John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis

Your Congress at Work

Congress is trying to stick some CAFTA-related changes into the pending pension bill. I don’t know how much people are following the conference on the pension bill – for those of you who haven’t – it’s a big mess. There has been plenty back and forth on what to include (certain extensions to some old tax cuts, a drastic reduction in the the estate tax, etc).
But the item below stuck out as one of the more bizarre… A new meaning for “pocket protectors!”

A spokesman for Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., confirmed Inglis voted for the Oman deal after being assured by House Majority Leader Boehner that the House would take up the CAFTA fixes. The language would implement an agreement struck to lock up the votes of Inglis and others on CAFTA itself — it would ensure that apparel with pockets coming from CAFTA countries would not get duty-free access to the United States unless the material for the pocketing originates in the United States.

Filed under: Economics

Estate tax

A quick note on the calculation of the estimated number of blacks that have to pay the estate tax. (Cited here and here.)
Prof. Ed Wolff in an American Prospect article in 2001 was cited as analyzing some data from the SCF:

“This year only about 47,500 estates in the entire country will face the estate tax. The government doesn’t break that figure into racial categories. But according to research by Edward N. Wolff, a professor of economics at New York University, the 1998 Survey of Consumer Finances revealed that less than one-third of 1 percent of black heirs will face the estate tax this year. At TAP’s request, Wolff cross-referenced that figure with recent mortality rates from the National Center for Health Statistics to determine how many families among those 47,500 are black. The answer: 223.”

From a Center on Budget Report, The State of the Estate Tax as of 2006, (which used data from the Tax Policy Center), there were and estimated 12,600 taxable estates in 2006, (see table 1), and “about 7,000” in 2009.
Using these figures, and the share of black estates from Wolff (and assuming the same share of estates are black), you get 59 estates in 2006, and 33 in 2009.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Profits Up. Compensation Down

Graphic: Profits are taking an increasing share of national income, while wage compensation is shrinking…
Data from the St. Louis Fed

Filed under: Uncategorized

Stem Cell Research

My father has Multiple Sclerosis – an incurable condition. Current medication options are keeping the progression at bay, but he, like millions of others, need science to move faster.
Bush’s decision to veto more federal funding is shameful. And I mean that literally – he has disgraced his office and himself by using the goverment and the people’s money as if it were his plaything — by not allowing federal funding because he has a personal ideological axe to grind.
And, as the following passage illustrates, his position is morally reprehensible as well. The question is whether embryos that are already slated for the trash can be used instead to find cures for people like my father. Bush says “no”. Those who did not override the veto said “no.” Imbiciles.

Boing Boing: Bush’s threat to veto stem cell funding is morally bankrupt
Bush’s threat to veto stem cell funding is morally bankrupt
Scott Rosenberg of Salon has an excellent blog entry explaining why Bush’s threat to veto federal funding of stem cell research is shamefully ridiculous.

Here is why Bush’s position is a joke: Thousands and thousands of embryos are destroyed every year in fertility clinics. They are created in petri dishes as part of fertility treatments like IVF; then they are discarded. If Bush and his administration truly believe that destroying an embryo is a kind of murder, they shouldn’t be wasting their time arguing about research funding: They should immediately shut down every fertility clinic in the country, arrest the doctors and staff who operate them, and charge all the wannabe parents who have been wantonly slaughtering legions of the unborn. But of course they’ll never do such a thing. (Nor, to be absolutely clear, do I think they should.) Bush could not care less about this issue except as far as it helps burnish his pro-life credentials among his “base.”

Filed under: Policy

Stock Options Abuse

It seems to me that the practive and regulatory environment around the granting of stock options needs to be reformed…

Study Finds Backdating of Options Widespread – New York Times
More than 2,000 companies appear to have used backdated stock options to sweeten their top executives’ pay packages, according to a new study that suggests the practice is far more widespread than previously disclosed.
The new statistical analysis, which comes amid a broadening federal inquiry of the practice of timing options to the stock market, estimates that 29.2 percent of companies have used backdated options and 13.6 percent of options granted to top executives from 1996 to 2005 were backdated or otherwise manipulated.


The Big Picture: Post-9/11 Option Grants Under Scrutiny
A Wall Street Journal analysis shows how some companies rushed, amid the post-9/11 stock-market decline, to give executives especially valuable options. A review of Standard & Poor’s ExecuComp data for 1,800 leading companies indicates that from Sept. 17, 2001, through the end of the month, 511 top executives at 186 of these companies got stock-option grants. The number who received grants was 2.6 times as many as in the same stretch of September in 2000, and more than twice as many as in the like period in any other year between 1999 and 2003.

Filed under: Economics

Internets: Not Truck, Tubes

From a poster on YouTube… Ted Stevens remix.

Filed under: Other


From Sawicky…

MaxSpeak, You Listen!: CAPTION CONTEST

My entry: “Igor, bring me the brain!”
Posted by max at July 8, 2006 04:17 PM

In knew this looked familiar…

Filed under: Other