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[youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUjIl4_DYiU 450 300]
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“(CNSNews.com) – In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.
Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.
The IRS’s assumption that the cheapest plan for family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan.
The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan.
“The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000,” the regulation says.
Bronze will be the lowest tier health-insurance plan available under Obamacare–after Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Under the law, the penalty for not buying health insurance is supposed to be capped at either the annual average Bronze premium, 2.5 percent of taxable income, or $2,085.00 per family in 2016.
In the new final rules published Wednesday, IRS set in law the rules for implementing the penalty Americans must pay if they fail to obey Obamacare’s mandate to buy insurance.
To help illustrate these rules, the IRS presented examples of different situations families might find themselves in.
In the examples, the IRS assumes that families of five who are uninsured would need to pay an average of $20,000 per year to purchase a Bronze plan in 2016.
Using the conditions laid out in the regulations, the IRS calculates that a family earning $120,000 per year that did not buy insurance would need to pay a “penalty” (a word the IRS still uses despite the Supreme Court ruling that it is in fact a “tax”) of $2,400 in 2016.
For those wondering how clear the IRS’s clarifications of this new “penalty” rule are, here is one of the actual examples the IRS gives:
“Example 3. Family without minimum essential coverage….”Comments »
“California had the credit rating on its general-obligation bonds raised by Standard & Poor’s for the first time since 2006 as tax increases championed by Governor Jerry Brown bolster the state’s fiscal outlook.
The move by S&P affects $73 billion of debt and lifts the state’s credit grade one step to A, the sixth-highest level, according to Gabriel Petek, a San Francisco-based analyst at the company. California’s outlook was moved to stable from positive, and the grade on its lease-revenue bonds increased to A- from BBB+, said Petek.
Brown, a Democrat, this month proposed a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that he expects will leave the state with an $851 million surplus, the first in almost a decade. He persuaded voters in November to approve higher taxes on income and sales.
“S&P’s actions recognize the strides California has made toward improving its fiscal management, producing a sounder budget and getting itself on a more sustainable financial path,” Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, said in an interview….”Comments »
“Congress sent President Barack Obama drama-free legislation on Thursday raising the debt ceiling, averting a government default and putting off the next tax-and-spending clash between the White House and Republicans until later in the year.
The measure cleared the Senate on a vote of 64-34 after winning House approval late last week. It permits the Treasury to borrow above the current $16.4 trillion debt limit through May 18. The White House has said Obama will sign it.
“Failure to pass this bill will set off an unpredictable financial panic that would plunge not only the United States but much of the world back into recession,” Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said before the vote. “Every single American would feel the economic impact.” ..”Comments »
“With the Fed purchasing $45 billion in Treasury securities across the curve each month, keeping a consistent picture of Ben Bernanke’s consolidated, risk-adjusted holdings can be somewhat problematic: the best way to do this is to represent the Fed’s $3 trillion balance sheet, of which $1.7 trillion is in Treasurys, in the form of ten year equivalents. A ten-year equivalent is the amount of 10-year notes that must be held by the Fed in order to remove the same amount of interest rate risk from the market as its current holdings. This allows for a uniform representation that eliminates the duration variance along the curve. Looked in this light it may come as a surprise to some that as of this moment, the Fed now owns some 29% of the entire amount of marketable ten-year equivalents outstanding in the entire US bond market….”Comments »
This is the third time i’ve seen this commentary today perusing my usual web haunts for articles. Since i found it this time on Z.H. i thought it would make for a good evening read.
“In our modern world there exist certain institutions of power. Not government committees, alphabet agencies, corporate lobbies, or even standard military organizations; no, these are the mere “middle-men” of power. The errand boys. The well paid hitmen of the global mafia. They are not the strategists or the decision makers.
