Tuesday, December 26, 2017

S&P Stock Index 1949-2016

*The chart above is one of my favorites. It shows what market returns look like following a major crash. 
The usual caveats apply — post Great Depression took 25 years to return to breakeven, and Japan circa 1989 still needs the Nikkei Dow to almost double to get back to the high from almost 30 years ago. If you were retiring during those periods you were pretty much hosed. 
Still, the cyclicality of markets is very worth noting.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Ticked Off About TIFs

I'm typically not a fan of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL). They're usually the initiators of some harebrained legislation, lawsuit or legal opinion promoting freedom whilst railing against big, bad government. But we really do need more people paying attention to the corporate welfare and subsidies being lavished on private entities through economic development incentives.

So, good for WILL filing a lawsuit on behalf of some Eau Claire taxpayers who say the city abused Wisconsin's tax incremental financing law that includes cash payments to a private developer or company.
The lawsuit argues that the $1.5 million in direct payments and half of the redevelopment payment for the Confluence Project are an illegal property tax rebate for the property owner. That could violate the state Constitution, which says property taxes must be assessed in a uniform manner, said Rick Esenberg, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case.
Here's how I described TIFs back in 2008:
Another much touted, yet becoming more so destructive, policy tool is tax incremental financing (TIF). These were initially established to bring investment to blighted, low-income areas. But nowadays, more states are loosening their eligibility requirements and allowing affluent areas to reap the benefits. TIFs allow a municipality to issue a bond to pay for part of the costs of the new development. The property tax revenue generated by the development is then used to pay off the bonds. Some municipalities also allow sales tax increments, where the sales tax generated by the new development can be diverted to redevelopment costs.
In essence, using taxpayer money (cheap credit from a municipality) to finance speculative development where the rewards benefit the usual cast of characters at the expense of the community at large.

WILL's lawsuit is a step in the right direction, but this needs to be passed at the federal level. Otherwise it becomes a local competitive disadvantage. We would be legally prohibited from bribing companies, while other states and cities still would be able to participate in the current economic development blackmail dance.

For Further Reading:
TIFs, Greenfields, and Sprawl
Subsidizing Sprawl, Subsidizing Walmart
Straying From Good Intentions
Shifting The Burden
Recession Shriveling TIF Revenue Returns
Property Tax Abatements and Your School
Legislation Introduced to Help Troubled TIFs

Wisconsin Reading

Wisconsin Ranked 29th In Job Growth During 2nd Quarter
Should Milwaukee Annex Part Of Racine County For Foxconn-Related Housing?
Hey, Scott Walker: I Have A Few Ideas About Why Millennials Don't Want To Live In Wisconsin
Foxconn Subsidy Now Exceeds $4 Billion
Seattle Adds People Without Adding Traffic

Friday, December 22, 2017

Holiday Reading

The FDA Is Cracking Down On The Shady, $3 Billion Homeopathic Drug Industry
How Many Taxpayer Dollars Is An Amazon Warehouse Job Worth?
22% Of City Workers Live In Suburbs
Study: Rich Kids 10 Times As Likely To Become Inventors, Creating 'Lost Einsteins'
Math Says You're Driving Wrong And It's Slowing Is All Down
State Of Wisconsin's Spending On Private Workers Up 57% Since 2010
Eau Claire Lawsuit Could Impact Foxconn, Other Developments
In Defence Of The Labour Theory Of Value
Can We Cut The Crap On The Debt From The Tax Bill Hurting Our Kids?
7 Reason To Be Thankful For Social Security
6 Reasons for Progressives to Stop Worrying and Love the GOP Tax Scam

We All Do Better When We All Do Better

Father Kenneth Petrie of Mr. Spankey and The Hipthrusters

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Weekend Reading

The Reagan Boom, Kind Of Like The Ford-Carter Boom
The Washington Post's NAFTA Fantasy: 10 Years Later
Yes, Robert Samuelson Says It's Time To Cut Social Security And Medicare
Red Versus Blue States In The Job Recovery
Never Mind The 1 Percent, Let's Talk About The 0.01 Percent
The U.S. Economy Is Creating Millionaires At An Astonishing Pace. But What's It Doing For Everyone Else?

Republican Tax Scam Reading

Republican Tax Plan Leaves $1.5 Trillion Bill For Middle Class To Pay
Law Professors Just Published A Delightful, 34-Page List Of Ways People Will Game The GOP Tax Plan
Cut We Cut The Crap On The Debt From The Tax Bill Hurting Our Kids?
What Happened When North Carolina Cut Taxes Like The GOP Plans To For The Country
I'm A Depression Historian. The GOP Tax Bill Is Straight Out Of 1929.
The Biggest Tax Scam In History
Incidence And Welfare Effects Of Corporate Tax Cuts
Voodoo Too: The GOP Addiction To Financial Deregulation
Schroedinger's Tax Hike
It Started As A Tax Cut. How It Could Change American Life.
Republicans Are Getting Ready To Repeat Kansas' Tax Cut Disaster
The Four Big Tax Deceptions

Friday, December 1, 2017

Is This Amateur Hour?

Never one to miss the latest cause celebre, Alderman Zielinski calls for city employees to undergo sexual harassment training.

Speaking informatively and passionately about public safety and harassment are worthy, just and necessary endeavors.

Using these topics to gain yourself attention and to score some political points is not mayoral. Every idea you think of and every policy you develop doesn't need to be covered in the local paper or webzine. As an alderman, you should want to do the best for your constituents everyday, no matter who notices. If your body of work is commendable, it speaks for itself.

It's a great idea, as an Alderman, to say " Hey, let's have each department do a refresher on what is expected in the workplace and what anti-harassment policies and procedures are in place."

But, instead, to introduce this directly after announcing a your mayoral intentions, to seemingly bring attention to yourself more so than to the issue, reeks of self-centered opportunism.

For Further Reading:

Streetcars, Safety and Hucksters
Safety, Guns and Opportunists
Streetcar or Safety