You may have heard that it's a presidential election year. And perhaps you've heard that one of the candidates is a carnival barker that spray tans with Krylon Pumpkin Orange. And maybe you've even heard that said carnival barker has not released his tax returns for public consumption despite decades of precedent. It's all good […]
One of my many ultra liberal friends was yammering on about presidential campaign contributions last night and I, being the skeptical libertarian I am, decided to dig a little deeper into the numbers to prove that be it Republican or Democrat, you're still getting pretty much the same thing. It's sort of like picking a […]
The final Congressional race featuring an accountant is in Virginia’s 11th District where KPMG alum Keith Fimian trails incumbent Gerry Connolly by less than half a point:
Challenger Keith Fimian was able to pick up votes on incumbent Gerry Connolly as a result, but not enough to make a significant dent in Connolly’s lead. There are still approximately 250 provisional ballots to be counted.
As of 1:30 p.m., the vote in the 11th District as a whole is:
Connolly: 111,630 (49.21%)
Fimian: 110, 700 (48.80%)
Fimian has to request the recount and has until November 22nd when the election becomes official. Because the margin is less half a percentage point, the recount would be paid for by Virginia (i.e. the taxpayers). No pressure, Keith. You best sleep on it for a day or two.
A quick rundown of the results on the races we told you about yesterday.
• Wisconsin – Ron Johnson won handily over Russ Feingold disappointing liberals like ATL Editor Elie Mystal and served as a pleasant surprise to libertarians like Adrienne who texted us, “WHOA Feingold got taken out in Wisconsin!! I never thought I would see that.”
• South Carolina – Nikki Haley won over Vinny Sheheen. She will be the first female governor in the Palmetto State’s history.
• Michigan – Rick “One Tough Nerd” Snyder cruised to victory over Virg Bernero in the governor’s race, winning by approximately 20 points.
• Virginia – The one race that is still ongoing is in Virginia’s 11th Congressional District between Gerry Connolly and KPMG alum Keith Fimian. The Wall St. Journal reports, “Connolly is leading by 487 votes. Mr. Connolly has 49.2% of the vote, while Mr. Fimian, who lost narrowly to Mr. Connolly in 2008, has 49%,” and Fimian is confident that he’ll be declared the winner.
So for those keeping score, accountants (all GOP, not surprisingly) are 3-1 with one race still too close to call. We’ll be watching the VA11 race until the bitter, bitter end.
Business Looks to Republicans to Block Rules, Taxes [Bloomberg]
The Republican gains in Congress mean U.S. companies from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Wellpoint Inc. may be able to weaken or block what they consider President Barack Obama’s anti-business policies on health care, the environment, taxes and financial reform.
Republicans will use their perch as the new majority in the House of Representatives to try to eliminate funding for parts of Obama’s health care bill opposed by business as well as curb regulations and government spending, Jay Timmons, senior vice president of the National Association of Manufacturer d lobbying group, said in an interview before the election.
PwC Completes Acquisition of Diamond Management & Technology Consultants, Inc. [PR Newswire]
wC US has completed its acquisition of Diamond Management & Technology Consultants, Inc. following approval today from Diamond’s shareholders. Per the terms of the agreement, all outstanding shares of Diamond were acquired for $12.50 per share in cash.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Why Democrats Lost [HuffPo]
For the less-politically inclined.
With Recent Change, GAAP, IFRS Differ on How to Treat Debt [A&A Update/Compliance Week]
The International Accounting Standards Board recently finalized a change in International Financial Reporting Standards that tells companies to measure most liabilities at amortized cost, or the historical cost written down over time based on a schedule. Where a company might exercise an option to measure a liability at fair value, any changes in value would flow to equity via the “other comprehensive income” section of the income statement rather than profit and loss.
Major State Tax-Related Election Results [Tax Foundation]
Among them, Prop 19 (aka legalizing pot and taxing the hell out of it) failed.
Election 2010: What the Democratic Debacle Means for Fiscal Policy [TaxVox]
Washington is divided into two camps—those who believe divided government will open the door to compromise on tough fiscal issues, and those who don’t. Put me squarely in the second camp. We are already hearing conflicting messages from both President Obama and House Speaker-to-be John Boehner (R-OH). They give lip service to “working together” and the need for deficit reduction, but will do little of either. Here are five reasons why:
Frank reelected to 16th term [On the Money/The Hill]
But will lose the HFSC Chairmanship. Bob Herz might be enjoying this more than anyone.