Instead, I speak of institutions which introduce the newest paradigms. Who write the propaganda. Who issue the orders from on high. I speak of the hubs of elitism which have initiated nearly every policy mechanism of our government for the past several decades. I am talking about the Council On Foreign Relations, the Tavistock Institute, the Heritage Foundation (a socialist organization posing as conservative), the Bilderberg Group, as well as the corporate foils that they use to enact globalization, such as Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, the Carlyle Group, etc.
Many of these organizations and corporations operate a revolving door within the U.S. government. Monsanto has champions, like Donald Rumsfeld who was on the board of directors of its Searle Pharmaceuticals branch, who later went on to help the company force numerous dangerous products including Aspartame through the FDA. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have a veritable merry-go-round of corrupt banking agents which are appointed to important White House and Treasury positions on a regular basis REGARDLESS of which party happens to be in office. Most prominent politicians are all members of the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization which has openly admitted on multiple occasions that their goal is the destruction of U.S. sovereignty and the formation of a “one world government” or “supranational union” (their words, not mine).
However, one organization seems to rear its ugly head at the forefront of the most sweeping mass propaganda operations of our time, and has been linked to the creation of the most atrocious military methodologies, including the use of false flag events. I am of course referring to the Rand Corporation, a California based “think tank” whose influence reaches into nearly every sphere of our society, from politics, to war, to entertainment.
The Rand Corporation deals in what I would call “absolute gray”. The goal of the group from its very inception was to promote a social atmosphere of moral ambiguity in the name of personal and national priority. They did this first through the creation of “Rational Choice Theory”; a theory which prescribes that when making any choice, an individual (or government) must act as if balancing costs against benefits to arrive at an action that maximizes personal advantage. Basically, the ends justify the means, and moral conscience is not a factor to be taken seriously if one wishes to be successful.
Hilariously, rational choice theory has been attacked in the past by pro-socialist (collectivist) critics as “extreme individualism”; a philosophy which gives us license to be as “self serving” as possible while feeling patriotic at the same time. In reality, the socialists should have been applauding Rand Corporation all along.
What Rand had done through its propaganda war against the American people was to infuse the exact culture of selfishness needed to push the U.S. towards the socialist ideal. At the onset of any communist or national socialist society (sorry socialists, but they do indeed come from the same collectivist mindset), the masses are first convinced to hand over ultimate power to the establishment in order to safeguard THEMSELVES, not others. That is to say, the common collectivist man chooses to hand over his freedoms and participate in totalitarianism not because he wants what is best for the world, but because he wants what is best for himself, and he believes servitude to the system will get him what he wants with as little private sacrifice as possible (you know, except for his soul…).
The psychologist Carl Jung notes in his observations of collectivism in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia that most citizens of those nations did not necessarily want the formation of a tyrannical oligarchy, but, they went along with it anyway because they feared for their own comfort and livelihoods. Many a German supported the Third Reich simply because they did not want to lose a cushy job, or a steady paycheck, or they liked that the “trains ran on time”. Socialism is by far the most selfish movement in history, despite the fact that they claim to do what they do “for the greater good of the greater number”.
Rand also used Rational Choice Theory as a means to remove questions of principle from the debate over social progress. Rational Choice propaganda commonly presents the target audience with a false conundrum. A perfect example would be the hardcore propaganda based television show ‘24’ starring Kiefer Sutherland, in which a government “anti-terrorism” agent is faced with a controlled choice scenario in nearly every episode. This choice almost always ends with the agent being forced to set aside his morals and conscience to torture, kill, and destroy without mercy, or, allow millions of innocents to die if he does not.
Of course, the real world does not work this way. Life is not a chess game. Avenues to resolution of any crisis are limited only by our imagination and intelligence, not to mention the immense number of choices that could be made to defuse a crisis before it develops. Yet, Rand would like you to believe that we (and those in government) are required to become monstrous in order to survive. That we should be willing to forgo conscience and justice now for the promise of peace and tranquility later.
