• Tag Archives Law
  • How Tax Reform Can Still Blow Up: A Side-By-Side Comparison Of The House And Senate Tax Plans

    To much fanfare, mostly out of president Trump, on Thursday the House passed their version of the tax bill 227-205 along party lines, with 13 Republicans opposing. The passage of the House bill was met with muted market reaction. The Senate version of the tax reform is currently going through the Senate Finance Committee for additional amendments and should be ready for a full floor debate in a few weeks. While some, like Goldman, give corporate tax cuts (if not broad tax reform), an 80% chance of eventually becoming law in the first quarter of 2018, others like UBS and various prominent skeptics, do not see the House and Senate plans coherently merging into a survivable proposal.
    Indeed, while momentum seemingly is building for the tax plan, some prominent analysts believe there are several issues down the road that could trip up or even stall a comprehensive tax plan from passing the Congress, the chief of which is how to combine the House and Senate plans into one viable bill.
    How are the two plans different?
    Below we present a side by side comparison of the two plans from Bank of America, which notes that the House and the Senate are likely to pass different tax plans with areas of disagreement (see table below). This means that the two chambers will need to form a conference committee to hash out the differences. There are three major friction points:
    the repeal of the state and local tax deductions (SALT), capping mortgage interest deductions and the delay in the corporate tax cut. The House seems strongly opposed to fully repealing SALT and delaying the corporate tax cuts and the Senate could push back on changing the mortgage interest deductions. Finding compromise on these issues without disturbing other parts of the plan while keeping the price tag under the $1.5tn over 10 years could be challenging.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • After Slamming Bitcoin As A Money Laundering Tool, JPMorgan Busted For Money Laundering

    Score one for the poetic irony pages.
    Two months after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon lashed out at bitcoin, calling it a “fraud” which is “worse than tulip bulbs, warning it won’t end well”, will “blow up” and “someone is going to get killed” and threatened that “any trader trading bitcoin” will be “fired for being stupid” as it was merely a tool for money-laundering, today Swiss daily Handelszeitung reported that the Swiss subsidiary of JPMorgan was sanctioned by the Swiss regulator, FINMA, over money laundering and “seriously violating supervision laws.”
    As the newspaper adds, the Swiss sanctions relate to breaches of due diligence in connection with money laundering standards. In other words, JPMorgan was actively aiding and abeting criminal money laundering.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.


  • Is Peter Thiel Trying To Break Up Google? This $300,000 Political Contribution Seems To Imply He Is…

    Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who backed President Trump (just before giving his presidency a “50% chance of ending in disaster“) and infamously helped Hulk Hogan bring down Gawker.com, has allegedly set his sights on a new target: Google. According to The Mercury News, suspicions about Thiel’s next pet project were raised after he recently contributed $300,000 to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley just before he launched an antitrust lawsuit against the alleged search monopoly.
    So far, high-profile Silicon Valley venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel isn’t saying publicly why he gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign of a state attorney general who’s just launched an antitrust probe of Google. But it’s not the first time Thiel has handed cash to an AG who went after Google over monopoly concerns.
    Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Nov. 13 that his office was investigating Google to see if the Mountain View tech giant had violated the state’s antitrust and consumer-protection laws. The Missouri attorney general said he had issued an investigative subpoena to Google. He’s looking at the firm’s handling of users’ personal data, along with claims that it misappropriated content from rivals and pushed down competitors’ websites in search results.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 16, 2017.


  • House Passes GOP Tax Reform Bill In Major Victory For Republicans

    Update: The House has passed its tax reform package with a final vote of 227 yeas to 205 nays. And while the Republican leadership has ordered the caucus not to gloat about the legislative victory – possibly the biggest so far for President Trump – Paul Ryan and Co. will be able to go home to their constituents and enjoy a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.
    Their colleagues in the Senate won’t be so lucky.
    Senate leaders have said they’re working with holdouts like Ron Johnson as well as lawmakers like Bob Corker who are leaning toward voting against the bill in its current form. The Senate Finance is still marking up the bill, adding amendments and making alternations, but leaders say it’ll make it to a floor vote the week after Thanksgiving.
    Senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee have wanted to see a bigger expansion of the childcare tax credit. Johnson has said more of the tax relief should go to LLCs via the pass-through rate and less generous breaks should be given to corporations.
    Here’s a list of the Republicans who voted ‘nay’.
    GOP no votes on the tax bill pic.twitter.com/QJ9vVdgPhG
    — Naomi Jagoda (@njagoda) November 16, 2017

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 16, 2017.


