Taxes and the Gig Economy

There has always been an underground economy, sometimes referred to as a shadow economy, and more recently described as the Gig economy, with the rise of such relatively new activities, such as home and ride sharing. Investopedia defines the underground economy as illegal economic activity.  Transactions in the underground economy are illegal, either because the … Continued

Jobs, Trade, Automation and Productivity

These are issues that are likely to loom large over the next several months as the new administration settles in and begins to implement its agenda.  Jobs are likely to be a recurring theme as the new administration seeks to address the fears of some of its key constituencies.  While it is too early to … Continued

Taxes: Rates or Revenues

It is becoming increasingly apparent that there is likely to be a credible effort to enact tax reform during the nest session of Congress. Most of the preliminary discussions appear to suggest that some reduction in personal and corporate tax rates is on the table.  It is important to note that rate and revenue are … Continued

Corporate Taxes/Incentives

Corporate tax rates, both in the U.S., and abroad, have gained increasing visibility following the EU assessment of a $15 billion penalty relating to Apple and Ireland’s tax strategy, and the ongoing U.S. election rhetoric. Incentives get less publicity and are generally promoted as a jobs policy or the pursuit of some other social good, … Continued

Hidden Taxes

Taxes are always a controversial topic with widely divergent opinions as to who should pay, how much, and on what basis.  An old saying “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the fellow behind the tree,” may be more appropriate than ever, as politicians increasingly seek to obscure the full amount they are collecting and … Continued

The Fed’s Dilemma

It is not exactly a secret that the Fed would like to increase interest rates but isn’t actually doing it.  The problem may be that there does not appear to be any compelling reason to raise rates at this time and at least two good reasons not to. The Fed’s mandate is to maximize employment, … Continued

Markets Work

Over the last several months there have been a considerable number of demonstrations aimed at increasing wages for low income employees, particularly in the fast food industry.  The prevailing demand is an improvement to $15 per hour from the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. In the meantime, various other jurisdictions, including states … Continued

Tax Inversions and Investors

The financial transaction known as an “inversion” is designed to take advantage of lower corporate tax rates outside the United States.  While the practice has been subject to an increasing level of political criticism, there does not appear to be any credible evidence that it is a violation of current tax law. Despite the political rhetoric, … Continued

Pensioners Versus Creditors

Puerto Rico is facing a financial crisis that is likely to pit the interests of creditors against those of public employee pensioners.  Puerto Rico is currently believed to have about $72 billion of financial debt outstanding, most of it in the form of municipal bonds.  Concurrently, the employee pension system is nearly out of money … Continued

Universal Basic Income

Over the last several years there have been a number of proposals by economists and political scientists that would substitute universal basic income policies as credible alternatives to existing social programs such as unemployment insurance. The idea is straight forward:  Provide citizens with a minimum allowance, without means-testing, that would give everyone the means to … Continued

Fed Watching: “One and Done”? Why?

Fed watchers have stepped up speculation regarding possible Fed action in December.  The consensus appears to be moving toward a “one and done” theory, whereby the Fed would introduce a modest increase in interest rates in December and then do nothing further for an extended period. Does this make sense? If the Fed is increasing … Continued

Politics, Religion and Investing

There are several topics that are generally considered to be inappropriate for social gatherings involving strangers.  High on the list are politics, religion and grandchildren. Never-the-less, it is important for investors to be current and fully aware of what is going on regarding both politics and religion.  It is also essential that investors distinguish between … Continued