This is the age old strategy of Centralization; to remove all choices within a system, by force or manipulation, until the masses think they have nothing left but the choices the elites give them. It is the bread and butter of elitist institutions like Rand Corporation, and is at the core of the push for globalization.
In my studies on the developing economic disaster….”Comments »
South Korea’s manufacturing PMI fell to 49.9 in January from 50.1 a month ago.
Any reading above 50 signals growth in the manufacturing sector.
Here are the key points from Markit:
From HSBC’s Ronald Man:
“Korea’s latest manufacturing conditions highlight the country’s dependence on trade. New export orders gained momentum and employment growth rose in anticipation of higher output over the coming months. However, the domestic economy remains weak and policymakers in Seoul will likely maintain an easing stance to keep domestic demand firm until 2H 2013, when export growth recovers meaningfully and generates an export-led recovery.”
“China’s NBS just published its official manufacturing PMI report, and it’s a bit of a disappointment.
The headline number unexpectedly slipped to 50.4 in January.
Economists were expecting an increase to 51.0 from 50.6 in December.
The good news: any reading above 50 signals expansion.”Comments »
“Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and his government have been rocked today by documents published in El Pais that appear to show his party receiving a large amount of “secret” donations.
El Pais claims that the documents show a series of payments from well known businessmen to the conservative People’s Party for more than a decade, with the last payment in 2009.
According to the Guardian, one document appears to show Rajoy himself receiving payments totaling €250,000 ($340,000) that had been hidden from tax authorities.
The scandal revolves around former treasurer Luis Bárcenas, who is under investigation for allegedly having €22 million ($30 million) in a Swiss bank account. Bárcenas is alleged to have kept a double accounting system for the party to hide the payments….”Comments »
The male American bulldog mix pictured above faced euthanization at Jackson Rabies Control Animal Shelter in Tennessee on Thursday, after his owner saw him mounting another male dog, assumed he was gay, and turned him in.
A Facebook user, under the name “Jackson Madison Rabies Control Stalker,” often visits the kill shelter looking for dogs to advertise for adoption. The 39-year-old mother and animal lover featured this unwanted dog on her page, in a post that received more than 4,200 shares and 1,405 comments overnight.
This guy was signed over to RC, not bc he’s mean or bc he tears things up, but because… His owner says he’s gay! He hunched another male dog so his owner threw him away bc he refuses to have a “gay” dog! Even if that weren’t the most assinine [sic] thing I’ve ever heard, its still discrimination! Don’t let this gorgeous dog die bc his owner is ignorant of normal dog behavior! He’s in kennel 10L and he WILL be put down tomorrow bc there is no room at the inn!
What the owner of the dog obviously didn’t know, as The Atlantic Wire points out, is that dogs “often mount each other to show dominance.”
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“London – All personal information stored by British internet users on major “cloud” computing services including Google Drive can be spied upon routinely without their knowledge by US authorities under newly-approved legislation, it can be disclosed.
Cloud computing has exploded in recent years as a flexible, cheap way for individuals, companies and government bodies to remotely store documents and data. According to some estimates, 35 per cent of UK firms use some sort of cloud system – with Google Drive, Apple iCloud and Amazon Cloud Drive the major players.
But it has now emerged that all documents uploaded on to cloud systems based in the US or falling under Washington’s jurisdiction can be accessed and analysed without a warrant by American security agencies.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, allows US government agencies open access to any electronic information stored by non-American citizens by US-based companies. Quietly introduced during the dying days of President George W Bush’s administration in 2008, it was renewed over Christmas 2012.
But only now are privacy campaigners and legal experts waking up to the extent of the intrustion. Caspar Bowden, who was chief privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe for nine years until 2011, said: “What this legislation means is that the US has been able to mine any foreign data in US Clouds since 2008, and nobody noticed.”
Significantly, bodies such as the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA can gain access to any information that potentially concerns US foreign policy for purely political reasons – with no need for any suspicion that national security is at stake – meaning that religious groups, campaigning organisations and journalists could be targeted.
