Friday, January 23, 2015

Great Idea fround in liberal Washington Post: Tax Cuts for Companies that Pay Cost of Living Adjustment

Every now and then I am rewarded for reading liberal talking points in the main stream media. This is one such idea.
Democratic House leaders have introduced proposals to limit tax deductions for corporations that give their chief executives performance bonuses but don’t similarly reward their workers. (They should go further and propose reducing tax rates on companies that give their employees wage hikes keyed to increases in productivity and the cost of living.) 
The first idea about limiting tax deductions unless companies have to reward workers if their CEOs get performance bonuses sounds like something that could be dodged. However, that second idea is pure gold. Tying corporate tax rates to providing a COLA sounds like something the Congressional Budget Office needs to score. If the savings is substantial I can see quite a few companies reducing their taxes through giving their employees a raise.

You can tie tax incentives to quite a few different perks for employees as well. Perhaps providing strait dollar for dollar matching or maybe a 1.5x match to an IRA the company gets a tax credit. A corporate tax code that is advantageous to the worker that ties it to corporate tax cuts that benefit the company would be some great out of the box thinking. It would be a middle class tax cut that will really help America.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

King Abdullah Dead at 90

It seems that there will be a new King in charge of the largest oil nation in the world.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, the powerful U.S. ally who joined Washington's fight against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom with incremental but significant reforms, including nudging open greater opportunities for women, has died, according to Saudi state TV. He was 90.
I wonder if they will have a lavish coronation or not? The Muslim world equivalent of Elizabeth IIs coronation in England? The Crown Prince was pretty much in charge for years so there won't be any kind of royal crisis.

Atomic Cassandras Move Up Doomsday Clock for Some Reason

Looks like we are back to 3 minutes until Doomsday.
The advocacy group founded by the creators of the atomic bomb moved their famed "Doomsday Clock" ahead two minutes on Thursday. It said the world is now three minutes from a catastrophic midnight, instead of five minutes.
"This is about doomsday; this is about the end of civilization as we know it," bulletin executive director Kennette Benedict said at a news conference in Washington.
She called both climate change and modernization of nuclear weaponry equal but undeniable threats to humanity's continued existence that triggered the 20 scientists on the board to decide to move the clock closer to midnight.
Equal threats? You have got to be kidding. Modernization of nuclear weaponry might have a chance of wiping out humanity but climate change has no chance. Even if things get hotter by whatever degrees and the polar ice caps melt or whatever "Climate Change Doom" scenario is cooked up it will not end humanity. We will adapt and move around and endure because that is what humans do. I think they only added climate change into their equations because the chance of global thermal nuclear war is so remote it makes this clock worthless.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fox and Friends Blast Free Community College Tuition: Um, It's a Good Idea Shut Up

One of the few things I took out of the State of the Union speech that resonated with me is the idea that the government will foot the bill for community college. That sounds like a good use of my tax dollars. It seems that Fox and Friends doesn't agree.
While others have critiqued the president's plan for potentially high costs to states and unlikelihood of increasing the graduation rate, "Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy had a slightly different complaint.

"Here's the thing that really bothers me about this," Doocy said Wednesday morning. "I made my final two college tuition payments about two weeks ago!"

And according to co-host Brian Kilmeade, this whole free college thing is just pointless anyway. I mean, it's not that hard to just pay for it. Right?

"If you want to go to college, you can get a part-time job and make that tuition payment even without a loan, which available to you, and even without grants," he said.
Okay, Steve Doocy is 58 so I guess his comment was hyperbole. However, if it is so cheap that you can pay off community college with a part-time job we might as well let the government pay for it. It won't be a huge expenditure because Tennessee seems to be doing quite well with it. They are a Red State after all.

Also with the public schools so poor quality maybe a few years of community college might be able to at least get people to a baseline skill level. I wouldn't mind my tax dollars go to something like that. I am tired of the knee-jerk conservative line to everything is "too expensive!" or whatever. Lets price it out and see where we can cut to make it happen. This is the kind of thing that will be a quick boost for the middle class so we need to see hard numbers on it.

Disney Ditched George Lucas's Ideas for Star Wars: Thank God!

