Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TOO MUCH - Greed at a Glance & Petulant Plutocrat of the Week

The one thing you’ll never find on Craigslist: a billionaire. So where do deep pockets go trolling online for bargains? They click their way to “POSH,” the online classifieds that come with an annual $24,000 subscription to the Bloomberg terminal. You’ll find these terminals all over Wall Street. Heavy-duty financial industry types simply cannot live without the constantly refreshed Bloomberg market stats. But investment bankers need a little escape time, too, and they can get plenty of it from POSH. Among the recent POSH listings: a dressage horse for $40,000 and a 15th-century Italian castle for just over $27 million . . .
Stanley FischerU.S. Justice Department officials last Monday announced a $7 billion fine on banking giant Citicorp for its “egregious” mortgage misconduct before and after America's 2008 financial meltdown. The reaction in Citi’s executive suites? Relief. Citi shares actually rose in price after the fine went public. Citi execs have plenty of other cause to celebrate. None of them have yet been personally indicted for Citi’s frauds and cover-ups. Nor have they had to disgorge the windfalls they pocketed during the subprime years. Among the windfall recipients: current Federal Reserve vice chair Stanley Fischer, who has of late been speechifying against breaking up America’s biggest banks. Fischer’s three-year stint as a Citi exec helped him build, says Bloomberg News, a personal fortune now worth up to $56.3 million . . .
What’s summering in the Hamptons like? Fantastic sunsets from oceanfront manses that list for $20 million. What’s working a Hamptons summer like — as a nurse or a gardener? Journalist Frank Eltman has just told that not-so-pretty story. Few workers, he notes, can afford to live anywhere close to their jobs in the Hamptons, that stretch of Long Island shore 80 miles east of Manhattan where the awesomely affluent congregate every July and August. Commutes on the traffic-clogged local roads regularly run three hours round-trip. All that wealth in the Hamptons drives up prices on more than housing. Milk and eggs run double the prices elsewhere on Long Island. Southampton’s food pantry is now helping 6,000 people per year. Income disparities in the Hamptons, former pantry director Mary Ann Tupper says simply, have become “tremendous.”

Quote of the Week
“No state has ever lost revenue by raising taxes on rich people.”
Michael Mazerov, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Governing, July 16, 2014

Paul GosarArizona congressman Paul Gosar likes to tell his constituents that “I live just like the rest of you folks.” He doesn't. Gosar's lawmaker salary alone runs five times his district’s median income. Gosar also owns “substantial real estate,” plus a local business and a dental practice. His total net worth runs north of $2 million. A fortune that “modest” won't by itself, of course, gain Gosar entry into top plutocratic circles. What will: his push last week to slash funding for the IRS. A Gosar House floor amendment to ax the IRS budget by $353 million passed on a voice vote. Gushed Gosar: “I am ecstatic.” Gosar’s move cuts a quarter of the resources the IRS can devote to keeping tabs on tax cheats. The IRS already only audits 0.4 percent of partnership returns, a tax return category near and dear to the hearts of wealthy tax evaders.

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