Another JP Morgan Banker Leaps To His Death Paul Joseph Watson Infowars.com February 18, 2014
Yet another banker has committed suicide, with a JP Morgan forex trader leaping to his death from the top of the firm’s Chater House headquarters in Hong Kong. Over the past few weeks at least seven bankers have died under mysterious circumstances, including another JP Morgan senior manager who jumped off the top of a skyscraper in London last month. Speculation is rife that the series of deaths are connected to some kind of looming financial crisis or a huge legal case targeting bankers for malfeasance, although no definite link has been established. Eyewitnesses said that the man, who was in his 30′s, accessed the roof of the 30 story office tower and jumped, with police on the scene failing to talk him out of committing suicide. Chater House is JP Morgan’s main regional Asian office. “According to several JP Morgan employees, the man was a forex trader with the company,” reports the South China Morning Post, adding that his name was Li Junjie. The bank itself refused to confirm that the man was an employee. Junjie becomes the 7th banker to suddenly die in recent weeks. Questions as to whether the deaths are merely a coincidence or are linked to some as yet unknown factor continue to swirl. - On January 26, former Deutsche Bank executive Broeksmit was found dead at his South Kensington home after police responded to reports of a man found hanging at a house. According to reports, Broeksmit had “close ties to co-chief executive Anshu Jain.” - Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old senior manager at JP Morgan’s European headquarters, jumped 500ft from the top of the bank’s headquarters in central London on January 27, landing on an adjacent 9 story roof. - Mike Dueker, the chief economist at Russell Investments, fell down a 50 foot embankment in what
police are describing as a suicide. He was reported missing on January 29 by friends, who said he had been “having problems at work.” - Richard Talley, 57, founder of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado, was also found dead earlier this month after apparentlyshooting himself with a nail gun. - 37-year-old JP Morgan executive director Ryan Henry Crane died last week. - Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG, also died last month, although the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown.
Capital One Says It Can Show Up At Cardholders’ Homes, Workplaces David Lazarus Los Angeles Times February 18, 2014
The credit card company's recent contract update includes terms that sound menacing and creepy. Ding-dong, Cap One calling. Credit card issuer Capital One isn't shy about getting into customers' faces. The company recently sent a contract update to cardholders that makes clear it can drop by any time it pleases. The update specifies that "we may contact you in any manner we choose" and that such contacts can include calls, emails, texts, faxes or a "personal visit." As if that weren't creepy enough, Cap One says these visits can be "at your home and at your place of employment." The police need a court order to pull off something like that. But Cap One says it has the right to get up close and personal anytime, anywhere. Rick Rofman, 71, of Van Nuys received the contract update the other day. He was spooked by the visitation rights Cap One was claiming for itself.
"Even the Internal Revenue Service cannot visit you at home without an arrest warrant," Rofman observed. Indeed, you'd think the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, would make this sort of thing verboten. Apparently not. "It sounds really invasive, but I don't think it's a violation of your 4th Amendment rights," said Daniel E. Kann, a Santa Clarita lawyer who specializes in illegal-search cases. He explained that the amendment applies primarily to searches and seizures by law enforcement, not civilians. A credit card company, in theory, could reserve the right to visit your home or office without a court order, Kann said. But he emphasized that there are laws against harassment, not to mention stalking, and Cap One could be held accountable under such statutes if, say, it took to inviting itself over for dinner or hanging around your cubicle. Incredibly, Cap One's aggressiveness doesn't stop with personal visits. The company's contract update also includes this little road apple: "We may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose." Now that's just freaky. Cap One is saying it can trick you into picking up the phone by using what looks like a local number or masquerading as something it's not, such as Save the Puppies or a similarly friendly-seeming bogus organization. This is known as spoofing, and it's perfectly legal. As I've written before, the federal Truth in Caller ID Act makes it a crime to use a phony number or caller ID message to commit fraud or cause harm to others. But it's not against the law to engage in what courts have called "non-harmful spoofing," which includes businesses wearing digital disguises to penetrate a consumer's phone defenses. Such corporate spoofing is employed primarily by telemarketers. It's weird, to say the least, for this practice to be so publicly adopted by a major credit card issuer. Emily Rusch, executive director of the California Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization, said it's especially troubling for Cap One to declare itself a spoofer as people grapple with recent security breaches involving Target, Neiman Marcus and other businesses. "Now more than ever, consumers need to be able to trust companies," she said. So what does Cap One have to say? Pam Girardo, a company spokeswoman, told me that Cap One isn't quite as much like Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" as the company's contract lingo might suggest. "Capital One does not visit our cardholders, nor do we send debt collectors to their homes or work," Girardo said. The exception to that, she said, is when it comes to big-ticket sporting goods. Cap One has partnerships with makers of gear like Jet Skis and Snowmobiles. "As a last resort, we may go to a customer's home after appropriate notification if it becomes necessary to repossess the sports vehicle," Girardo said. So Cap One is saying it's more "Repo Man" than "Fatal Attraction."