I guess the idea for a kid friendly character named Car-Car Lings that was actually an offensive Asian stereotype seems to have been ditched by Disney.
Following comments that he had started to craft some ideas for a new "Star Wars" trilogy before Lucasfilm was acquired, Lucas was asked in an interview with Cinema Blend published Tuesday to divulge some of the ideas he had cooked up for new "Star Wars" material.

"Well, the ones that I sold to Disney and everything, they came up to the decision that they didn't really want to do those," Lucas told Cinema Blend. "So they made up their own. It's not the ones that I originally wrote."
I now really cannot wait to see the new Star Wars now. Lucas was great for creating the universe but his tinkering has been intolerable. "Han shoots first" Nuff Said.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Buy Shares in the US? A Great Idea!

Now this is some forward thinking financial engineering.
Let Treasury offer a more equity-like instrument, one that paid the investor a constant percent of nominal Gross Domestic Product ("GDP"), and nothing more, for, say, 30 years. Then the investor would have protection from inflation, Treasury would get some relief when the economy was in recession and, since it self-liquidates, there would be no need to refinance the issue; hence we would no longer burden our progeny with our profligate ways.
Indeed, we can sum up the benefits of GDP Certificates ("Certificates") as follows:
• Investors purchase a no-load, no-fee, marketable term annuity with inflation protection, growth, no counter-party risk and a low correlation with stocks and bonds during periods of inflation - a new asset class.
• Treasury raises capital, buys a financial hedge and sells inflation insurance with a self-amortizing instrument.
The idea of going long America (tax free) sounds like a great investment. The idea that if America does well your dividend increases sounds like such a great investment. You could also load up during a recession so your dividend increases when America recovers. It is so much better than endlessly increasing the debt load.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Climate Change Researchers Move Goal Posts on "Social Cost" of Carbon

I love how there models are always underestimating something.
"Rich and poor countries will fare very differently when dealing with future climate change effects."
Researchers from Stanford University found that the current price of climate change is more likely six times as much, approximately $220 for every ton of carbon produced. Using a new model to calculate the number, the researchers took into account the economic damage that catastrophic climate events, like storms or crop loss, could pose to a country’s GDP over time. “If climate change affects not only a country's economic output, but also its growth, then that has a permanent effect that accumulates over time,” Frances Moore, co-author and environmental scientist, said. Their findings appeared Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
I wonder if their model builds in the idea that growth might be helped by some aspects of climate change? For instance more carbon in the air might increase crop yields. Also some areas that were once impossible for growing things might become available as well. Maybe building up coastlines and moving cities would create large amounts of money for heavy industry and construction. Unions would certainly love climate change.

Also the thing about growth is that it is very hard to permanently keep it down unless its bad governance or bad economic policy. The idea that this growth will never come back is quite a leap of logic. Another thing I found interesting is that these climate scientists are are projecting growth out for decades. I don't think any economist can actually do that with any form of certainty. Who knows what the world will be like, technology wise, 50 or 60 years from now? Maybe there will be cold fusion that will reduce emissions down to negligible levels? I just never understood how you can project something out for a 100 years like this.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Predictions for 2015: All in One

Political:

1. The GOP Congress will work with Obama to a lesser extant but there will be many battles between them on immigration and other issues. Obama will veto several bills and have a few of them overturned with some moderate Democrats on-board.

2. A Grand Bargain on Tax Reform will be passed with work from both parties.

3. The Obamacare exchange will be made illegal by the Supreme Court. The federal government will require all states to have a Healthcare exchange and lawsuits are generated by GOP controlled governors. It will not be resolved in 2015.

4. Obama will start to withdraw from politics and start to prepare for his time after office. He will play lots of golf and lead from behind and basically just ignore his job.


World:

1. ISIS will be severely damaged by the end of the year. They will be attacked from many fronts and start to show signs of defeat.

2. Islamic terror will start to ramp up as ISIS starts to feel the sting of airstrikes and Iraqi and Syrian resistance. They will take the fight out of the "Caliphate" and into the West. More attacks like Charlie Hebdo will be felt across Europe. The lone Islamic terrorist with a gun or bomb will be the new thing to fear in the Western world.

3. China's economy will start to show cracks. Growth will slow and they will do everything they can to keep things going.

4. Russia will start to quiet down as oil prices stay low. They will rattle the sabre less and cooperate more in the wider world.

