Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SAR #10076

It was never about economics, it was all just greed.

A Little off the Top:  New home sales are still falling, as are housing starts.  Mortgage delinquencies are on the rise. 24% of mortgaged houses are underwater and more and more owners are walking away.  Adjustable rate mortgages are about to adjust.  No one but Larry Kudlow believes there's a recovery underway.  CRE is about to go crash.  The national debt is growing at nearly $4 billion a day.  The Fed is buying most of the Treasury's debt (aka fun-with-numbers).   Greece was not a singularity, the rest will be along soon.  The unemployed have become the long-term unemployed and are becoming the unemployable.  The road home leads through “massive deleveraging”.   Think Detroit, think retiring at 72, think 15 to 20% unemployment.  Think the death of a thousand cutbacks.  Think double-dip.

Memory Lane: When Obama and the Democratic Congress set out to drain this swamp, the goal was a single-payer healthcare system, using a strong public option as the first step.  The intent was not to pour billions of dollars into the health insurance industry's pockets.  Mistakes were made.

Twins! Just so you'll have some idea what all the fuss is about the growing scarcity of oil and water, page through Matthew Simmons' great presentation.

Emu Ranch:  You don't have to take the loss on that emu ranch until you sell it.  Until then you can carry it on your retirement plan as worth every penny.  Works as long as you don't actually retire.  Similarly banks don't have to publicly admit a commercial real estate loan has gone bad until it comes due.  They can roll it over and never take the loss.  Like Mary's chinchilla farm.

Asked & Answered: Does daylight savings time save time?  Money? Energy?  Anything?  No to all.

Fever:  Somehow Dick Cheney's ghost has sent a bunch of bunker buster bombs to Diego Garcia – an ammo dump in the Indian Ocean conveniently at hand if one wanted to bomb Iran to discourage it from lusting after nuclear weapons.  The US intends to keep its place in history as the only nation to have used nuclear weapons.

Quoted:  “Republicans lie all the time about everything. “ (And the Democrats are naught but moderate Republicans, which pretty much sinks the whole ship.)

Eenie MeenieIn your spare time, when you are not agonizing over Social Security, spend a few moments considering the $2 trillion hole in state and local government retirement plans.  Over 20 million cops, teachers, firemen and garbage collectors expect to receive their checks, and the cupboard is bare.  Either these folks end up living in their cars or you get to bail them out.  Guess which is more likely to happen first.

Timed Out:  The unemployment rate for those closest to retirement (age 45 – 64) is at its highest since WWII.  It would be interesting to know how many of these one-time workers fall into that long term unemployed, never-to-be-rehired category.

Looking Good:  In the last three months the number of idle container ships has dropped from about 12% of the world's total capacity to about 9%. Most of the improvement was in the Asia-Europe trade.

Bob Sam The Builder:  Last year, in order to pass an unemployment benefit extension, Congress included the Bribe-a-Buyer tax credit and a “net loss carryback” provision that allowed home builders to travel back in time and deduct 2009's losses from earlier year’s profits. [Which is like letting the unemployed go back to when they had a job and re-do their taxes.]  The bribe was to get people to do what they were going to do anyway, or to con those who shouldn't buy a house to do so.  The carryback has cost you $2.3 billion so far – and your local builder thanks you.

A Trinity:  Infinite economic growth is not possible.  No matter how hard we try, we cannot outgrow the ability of the planet's resources to sustain life.  Mother nature bats last and there is not enough to go around – especially if the curse of 9 billion people by 2050 comes true.  Pretty soon some reality-based planning has to occur, followed by some pretty serious action.

Not the Last:  A company in Maryland is running for Congress.


Anonymous said...

RE: Bob Sam The Builder

NOL's or Net operating loses has been a staple of the tax code for years. It actually is VERY valuable for s-corps (you know, the little mom's and pop's).

S-Corps pay taxes on receivables less expenses collected between Jan 1 and Dec 31.

Sometimes when business slows down all the receivables come in with lesser expenses against them. The s-corp pays taxes on the profit. For most s-corps this runs between 35% - 50%

Because of this all of the the cash buffer that the owner compiled for bad times leaves the company and goes to Washington and the State capitol.

Hence, no money for payroll, company lays off workers... Wash and repeat.

Next year company takes NOL, rehires workers, rinse and repeat.


Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

RBM - Lots of things have been part of the tax code for years - most of them are there to help the rich. My problem with the NOL deal for builders is that it is geared to help the owners of three or four of the big builders, and that it goes back 5 years.

I've no problem with the year-to-year wash that NOLs aimed at small outfits produces.

But if Pulte&Co can go back 5 years and dock the income then by the losses that bad business judgment earned them in 2008 and 9, then why cant Marcia, who lost her job cleaning Pulte&Co's tract houses go claim back every penny of income tax she's paid in the last 5 years?

Fairness. I know it's not the American way, but we might give it a try.


Anonymous said...

CK: The only difference I can see is job creation. I will tell you that it has helped me save at least 6 jobs in the company I own, because I know that I can go back a couple of years and recoup some of my loses. Without it I'd lay everyone off at the first sign of a slowdown.


Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

RBM - Good on you, but the jobs at the big builders (and little ones, unfortunately) are not being saved, nor salvageable.

There are too many empty houses - new and used - and more to come. We do not need to 'save' all the companies because we'll not need them all. And letting them recoup taxes will not be creating jobs.

'Twas ever so: a good idea - helping small companies over somoe artificial constraints imposed by the calendar - being captured and perverted for the benefit of the much larger companies.