I asked Girardo about the spoofing. What's up with that? "Actually, we want our calls to display as Capital One on caller ID, and that's the way they are programmed," she replied. "However, some local phone exchanges may display our number differently. This is beyond our control, and we want our cardholders to be aware of that potential occurrence." That's not what the contract update says, though. It says, ominously, that Cap One can "modify or suppress" people's caller ID capabilities and identify itself "in any manner we choose." But let's give Cap One the benefit of the doubt. Let's accept that the company isn't as menacing as it sounds. That raises the question of why Cap One is sending out this bizarre contract language in the first place rather than explaining in plain English, as Girardo did, what its true intentions are. Girardo said only that Cap One is "reviewing this language." I take this as an indication that, now that a little sunlight has been applied, the company is not as comfortable as it previously was with behaving like a total psycho. In the meantime, cardholders can make up their own minds. Do they want to believe the non-binding explanations of a company representative or the legally enforceable language that's currently in their written contracts? And while they're pondering that, they may want to watch out for bunnies boiling on the stove.
ABBA And The Story Of The Most-Inane-Ever Tax Controversy Daniel J. Mitchell CATO February 18, 2014
The tax code is a complicated nightmare, particularly for businesses. Some people may think this is because of multiple tax rates, which definitely is an issue for all the noncorporate businesses that file “Schedule C” forms using the personal income tax. A discriminatory rate structure adds to complexity, to be sure, but the main reason for a convoluted business tax system (for large and small companies) is that politicians don’t allow firms to use the simple and logical (and theoretically sound) approach of cash-flow taxation. Here’s how a sensible business tax would work.
Total Revenue - Total Cost = Profit And it would be wonderful if our tax system was this simple, and that’s basically how the business portion of the flat tax operates, but that’s not how the current tax code works. We have about 76,000 pages of tax rules in large part because politicians and bureaucrats have decided that the “cash flow” approach doesn’t give them enough money. So they’ve created all sorts of rules that in many cases prevent businesses from properly subtracting (or deducting) their costs when calculating their profits. One of the worst examples is depreciation, which deals with the tax treatment of business investment expenses. You might think lawmakers would like investment since that boosts productivity, wage, and competitiveness, but you would be wrong. The tax code rarely allows companies to fully deduct investment expenses (factories, machines, etc) in the year they occur. Instead, they have to deduct (or depreciate) those costs over many years. In some cases, even decades. But rather than write about the boring topic of depreciation to make my point about legitimate tax deductions, I’m going to venture into the world of popular culture. Though since I’m a middle-aged curmudgeon, my example of popular culture is a band that was big about 30 years ago.
The UK-based Guardian is reporting on the supposed scandal of ABBA’s tax deductions. Here are the relevant passages. The glittering hotpants, sequined jumpsuits and platform heels that Abba wore at the peak of their fame were designed not just for the four band members to stand out – but also for tax efficiency, according to claims over the weekend. …And the reason for their bold fashion choices lay not just in the pop glamour of the late 70s and early 80s, but also in the Swedish tax code. According to Abba: The Official Photo Book, published to mark 40 years since they won Eurovision with Waterloo, the band’s style was influenced in part by laws that allowed the cost of outfits to be deducted against tax – so long as the costumes were so outrageous they could not possibly be worn on the street. When I read the story, I kept waiting to get to the scandalous part. But then I realized that the scandal - according to our statist friends - is that ABBA could have paid even more in tax if they wore regular street clothes for their performances. In other words, this is not a scandal at all. It’s simply the latest iteration of the left-wing campaign (bolstered by tax-free bureaucrats at the Paris-based OECD) to de-legitimize normal and proper tax deductions. So I guess this means that the New York Yankees should play in t-shirts and gym shorts since getting rid of the pinstripes would increase the team’s taxable income. And companies should set their thermostats at 60 degrees in the winter since that also would lead to more taxable income. Or, returning to the example of ABBA, perhaps they should have used these outfits since there wouldn’t be much cost to deduct and that would have boosted taxable income. Shifting to the individual income tax, another potential revenue raiser is for households to follow this example from Monty Python and sell their kids for medical experiments. That would eliminate personal exemptions and lead to more taxable income. Heck, maybe our friends on the left should pass a law mandating weekend jobs so we could have more income for them to tax. Though I’m not sure how that would work since the statists are now saying Obamacare is a good thing because it “liberates” millions of people from having to work. I’m not sure how they square that circle, but I’m sure the answer is more class-warfare tax policy. P.S. A very low tax rate is the best way of encouraging taxpayers to declare income and minimize deductions.
When ABBA first became famous, the top personal tax rate in Sweden was at the confiscatory level of about 80 percent and the corporate tax rate was about 55 percent. With rates so high, that meant taxpayers had big incentives to reduce taxable income and little reason to control costs. After all, a krona of deductible expense only reduced income by about 20 öre for individual taxpayers. Corporate taxpayers weren’t treated as badly, but a rate of 55 percent still meant that a krona of deductible expense only reduced after-tax income by 45 öre. But if the rate was very modest, say 20 percent, then taxpayers might be far more frugal about costs (whether the cost of uniforms or anything else) because a krona of deductible expense would reduce income by 80 öre. By the way, the United States conducted an experiment of this type in the 1980s and the rich wound up declaring far more income to the IRS.
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