Market Dreams

By |2018-07-02T07:50:24+00:00July 2nd, 2018|Global Market Update|

Are market changes real, or are they more like dreams? Dreams of World War 1 soldiers, by Jan Styka. Source: Lublin Museum There’s a common thought that market gains or losses aren’t real gains or losses – they’re only “on paper” until investors sell their holdings, making them “real.” But that’s a cognitive error – a kind of egocentric bias that says that something is only real if it affects me. In fact, price changes are real changes. When IBM went from $100 to [...]

Taxing Energy in Context

By |2018-02-21T06:58:51+00:00February 21st, 2018|Global Market Update|

How high are our energy taxes? Source: Energy Information Administration The US is a low-tax country. We were founded because of a tax-rebellion, and tax protests ripple through our nation from time to time. The latest round of corporate tax reform was in part a reaction to high corporate tax rates – and they were high, compared with the rest of the world. That’s why so many US corporations had been changing their official domicile to an overseas location. US companies like Medtronic (Minneapolis) [...]

Shakespeare and Tax Reform

By |2018-01-19T07:02:04+00:00January 19th, 2018|Global Market Update|

What we call things is important. Photo: Victor Hanacek. Source: Picjumbo How items are defined can have real-world implications on how they’re treated. Consider the latest changes in the tax code. Individuals can now only deduct up to $10,000 of the State and local taxes they pay. So high-income people in high-tax states like New York, California, and Vermont could end up paying more on their Federal income taxes than they would if they lived in a low-tax state like Florida or Texas. Naturally, [...]

Marginal Thinking

By |2017-08-24T06:53:08+00:00August 24th, 2017|Global Market Update|

What’s your marginal tax rate? Source: Healthcare.gov It’s an important question. The answer will determine whether it makes sense to buy municipal bonds, whether to put money into a Roth or Traditional IRA, and even whether to convert a Traditional IRA into a Roth. Let’s face it: almost everything we do has tax consequences. The government puts its finger into almost every financial pie – they’re our partner in almost every financial decision we make. But they’re a passive partner. It’s perfectly reasonable to [...]

Taxes, Income, and Freedom

By |2017-07-17T12:21:23+00:00April 7th, 2017|Global Market Update|

It’s April. Do you know where your income taxes are? Photo: Steve Buissine. Source: Pixabay Around the country people are reviewing their income from last year and calculating their taxes. Tax day is an extraordinary event: a couple years ago 140 million Americans told the government that they earned $9.7 trillion and paid $1.4 trillion in taxes. The lion’s share of those taxes came from the highest earners: the top 50% of taxpayers paid 97% of the taxes collected, and the infamous top 1% [...]

Robotic Taxes?

By |2017-07-17T12:21:28+00:00March 6th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Should we institute a tax on robots? Photo: Xavier Caré. Source: Wikimedia Commons That’s what Bill Gates thinks. When people fear what new technology is going to do to them, they’ll avoid it rather than try to shape it. If there’s a robot tax, that might allow countries to provide pensions and training so people can adjust to their new economies. If the robots are eating our jobs, then we need to find new jobs – like blacksmiths learning how to build and repair [...]

World Wide Cash

By |2017-07-17T12:21:43+00:00September 20th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Why do firms hold so much cash overseas? Source: Capital Economics As the global economy has grown, cash held overseas by US firms has grown at a rapid pace. US companies now hold over $2.5 trillion. The recent flap over Apple’s $14.5 billion fine by the European Commission brings into high relief the fact that the US has the highest corporate tax rates in the world, and claims a share of anything a US company does—if it brings those profits back home. So if [...]

Chickens and Eggs

By |2017-07-17T12:22:07+00:00March 1st, 2016|Global Market Update|

Chickens and Eggs Are you a chicken farmer, or an egg farmer? Photo: Ilona Couleur. Source: Pixabay Chicken farmers raise chickens for their meat. Egg farmers raise chickens for what they lay. Investors who plan to sell their stocks to pay for college or to buy a second home are chicken farmers. Investors who hope to use the income from their investments are egg farmers. The financial press doesn’t understand egg farmers. Every day they report market prices and how they’ve changed. But they [...]

Powerball Scrooges

By |2017-07-17T12:22:11+00:00January 13th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Is Powerball a humbug? Source: Powerball.com Of course it is. We know this. The states use it as a revenue source. If they didn’t make money—and if we didn’t lose money, on average—they wouldn’t have state lotteries. But people still line up to buy tickets, especially when the jackpot is ginourmous. $1.5 billion would change anyone’s life. Yes, I know the payoff would be cut by taxes, and would probably have to be shared with another winner, and I would get friend-requests from everyone [...]

Promises, Promises

By |2017-07-17T12:22:58+00:00April 29th, 2015|Global Market Update|

Can we please have an adult conversation about Social Security? Source: Wikipedia The US faces a tsunami of retirement obligations. The Federal Government expends about $1.3 trillion per year on Social Security and Medicare, and takes in about $1.2 trillion. This deficit is covered by their trust funds, which on a combined basis will be depleted 2033—17 years from now. Considered separately, Social Security’s trust fund will last until 2035, not much longer. The Disability Insurance trust fund is just about out of money, [...]