  • Another Step Forward for Sound Money: Location Picked for Texas Gold Depository

    The Texas Bullion Depository took a step closer becoming operational earlier this month when officials announced the location of the new facility. The creation of a state bullion depository in Texas represents a power shift away from the federal government to the state, and it provides a blueprint that could ultimately end the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.
    Gov. Greg Abbot signed legislation creating the state gold bullion and precious metal depository in June of 2015. The facility will not only provide a secure place for individuals, business, cities, counties, government agencies and even other countries to store gold and other precious metals, the law also creates a mechanism to facilitate the everyday use of gold and silver in business transactions. In short, a person will be able to deposit gold or silver in the depository and pay other people through electronic means or checks – in sound money.
    Earlier this summer, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Austin-based Lone Star Tangible Assets will build and operate the Texas Bullion Depository. On Nov. 3, the company announced it will construct the facility in the city of Leander, located about 30 miles northwest of Austin. According to the Community Impact Newspaper, the Leander City Council has approved an economic development agreement with Lone Star. Construction of the depository is expected to begin in early 2018. Lone Star officials say it will take about a year to complete construction of the 60,000-square-foot secure facility located on a 10-acre campus.

    This post was published at Schiffgold on NOVEMBER 16, 2017.


  • The Moment Gary Cohn Realized His Entire Economic Policy Is A Disaster

    Ever since 2012 (see “How The Fed’s Visible Hand Is Forcing Corporate Cash Mismanagement“) we have warned that as a result of the Fed’s flawed monetary policy and record low rates, corporations have been incentivized not to invest in growth and allocate funds to capital spending (the result has been an unprecedented decline in capex), but to engage in the quickest, and most effective – if only in the short run – shareholder friendly actions possible, namely stock buybacks.
    We got a vivid confirmation of that recently when Credit Suisse showed that the only buyer of stock since the financial crisis has been the corporate sector’, i.e. companies repurchasing their own shares…

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 15, 2017.


  • George Soros To Congress: “Please Don’t Cut My Taxes”

    After transferring over the bulk of his personal wealth to his ‘Open Society’ Foundation – the umbrella organization for a network of dozens of political groups that push Soros’s far-left agenda across the US and Europe, Soros is still comfortable enough to justify giving away even more of his money – this time to the US federal government.
    Taking a page out of Warren Buffett’s book, Soros and a group of some 400 other rich Americans – including doctors, lawyers and CEOs – are sending a formal letter to Congress chiding lawmakers for trying to reduce taxes on the richest American families at a time when wealth inequality is rapidly expanding. Instead, the letter asks Congress not to pass any tax bill that ‘further exacerbates inequality’ and adds to the debt (both of the current Republican plans would add $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years).
    The letter was penned by Responsible Wealth, a group of ‘enlightened’ rich people that includes Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher and philanthropist Steven Rockefeller, in addition to Soros. Along with the big names are many individuals and couples who rank among the top 5% of Americans (those who have $1.5 million in assets or earn $250,000 or more a year).
    In a rebuttal to Congress’s argument that corporate tax cuts will help stimulate growth, the letter argues that corporations are already reaping record profits. Instead of handing more money to the wealthy, the letter’s signers argue the government should use the funds to invest in education, research and roads that benefit everyone, while protecting entitlement programs like Medicaid.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 14, 2017.


  • Bill Blain: “Why We Should Be Very Nervous About Corporate Bonds”

    Why we should be very nervous about corporate bonds
    ‘Before the fiddlers have fled, before they ask us to pay for the bill and while we still have the chance….’
    This might be week the proverbial chickens have more need than ever of somewhere to recover from the last 9 years of frothy market madness. Take a look at the signs and signals – the Nikkei taking a 1000 point spanking last week, the US stock market looking wobbly on the lack of any real prospect of tax reform (my stock chartists have picked though the graphs, and see sell signals everywhere), articles saying Europe is poised on the edge of an economic boom-time (which, by the laws of financial common sense means its about the tumble back into recession…)
    And then there is the UK – where sterling is in flight on rumours of a no confidence motion in Theresa May.. FFS.. Does the fact a confidence vote might be on the cards actually mean there are still people who have any confidence in her? I though we all understood how this plays out? I though we all agreed she is absolutely the worst possible leader of the conservatives and worst ever choice for prime minster, with the notable exception of any other elected conservative MPs?
    Very interesting research note from a US investment banks says there is a 40% likelihood of a Labour Corbyn government by 2022. The risks of an election are elevated by the party spilt/civil war on Brexit, but also on May fundamentally misreading the leftwards shift in UK electoral attitudes – the Tories need a socially liberal leader to win an election. (I’ve got the phone number of the other Milliband brother if they are interested.)

