Monday, April 30, 2012

Words and Meanings

Words that don't mean the same thing.

1 . Tax Reform--

To Democrats it means higher taxes, especially for the rich.

For Republicans it means lower taxes for everybody, but since the rich pay most of the taxes, any lowering mostly help them.

Both agree on fewer "loopholes",  neither agree which loopholes should be eliminated.

2. Economic Growth-- Everyone is in favor, however for :

Dems it means more government spending.

GOP it means lower taxes and less regulation.

3. Cutting the debt and deficit-- Everyone wants to do that ( at least eventually), however for:

Dems it means raising taxes and cutting some spending , mainly military,

GOP it means cutting spending and that's it.

So isn't the solution to pick a bi-partisan group of experts, both in and out of the government, to come up with the best comprehensive solution?

Oh wait, we already did that. It's called Simpson Bowles.

And guess what, both parties rejected it, even the President who set it up in the first place.

I guess we'll just keep on using the same words that simply have different meaning depending on who's using them.

Of course the one word almost no one wants to use, irrespective of it meaning, is compromise.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Financial observations

While I have already covered some of the topics, this is a recap of some unconventional wisdom observations on issues not often commented on in the media of any political stripe.

According to CNN, over 60% of Americans either directly or indirectly own stocks traded on Wall St. Think of all those 401(k)s , mutual funds , union and other pension funds, 521 college plans,insurance annuities and policies , and other retirement and investment funds. In addition some of the biggest players on Wall St are employee benefits or union funds-- like Teachers, Calpers,Nysters and so on.

Therefore to a significant degree a strong Wall St actually benefits Main St.

Lots of ordinary people benefit from Wall St and I think they are the same people who pay all the taxes , because ( also according to CNN)  47% of Americans pay no federal income taxes ( none of those who pay nothing are the "rich" thanks to AMT).

That's why most tax cuts benefit the rich, since it's so difficult to cut lower income earners taxes. However we do actually pay some people who pay no federal income tax.

So when you talk about federal taxpayers bailing out Wall St what does that really mean? Are we to a large degree bailing out ourselves? And just who are those "taxpayers " anyway? Certainly not the ones who pay no federal income taxes.

Also what kind of country are we if our "shared responsibility" as citizens at the federal level is only participated in by 53% of our citizens.

How is it we venerate Joe Six Pack , who pays very little, if any, taxes and treat people who pay taxes in six or seven figure amounts like they were the scum of the earth, if not outright evil. Just once I'd like to hear a politician say "thank you" to those who pay most of the taxes.

Also why is the " blue collar " guy so venerated. I'd rather have the 24/7 hard charging white collar executive or professional who works 100 + hours a week instead of the union guy who stops working when the whistle blows unless he gets paid overtime. When his union contract says he doesn't have to do something, he won't do it even if it is for the good of his company and as such his job.

What does being a a "lunch bucket " guy mean anyway and why is it such a good thing? Don't get me wrong , I'm not knocking the union guy ( I actually think unions saved capitalism in the early part of the last century), I just don't understand why he is such symbol of what's right and good in America.

We have this bias against successful people, even though most of us would like to be one of them. Maybe that's it.

While I too believe, and have written numerous times, that executive compensation, not tied directly to performance, has gotten way out of control, why is no one complaining about professional athletes, entertainers, media stars and the like.

What does it say when a weak hitting second basemen can make millions of dollars a year or when there was a guy sitting on the Bulls bench last year who has never, and will never, play a minute in a game for the Bulls, yet made in excess of $8 million dollars that year and the year before?

Don't tell me that tax payer money isn't involved. Think of all those stadiums and other taxpayer funded amenities (tax breaks, infrastructure, police, etc.) that are lavished on many sports franchises.

And what about movie stars? They can get paid more for one movie than a Goldman Sachs CEO makes in a year.

While we're at it, what about all those TV and radio news people and commentators who lambaste greedy Wall St execs and bankers and who themselves make well into 7 figures. What societal benefits have they given us that merits their high compensation? Yet they complain about the compensation of bankers and other high paid execs.

As I've written before, my purpose in doing these posting is to point out certain anomalies and inconsistencies in what we hear and read everyday form our politicians and media from both the left and the right.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Great Expectations?

We constantly hear about market disappointments arising from not meeting (or the opposite exceeding) the expectations of analysts or other experts. The recent example of the addition of 120,000 new jobs not meeting expectations of experts has given rise to a sharp market decline today.

Maybe the problem is not the number of jobs created, but rather the skill and accuracy of the estimators. If the estimations had been for 120,000 new jobs would the market have reacted any differently?

The same observation is applicable to those company earning reports that either meet, exceed or are below analysts' estimates.

It seems to me that a major problem is how good the estimator analysts are at their jobs.

If analysts started doing a better job of estimating, how would the markets react to that?