GM Could Be Free of Taxes for Years [WSJ]
General Motors Co. will drive away from its U.S.-government-financed restructuring with a final gift in its trunk: a tax break that could be worth as much as $45 billion.
Knicks Postpone Home Game Before Tests Reveal No Threat From Absestos [Bloomberg]
~ Update includes the Michigan Governor’s race.
Here’s a rundown of some of the more prominent races that feature accountants. All of the polling information cited is the calculated average from Real Clear Politics.
• New York – Incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand leads Republican Joe DioGuardi by approximately 20 points. For those not familiar with DioGuardi, he is an Arthur Andersen alum who made partner at age 31, was the first practicing CPA elected to Congress and is the father of Kara DioGuardi (ask the person next to you if you don’t know).
So it looks as though your bean counter brethren will win at least
two three races (Haley, Johnson, Snyder) with one certain defeat and one that’s too close to call.
If we’ve missed any accountants-cum-candidates in a Congressional or Gubenatorial race, let us know below or shoot us an email and we’ll update the post. Now go vote.
Namely Third Point boss Dan Loeb. Sure it’s nice if the Times, Journal, Daily News and the Post all give you the thumbs up but if Dan Loeb goes to the trouble of telling his own investors that you need to be the Empire State’s next top accountant, that’s probably a little better than you could hope for.
So if you would like to see the NYS public pension problem fixed, Loeb implores you to vote for Harry Wilson tomorrow. If you’re okay with “New York [going] the way of Greece” then you should vote for the other guy (his name is Frank DiNapoli).
Courtesy of our former sister from another mister site, Dealbreaker:
I have chosen only one candidate to bring to your attention, that is Harry Wilson for Comptroller of NY State. He has recently tied incumbent Democratic candidate Thomas DiNapoli in the polls. For those of you who are Democrats, this is not a matter of party politics but literally one of whether we want New York the go the way of Greece and go bankrupt because, trust me, that is the course we are headed towards without sound fiscal leadership.
Daniel Heninger’s WSJ article lays it all out: “New York, like California and many other once-important states, is sitting on a public- pension debt bomb. If it blows, it will take great swaths of the productive American economy with it for years. Harry Wilson thinks he can defuse the New York bomb. If Harry Wilson can get the public-pension death spiral under control in New York—and he just might have the professional and intellectual tools to do it—it should be possible to reform pensions in any state. That matters. The United States needs a growth rate well above the 2%-something that the Obama years have allowed. That means the people in all 50 states have to be pulling on the oars. They won’t be able to do that if their productive energies are being siphoned into more and yet more taxes that will be demanded— indeed virtually mandated—to pay off these pension obligations. It’s Harry Wilson or the deluge.”
Harry and DiNapoli are neck at 44% and which is why it is vital for you and to vote and to please pass this onto anyone else who is registered to vote in New York.
Since most New Yorkers have no idea who is running for NYS Comptroller this should at least put a memorable name in your head.
He was calling them during important votes!
With less than a week to go until the election and Vitter leading by about 16 points, Charlie Melancon figures this particular line of attack can’t hurt anything.
Tax Cuts Slide To Back Burner On Campaign Trail [WSJ]
It’s a sign that a decision by Democratic leaders, to put off a vote on extending the tax cuts until after the Nov. 2 elections, may be paying off politically.
“It’s harder to write an ad portraying a vote that hasn’t happened yet,” said Brian Gaston, a former senior aide to House GOP leaders and now a lobbyist at the Glover Park Group.
Google 2.4% Rate Shows How $60 Billion Lost to Tax Loopholes [Bloomberg]
Google y $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.
Google’s income shifting — involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” — helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries.
TUI Travel CFO Quits After Accounting Error [Dow Jones]
In an embarrassing admission, the company said an ongoing audit for the fiscal year ended September 2010 had highlighted the accounting error in the integration of IT systems in its U.K. mainstream business that had accrued over a period of four to five years and which increased its total write-off for 2009 from GBP29 million to GBP117 million.
Chief Executive Peter Long told Dow Jones Newswires that the issue had been identified when it reported its third-quarter results but continued to investigate the matter and “only last night were we able to determine the scale of the problem.”
Banks Clueless on Foreclosure Mess Severity [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]
The biggest U.S. mortgage lenders and servicers say they’re putting the foreclosure mess behind them, and that it never was a major problem. The reality is these companies are so big and unmanageable, the people in charge of running them have no way to know if that is true.