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 13, 2017.


  • The Cycle of Falling Interest

    Over the past few weeks, we have looked at the effects of falling interest rates: falling discount applied to future cash flows (and hence rising stock and bond prices), and especially falling marginal productivity of debt (MPoD). Falling MPoD means that we get less and less GDP ‘juice’ for each new dollar of borrowing ‘squeeze’.
    Last week, we proposed an economic law: if MPoD < 1 then the economy is unsustainable.
    MPoD has been falling since at least 1950, and is currently well under 0.4 (having had a temporary boost in the wake of the crisis of 2008). 0.4 means a new borrowed dollar adds 40 cents to GDP.
    Under irredeemable paper currency, debt cannot be extinguished. So that dollar of debt – which bought a shrinking and temporary shot of GDP – lingers forever in the system. That is the very meaning of the word irredeemable.
    This is one reason why MPoD is falling. Each time that a bond is rolled, the amount is increased by the accumulated interest. This incremental debt is not productive and does not add to GDP. And also, all that debt accumulated over many decades has to be serviced, which reduces debtors’ capacity to borrow for productive purposes.
    And this leads us to a discussion of the trend of falling interest. Has the cause ceased? Have we, as many say, entered a new era of rising rates? Does the Fed have the power to make it so? Is there going to be a resurgence of inflation?

    This post was published at GoldSeek on Monday, 13 November 2017.


  • “This Is Unprecedented”: JPMorgan Slams “Stunning” $8 Billion Damage Verdict Against It

    Here’s a live transmission from the Texas courtroom where JP Morgan Chase & Co’s lawyers are asking a judge to throw out one of the largest punitive judgments in legal history…
    …Instead, the bank’s lawyers say the $8 billion judgment should be reduced to zero.
    ‘The law and evidence do not support any claim against JPMorgan, much less the unprecedented multi-billion-dollar punitive damage award, which the heirs have already admitted is unconstitutionally excessive,’ the bank said in a filing in Dallas probate court according to Bloomberg.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 12, 2017.


  • Gresham’s Law meets its Minsky Moment

    There’s a reason that the Fed pursues these actions and it’s not a conspiracy theory. When unlimited cash hits a limited supply of assets, whether paper or hard, this inflationary deluge boosts taxable asset values by 100-1000%, fattening the coffers of the tax collectors.
    While it’s no secret that the Fed, along all global Central Banks, are supporting their respective financial systems by capping interest rates with ‘QE’ (also known as ‘money printing’), the yield on the 10-yr Treasury has risen 36 basis points in two months from 2.04% in September to 2.40% currently. There have not been any Fed rate hikes during that time period. The yield on the 2-yr Treasury has jumped from 1.26% in early September to 1.66% currently. A 40 basis point jump, 32% increase, in rates in two months.
    This is not due to a ‘reversal’ in QE. Why? Because through this past Thursday, the Fed’s balance sheet has increased in size by over $7 billion since the Fed ‘threatened’ to unwind QE starting in October. The bond market is sniffing hints of an acceleration in the general price level of goods and services, aka ‘inflation.’

    This post was published at Investment Research Dynamics on November 12, 2017.


  • Global Banks, City of London Raise ‘Disorderly Brexit’ Alarm

    Shifting trillions of euros of derivatives positions could be hugely disruptive.
    The growing prospect of a hard or disorderly Brexit is sending jitters through the global financial community. This week the Financial Times reported that a group of ‘large financial institutions with big London operations’ had met with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to express their dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations.
    ‘The fears over a potential Brexit no-deal are rising, as we move within 16 months of the UK’s exit from the EU,’ said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG.
    While New York stands to benefit from some of the disruption caused by the UK’s separation from the EU, there is rising concern that Brexit could set off global ripples. That fear was compounded on Friday after Teresa May announced plans to set the UK’s departure date and time (March 29, 2019 at GMT 23:00) from the EU in law, warning she will not ‘tolerate’ any attempt to block Brexit.
    ‘[The banks] are becoming nervous,’ said City of London Corporation’s policy chief Catherine McGuinness after meeting representatives of US banks earlier this week. ‘It wasn’t just curiosity, it was concern at the lack of progress that we have been making, and nervousness that it had implications beyond Europe’s borders in terms of causing disruption to markets.’

