Obesity Taxes Won’t Work

Nov 8, 2011, 9:00 am EDT

The government didn’t make me fat, and it can’t make me thin. This sad reality is getting lost on an increasing number of local officials.

As the Tax Foundation recently noted, so-called obesity taxes are gaining popularity among cash-strapped state and local governments. This year 14 states proposed new soda taxes, and two states proposed new taxes on candy. Soda prices would have soared by as much as 264%, according to the Tax Foundation.

The problem with these taxes is that they penalize the fat and the thin equally. They also try to reduce a complicated issue like obesity to a simple exercise of picking good foods and avoiding bad foods. Unfortunately, people get fat and stay overweight for many reasons — psychological, physiological and economic — that can’t be solved by taxation alone. Read 

The Greek Circus Sends In the Clowns

Nov 3, 2011, 7:22 am EDT

Just when you thought the Greek circus was over — it isn’t! Prime Minister George Papandreou dropped a bombshell Monday when he announced that Greece would hold a referendum to approve (or disapprove) the country’s latest bailout package. The next day, a Greek lawmaker pooh-poohed the idea that the proposed referendum would actually take place, but the damage to investor confidence was already done.

Global stocks plunged Tuesday. Meanwhile, the price of a package of long-dated U.S. Treasury bonds jumped 7% earlier this week. Things stabilized Wednesday, but it’s anybody’s guess how long that will last.

Despite that notorious downgrade by Standard & Poor’s in early August, investors still view U.S. government paper as one of the world’s safest havens. Italian paper is another story: Yields on 10-year Italian government bonds surged Tuesday to 6.3%, even higher than at the peak of the panic in August. Read 

Charlie Evans: Fed’s Voice of Reason or Biggest Problem?

Nov 2, 2011, 2:00 pm EDT

There were few fireworks in the latest Federal Reserve meeting. After a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington on Monday and Tuesday, the central bank left open the possibility of taking further steps to try to boost the sluggish economy … but gave no hint as to what those moves might be.

That’s not much of a surprise — as stated yesterday, it is painfully clear that the Federal Reserve and Chairman Ben Bernanke are powerless.

But it’s worth noting that amid all this, one stubborn member of the central bank — Charlie Evans, president of the Chicago Fed — continues to make a fuss. Read 

What The World Will Look Like If Occupy Wall Street Wins

Nov 2, 2011, 12:46 pm EDT

There are many reasons why the Occupy Wall Street  movement could fail — a lack of cohesion, too many directions, no leadership, not enough money and no representation, to name a few.

But what if it “succeeds?”

What would our investing landscape look like and what would we do about it? Read 

BofA Customers Beat Occupy Wall Street to the Punch

Nov 2, 2011, 9:48 am EDT
BofA Customers Beat Occupy Wall Street to the Punch

Since September, individuals with an axe to grind against the glass tower-encased bigwigs of Wall Street have pieced together a seemingly unorganized but still unified protest in hopes of changing a system that has turned against them.

But when those corporate giants finally ceded a battle, it wasn’t on the grounds of Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, and it wasn’t against the sign-toting soldiers of Occupy Wall Street.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) on Tuesday announced it would drop its proposed $5-per-month debit-card fee — because the bank’s customers revolted against the move. News of BofA’s reversal marked the latest and most important of a steady string of consumer-led victories, including: Read 

First Stimulate the Economy, Then Cut Taxes

Nov 1, 2011, 2:16 pm EDT

Forget about Herman Cain’s “9-9-9 Plan” or Rick Perry’s “flat tax” — the best way to jump-start the economy is the “Sullivan Plan,” which calls for tax reform to be shelved until the economy has recovered further.

The idea that writer Martin A. Sullivan is proposing is a simple but powerful one. Too often, tax reform plans are done in a vacuum without considering their long-term consequences. Cain was forced to tweak the 9-9-9 plan after experts realized that 84% of Americans would see their taxes go up if it were enacted. Under Perry’s optional 20% flat tax, federal revenue would be slashed by 27% in 2015. Critics claim that the Texas governor’s proposal would benefit the richest Americans at the expense of everyone else.

While the tax code does need reform, creating more jobs is a far more pressing problem. Unfortunately, there is no bipartisan agreement on how to do it. With Washington gridlocked by partisan rancor and both President Barack Obama and Congress at or near record low job approval ratings, odds of any complicated legislation being enacted before the 2012 election are slim to none. Read 

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