5. Low oil prices will disrupt the governments of Venezuela and Nigeria. They will have massive disruptions by the end of the year.

Economic Predictions:

S&P 500: 2250
Dow: 18700
Nasdaq: 4700
Crude Oil: $71
Gold: $1226 and ounce
EUR/Dollar: 1.09
10 Yr Bond: 2.15%

Sports Predictions:
NFL: Seattle Seahawks
NBA: Golden State Warriors
MLB: St. Louis Cardinals
NHL: NY Islanders
Premier League: Manchester City
Bundesliga:Bayern Munich
NCAA Football (played in 2016:) TCU Horned Frogs
NCAA Basketball: Duke

Monday, January 12, 2015

Charlie Hebdo Does not Back Down: Puts Mohammed on the Cover

Now this is the kind of backbone that is in short supply in this day and age.
The cover of the first edition of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo since its staff were murderously attacked by Islamist gunmen last week shows a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed crying and holding up a "Je suis Charlie" sign under the words: "All is forgiven".
The spineless cowards at Sony Pictures or the White House couldn't carry Charlie Hebdo's jockstrap. These guys are what is right about the Western world. Don't back down from extremists and fight strength with strength. That is the only thing they respect.

Ryan wont Run in 2016? That sucks!

The best (or one of the better men) for the job is going to sit on the sidelines in the next Presidential race.
Republican U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, the party's vice presidential nominee in 2012, said on Monday he will not run for president in 2016 in order to focus on his new role in Congress as chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee.
Ryan told NBC News he made the decision to pass up a White House bid "weeks ago," well before his former running mate, Mitt Romney, said on Friday he was considering another presidential bid.
I really hope Romney doesn't win the nomination because he failed already. Let's get some new blood in there. I also hope it won't be Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush because in a nation of 316 million people we cannot find someone that is not part of the two families that has had multiple Presidents already?

White House Admits Blunder: Should have Sent at Least John Kerry to Paris Freedom March

Yup the tone deaf administration strikes again. At least they admit they screwed up for once.
While leaders from Europe, the Middle East and Africa linked arms for Sunday's march through the boulevards of Paris, the United States was represented by its ambassador to France. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris for security meetings but did not attend the march.
"It's fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. The administration also announced that Secretary of State John Kerry, who was on a long-planned trip to India Sunday, will visit France later this week.
Kerry was there but didn't march. Why he didn't march I have no idea. Maybe he was too busy windsurfing or something. In any case you have this picture of the heads of nearly every Western nation linking arms and we don't have any senior Americans administration people there at all. Also this part doesn't wash IMO:
"There's no doubt that had the president or vice president, on this very short time frame, gone to participate in this event that took place outdoors with more than a million people in attendance, that it would have significantly impacted the ability of those who attended the march to participate in the way they did yesterday," he said.
Yeah or they could have trusted the French to guard Obama or Biden's lives if there were there. I mean the Israeli PM was there and he would have been a big damn target for Jihadis to go after. In any case the Obama White House looks stupid, tone-deaf and leads from behind yet again. 

MS Treatment might Stop the Progression of the Disease

This seems pretty encouraging if you have MS.
The procedures, abbreviated as HDIT and HCT, are the focus of the multicenter trial that includes experts from seven U.S. states, plus Canada and England.
A three-year interim report published recently in the journal JAMA Neurology offered positive results: Nearly 80 percent of those enrolled, including Kearny, not only survived but also showed no increase in disability, relapse of MS symptoms or new brain lesions. Few serious complications or unexpected side effects were reported. 
That is pretty stunning news because 80% chance of stopping the disease in its tracks sounds outstanding. What is interesting is that the mechanism seems to be what you use to get rid of lueukimia
The trial patients all had failed standard treatments for MS in the 18 months before they enrolled; typically they’d exhausted three different lines of care, said Dr. Richard Nash of the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute.
They received high doses of drugs to wipe out their immune systems and then doses of their own stem cells to rebuild them.
It’s a technique first pioneered for to the now-common treatment for leukemia and other cancers.
This kind of sounds like CAR-T Immunotherapy but you use stem cells instead of specially engineered T-Cells. I guess your body uses the new stem cells to recreate the immune system without creating the lesions in the brain that come from MS.