Amazon State Sales Taxes

November 16, 2017 at 2:35 pm

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When President Trump tweeted a criticism of Amazon for not collecting state sales taxes, the New York Times and Politifact "fact checkers" both emphatically rejected the claim as false.

Under the label "Fact Check," and the headline "Does Amazon Pay Taxes? Contrary to Trump Tweet, Yes," the Times' Linda Qiu wrote an article that said, "Mr. Trump's suggestion that Amazon does not pay taxes is false."

It further explained, "If Mr. Trump's point was that Amazon did not collect sales taxes — which are owed by the purchaser and collected by the retailer — it is true that the company once avoided doing so...But that criticism is outdated."

Politifact — "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize," the site brags on each article page — declared, "Trump's statement is inaccurate and ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire!"

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Cost of Compliance

November 15, 2017 at 1:52 pm

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Via John Cochrane and Tyler Cowen comes a piece by a blogger explaining how costly rules make it difficult for small operators to convert old urban buildings to more productive uses:

A family bought an old fire station a few years ago with the intention of turning it in to a Portuguese bakery and brew pub. They thought they'd have to retrofit the interior of the building to meet health and safety standards for such an establishment. Turns out, the cost of bringing the landscape around the outside of the building up to code was their primary impediment.

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El-Erian To the Fed?

November 15, 2017 at 10:42 am

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President Trump is considering appointing Mohamed El-Erian as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, CNBC reports.

Before Mr. Trump goes ahead with that, I hope that he or someone advising him takes a look at the earlier coverage of Mr. El-Erian here at FutureOfCapitalism.

A 2013 column about President Obama's decision to name El-Erian as chairman of his "Global Development Council" pointed out:

El-Erian's reputation as a money manager is not without its blemishes. He did a brief tour—parts of 2006 and 2007—as the manager of Harvard University's endowment, leaving it ill-prepared for the economic downturn that ensued shortly thereafter.

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Trump Deregulation

November 14, 2017 at 10:34 am

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President Trump is touting a focus on deregulation as one of his main accomplishments. He just may be right, I write in my column this week. Please check it out at Reason (here), the New York Sun (here), and Newsmax (here).

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Israel's Macron?

November 13, 2017 at 8:28 am

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The leader of Israel's Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, gives an interview to Bloomberg News, which reports, "Gabbay seeks to portray himself as a reformer with business credentials who transcends traditional left-right politics, in the mold of French President Emmanuel Macron....He would....support tax cuts for working families and streamline bureaucracy and regulation."

There's often a gap between talking about this sort of thing as a candidate and doing it once actually elected. But there's certainly precedent for candidates from the left-leaning political parties making genuine progress on deregulation.

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Trump and Mergers

November 8, 2017 at 12:09 pm

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Less than six months ago, a column by Andrew Ross Sorkin on the front of the New York Times business section began:

For the past several months, ever since the election, chief executives of the nation's largest companies have repeatedly professed to be more confident than ever. They say, in survey after survey, that they are more optimistic about the economy and their own businesses, waxing about the prospect of lower regulations and lower taxes under President Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress. Investors, at the same time, have bid up the stock market.

Yet there is a remarkable divergence between what chief executives have been saying aloud and what they are actually doing in practice. They may not be as confident as they say they are.

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Crediting Obama

November 8, 2017 at 10:51 am

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My former New York Sun and Forward colleague Amanda Gordon, now at Bloomberg News, covering a New York Public Library fundraising dinner, gets this from Donald Marron of Lightyear Capital: "But of course, the good economy is very substantially because of Obama. It didn't all happen in the last year."

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News Guard

November 7, 2017 at 10:14 am

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American Lawyer and Brill's Content founder Steve Brill "is close to completing a $6 million round of funding" for News Guard, "a startup that rates news content, so consumers finding news via search or social media will have a better idea of whether it's trustworthy," MediaPost reports. Former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz is to be co-CEO, according to the article, which says they plan to hire "a team of 40 to 60 journalists" to "rate online content."

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Taxing Inherited Running Ability

November 6, 2017 at 10:47 pm

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"What does Shalane Flanagan's victory in Sunday's New York Marathon have to do with President Trump's proposal to repeal the estate tax?" I try to answer that question in my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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Boston Mayoral Race

November 6, 2017 at 10:27 pm

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A Boston Globe news article over the weekend about the city's mayoral race somehow wound up quoting your editor. You can check it out here:

"Walsh is interesting nationally to the Democrats for how the Democrats can win those voters, and attract the working-class white guy, or blue-collar white guy, that the Democratic Party has been losing," said Stoll.

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Humanities in Crisis

November 6, 2017 at 10:19 pm

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The number of English concentrators — what most other colleges call "majors" — at Harvard declined to 144 in 2016 from 236 in 2008. The number of history concentrators declined to 146 from 231 over the same period of time. Government and comparative literature also shrank. So did African and Afro-American Studies, which declined to a mere 6 concentrators in 2016 from 21 in 2008, the Harvard Crimson reports.

What are students studying instead? "Applied STEM." "Statistics blossomed from just 17 concentrators in 2008 to 163 in 2016. Computer Science now counts 363 concentrators, up from 86 in 2008, and Applied Mathematics more than doubled in size over that time frame—from 101 to 279 students," the newspaper reports.

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Paul Tudor Jones to Florida

November 6, 2017 at 8:02 am

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Paul Tudor Jones of Tudor Investment Corp. left Connecticut "for Florida, a lower tax state, in 2016, according to a residence filing in Palm Beach County," Bloomberg News reports.

We've reported here in the past on hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman's move to Florida and hedge fund manager David Tepper's move to Florida. Bruce Kovner and Bill Miller are also there. Bruce Berkowitz moved his fund to Florida from New Jersey in 2006. A Fortune article reported:

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Mike Saucier

November 3, 2017 at 11:32 am

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Being a mid-level editor at a small newspaper — or at any newspaper, for that matter — is one of the most thankless jobs in American journalism.

To readers, such journalists are mostly invisible. Reporters get bylines. The editors who improve and shape the stories or write the headlines that appear over them are largely anonymous.

Like baseball managers, these editors are often caught in the middle. They are blamed by their higher-profile bosses in the front office when things go wrong, but they are rarely noticed, or credited, when things go right. It's a job with more responsibility than authority. The work itself can be tedious. It often features night shifts in half-empty, fluorescent-lit newsrooms — not exactly the glamorous life of journalism as seen on television or movies.

The New York Sun, during its time as a print daily from 2002 to 2008, was blessed with more than its fair share of excellent people who did those jobs. One of the best of them, Mike Saucier, died this past week of pancreatic cancer, 30 days after being diagnosed.

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Travels With Lizbeth

November 3, 2017 at 8:24 am

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The New York Times carries a column by its book critic Dwight Garner about the 1993 book "Travels With Lizbeth: Three Years On The Road And In The Streets," by Lars Eighner. Mr. Garner contends that it "contains the finest first-person writing we have about the experience of being homeless in America." Mr. Garner writes:

The author recognizes that Austin is a good place to be homeless. The weather is temperate; the city's politics are liberal. Eighner maintains a bitter running critique of the city's welfare services, however. He spies "a general contempt for the poor" in their uselessness.

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California Gas Tax

November 2, 2017 at 1:10 pm

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California just increased gas taxes by 12 cents a gallon, joining Chris Christie's New Jersey on the list of states that have gone ahead and raised the gas tax on their own, without waiting around for the federal government to do it. Marketplace, a public radio program, has a report on the situation. Anyway, if you are tempted to be frustrated that Washington doesn't do things, remember that it's always possible for at least some state or local governments to rise to such challenges.

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