Weil on Finance: Yes, Ireland Is a Tax Haven
Happy Tuesday, View fans. Here’s a look at what I’ve been reading this morning.
Why it’s completely accurate to call Ireland a tax haven.
Because that’s what it is. This article comes from today’s Irish Times: “U.S. multinationals reported paying tax rates of 2.2 per cent in Ireland during 2011, according to a new study. A research paper by Prof. James Stewart, associate professor in finance at Trinity College Dublin, also challenges government claims that effective corporation tax rates in Ireland are just below the headline rate of 12.5 per cent. Instead, the study suggests Ireland’s effective tax rate for American firms is similar to jurisdictions regarded as tax havens such as Bermuda, based on latest U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis statistics.”
What to make of Stanley Fischer’s time at Citigroup.
Fischer, the nominee for Federal Reserve vice chairman, worked for Citigroup Inc. from 2002 to 2005. Felix Salmon of Reuters makes the case for why we should be happy that he did: “Fischer left Citi before it imploded, but he was there while it was manufacturing many of the toxic subprime products which ended up proving all but fatal. Mortgage products weren’t Fischer’s area, but he did work very closely with Robert Rubin, who was blithely unconcerned about the risks being built up. That’s an incredibly important and valuable lesson to learn: you can’t trust wise men like Rubin to see what’s going on in front of their face. And when bank CEOs tell the Fed board that they have everything under control, Fischer will know better than most just how little those statements can be trusted.”
Aki Ito and Jeff Kearns of Bloomberg News have a good roundup. Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., predicts Yellen will indicate she plans to press on with a strategy to trim monthly bond buying by $10 billion. Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, suggests asking her this question: “What data would prompt the Fed to slow or suspend its unwinding of monetary support?”
Spotting a stock-market bubble isn’t only about the data.
Jason Voss of the CFA Institute has a good list of favorite anecdotal indicators. “Having worked as a professional money manager through two market bubbles -- dot-com and real estate -- I can attest that qualitative signs are often more persuasive than the quantitative signs,” he writes. Among them: Art sales are front page news. Relatives ask you crazy investment questions like whether swaptions are good for their retirement accounts. And stock splits lead to pops in share prices.
Pawn stars for the rich and famous (and not so famous).
Barron’s Penta Daily has one of the most ridiculous mottos ever for a journalistic enterprise: “Insights and advice for families with $5 million or more.” So if your family has a mere $4.8 million of assets and no debt, I guess this isn’t for you. But here’s a fun Penta Daily story to read anyway about the flagship store in midtown Manhattan that Suttons & Robertsons recently opened. Wealthy people need pawn shops, too, after all. “We spotted, for example, a 14-carat diamond-encrusted platinum clutch, and a pair of 118-carat Morganite earrings available for-sale and with prices upon request,” Robert Milburn writes.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)
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