Morning Report – all about the Fed 12/16/13

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1778.2 9.7 0.55%
Eurostoxx Index 2973.3 51.4 1.76%
Oil (WTI) 97.04 0.4 0.46%
LIBOR 0.243 -0.001 -0.41%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 80.05 -0.162 -0.20%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.85% -0.01%
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 104.6 0.0
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 103.4 0.1
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 200.7 -0.2
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.49
Markets are up this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are up small. We had a few minor economic reports this morning which were generally mixed.
This week is all about the FOMC meeting starting this Tuesday. It feels like we are at a 50 / 50 bet on tapering at this meeting. We will also get the Fed’s economic forecasts. The Fed has been consistently high in its forecast for economic growth, but it will be interesting to see the direction the forecasts point. Once we get the FOMC data, bond traders might as well go home for the rest of the year, with Christmas and New Years eve both middle-of-the-week events, the end of December promises to be slow.
We will also get our first housing starts number since the government shutdown. It should include September, October, and November data. We will also get existing home sales later on.
Bloomberg has a good story on what went wrong with HAMP. If Bank of America wasn’t forced to buy Countrywide, then the purchase goes down as one of the worst business decisions ever, up there with New Coke and Time Warner’s aol purchase.

36 Responses

  1. “If Bank of America wasn’t forced to buy Countrywide”

    Countrywide I believe they did voluntary. Merrill Lynch was the one that they were coerced into.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/breakingthebank/

    Like

  2. any recommendations for a wireless router? I think mine died over the weekend.
    needs to be able to stream HD video and play nicely with apple products.

    Like

  3. “play nicely with apple products.”

    There’s the Apple Airport one.

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  4. Scott, I actually agree with Reich more than Williamson.

    The ability to donate millions of dollars tax free to a foundation that you control is simply a scam.

    He’s also correct that the donations to the cultural institutions aren’t strictly charity, in that they do come with specific benefits tied to the donor level.

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    • jnc:

      I actually agree with Reich more than Williamson. The ability to donate millions of dollars tax free to a foundation that you control is simply a scam.

      But at no point does Reich actually object on these grounds. In fact, the only such arrangement he mentions at all is the Gates Foundation, which he lauds as “undoubtedly…doing a lot of good.” While not saying so explicitly, he leaves the distinct impression that this is precisely the kind of “good” charity for which a tax exemption is perfectly acceptable to him.

      Ultimately Reich’s objection is just like so much else related to liberalism. There is no principle of action behind what he advocates. He would allow it if he likes it, and would disallow it if he doesn’t like it. It is strictly a function of his own subjective preferences. As you know, I am opposed to allowing any charitable deductions, but I oppose it in principle, not just for instances in which the charity isn’t doing certain things of which I approve.

      And ultimately I think McWing is correct….Reich thinks government has a right to rich people’s income, and doesn’t like them using what in other respects he sees as a “good” law to keep more control of that income for themselves.

      BTW, which of Williamson’s criticisms did you think was off base?

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  5. Hmmmm.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2013/12/16/two-congressmen-claim-secret-report-on-911-pins-the-blame-on-saudi-arabia/

    If true, this is interesting. It goes along with my question about what should LBJ have done if he had proof that the USSR had killed JFK.
    Isn’t going to war against either really The Kobayashi Maru?

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobayashi_Maru

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  6. Isn’t Reich’s *real* bitch that people are doing what they want with their own money? He wants the government to do things he wants with their money. Reich believes that the money ultimately belongs to the government.

    Who here believes in death taxes anyway? Just curious.

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  7. No, read Reich’s piece for yourself.

    http://robertreich.org/post/69833627613

    It’s strictly on whether or not the “charity” tax deduction is really charity.

    My theory of charitable giving is that if something’s worth donating to, it’s worth doing so with after tax dollars.

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  8. Who here believes in death taxes anyway?

    Me (big surprise, huh!). I have absolutely no problem with the way the tax law regarding inheritance is written currently.

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  9. jnc: Answer to your QotD question is on the Saturday thread.

    Like

  10. My theory of charitable giving is that if something’s worth donating to, it’s worth doing so with after tax dollars.

    I agree. Over the years I’ve probably made more donations that I didn’t deduct than ones that I did.

