission Reports The Big Four Don’t Provide Enough Competition for the U.K.

The U.K. Competition Commission has released preliminary findings that conclude that the audit market is not serving shareholders, citing “the tendency for auditors to focus on satisfying management rather than shareholder needs”.  Overall, the commission found fault with the lack of effective competition, noting that 67 percent of FTSE 100 companies and 52 percent of …

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Louboutin owns red on the bottom (unless its on top)

The ongoing battle known as Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent (“YSL”) has been decided, with the Second Circuit rejecting what had previously been thought of as a bright line rule that a single color cannot be a fashion trademark and recognizing the trademarked red sole associated with Louboutin. The decision is nuanced however, as the Court ultimately …

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IRS Whistleblower Program Grows

The IRS has had a whistleblower program for decades, but it was not widely used and not much was paid to whistleblowers. In February 2013, the IRS issued its annual FY 2012 report to Congress regarding use of Section 7623. The report shows substantial increase in the information reported by whistleblowers and the IRS consideration …

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Global Unemployment is Expected to Break the All-time Record, And Then Get Worse

The global all-time high of unemployed workers was 199 million people in 2009. In 2012, the amount of jobless topped 197 million, with the International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations based in Geneva, declaring a “crisis in labour markets of both advanced economies and developing countries.” In the last year, 4 …

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Private Annuity Transaction Upheld As an Estate Planning Tool

In the Estate of Virginia Kite vs. IRS, T.C. Memo 2013-43 (February 7, 2013), affluent taxpayers were given support for a potentially substantial estate planning tool. This is a significant decision. The Tax Court described the underlying facts as follows: “Under the terms of the annuity transaction, the Kite children would begin payments to Mrs. …

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A Career in Agriculture May be One of Your Better Choices

More economic data supports an increasingly talked about practical career choice:  agriculture.   Most students do not even consider the study of agriculture.  Most schools/colleges do not even offer agriculture related courses even if one wanted to pursue this field of study. The government statistics on the topic reflect this unpopularity.  The most recent available U.S. Department of Agriculture’s census …

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FTC Study on Debt Collection Buying Hints at Need for Greater Regulation

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report on January 30, 2013 regarding the debt buying industry and the related debt collection efforts of the buyers. The FTC indicated that this is the first major empirical study of debt buying and related collections. Debt buying and related collection practices are of concern. The FTC states: …

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