One thing that remains unknowable is how many flawed home- mortgage records and foreclosure proceedings are out there waiting to be unearthed. Dozens of federal and state agencies are investigating. It’s anyone’s guess what they might turn up.
NJ man cashes $158G check IRS mistakenly sent him [Asbury Park Press]
He figured no one would notice.
For ‘B-to-B’ Companies, Finding Facebook ‘Friends’ Can Be a Struggle [WSJ]
These days, even small “business-to-business” concerns like Bill.com are experimenting with social media, perceiving the popular online hangouts as low-cost, easy-to-use venues for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. But unlike their consumer-focused counterparts—retailers that sell smartphones, jeans, games and other personal products—so-called B-to-B businesses seem to be having a harder time connecting with their target audience.
Some IRS agents carry guns, too, agents tell UAB accounting student group [Birmingham News]
“My first day on the job, I thought, ‘Why are they carrying guns?'” said Donald Smith, a UAB graduate and special agent with the IRS-Criminal Investigation unit.
Korea wants G20 to delay accounting standard consolidation [Korea Times]
Apparently they have a say in the matter
So some Democrats thought it would be a cute to try and turn the tables on their Republican opponents by insinuating that by supporting the Fair Tax, the GOP was raising taxes on middle class Americans.
Love or hate the Fair Tax, anyone that takes more than 30 seconds to research the idea knows that if implemented, the Fair Tax would abolish the income tax.
In some recent ads, a few Democratic nominees left that part out entirely:
Research supplied by FairTax.org shows that Democrats in 16 districts have run at least 31 ads blasting Republicans for supporting the tax. But many of these ads neglect to mention the levy is essentially a national sales tax that would replace the current federal tax system.
FactCheck.org recently slammed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for running ads that omitted this fact.
“Democrats are accusing Republicans of supporting a 23 percent sales tax on everything, which would be on top of all existing taxes… it’s misrepresenting by omission of the FairTax idea,” FactCheck.org director Brooks Jackson told The Hill.
The motivation behind this strategy could be due to a number of factors:
1) The Democrats who ran the ads feel that most Americans are gullible enough to believe anything they see on TV.
2) The Democrats who ran the ads don’t understand how the Fair Tax policy would work on its most basic level, thus meeting the intelligence level to serve in Congress.
3) Democrats simply suck at accusing Republicans for trying to raise taxes.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the first two played a part but come on. Leave the “he/she wants to raise your taxes” to the experts you fools and stick with the lowbrow stuff.
Dem ads against GOP not accurate on crux of FairTax proposal [On The Money]
Groups Push Legal Limits in Advertising [NYT]
“The basic rule of thumb for nonprofit groups organized under Section 501(c) of the tax code is that more than 50 percent of their annual activities cannot be political. Although it is a matter of debate how spending on traditional issue ads would be categorized by the Internal Revenue Service, it is indisputable that spending on express advocacy would be classified as political.”
Lords to hear top six firms on audit reform [Accountancy Age]
“A showdown has been planned for the UK’s top six ac evidence is heard at a House of Lord’s inquiry into audit reform.
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will take evidence from the heads of the Big Four – PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young – followed by their mid-tier rivals – BDO and Grant Thornton – during its inquiry into audit competition.”
Accounting industry sees ray of light on the horizon [Crain’s]
“Demand for accountants is forcing large CPA firms to bump salaries by as much as 3.8% next year, the steepest jump since 2008. U.S. companies with more than 20 employees plan to increase hiring of full-time accountants and finance personnel this quarter for the first time since early 2009, says Michael Shapow, a senior vice-president at Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm Robert Half International Inc.
During the dot-com era, bachelor’s degrees in accounting fell from 53,000 in the mid-1990s to 35,000 in 2002, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Washington, D.C. The figure has boom-eranged, rising to 49,000 in 2008, creating a new problem: not enough professors.”
Systemic Risk! Dominance! Momentum! Auditors In Crisis. Again. [Re: The Auditors]
The “outrage” and “risk” over the dominance by the Big 4 in the audit industry is so played.
Obama Attacks Republicans on Tax Policy [TaxProf Blog]
AICPA to SEC: Companies Will Need as Much as Five Years to Ready for IFRS Adoption [JofA]
“In the portion of its letter regarding the impact of IFRS conversion on contractual arrangements, the AICPA voices support for a requirement for companies adopting IFRS to file one year of comparative financial statements rather than two. ‘Our research indicates that companies will need five years preparation time to adopt IFRS if the SEC requires two years of historical comparative financial statements. If only one year of comparative financial statements is required, a four-year transition period would be needed to adopt IFRS.’ The SEC has not said what the requirement would be.”