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  11. thanks JNC .. looks like i’ll have to update the OS X before I do that.
    I’m trying to thread the needled between ease of use and customization. I’ve got a synology NAS that I use for my media. and i want to access it .

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  12. “no problem with the way the tax law regarding inheritance is written currently.”

    My wife’s grandparents are going to move from Maryland to VA so they don’t die and subject their estate to Maryland’s estate taxes.

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  13. I couldn’t disagree more J. Reich does not like the fact that people use existing law to control their money and deprive the government of what he sees as the governments money.

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  14. Those various “charitable” deductions are one of my favorite arguments in favor of a flat tax. I’m not going to disavow them just because Reich is parroting them.

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    • JNC, I have been changing the quote about once a week. I claim no proprietary interest, just being a good soldier here when I have the chance. I saw the Lee quote on an elementary school bulletin board last week.

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    • jnc:

      I’m not going to disavow them just because Reich is parroting them.

      Which of your arguments about charitable deductions is Reich parroting? I don’t recognize anything he says as something you would agree with, apart from the very narrow result in a certain instance.

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  15. “Lee quote on an elementary school bulletin board last week.”

    we have a load of schools named after CSA generals around here.

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  16. The quote is fine. I was going to replace it with this one from Peter O’Toole in honor of his passing:

    ““If you can’t do something willingly and joyfully, then don’t do it. If you give up drinking, don’t go moaning about it; go back on the bottle. Do. As. Thou. Wilt.”

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  17. Wal-Mart (a supporter of D’s and The Abomination) trolls the left.

    http://mobile.walmart.com/m/phoenix#ip/32626555

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  18. The lefts’s terror of and fascination with Ted Cruz is really interesting.

    http://ow.ly/rOsNh

    Can D’s ever not lecture?

    Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who was also in the delegation, said last week that Cruz “got an earful” from his Democratic counterparts on the flight.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/cummings-cruz-got-an-earful-from-dems-on-way-to-south-africa

    I bet the web hits go crazy whenever a lefty site talks about Cruz.

    Like

  19. Bravo!

    According to his lawyer’s filing, he didn’t have malaria and never served in Vietnam. He told the story to EPA officials so he could get special handicap parking at a garage near EPA headquarters.

    It’s certainly a mystery how government employee’s at least as qualified as these could so fuck-up the healthcare system.

    Even at that point, prosecutors say, Beale sought to “cover his tracks.’” He told a few close colleagues at EPA that he would plead guilty “to take one for the team,” suggesting that he was willing to go to jail to protect people at the CIA. This has led some EPA officials to continue to believe that Beale actually does have a connection to the CIA, Sullivan said.

    We’re in the best of hands!

    Kern, Beale’s lawyer, declined to comment to NBC News. But in his court filing, he asks Judge Ellen Huvelle, who is due to sentence Beale Wednesday, to balance Beale’s misdeeds against years of admirable work for the government. These include helping to rewrite the Clean Air Act in 1990, heading up EPA delegations to United Nations conferences on climate change in 2000 and 2001, and helping to negotiate agreements to reduce carbon emissions with China, India and other nations.

    This is the funniest thing you will ever read.

    Sullivan said he doubted Beale’s fraud could occur at any federal agency other than the EPA. “There’s a certain culture here at the EPA where the mission is the most important thing,” he said. “They don’t think like criminal investigators. They tend to be very trusting and accepting.”

    http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/15/21911592-climate-change-experts-fraud-was-crime-of-massive-proportion-say-feds?lite&preview=true

    And don’t you doubt AGW either you pathetic wingnut!

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  20. “BTW, which of Williamson’s criticisms did you think was off base?”

    Scott – this one as it relates to foundations.

    “Our innumerate class warriors dismiss philanthropy as a complicated tax dodge for the rich, but in fact tax deductions amount to about 12 percent of total charitable donations, meaning that our wily robber barons have figured out a way of beating the taxman by . . . giving away far more money than they receive in related tax benefits.”

    If you give away money to a foundation that you also control or exercise significant influence on by virtue of sitting on the board, then you haven’t “given it away” and it is a tax dodge, especially if the foundation allows you an expense account.

    “Which of your arguments about charitable deductions is Reich parroting?”

    “But a large portion of the charitable deductions now claimed by America’s wealthy are for donations to culture palaces – operas, art museums, symphonies, and theaters – where they spend their leisure time hobnobbing with other wealthy benefactors.

