Posts filed under “Really, really bad calls”

10 Questions for Greg Mankiw

Last week, I was surprised by an unusually disingenuous article by Greg Mankiw in the Sunday NYT column – “I Can Afford Higher Taxes. But They’ll Make Me Work Less.”

As I read it, I was struck how disconnected it was from the real world. I have been meaning to get to it, but the Fraudclosure issue pushed everything else aside.

I suggest you read Professor Mankiw’s piece, then come back here to consider the following questions..

Ten Many Questions for Greg Mankiw

1. Taxes were higher in 1990s then they were in the 2000s. Yet you left the lucrative private sector for a low paying job in the public sector. Why?

2. Which decade did you work more — the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s ? How much of your work decisions were driven by marginal tax rates?

3. The article you wrote claimed you regularly turn down most job offers.

a. Do incentives not matter to you?
b. Are you a rational economic participant?
c. Are you motivated by maximizing income? Do other non financial factors weight significantly in your thought process?

4. You have a variety of income streams – speeches, textbooks, articles, etc. – yet you discuss tax consequences as if you were paying ordinary payroll income tax. Are you unfamiliar with the benefits of incorporation? Do you have an accountant or an attorney advising you on these matters?

5. You teach at Harvard and live in “Taxachusetts.” If state taxes are so important, have you considered teaching at Yale, and living in much lower state tax land of Connecticut?

6. You mentioned a stock that will generate 8% annual returns over the next 30 years. What stock is it?

7. You also stated the aforementioned mythical company pays 35% income tax. Is this company unlike most large S&P500 firms that generate more than half of their net profits overseas, then leave the monies there, giving them an effective tax rate around 10% ?

8. Are you unfamiliar with the benefits of 401ks and KEOGH plans that allow you to invest your pre-tax income? Do you know about matching contributions to retirement plans?

9. Why did you claim your heirs will have to pay estate taxes — Is your estate going to be greater than $7 million dollars? If it is > $7m, are you familiar with term life insurance?

10. You were Chairman of the CEA in George Bush’ White House. His administration passed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. These tax cuts were unfunded by offsetting spending cuts. Indeed, his administration ran up spending dramatically.

Since you seem to be fond of making projections 30 years into the future, my final questions for you are: What will the total costs of those tax cuts be, projected out 30 years be? How about the costs of those spending increases? Indeed, what will be the total cost of that White House projected 3 decades into the future?

And, what will the final bill for these be for your children? How might THAT affect their decisions?

Thank you for your answers to these questions.

And if you need a good accountant, insurance man and lawyer, let me know — I can recommend quite a few.


I Can Afford Higher Taxes. But They’ll Make Me Work Less
NYT October 9, 2010

Category: Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

You may have missed this hard hitting McClatchy article over the weekend. It essentially accuses then Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs CEO) Hank Paulson of “willful inaction in late 2006 and 2007 during a period when lending criteria were disintegrating in favor of so-called “liars’ loans,” for which applicants weren’t required to document their…Read More

Category: Derivatives, Real Estate, Really, really bad calls

Transparent Government: NY

SeeThroughNY is a site run by right wing think tank Manhattan institute. It scrapes publicly available data to show the salaries and pensions of just about everyone in NYS who is on the public payroll, from the Governor to cops & firemen to your local teachers: SeeThroughNY: A place for taxpayers to download, share, analyze…Read More

Category: Legal, Politics, Really, really bad calls

Why Foreclosure Fraud Is So Dangerous to Property Rights

There seems to be a misunderstanding as to why the rampant and systemic foreclosure fraud is so dangerous to American system of property rights and contract law. Some of this is being done by people who are naked corporatists (i.e., the WSJ Editorial Board) excusing horrific conduct by the banks. Others are excusing endemic property…Read More

Category: Credit, Foreclosures, Legal, Real Estate, Really, really bad calls, Regulation, Taxes and Policy

Elections: Money Talks Louder Than Ever

From today’s NYT:

The dominant story line of this year’s midterm elections is increasingly becoming the torrents of money, much of it anonymous, gushing into House and Senate races across the country.

Your Supreme Court, hard at work taking Democracy apart in America:

click for larger graphic


See video here: Money Talks Louder Than Ever in Midterms

Read More

Category: Digital Media, Politics, Really, really bad calls

The Blundering Herd

> How’s that for an awesome article title? Its from a Vanity Fair article excerpting Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera’s new book, All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis.  The book is being touted as “The inside story of the collapse of Merrill Lynch — How a “Fantastic Lie” and…Read More

Category: Bailouts, Corporate Management, Really, really bad calls

Do You Wanna Be Right, or Do You Wanna Make Money?

My inbox is deluged with rants and demands from people who are insisting that This. Rally. Must. End. NOW! A composite of their emails would read something like this: “How can you sit there so blithely while the Fed debases the world’s reserve currency? Why haven’t you commented on POMO?!? The entire game is rigged,…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Markets, Psychology, Really, really bad calls, Trading

Fed: We Can Support Asset Prices for the Public Good

Consider the following statement: “Nevertheless, balance sheet policy can still lower longer-term borrowing costs for many households and businesses, and it adds to household wealth by keeping asset prices higher than they otherwise would be.” So said Brian Sack, the head of the New York Fed’s markets group. Marketbeat responded with a post titled: Dear…Read More

Category: Federal Reserve, Really, really bad calls

Aerial Footage: Portrait of a Housing Bust

Fantastic set of aerial photos from Google Images (by way of’s Big Picture), showing Florida’s developmental disaster.

The images of half finished (and barely started) developments are strangely beautiful, with a geometric symmetry that belies the state of human misery these developments represent: Lost deposits, bankruptcy, misallocated capital.

That an entire nation can be so innumerate as to believe in a mathematical fallacy is weirdly fascinating . . .


Florida Housing Bust

More images after the jump . . .

Read More

Category: Credit, Real Estate, Really, really bad calls

Tea & Crackers with Matt Taibbi

I’ve been meaning to post something this week on Matt Taibbi’s fantastic new piece on the Tea Party (Tea & Crackers) but I just hadn’t gotten around to it. My pal Paul Kedrosky did such a nice job setting it up that I am just going to crib it from him: > Agree or disagree…Read More

Category: Politics, Really, really bad calls