The information can be intercepted and stored in bulk as it enters the US via undersea cables crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Mr Bowden, who now works as an independent advocate for privacy rights and co-authored a report for the European Parliament warning of the threat to clouds posed by FISA, criticised the UK Information Commissioner’s Office for giving free rein to the US authorities.
The body which polices data protection laws in the UK effectively ruled that companies were right to pass information over to foreign government requests as the disclosure was made “in accordance with a legal requirement”, such as FISA.
Mr Bowden said: “Every time we make a bridge of trust, or commit an indiscretion, using a social network or webmail, think how a foreign country could use that information for its own purposes to influence policy and politics. Drafts of documents prepared online, who is in contact with each other, all of this can be captured and analysed using data-mining algorithms much more advanced than those offered by public search engines.” …”Comments »
“In a little-noticed email published online Wednesday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a young Dominican woman wrote nine months ago that she slept with 59-year-old New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez at a series of sex parties organized by Dr. Salomon Melgen, a longtime Menendez campaign donor.
“That senator also likes the youngest and newest girls,” the woman wrote on April 21, 2002, according to an English translation provided to The Daily Caller by a native Spanish speaker.
“In the beginning he seemed so serious, because he never spoke to anyone, but he is just like the others and has just about the same tastes as the doctor, very refined. I think they were taking us more often to get us checked [medically] because of him.” “Comments »
“The finances of the US’s multi-employer pension schemes have deteriorated so quickly over the past year that the body that insures them will almost certainly run out of cash in 20 years, according to a new report.
The chances of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation – the publicly created but privately funded body that insures the nation’s occupational pension schemes – going bust went from 1 in 3 at the end of 2011 to more than 9 in 10 by the end of 2012, a report prepared for the PBGC and released on Tuesday said….”Comments »
Don’t need another reason why it’s so good to be rich? We’re giving it to you anyway.
“State and local governments on average tax the bottom 20 percent of households by income at double the overall tax rate of the top 1 percent, according to a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. That’s largely because they tend to rely heavily on sales taxes, which burden the poor more than the rich.
Some states put a much bigger tax burden on the poor than others. Take Texas, for example, where there is no personal income tax at all. There, the poorest 20 percent pay four times the tax rate of the top 1 percent, according to the report….”
Full article and list of states with unequal tax burdensComments »
3 down….thousands to go !Comments »
“Mark R. Crovelli writes: As a graduate student and construction worker in San Diego from 2003-2005, I was afforded an up-close view of the inflation of the last real estate bubble. It was a truly exciting time to work in the building industry in Southern California because there was so much money sloshing around. I literally couldn’t even walk into Home Depot without being accosted by hordes of greedy homeowners and slippery contractors offering to pay cash to anyone willing to do construction work.
Everyone I knew was making piles of easy money buying and flipping homes, and I often heard that I was just plain stupid to not be buying and flipping some of my own. I was content to just be able to finance graduate school without debt, however. I decided to move back to Colorado to finish graduate school at almost precisely the moment that my friends started making really big money in real estate. They all thought that I was insanely stupid to leave.
A year later, I wrote an article predicting the collapse of the real estate bubble. A year after that, my friends in Southern California started losing their jobs, and a year after that many of my old friends started losing big money. My decision to avoid real estate investment looked a lot less stupid at that point.
Only six years have passed since the largest housing bubble in world history imploded, and I am once again receiving investment advice from my friends involving real estate. Instead of buying and flipping homes, they are now promising me piles of easy money if I purchase “investment homes” to rent out. My friends are not quite as exuberant as Californians were in 2006, but the pitch of their excitement is definitely rising.
I am not sold on the idea at all, however. In fact, I think my friends who are piling into “investment properties” right now are setting themselves up for losses on a scale only surpassed by the losses suffered in the last real estate crash. Real estate is still extremely dangerous, and only people with a solid financial cushion and who are willing to take gargantuan risk should be moving into it.
