James Pethokoukis

About that surge in U.S. productivity …

August 11, 2009

(Lightly microblogging this week from the Great White North)

A bit of analysis (from IHS Global) on the 6.4 percent jump  in second-quarter business productivity from the world’s most competitive economy:

U.S. corporate tax rates vs. the world (OECD)

August 7, 2009

How does the US corporate tax rate stack up against other nations? Take a look (via the Tax Foundation):

The green jobs mythology, again

August 5, 2009

Joel Kotkin, whom I have been following for 20 years, continues to hit on all cylinders. This is a bit from an article worth reading in full:

Will GDP pop in the third quarter? If so, will Obama smile?

August 3, 2009

That is the case being made by the always-great Ed Yardeni (bold is mine):

If nothing changes during Q3, real GDP will be up 4.6% during the quarter. This isn’t our forecast. It is arithmetic. If there is no change in final sales to consumers, business, governments, and foreigners, and if nonfarm inventories are unchanged, that’s how much real GDP will increase. This is because nonfarm inventory investment was minus $144.4bn (saar) during Q2. If it is zero during the current quarter, real GDP will surge. The inventory investments component of real GDP has been negative for five consecutive quarters, the longest stretch since Q1-2001 through Q1-2002. … By the way, during the first quarter of the last 10 economic recoveries, real GDP rose 5.8% on average, with a high of 17.2% during Q1-1950 and a low of 1.4% during Q4-2001.

5 quick takes on the 2Q GDP report

July 31, 2009

Here is a smattering of quick opinion on today’s second quarter GDP report from around the Street:

A durable goods green shoot?

July 29, 2009

This chart of the trend in durable goods orders makes me smile.  Although June orders were down, notes Michael Darda of MKM Partners, “the weakness was concentrated in transportation, communications and defense. Non-defensecapital goods orders excluding aircraft, which is a component of the Conference Board’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators, rose 1.4% m/m after a 4.3% m/m rise in May — the first back-to-back gains in a year.”

Are corporate profits about to take off?

July 27, 2009

Jim Paulsen of Wells Capital Mangement points out that companies have cut to the bone in preparation for near-depression. This could result in some spectacular profit numbers ahead (and check out the chart below) — assuming no near-depression:

US top tax rate would be 52% with health surtax

July 15, 2009

Curtis Dubay of the Heritage Foundation emails me:

As calculated by the Tax Foundation, when factoring in the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, average state and local income taxes, Medicare taxes, and the new surtax, the average top marginal income tax rate in the U.S. would be 52 percent!

9 reasons Pelosi’s healthcare surtax is disastrous

July 15, 2009

So what explains the crazy, cockeyed optimism of House Democrats? Maybe they still believe Team Obama’s rosy-scenario forecast that shows the stimulus package a) keeping unemployment under 8 percent this year and b) launching an economic boom next year and beyond. For some reason, though, they think the battered U.S. economy is so strong that politicians can pile tax upon tax on it with no fear of further harm. Less than three weeks after passing a costly cap-and-trade carbon emission plan, Pelosi & Co. have giddily unveiled a $1.2 trillion healthcare plan partially funded by a $544 billion surtax on the work and investment income of wealthier Americans, including small business owners.

A zero percent income tax rate

July 14, 2009

Think tanker Peter Ferrara talks up an interesting idea in the WSJ:

But what if Republicans proposed a federal tax reform with a 0% income tax rate for the bottom 60% of income earners?  … Trading an explicit 0% tax rate for the bottom 60% in return for eliminating the refundable tax credits would likely be at least revenue neutral, and probably result in a net increase in revenue. … Moreover, we should then be free to adopt sound tax policy for the top 40% of earners who make 75% of total income. Suppose we tax all of the income of those top 40% once with a 15% flat tax? That would be close to revenue neutral on a dynamic basis (i.e. counting work incentive effects). … All flat tax proposals effectively try to do the same through generous personal exemptions that are tax neutral for low- and moderate-income workers. But the explicit 0% rate would make the reform more easily understood. This — rather than adopting still more refundable tax credits as some conservatives are advocating — is also the way to eliminate the distorting tax preference for employer-provided health insurance. … The economic distortions caused by every other tax preference in the code would be minimized or eliminated entirely in this same way.