* Payroll tax whacks spending. Shelly Banjo and Annie Gasparro – The Wall Street Journal. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Thursday joined a parade of retailers, restaurants and consumer-goods companies worried about the economic impact of the recently restored federal payroll tax that has left Americans with less money to spend. Link
* Rhetoric turns harsh as budget cuts loom. Janet Hook – The Wall Street Journal. Republicans didn’t question Mr. Obama’s assertion that the spending cuts would have a dire effect. They said the plan to avert them should include only spending cuts, not tax increases. Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, said that the public is viewing the impasse with disgust, but that the president may bear more of the blame for failing to lead the way to a compromise. Link
By Matthew Goldstein
Today, The Wall Street Journal reports that foreign investors have caught the gold rush mentality that surrounds the market for foreclosed homes in the U.S. But domestic-based firms are still doing quite well themselves in raising big dollars to buy-up foreclosed homes with an eye to renting them out before eventually selling them.
By Matthew Goldstein
The year is young, but so far its been a rough one for bearish stock investors with the S&P 500 is up 7.25% The surge in equity prices has left a lot of short sellers–traders who bet on a stock sliding in value–with glum looks on their faces. And it’s with that bullish backdrop that several dozen of Jim Chanos’ closest friends gather in Miami for the noted short seller’s annual meeting of the bears.
* Happy Valentine’s Day? Check your taxes first. Laura Saunders – The Wall Street Journal. Being married raises taxes for some couples and lowers them for others. The marriage penalty is especially pronounced for couples earning above $300,000. Link
* Navigating between tax avoidance and evasion. Paul Sullivan – The New York Times. It is fairly difficult to evade taxes on legitimate investments because the I.R.S. can crosscheck the forms supplied by the company and the individual. Where people run afoul of the law is when they cut corners. Link