We defy you to find more appropriate background music for a scene with three spell-casting broads cackling around a cauldron.
But what about that sinister rhetoric? Jim Newell over at Gawker suggests that the ad channels a viral ‘Bed Intruder Song’. Reasoning that the lyrics “Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, cause they rapin’ everybody up in here” translated into the “Hide your will, hide your lights, ’cause he’s taxing everything out here.”
Maybe Newell is onto something. If you just imagine boxy eyeglasses and a Members Only jacket combined with Coons’s textbook horseshoe balding pattern, he would have a über-creepy vibe going on. Plus he loves taxes! Yep, this ad is a winner.
Because God knows 57 lawyers is far too many and Russ Feingold just happens to be one of them.
As you may be aware, this is the second relatively high-profile race where an accountant and lawyer face off that we’ve covered. In the South Carolina governor’s race tax-tardy accountant Nikki Haley is facing special-interest whore Vince Sheheen. We should also note the the Senate race in New York between incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand (lawyer) and Joseph DioGuardi (accountant) but so far it’s been fairly boring unless DioGuardi happens to make an issue out of Gillibrand’s hotness.
Anyhoo, similar to those two races, the ballot in Wisconsin will appear as follows:
So as voters, when faced with such a choice, should we assume that the accountant running for office is family values type that believes in cutting taxes and reducing spending (with no intent to do so) and the lawyer is a spineless tax and spend type that fails to accomplish anything even when they have the political power or leverage?
Wisconsin is doomed.
Dick Durbin is über-confident that nothing is going to happen prior to election day, which means he and his colleagues will have to sneak it in between then and December 31st when the cuts expire.
“The reality is we’re not going to pass” the tax cuts before the election,” said Durbin of Illinois. He blamed politics, saying “we are so tightly wound up in this campaign” that a bipartisan agreement to act won’t be reached.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, said “it’s clear there aren’t 60 votes for any proposal, so no proposal is going to pass at this point.”
Sixty votes would be needed for a tax-cut extension to advance in the Senate.
Our concern is that some of Durbin’s friends in the Senate will be losers come November 2nd and may feel like sticking it to the entire country purely out of spite. It would be a mistake for anyone to overestimate the maturity level of any member of Congress.
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a bit of a debate over what to do about the expiring Bush tax cuts. And because it’s an election year, they make for a perfect political pigskin to throw around.
Going Concern: Tax cuts are a pretty popular way for politicians to pander to their constituents. It seems pretty convenient that they are set to expire right after the mid-term elections. Who should we blame for this?
Gerri Willis: There are plenty of people to blame – George W. Bush put them into place way back in ’01 and ‘03 and we knew way back then they had an expiration date – so take yer choices, there are plenty of politicians to point the finger at.
GC: And God knows Americans need someone to blame. Since Congress let the estate tax expire, is there a real risk that the tax cuts could expire without any action?
GW: Sure, it’s actually the easiest action to take because it requires absolutely no effort on the part of anybody – Congress doesn’t have to do anything. The President doesn’t even have to pick up a pen to sign the bill. They could all just dither until midnight December 31. Whoosh! Tax hikes.
GC: Just like tornadoes in Brooklyn. And that’s not good for anybody. Anyway, there’s a lot of information and misinformation out there with regard to the tax cuts. Can we safely assume that objectivity is taking a back seat to political gain and Americans are at the mercy of the rich and powerful (who, incidentally, are the ones greatest affected by the ultimate outcome)? How can Americans know what’s really going to happen? How can accountants best sort through all the noise to best serve their clients?
GW: Surprise! Politics are involved – of course they are, but Americans aren’t stooges. There are plenty of places to get objective information on the tax cuts. I’d suggest Fox Business and The Willis Report. Frankly there is no way for accountants or anyone else to know what is going to happen – Congress is really holding us hostage – my financial advisor sources say nobody is going on vacation in December because they know that something can happen anytime that will change the landscape.
GC: Here’s something strange – Warren Buffet has indicated that he’s in favor of eliminating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Alan Greenspan is in favor of letting all the tax cuts expire. So we have one of the richest people in the world saying he’s willing to pay more taxes and the former head of the Federal Reserve saying that everyone should pay more taxes. Generally speaking, these are smart guys. Are they onto something or is this a sign that we need to start ignoring everything that old men say?
