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Investors and Companies Scramble to Beat the Threat of Higher Taxes

“Business owners and investors are rapidly maneuvering to shield themselves from the prospect of higher taxes next year, a strategy that is sending ripples across Wall Street and broad areas of the economy.

Take Steve Wynn, the casino magnate, who has been a vocal critic of higher tax rates. He and his fellow shareholders in Wynn Resorts[WYNN  104.33    -0.22  (-0.21%)   ], the company announced, will collect a special dividend of $750 million on Tuesday, a payout timed to take advantage of current rates. Experts estimated that taking the payout this year instead of next could save Mr. Wynn, who owns a sizable stake in the company, more than $20 million.

For the wealthy like Mr. Wynn, the overriding goal is to record as much of their future income this year as they can. This includes moves as diverse as sales of businesses, one-time dividends and the sale of stocks that have been big winners.

“In my 30 years in practice, I’ve never seen such a flood of desire and action to transfer a business and cash out,” said Kenneth K. Bezozo, a partner in New York with the law firm Haynes and Boone. “We’re seeing a watershed event.” ”

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Consumers Increase Credit Card Debt in Q3

“LOS ANGELES (AP) — Americans cranked up their use of credit cards in the third quarter, racking up more debt than a year ago, while also being less diligent about making payments on time, an analysis of consumer-credit data shows.

The average credit card debt per borrower in the U.S. grew 4.9 percent in the July-to-September period from a year earlier to $4,996, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Monday.

At the same time, the rate of credit card payments at least 90 days overdue hit 0.75 percent, up from 0.71 percent in the third quarter of last year, the firm said.

While higher, the late payment rate is rising from historically low levels. The lowest late payment rate on TransUnion records going back to the mid-1990s was 0.56 percent, set in the third quarter of 1994. More recently, it was at 0.60 percent in the second quarter of last year.

During the last recession, many Americans reined in spending in favor of paying off debt, particularly credit card balances. The housing downturn also prompted many homeowners to make paying their credit card accounts on time a priority at the expense of other financial obligations, such as their mortgage payments.”

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FEMA Holds a Fire Sale on Disaster Shelters Moments Before Frankenstorm Sandy Rolled In

Perhaps moments was a bit to much, but none the less your tax dollars go to pay these people. The thought that they did this given all the technology to predict what might happen is a SERIOUS FUCKING PROBLEM.

I mean insurance companies had models telling them years ago that storms would slam into the east coast over the coming years to decades; this prompted them as early as 2004 to start dropping the maximum amount of hurricane and flood insurance policies all up and down the east coast.

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Millions More Americans In Poverty Than Previously Estimated: Census Bureau

“WASHINGTON — A different way of calculating America’s poor by taking into account medical costs and work-related expenses finds a higher total than the government’s official count.

This measure is aimed at providing a fuller picture of poverty. It found there are 49.7 million poor people in the country – or 16.1 percent of the population. That compares with the 46.2 million, or 15 percent, as reported in September in the Census Bureau’s official count.

According to the newly developed measure, those more likely to live in poverty are people 65 or older, urbanites and Hispanics – the result of medical expenses and higher living costs in cities.

California had the highest share of poor people, followed by Arizona and Florida. In the official tally, it’s Mississippi, New Mexico and Arizona.”

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How Important is Your Vote ?


“If you live in Ohio, your vote for president matters a whole lot, at least to judge from the attention being lavished on that state by the candidates. There is 1 chance in 5,800 that you will personally decide the election.

If you live almost anywhere else the probability that your vote matters is lower. In New York, way lower. Rational New Yorkers won’t drive to the polls, at least in areas where gasoline is short.

My rough calculation of the chance that a single vote cast in New York will decide the presidency is 1 in 10 raised to the power 61,000, or thereabouts. That would be a number with 61,000 zeroes in it. You’d have a better shot at winning the state lottery 6,000 times in a row.”

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Public Pensions Lock Down a 4.67% Gain in Q3


“U.S. public pensions ended the third quarter with a median gain of 4.67 percent as bond managers beat their benchmarks by buying riskier debt and fixed-income securities with longer maturities, Wilshire Associates said.

The gains raised returns for state- and local-government pensions with assets of more than $1 billion to 8.2 percent for the 10-year period through Sept. 30, the first quarter since 2007 that funds of that size surpassed 8 percent over a decade.

“It gives that strong message to stay the course and look to the long term,” because the returns came near projected results, said Robert Waid, a managing director at Wilshire, a consultant to investors and pensions. “The 10-year numbers are pretty close to what the actuaries give for a 10-year target.”

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Under 18 Shoulder a Mountain


“(CNSNews.com) – If Americans under the age of 18 were required as a group to pay off the entirety of the federal government’s debt in equal shares, each would now need to pay about $218,676.

That is more than the $130,468 average price tag for four years at a private college or the $173,100 median price for an existing one-family home in the United States.

During the time Barack Obama has been president, the U.S. government debt has increased from approximately $143,255 per American under 18 to approximately $218,676 per American under 18–a climb of $75,421 or about 53 percent.”

