Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interview with Scott Minerd from Guggenheim Partners

Scott Minerd from Guggenheim is an impressive guy -- he has the breadth and depth of an economic historian, coupled with the big picture ability to synthesize an investment thesis on the macro front. I highly recommend subscribing to his commentary.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tax predictions for 2013 and beyond

Some tax predictions for 2013 and beyond:
1. We will see tax rates in the US go up for everyone, not just the "rich"
2. There will be an extra "temporary" surcharge for filers making above a certain amount ($500K a year?)
3. We will see a national Value Added Tax (VAT) introduced by 2014. This will probably be around 7.5%-10%
4. Social Security / Medicare payroll tax income limits will be removed for people making above a certain amount (probably above $250K for single filers). Currently social security taxes apply to approximately the first $105K of income.
5. Payroll taxes will be assessed on passive income (dividends, rental income) etc.
6. The mortgage tax deduction will be phased away, especially for second homes and rental properties

Kyle Bass interview on CNBC

Kyle Bass from Hayman was on CNBC recently. Bass has been super bearish on the Japanese Yen, a thesis that has not worked out for him - yet. I share the same concern about the Yen since household savings rates are down sharply in Japan and it takes almost 100% of tax revenues to merely pay the interest on the debt, even at some of the lowest rates on the planet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The latest from Matt Taibbi: Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?

Matt Taibbi is back with another hard-hitting must-read expose: Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?

In the article, Taibbi exposes the agency's cushy relationship with the financial institutions it is supposed to investigate. Shockingly, the SEC made it a practice to destroy MUIs ("Matters Under Inquiry") that did not receive approval from senior staff despite the fact that records were supposed to be maintained for at least 25 years with the National Archives and Records Administration. Senior staff included Director of Enforcement, Richard Walker, who was named General Counsel of Deutsche Bank less than 10 weeks after the SEC closed an investigation into the bank. Closed MUI investigations included Bernie Madoff and Lehman Brothers.

I have to ask: is anyone else besides Taibbi doing any real investigative journalism these days? And why aren't the clowns who got us into this crisis in jail?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Michael Lewis on Europe

The latest Vanity Affair article from Michael Lewis is out: It’s the Economy, Dummkopf! It's on Germany and it's um a little on the gross side and not his best work IMO. My favorite in the series still remains the one on Greece: Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds.

Here's the series so far:

13-Fs are out!

CNBC looks at recent moves of Buffett, Paulson, Icahn, Soros etc...

Warren Buffett on Charlies Rose

Warren Buffett on Charlies Rose

My view of the S&P downgrade

I think the downgrade was a much needed reality check. Mainstream politicians in the biggest debtor nation the world has ever seen were talking openly of defaulting on their debt - half of which is held by foreigners and a big chunk of the remainder is openly monetized by a central bank that has long shed any semblance of independence. And then after the whole dog and pony show, the final bill that was signed was not even close to a feasible solution. $1.2T in *unidentified* cuts over several years when the annual deficit is $1T+, and, on top of that, with zero cuts in entitlements and no tax increases. What a joke. Just based on that, I think the downgrade should have been several notches and not just one...

That doesn't mean that I admire the S&P -- they, like Moody's, are a corrupt and incompetent organization and shouldn't exist. Indeed the whole NRSRO system needs to be scrapped.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The E-Trade Baby Loses it All

This video has been making the rounds
E-Trade Baby Loses Everything

Marc Faber on CNBC

The always cheery Marc Faber was on CNBC last week calling from a "sleazy" hotel in Zurich(!), and he saw a short-term bounce based on deeply oversold conditions, but he didn't see the market topping it's prior high.There will be QE3 followed by a rebound in October. He doesn't see March 2009 lows being hit on nominal terms (because of money printing).

Gold at its current level is not expensive compared to the expansion of the monetary base and the level of debts. He sees a money printing and war on the horizon followed by a "reboot"

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jim O’Neill on his favorite BRIC

Jim O’Neill, who coined the term BRIC, would like investors and benchmarks to reflect the greater importance of the developing world in the global economy.

He's worried about the Brazilian Real being too strong, and his favorite BRIC country at the current time is a little bit of a surprise.