GW: Okay, to be fair here there is wealthy and then there is wealthy, right? $250,000 in San Francisco or LA or NYC is not the same thing as $250,000 in Omaha or Comanche TX. And, Greenspan simply continues to try to resurrect his reputation which was harmed by the mortgage meltdown.
GC: Ultimately though, the one thing Congress agrees on is that tax cuts for the middle class should stay and the big debate is whether the wealthy get a short extension on their cuts or a “permanent” (although it’s not really permanent) one. But do rich people really need an additional moderately-priced BMW?
GW: Heehee. Maybe they won’t buy a BMW – maybe they’ll hire someone! The thing for the middle class to know is that it isn’t just your income taxes at stake – there are a handful of beloved middle class tax credits at stake too – write-offs for college loan interest; child tax credit; and of course there is no AMT patch yet this year – if that doesn’t come to pass tens of thousands of Americans could owe AMT — a tragedy.
Forgetting about politics for a second – the gubernatorial race in South Carolina has gotten personal as the camps of Nikki Haley (R) and Vincent Sheheen (D) sling mud at each other’s chosen profession.
Sheheen isn’t impressed with Haley’s tardiness on paying taxes saying, “I think it’s particularly problematic that she would not pay her employee withholding because that money really belongs to the employee. … For somebody who claims their accounting skills are a reason why she should be elected governor, I think that’s particularly disturbing.”
Sheheen goes so far to say that Haley is completely out touch with South Carolinians who have to pay taxes and eat, something that Nikki Haley presumably does not do, “I think she’s just out of touch with regular people in South Carolina who do pay their taxes and do have to buy food and put it on their table.” Maybe the Haley family just eats their meals over the sink; it’s not entirely clear.
Haley’s camp fired back, citing Sheheen’s snakey-ass lawyer ways:
Haley’s campaign fired a broadside at Sheheen this week, noting that he was endorsed by The Injury Board Blog Network, a national group of personal injury attorneys. It noted that Sheheen, a lawyer, voted to weaken a tort reform bill in 2005.
“The entrenched special-interest network of trial lawyers and personal injury attorneys is circling the wagons for Vince Sheheen,” said Haley’s communications director, Rob Godfrey.
But guess what?!? Vinny Sheheen is a-okay with that. He’s a successful lawyer, not some two-bit accountant-cum-tax dodger, “I hope everybody endorses me. I’d rather have a successful lawyer as my governor than an accountant who doesn’t pay her taxes.”
Obviously, both these candidates are complete losers and our friends in the Palmetto State are going to end up with a shitty new governor. But that’s the way our country works so let’s see what you think. If you had to choose between these two clowns:
Sheheen blasts Haley over taxes [Charleston Post Courier]
Despite other pressing issues out there, such as, whether a Muslim community center is too closeto Ground Zero or if it’s just a religious revival of an old Burlington Coat factory, the matter of tax reform managed to creep back into the news late last week.
The President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board plans on dropping some suggestions on fixing our tax system on August 27th. This comes after the getting suggestions from the American people but then stalling a little bit on the issue.
Now that some recommendations are scheduled to be made public the Journal suggests that the timing isn’t ideal for an election year but also mentions that while there’s going to be plenty of idea put out there, no real solutions are going to be recommended:
But the timing of the release just before the Labor Day weekend suggests that the administration might be trying to downplay it. Many Democrats say tax hikes are inevitable if the government is to bring down the federal deficit, expected to total about $1.5 trillion this year, but that option remains politically sensitive, given the high jobless rate and ahead of November’s mid-term elections.
According to the Treasury Department, the report will offer “an almanac of options from a broad range of viewpoints,” but won’t make specific policy recommendations. It will discuss ideas related to simplifying the tax code, strengthening enforcement and overhauling the corporate tax system, the department said.
An ‘almanac of ideas’ will no doubt incorporate all ideas on tax reform floated by anyone, anywhere so that it can appear that people are trying really hard to come up with a solution without making anything too politically awkward. In other words, business as usual.
As we trudge toward a Senate vote on he financial reform bill, one issue that is of utmost interest to those in the accounting/audit biz is that of small businesses complying with Section 404(b) of Sarbanes-Oxley.