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Overnight Funding Costs Recede as Markets Open After Frankenstorm Sandy

“NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street firms and U.S. banks scrambled to raise cash on Wednesday, as U.S. financial markets resumed normal trading after a devastating storm pummeled the U.S. East Coast and closed major markets for two days.

Major banks and investment houses rely on the money markets – a key cash source for financial markets – to finance trading positions and loans that they make. Companies sell commercial paper and other short-term loans to money market funds and other investors fund their inventories and payrolls.

The massive storm, Sandy, disrupted these markets, thinned trading and drove up borrowing costs on Monday and Tuesday.

But overnight borrowing costs in funding markets have since receded from those levels, which were last seen during the height of the global credit crunch in late 2008.”

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Muni Ratings Downgrades Now Exceed 2011

“Credit-rating cuts were made on more than $200 billion of municipal securities in the first nine months of this year, exceeding the total for 2011, and there’s no end in sight. Bloomberg Briefs also notes that it is not just the weaker Californian cities (such as Fresno) but even Los Gatos (an affluent town about 50 miles south of San Francisco, where Apple’s Steve Wozniak lives) is facing possible rating downgrades. Moody’s is concerned that cities might skip debt payments in a cash crunch to preserve services and meet payroll….”

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GM Volt Battery Workers Idle, Play Cards, Read Mags, Watch Movies

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) – Workers at LG Chem, a $300 million lithium-ion battery plant heavily funded by taxpayers, tell Target 8 that they have so little work to do that they spend hours playing cards and board games, reading magazines or watching movies.

They say it’s been going on for months.

“There would be up to 40 of us that would just sit in there during the day,” said former LG Chem employee Nicole Merryman, who said she quit in May.

“We were given assignments to go outside and clean; if we weren’t cleaning outside, we were cleaning inside. If there was nothing for us to do, we would study in the cafeteria, or we would sit and play cards, sit and read magazines,” said Merryman. “It’s really sad that all these people are sitting there and doing nothing, and it’s basically on taxpayer money.”

Two current employees told Target 8 that the game-playing continues because, as much as they want to work, they still have nothing to do.

“There’s a whole bunch of people, a whole bunch,” filling their time with card games and board games,” one of those current employees said.

That employee says some workers are doing odd jobs around the building, including cleaning and maintenance, while others hang out in the cafeteria playing video games, Texas hold-’em and Monopoly or doing Sudoku or crossword puzzles — all on company time. The employee said some watch movies.

Read the rest here.

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Documentary: Race 2012

Cheers on your weekend!

Race 2012 is a conversation about race and politics….

Click here for video

[youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-Q9D4dcYng&feature=related 450 300]

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Black Monday and Its Aftermath

The Black Monday stock-market plunge on Oct. 19, 1987, stunned investors and rattled Wall Street. Below, review front-page articles from The Wall Street Journal’s coverage that week; use the dates at right to read article details.

Read the rest here.

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No Cheese for the Elderly, Social Security Benefits to Rise a Whopping 1.7%

More than 56 million Social Security recipients will see their monthly payments increase by 1.7 percent in January.

Social Security Check
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Social Security Check

The increase was announced Tuesday when the government released a key measure of inflation, which determines whether people who receive Social Security get a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA.

About 8 million people who receive Supplemental Security Income will also receive the 1.7 percent COLA, meaning the announcement will affect about one in five U.S. residents.”

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Unfunded Pension Liabilities Swell to $1.2 Trillion

“(Reuters) – The largest 100 public pension funds have around $1.2 trillion of unfunded liabilities, about $300 billion above the nearly $900 billion they reported themselves, according to a new actuarial study to be released on Monday.

The pension systems reported a median funding level of 75.1 percent. The study by the actuarial firmMilliman, which used different ways to value assets and measure liabilities, finds an aggregate level of funding of 67.8 percent.

But Milliman, one of the world largest actuarial firms took a close look at U.S. public pension funding for the first time, and said the multibillion-dollar difference was good news.

Rebecca Sielman, the report’s author, said results should reassure the public that America’s public pensions in general are accurately reporting their funding shortfalls.”

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Small Business Confidence Falls, Plans For Future Hiring Drop

“Confidence among U.S. small businesses cooled in September as fewer companies said they planned to hire or invest in new equipment, a survey found.

The National Federation of Independent Business’s optimism index fell to 92.8 from an August reading of 92.9. Four of the 10 components that make up the gauge decreased, the Washington- based group said.

The fourth decline in the past five months for the measure showed business leaders may be putting off some of their hiring and investment decisions because of a lack of clarity on tax and regulatory policy. At the same time, more companies expected better economic conditions in six months, signaling a pickup in sales and employment may take time to develop.

Small-business “owners are in maintenance mode; spending only where necessary and not hiring,” William Dunkelberg, the group’s chief economist, said in a statement. “Owners are unwilling to put their own capital on the line until the future path of the economy and economic policy becomes clear.”

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