In order to see why this is the case, first consider the role of property taxes in real estate investment. Quite obviously, the higher the rate at which a property is taxed, ceteris paribus, the lower the value of that piece of property. This much is obvious. But what most real estate investors do not consider at all is the fact that property taxes can change. The fact that taxes have been X amount for the past ten or twenty years is completely irrelevant if a government decides to raise or lower the rate at which it taxes property.
Given this, the important consideration from an investment standpoint is the rate at which real estate will be taxed in the future. In order to make an informed guess about future property taxes, however, the investor must attempt to forecast the financial condition of the government that taxes the real estate in any given area. Governments facing serious financial difficulty in the future should be expected to try to gouge property owners to make up for budget and pension shortfalls.
The problem is, however, that it is almost impossible to figure out the financial health of any given municipality. The municipal bond market, which is a decent proxy measure of municipal financial health, is one of the most opaque, illiquid and misleading markets out there. Even the incompetent SEC admits this, by the way. Not only that, but many municipalities that are seemingly healthy, and which are still able to borrow massive amounts of money at low rates today, are completely bankrupt from a long term perspective. Many school districts in California, for example, have been engaging in myopic borrowing schemes that basically ensure their future insolvency. More accurately, these municipalities will assuredly be bankrupt in the future if they don’t raise property taxes dramatically.
To think that these bankrupt municipal governments and the hoards of government workers and pensioners they parasitically support are going to just file for bankruptcy and lay off massive numbers of teachers, police officers and firemen is just plain silly. Of course they are going to try to pry as much money out of their tax bases as they can. If you are a property owner that means you, and your property taxes are going up – potentially substantially – at some point in the future.
If you think this is merely idle speculation…”Comments »
“The stock market has so far put in a spectacular bull run during January 2013 by putting in a series of new stocks bull market highs across virtually every major indices and this taking place whilst the hottest stock of 2012 having collapsed by 1/3rd – Apple. No one could have imagined that the major stock market indices could make a series of new bull market highs whilst the biggest cap stock was in free fall! Where Apple is concerned it is clearly a case of Samsung having pricked Apple’s stock price bubble that looks set to have much further to deflate.
If the stock market momentum continues at the current pace then the stock market will be up by more than 50% for the year! Off course that is not going to happen, realistically no matter how good such a move would be for our stock portfolio’s, I am pretty confident that this mature bull market (near 4 year old) is unlikely to see the stock market up 50% for 2013, especially as the major indices are homing in on major psychological levels such as Dow 14,000 (last 13,954) and my long standing target of 14,200 (Stocks Stealth Bull Market ebook March 2011).
Another point to note is that the rally underway has witnessed delusional bears right across the globe literally being seen as foaming at the mouth as illustrated by the diatribe that continues spew out of commentary of an always imminent bear market, crash, collapse etc… When the reality is that not only have they and everyone who listened to them missed out on what is a stocks bull market that is approaching the END of its FOURTH YEAR ! But that have been actively betting against an exceptionally strong recent bull run that is the exact mirror image of the crash that they have been so furiously proclaiming as always being imminent.
Stock Market 2012 Quick Review
The Dow closed up a healthy 7% for 2012 at 13,104, whilst other major indices adding substantially more such as S&P: up 13% and Nasdaq up 16%, with the UK FTSE trailing with a 6% gain.
Stock Market 2012 First Half Strategy
In terms of the long-term view my analysis of March 2011 (Stock Stealth Bull Market Ebook) (FREE DOWNLOAD) concluded in a target of Dow 14,200. However as regularly indicated since Mid December 2011, in view of expectations for a tough year for a maturing stocks bull market during 2012, my strategy for the first half of 2012 had been to cut my net long exposure to the stock market from about 40% of assets (Dec 18th) by distributing into the anticipated rally into late April / Early May 2012 as indicated by the analysis and forecast of Feb 2012, which resulted in substantially cutting my exposure to the stock market by mid year.