As it stands, only a small number of non-accelerated filers are voluntarily in compliance with 404. Those not jumping at the voluntarily complying with 404 have enjoyed the repeated delays by the SEC since the legislation was passed in 2002.
But if reform bill passes in its current form, all companies with market caps of less than $75 million will be exempt from complying with the requirement to have an audit of their internal control system. And even those companies that went to the trouble of voluntary compliance, might not continue doing so:
Dan Crow is one of the few small-company CFOs with an auditor’s stamp on his internal controls. Getting it wasn’t as time-consuming or as costly as it would have been several years ago, when large public companies first began complying with one of the most onerous requirements of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, known as Section 404.
Still, Crow, who oversees finance for retailer Hastings Entertainment, doesn’t rule out dropping the extra review next year if Congress decides to permanently exempt small public companies from needing an auditor’s sign-off on their internal controls — as it seems poised to do. The Senate is expected to vote this week on the final version of the financial regulatory reform bill, which would exempt companies with market caps less than $75 million from complying with Section 404(b), the rule in question. (The House has already passed the bill.)
But that’s not all! Because 404(b) is clearly “red tape” (a popular rallying cry in an election year) that provides no benefits whatsoever and just crushes the spirit of small business (the backbone of America, we might add!) Congress has called for a study of “how the ‘burden’ of 404(b) compliance for companies with market capitalization between $75 million and $250 million could be reduced, and whether an exemption for them could increase the number of initial public offerings in the United States,” in the bill.
Christ, where does it end? Let’s just study the whole damn thing over while we’re at it. Apparently the entire Congressional body has completely ignored the benefits of Sarbanes-Oxley; never mind that costs of gone down significantly in the past eight years, making compliance less financially painful.
And not to mention that smaller companies are at greater risk for fraud and accounting manipulation. Look at the roster of companies on Sam Antar’s website and you’ll note that many of them have market caps of $1 billion or less. If these companies can’t resist the temptation to get shifty with financial reporting in order to meet (or not) the short-term focus of Wall Street, it’s difficult to reason that even smaller public companies won’t succumb to it.
Alabama Congressional candidate Rick Barber arranged a sit-down with some Founding Fathers to do some venting in his most recent ad:
GW looks serious about this “armies” thing doesn’t he? Well, there’s a good reason for that as, David Weigel notes at WaPo or you can see at the U.S. Treasury website, Washington did some of his own army gathering when he squashed the Whiskey Rebellion that arose from the Whiskey Act of 1791.
So it’s more likely that #1 is warning young Barber, saying “Knock yourself out ‘Bama. You’re going to need all the help you can get.”
The IRS Goes Gun Shopping
In case you missed part one of JDA’s 2010 Outlook interview with Financial Armageddon’s Michael Panzner, you can find it on Going Concern here.
For the first half of my 2010 talk with Panzner, I focused on the other shoes left to drop; commercial real estate, political backlash, and the threat of the massive bubble still being inflated in China. But even bears have their bright sides and Panzner is no different. So what do we have to look forward to this year? Oh crap, more doom and gloom; sorry, I got my interviews mixed up.
Panzner points to our leaders’ missteps throughout the crisis as a major factor that could place a damper on any hope of recovery. “Many of the problems and imbalances that helped about the crisis have gotten worse,” he says, “That means people have less in reserve than they did before, and many have not positioned themselves for a ‘new normal.’ That suggests the next leg down, economically speaking at least, could be much worse than what we’ve experienced so far.” If only we’d been prepared for the worst instead of coddled into believing everything is better, eh?
When asked to take a guess as to when the Fed would finally raise interest rates, Panzner gave an interesting answer. “In my view, the Fed is no longer in control – of the economy or its destiny. For the most part, market and other forces, not the FOMC, will determine what happens to interest rates in future.” So I guess it doesn’t matter when they’ll raise rates, markets are no longer listening. Or are they?
A big picture sort of guy, Panzner identifies sociopolitical threats as another major concern this year, and with this being an election year (hello, Scott Brown anyone?), I’m willing to go on the record as agreeing wholeheartedly with him (shock). “Wait and see what happens to the social and political mood if and when the economy rolls over,” he says ominously.
Oh, believe me, JDA is waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Still no rollover but dammit, I’ll still be here twiddling my thumbs.
Hopefully I’ll get a chance to check in with Panzner again come summer to see where we are.
Editor’s Note: Want more JDA? You can see all of her posts for GC here, her blog here and stalk her on Twitter.