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Monday, August 15, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"It will take several years for the advanced economies to fully rehabilitate their balance sheets and restore the conditions for high growth and employment creation. In the meantime, income and wealth distribution will become even more skewed, morphing from an economic issue into a sociopolitical one. The combination of stretched balance sheets and disappointingly slow growth also means that the advanced countries will opt for a mix of approaches to deal with recurrent debt concerns as they continue to de-lever from the age of credit and debt-entitlement. Some, such as Britain, will rely primarily on years of budgetary austerity. Others, like Greece, will succumb to debt restructuring. Then there is the United States, the economy that anchors the core of the global economic and financial systems. It will initially opt for financial repression -- essentially a hidden taxation of creditors and depositors -- and attempt higher inflation to address its balance sheet issues. With time, however, it will likely be forced into greater austerity amid noisy political posturing and bickering. The messier this transition, the greater the risk of undermining the international standing of America's global public goods." (ForeignPolicy)



"Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent. If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot. To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack." (Warren Buffett)

"I took these pictures late Friday afternoon before the rains. This is a common sight in the city now: people gathering aluminum and plastic to turn in for a few cents a piece. What first looked to some people like homeless people exploring trash for anything they could find, now looks like entrepreneurial people looking for a way to earn some money. These people are workers. They are not jobless because they created something themselves; simple perhaps but necessary and self-respecting, and no waiting around ... The other day, just around the corner, one late afternoon as I was taking the dogs for their quickie down by the river, I passed a young woman, possibly Hispanic, very petite and pretty, and looking almost too young to be with two young daughters (probably ages 5 – 7) ... She will find a way; that’s what she does. And low employment collecting trash for redemption pennies is as respectable as anything to the human spirit. This is the spirit that will lead out of calamity. These two people have it." (NYSocialDiary)


"The markets’ wild swings are not necessarily profit-generating for TV news outlets because most advertisers buy airtime far in advance, meaning that the prices do not rise in tandem with the ratings. But coverage of crises can burnish reputations, as the networks attract worried viewers who sample news and stock-picking shows for the first time — or at least for the first time in a long while. So far, CNBC — not its smaller rivals — seems to be benefiting the most from interest this month in the last-minute agreement on the United States debt ceiling, the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of America’s debt rating and concern over the stability of European banks.  Through the first two weeks of August, CNBC, a unit of NBC Universal, had on average 378,000 at-home viewers during the New York market hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., up sharply from 224,000 in July. Fox Business, a unit of the News Corporation, had an average of 107,000 viewers at those hours, up from 76,000 in July. Bloomberg Television is not publicly rated; private ratings indicate that it too had a surge in recent weeks, though its audience is smaller than that of Fox Business." (Brian Stelter)


"Alexandra Lebenthal's book 'The Recessionistas' has been been optioned by Sony Television Pictures before the novel by the Wall Street CEO and society insider hits stands in paperback today. The author hopes Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, Brooke Shields and Bradley Cooper will play the title roles. The movie will chronicle the lives of fictional New York social and financial heavyweights during the 2008 financial crisis. We hear that with the markets currently on a daily roller coaster, there is already talk of a sequel." (PageSix)


"Ambitious young liberal media-types, start buffing your resumes. Christopher Hayes, the 32 year-old Nation editor whose performances guest-hosting for Rachel Maddow recently earned him his own weekend MSNBC show, is staffing up. According to a lefty list-serv, he’s looking for a senior producer, segment producer, and booking producer. Old partisan hacks need not apply! Mr. Hayes told Daily Intel that he’s looking to 'break out of genre conventions' by booking a younger and more diverse cast of characters, including pop-culture critics and comedic writers." (Observer)

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