    This post was published at Wolf Street by Don Quijones ‘ Nov 11, 2017.


  • The Unstated Logic of Every Minimum Wage Law

    A deputy sheriff pays a visit to a small business. He confronts the owner.
    DS: I see you got a “help wanted” sign in your window.
    Owner: That is correct.
    DS: How much is the starting wage?
    Owner: The federal minimum wage.
    DS: We got a local minimum wage of $15 an hour.
    Owner: I cannot afford that much.
    DS: That don’t cut it with me, boy. The city government says you got to pay a living wage.
    Owner: I already do. All of my employees are alive.
    DS: You trying to make me look stupid, boy?
    Owner: You don’t need any help from me.
    DS: I see. A smart ass. Well, we got ways of dealing with smart asses. I’m writing you up. You’re going to pay a $10,000 fine, I expect.
    Owner: That’s outrageous.
    DS: No, it ain’t. $334,000 is outrageous. That’s what Seattle collects. We’re real lenient around here.
    Owner: But I cannot afford to pay $15/hour.
    DS: Well, then, you need to go into another line of work.
    Owner: But I have invested everything I own in this business. I took out a large loan.
    DS: Then you better have gotten someone to co-sign the note.

    This post was published at Gary North on November 09, 2017.


  • China Accounts For A Third Of Global Corporate Debt And GDP… And The ECB Is Getting Very Worried

    There is a certain, and very tangible, irony in the central banks’ response to the Global Financial Crisis, which was first and foremost the result of unprecedented amounts of debt: it was to unleash an even greater amount of debt, or as BofA’s credit strategist Barnaby Martin says, “the irony in today’s world is that central banks are maintaining loose monetary policies to generate inflation…in order to ease the pain of a debt “supercycle”…that itself was partly a result of too easy (and predictable) monetary policies in prior times.”
    The bolded sentence is all any sane, rational human being would need to know to understand the lunacy behind modern monetary policy and central banking. Unfortunately, it is not sane, rational people who are in charge of the money printer, but rather academics fully or part-owned, by Wall Street as Bernanke’s former mentor once admitted (see “Bernanke’s Former Advisor: “People Would Be Stunned To Know The Extent To Which The Fed Is Privately Owned“). Actually, when one considers where the Fed’s allegiance lies (to its owners), its actions make all the sense in the world. The problem, as Martin further explains, is that “clearly if central banks remain too patient and predictable over the next few years this risks extending the debt supercycle further.”
    Translated: the bubble will get even bigger. Unfortunately, it is already too big. As Martin shows in chart 9 below, which breaks down global non-financial debt growth over the last 30yrs split by type (household debt, government debt and non-financial corporate debt), “it is currently hovering around the $150 trillion mark and has shown few signs of declining materially of late. Yet, the “delta” of debt growth over the last 10yrs has been on the non-financial corporate side. Government debt growth has slowed down recently as countries have clawed back to fiscal prudence. Households have also deleveraged over the last few years given their rapid debt accumulation prior to the Lehman event.”

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 10, 2017.


  • Here Is The Full Text And Summary Of The Amended House GOP Tax Bill

    While we await the full details of the Senate bill, moments ago the House Ways and Means Committee released the Amended House GOP tax bill, as well as its summary.
    Here are the key highlights from the Amendment (link), first in principle:
    Amendment to the Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H. R. 1 Offered by Mr. Brady of Texas The amendment makes improvements to the amendment in the nature of a substitute relating to the maximum rate on business income of individuals, preserves the adoption tax credit, improves the program integrity of the Child Tax Credit, improves the consolidation of education savings rules, preserves the above-the-line deduction for moving expenses of a member of the Armed Forces on active duty, preserves the current law effective tax rates on C corporation dividends subject to the dividends received deduction, improves the bill’s interest expense rules with respect to accrued interest on floor plan financing indebtedness, modifies the treatment of S corporation conversions into C corporations, modifies the tax treatment of research and experimentation expenditures, modifies the treatment of expenses in contingent fee cases, modifies the computation of life insurance tax reserves, modifies the treatment of qualified equity grants, preserves the current law treatment of nonqualified deferred compensation, modifies the transition rules on the treatment of deferred foreign income, improves the excise tax on investment income of private colleges and universities, and modifies rules with respect to political statements made by certain tax-exempt entities.
    And the details, from the summary (link):
    Maximum rate on business income of individuals (reduced rate for small businesses with net active business income)

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 9, 2017.