    Another portion is for contributions to the elite prep schools and universities they once attended or want their children to attend. (Such institutions typically give preference in admissions, a kind of affirmative action, to applicants and “legacies” whose parents have been notably generous.)

    I’m all in favor of supporting fancy museums and elite schools, but face it: These aren’t really charities as most people understand the term. They’re often investments in the life-styles the wealthy already enjoy and want their children to have as well.

    They’re also investments in prestige – especially if they result in the family name engraved on a new wing of an art museum, symphony hall, or ivied dorm.

    It’s their business how they donate their money, of course. But not entirely. As with all tax deductions, the government has to match the charitable deduction with additional tax revenues or spending cuts; otherwise, the budget deficit widens.”

    It’s not charity if there’s some sort of quid-pro-quo. This sort of give away to the rich is one of the strongest arguments for a flat tax. I shouldn’t have to subsidize Warren Buffett’s ego or the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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    • jnc:

      If you give away money to a foundation that you also control or exercise significant influence on by virtue of sitting on the board, then you haven’t “given it away” and it is a tax dodge, especially if the foundation allows you an expense account.

      The part of Williamson’s critique that you quoted relates to the amount of money donated to charities relative to the tax break break received. It had nothing to do with whether or not the donator has a controlling interest in the benefactor. Nothing you say above suggests that he is wrong about what he said.

      Just to clarify….I thought that you were opposed to any charitable deductions. If that is the case, then I don’t think Reich is saying anything like what you think. He clearly thinks some donations should be deductible, but he thinks others ought not be, and he thinks it ought to be up to his judgement to decide which will be allowable and which won’t.

      BTW, I also don’t think your point is in any way an argument for a flat tax. One could quite easily agree that charitable donations in general, or even certain charitable donations in particular, ought not be deductible, but still think that a progressive tax rate is preferable. In fact, I am fairly positive that Reich wouldn’t argue for a flat tax, despite his belief that at least some deductions ought not be allowed.

      Also, I agree that you shouldn’t subsidize Warren Buffet’s ego, but given the amount of taxes that he does pay even after deducting for his charitable donations, I am quite positive that you aren’t even close to having to do so. Even if he does get a tax break that you think he shouldn’t get, it’s a total abuse of the term to say that anyone who pays millions of dollars in taxes is getting “subsidized” by other taxpayers. Eliminating his deductions wouldn’t change your tax bill in the slightest.

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  21. Reich’s problem is that people are using their own money for their own reasons.

    Everything else is window dressing.

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  22. No, Reich’s problem is that they get a tax break for it.

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    • jnc:

      No, Reich’s problem is that they get a tax break for it.

      No, I don’t’ think that is correct. Reich’s problem seems to be that certain people donating to certain things get a tax break for it. He does not seem to have a problem with other people donating to other things getting a tax break for it.

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  23. But why would Reich object to a tax break? See what I mean? I bet he digs tax breaks for alternate energy companies. He thinks the government is wiser with money than me. Maybe he’s right but so what? Ultimately it’s my money and I have an obligation to use every legal means to do so.

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  24. Absolutely fascinating discussion about nullification/lack of enforcement on the new Colorado background check (BS) law.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/16/1263132/-In-Colorado-and-elsewhere-sheriffs-refuse-to-enforce-new-gun-laws-The-state-can-t-make-them

    Apparently. a lot of posters don’t like it when laws they like are not enforced.

    Weird.

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  25. Stria? North Korea? Cuba? Nah, start with Israel. Wouldn’t wanna piss off the strong North Korean Academic cohort.

    He did not dispute that many nations, including many of Israel’s neighbors, are generally judged to have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s, or comparable, but he said, “one has to start somewhere

    Are they completely unaware of their own absurdity?

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/us/scholars-group-to-disclose-result-of-vote-on-an-academic-boycott-of-israel.html?hpw=&rref=education&_r=0

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  26. Shorter Democratic Congress people: Wake up Ted, we’re insufferable prigs!

    There were also more serious moments, such as when a member tried to impress upon the Texas senator the effects of poverty. “One member even sort of woke Sen. Cruz up as we were riding along and passed a shantytown, to show him the real contradictions in that particular society,” Moore said.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news-lawmaker-news/193277-lawmaker-on-african-trip-cruz-was-on-the-spot

    Like

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