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Monday, December 6, 2010

Super Diplomatic Ministerial Ninja Team, Sanjo!

So. What seems like it's going to push the markets around tomorrow?

First off, we have a compromise on the expiring "Bush tax cuts". Let's see here. The Republicans get an across-the-board two-year renewal of the tax cuts, a 2% employee payroll tax cut, extended breaks on dividend and capital gains taxes, and a 35% estate tax with a $5 million personal exemption. The Democrats get... well, they get a 13-month extension on unemployment benefits. And I guess they get to not be presented as the grinch that raised taxes on 96.9% of the American people for Christmas.[1]

I think we have to call this a win for the Republicans.

The European Central Bank still isn't bowing to pressure to conform to rumors and rain euros from the heavens. Or, as the Prime Minister of Luxembourg put it, "We don't have any new decision to announce to you."

European markets are expected to collectively throw themselves on the floor, kick their feet, cry and scream "I hate you ECB" until the bank gives in.

The Super Diplomatic Ministerial Ninja Team, consisting of Secretary of State Clinton, Foreign Minister Maehara, and Foreign Minister Sung-hwan, have officially urged China to "shape North Korea's behavior". There is no word on when the People's Glorious Revolutionary Atomic Mushroom Brigade will issue an official response.

There's the massive PR storm called "Operation Broken Trust" going on right now. I doubt that this will have any significant impact on the markets, though. It'll result in a few sexy show trials, a lot of trials that nobody will care about unless they were directly involved, and the remaining frauds remembering to cover their trails better.

[1] No matter which way you lean politically, you have to acknowledge that the Republicans were going to filibuster to death any bill that didn't extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone, and then blame the Democrats for "making them do it". Where did I get the 96.9% figure? IRS data. In 2008 (the most recently compiled year), there were 142,450,569 individual tax returns filed. 138,074,910 of those returns were for adjusted gross incomes below $200,000. The rest is simple math.

Interestingly enough, the same simple math reveals that this 96.9% of the income tax filing households paid 72.7% of the total income taxes that were actually collected by the IRS. The remaining 3.1% paid 27.3% of the total. That's a topic for a different time, but it's something to consider the next time someone says the rich (i.e. those making more than $200,000) aren't "paying their fair share".

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