  • The Quantity versus the Austrian Theory of Money

    The Quantity Theory of Money (QTM) has been around since the time of Copernicus (the 1500s). In its original and most basic form it held that the general price level would change in direct proportion to the change in the supply of money, but to get around the problem that what was observed didn’t match this theory it was subsequently ‘enhanced’ by adding a fudge factor called ‘velocity’. From then on, rather than being solely a function of the money supply it was held that the general price level was determined by the money supply multiplied by the velocity of money in accordance with the famous Equation of Exchange (M*V = P*Q)**. However, adding a fudge factor that magically adjusts to be whatever it needs to be to make one side of a simplistic equation equal to the other side doesn’t help in understanding how the world actually works.
    The great Austrian economists Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises provided the first thorough theoretical refutation of the QTM, with Mises building on Menger’s foundation. The refutation is laid out in Mises’ Theory of Money and Credit, published in 1912.
    According to the ‘Austrian school’, one of the most basic flaws in the QTM and in many other economic theories is the treatment of the economy as an amorphous blob that shifts one way or the other in response to stimuli provided by the government, the central bank, or a vague and unpredictable force called ‘animal spirits’. This is not a realistic starting point, because the real world comprises individuals who make decisions for a myriad of reasons and can only be understood by drilling down to what drives these individual actors.

    This post was published at GoldSeek on Thursday, 9 November 2017.


  • Robert Rubin’s Selective Memory and the Collapse of Citigroup

    According to the now publicly available transcript of the testimony that former U. S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin gave before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) on March 11, 2010, he was not put under oath, despite the fact that the bank at which he had served as Chairman of its Executive Committee for a decade, Citigroup, stood at the center of the financial crisis and received the largest taxpayer bailout in U. S. history.
    The fact that Rubin was not put under oath might have had something to do with the fact that he showed up with a team of six lawyers from two of the most powerful corporate law firms in America: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and Williams & Connolly. One of Rubin’s lawyers from Paul, Weiss was Brad Karp, the lawyer who has gotten Citigroup out of serial fraud charges in the past.
    As one reads the transcript, it becomes alarmingly apparent that a man making $15 million a year at Citigroup for almost a decade has not involved himself in very many intricate details of how the firm is being run or has a very selective memory. (Rubin gave up his $14 million annual bonus when the bank was blowing up during the financial crisis but kept his $1 million salary. According to widely circulated estimates, Rubin’s total compensation for his decade at Citigroup was over $120 million, for a job which he concedes included no operational role and with just two secretaries reporting to him.)
    To many of the questions posed by Tom Greene, Executive Director of the FCIC, Rubin responded ‘I don’t remember.’ Rubin used that phrase 41 times during the interview.
    At one point, Rubin’s own lawyer, Brad Karp, appears to nudge Rubin on his failing memory. Greene asks Rubin if he attended a tutorial for the Board of Directors on September 17, 2007 on the risk environment. Rubin answers as follows: ‘It is interesting. I don’t remember either going or not going.’ Karp then says to Rubin: ‘Bob, they have the minutes of this meeting.’

    This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on November 8, 2017.


  • Tax Cuts will Balloon US Debt to 120% of GDP, but Boost to Economy will be ‘Short-Lived’

    US is the ‘most indebted AAA-country’ and runs ‘the loosest fiscal stance,’ but the dollar as Reserve Currency still props it up: Fitch
    It’s uncertain what if anything in the mix of tax cuts and tax increases being kicked around in Congress will become law. But Fitch Ratings believes that some combination will make it, and that it will sap US government revenues. ‘Under a realistic scenario of tax cuts and macro conditions,’ the US deficit would rise to 4% of GDP next year, and balloon the US debt to 120% of GDP by 2027.
    And that might be the best-case scenario.
    That debt-to-GDP ratio just shot up to 105% – based on annualized Q3 GDP of $19.5 trillion and the US gross national debt of $20.5 trillion that had spiked by $640 billion in eight Weeks, following the suspension of the debt ceiling in September. The debt-to-GDP ratio was 103% earlier this year.
    Fitch said in the report that it expects some version of the package to pass the US Congress, and that it ‘will be revenue negative, even under generous assumptions about its growth impact.’
    The tax package, which includes cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, ‘would deliver a modest and temporary spur to growth,’ Fitch said. Even with these tax cuts, Fitch expects US economic growth to peak at 2.5% next year and then fall back to 2.2% in 2019 – the same kind of economic growth the US has seen since the Financial Crisis. So any boost to output from the tax cuts would be ‘short-lived.’

    This post was published at Wolf Street on Nov 7, 2017.