Lunchtime Links 10-7

October 7, 2009

Pelosi says VAT is “on the table” (Politico) A value-added tax makes good sense. But it should replace the income tax more than supplement it. Taxing consumption as opposed to saving would help re-balance the American economy. My personal preference would be to cut the size of government, primarily by raising the retirement age for Medicare and Social Security. That said, here we stand facing huge budget deficits that have to be closed. There’s no painless way to do that and higher taxes are likely part of the solution. Much has been said on the topic here at Reuters: Chris Swann likes a VAT; James Pethokoukis says we need to cut spending first. They’re both right.

Extend, amend and pretend in commercial real estate (WSJ, ht frog) “…banks have a few tricks up their sleeves to prop up their [commercial] real-estate assets: First, they are extending troubled loans instead of making struggling developers pay them off now. Second, the banks are essentially paying themselves interest from so-called interest reserves that were built into the loans, allowing the borrowers to keep putting off payments. Lately, the banks may also be able to forestall write-downs because few people are buying office buildings and shopping malls at the moment, so it is difficult to put a value on real-estate assets.”

Yakuza’s Series 7 exam is harbinger for economy (Bloomberg, ht Rej)

City of 8 million was ghost town at polls (NYT) In runoff primary elections for comptroller and public advocate, fewer than 8 percent of the city’s registered Democrats showed up. Would be nice if they opened such elections to independents. One group working toward that is this one. (Full disclosure: Being fiercely independent myself, I have donated a small amount to these folks.)

Fannie and Freddie to aid mortgage banks (WSJ) Sounds like the U.S. government is getting into warehouse lending.

Frank’s derivatives plan may leave “gaps,” CFTC says (Bloomberg) All you need to know about the bill is that banks support it…

Irish children told to bring TP to school to save costs (Telegraph) I remember bring Kleenex on my school supply list growing up…

Thugs attack two transvestites, who turn out to be cage fighters (Daily Mail) There’s a video. The key confrontation happens 1:30 in.

That explains it… (imgur) Clever photoshopping

I’m bored. Wanna hang out? (Click to enlarge)



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I also remember being asked to bring pencils, pens, paper, and a willingness to learn.Now I guess teachers have to supply all of those things for students.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

Replace income tax and not supplement it? I guess that would work if you exempted anyone that makes under $50k/year. Seems like one of those wacko flat tax arguments though, that lays the tax burden squarely on the shoulders of the poor.

Posted by Forrest | Report as abusive

Forrest….you make a great point. Speaking broadly, I think it’s important to encourage savings over consumption. But you’re right that policy-makers should be careful not to make changes that are regressive.

Posted by Rolfe Winkler | Report as abusive