Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Greece - €86 Billion Euro Later

After 17 hours of negotiation, Greece accepted a bailout plan to the tune of €86 billion euro. The settlement set forth by Greece's three creditors, "the troika," is harsh, but it needs to be. European Commission, IMF, and ECB officials are wary of Greece's commitment to repaying debt, and structured a deal which left very little room for Greece to wiggle out. If Greece avoids its required payments, or deviates from the settlement, near-automatic spending cuts will be activated. Greek parliament votes on the settlement this week - the three creditor institutions will then formalize and institute the plans. Here are the key points to the settlement package: Greece must simplify its tax code and expand its VAT. To mitigate the negative effects of widely increasing taxes, €35 billion euro from the EU will become available for economic stimulus. [more...]

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Trade Agreements Must Address Currency Manipulation

As the United States Senate prepares to call a vote on granting President Obama Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority to finalize the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, (TPP), the Coalition for a Strong America submitted a strong warning to Congress that currency manipulation must be addressed in any trade agreement: "The Obama Administration's refusal to address currency manipulation is stunning, considering most of the TPP partners are IMF currency manipulation violators.  If TPP does not address currency manipulation, there is simply no way TPP can honestly be called a free trade agreement" said Michael Bowen, the organization's National Co-Chair and Reagan Committee inductee. The Coalition letter will be circulated to Members of Congress this week as Congressional leadership attempts to bring Fast Track Trade Authority to a vote. [more...]

Did Greece Vote "NO" on its Future?

Have the Greeks just manipulated democracy to commit suicide - or to kill the Euro currency, destroy a united Europe, and undermine America's economy as well? On Sunday, July 5, Greeks voted "no" by roughly 61 percent in a national referendum to, as the New York Times put it, "reject bailout terms in rebuff to European leaders." In fact, European leaders had said that their offer to rescue a Greece drowning in debt would automatically end at midnight on June 30 if Greece failed to make a required debt payment. The ruling radical leftist Syriza Party called for this strange vote on a European bailout offer that had already been withdrawn five days earlier. By voting "no," Greeks could have been voting either "yes" or "no" to accept a conditional European bailout. And to further tilt the outcome, Syriza violated the traditional ballot order in yes-no votes by making its preferred "no" the first, not customary second, box to check on Sunday's ballot. [more...]

Cash-strapped Chicago Desperately Seeks Revenue by Taxing the Cloud

The Windy City has done the Beatles' "Taxman" lyrics one better by going after streaming concerns, which happen to include Netflix, Spotify, Xbox Live and Apple Music, among others. As brick-and-mortar retail outlets are on the decline and costs of online services are on the rise, cash-strapped municipalities burdened with upside down financial statements have been eyeing the Internet for some relief. Chicago appears to have taken the lead with its virtual raising of the price of cloud services via a new tax assessment. Since the city is facing a massive budget shortfall, largely due to pension payment obligations, the financially troubled city in an expansion of its "amusement tax" is imposing a nine percent tax on any activity that involves "watching electronically delivered television shows, movies or videos" (Netflix), "listening to electronically delivered music" (Spotify, Apple Music), or "participating in games, online or otherwise" (Xbox Live). [more...]