By June 2012, in the wake of the subsequent sell off my expectations were once towards a continuation of the bull market during the second half of the year towards bull market highs as illustrated by my analysis and concluding trend forecast at that time – 16 Jun 2012 – Greece Election Eurogeddon Stock Market Trend Analysis and Forecast …”Comments »
“The sheer amount of competition in the casual dining sector over that past 20 years has been great for the American consumer. The copycat strategies employed by competitors have made it possible for a couple to go to any number of reasonably good restaurants and get two complete meals for as low as $20. However, rising prices and taxes may begin to put a crimp in some of the companies’ earnings.
The analysts at Tampa-based Raymond James Financial Inc. (NYSE: RJF) are reasonably positive on the fourth-quarter results for most of the restaurants on which they have research coverage. In the casual dining arena, they expect comparable sales to be slightly positive and cost pressures to remain modest. With changes coming in the first quarter of 2013, they are starting to temper their expectations.
The first quarter of 2013 begins a period of rising uncertainty for both sales and costs, and elevated uncertainty seems likely to remain in place for some time. The same period last year saw the strongest restaurant sales growth of the entire year, helped by very favorable weather. This fact, when combined with the demand destruction they expect from the recently enacted payroll tax increase, could put first-quarter 2013 comparable sales into the red for some companies they cover. When combined with the rising food inflation outlook for 2013, the potential for negative earnings per share (EPS) revisions is high and continuing to rise.
These factors could result in unusually cautious management commentary and/or disappointing quarter-to-date sales disclosures during the upcoming conference call season. The Raymond James analysts would not be surprised to see consensus sales and EPS forecasts lowered for both the first quarter and the rest of 2013 for the majority of their universe, as a result of conference call commentary over the next four to six weeks. So as a result, they are taking a generally cautious investment stance. The Buy and Outperform ratings are generally characterized by attractive valuations and strong underlying business models….”Comments »
“The World Gold Council has issued its new report for 2013 and reviewing 2012 on gold, and it offers some great and perhaps stunning insight if you read through the reports and consider some of the implications through time.
You have to understand that the World Gold Council is, of course, “pro-gold” as you read through it. That being said, our take is that gold’s peak may remain elusive but is now closer rather than more distant. The gold bugs will not like this viewpoint. Just do not consider this as the town crier calling the death of gold (and silver too).
The council talks about gold’s currency-hedging perspective, its diversification qualities, its stance as a risk in tail-risk (or Black Swan) events, and even how foreign central bank diversification plays a role in gold. If you invest in the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEMKT: GLD) and the lower-fee ETF via the ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEMKT: SGOL), you better read through the report.
Gold mining investors who own the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEMKT: GDX) will want to pay attention. Even those who invest in silver via the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEMKT: SLV) better play attention here, because the metal known also as the Devil’s Metal is in many cases nothing more than the leveraged and speculative trade on gold. Many traders and investors think of silver as the dumb-money or poor-man’s bet on the gold market.
Gold had a weak fourth quarter, but it still rose by about 8% in dollar terms in 2012. Why are we getting somewhat cautious or leery even if the Gold Council is still optimistic? Gold has risen for 12 consecutive years now. This is no dot-com bubble. What was an asset-class trade ahead of the world recession became the ultimate flight to safety. Now it is a hedge against all global currencies as they race to devalue paper assets. Is buying the renminbi or yuan safe? What happens when the Federal Reserve and Treasury efforts include $85 billion of bond purchases per month when the U.S. deficit is out of control? Gold is a hedge against the Johann Gutenberg efforts of world central banks.
Another issue that gold investors need to consider is that the Gold Council also talks up how gold has seen low volatility despite the end-of-year price drop. Just go look a the key ETFs we talked about above. The trading volumes are generally lower. Does this mean that gold peaked? Maybe. It could just mean that gold is trying to set a new base level from which it can rally….”Comments »