baselinescenario.com — Meg Whitman is what is known as a superstar CEO. She became CEO of eBay in 1998 and took it public; during her reign, eBay became one of the most successful, most valuable Internet companies in existence (and Whitman became a billionaire). She used her celebrity to mount a high-profile, expensive, and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to become governor of California (losing to career politician Jerry Brown) before being named CEO of HP, the iconic Silicon Valley company. Why did HP, one of the largest information technology companies in existence, hire Whitman, who preceded her stint at eBay (auction house for random stuff from people’s attics) with jobs at Disney, a shoe company, a flower delivery service, and a toy company? Because of the idea of the superstar CEO, with transferable general management skills, who can transform any organization. The problem is that the whole theory rests on a myth.
blogs.reuters.com — One of the few things that President Obama and Mitt Romney are likely to agree on when they debate next week is the need for tax reform. Both candidates have backed streamlining America’s crazy-quilt tax code, and both have said that reforms could boost economic growth. Meanwhile, two key congressional committees held a rare bipartisan hearing last week – with lawmakers from both parties saying that tax reform is needed to rev up the economy. Yet exactly how and why tax reform would spur growth is far from clear.
propublica.org — With the documents Mitt Romney released recently, we know a bit more about his taxes. We know, for instance, that Romney paid a rate of 14.1 percent on $13.7 million in income on his 2011 tax return, which he achieved by purposely overpaying. Though he was entitled to deduct $4 million in charitable contributions, Romney deducted only $2.25 million to keep his tax rate above 13 percent. We know that Romney has paid state and federal income taxes each year since at least 1990. And we know that Romney’s tax rate since 1990 never dipped below 13.66 percent, according to his accountants. Romney paid an average effective tax rate between 1990 and 2009 of 20.2 percent. But there’s still a lot we don’t know. “I think most of the major questions we had before are still out there,” said Brian Galle, a tax law professor at Boston College. Here are a few.
alternet.org — If you want to see what’s wrong with America take a good look at the nauseating list of the 400 richest Americans – the Forbes 400 . While the economy struggled to create jobs, it was another banner year for the super-rich. They increased their collective wealth by a whopping $200 billion, which is more than enough to provide every student in the country with free higher education. Meanwhile, the median middle-class family saw its net worth drop from $102,844 in 2005 to $66,740 in 2010 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So while the richest 400 Americans increased their wealth by 54 percent since 2005, the median middle-class family saw its wealth decline by 35 percent. The rich list gives us insight into how wealth is accumulated today. Are the super-rich “wealth creators” who bring new goods, services and jobs to our economy? Or are they “wealth extractors” who cleverly skim it from the rest of us?
policyshop.net — Say you want to buy a house or a car and you need a loan to do it. You do what every personal finance site recommends and obtain a free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com. Then, urged on by the ads from TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian – the “big three” credit reporting firms that compile the reports – you opt for not only the free report but also shell out for what the companies promise is your actual three-digit credit score. A number! Now, you may think, I know what the auto lenders and banks making mortgages really think of me. I have a sense of what rates I qualify for and what type of car or home I can afford. There’s just one problem: the score you paid for is likely not the same one potential lenders will use to assess you. In fact, it could be way off.
alternet.org — The redistribution of wealth toward the top is clearly getting worse. In fact, despite the financial crash, the Occupy movement, and the obvious failure of trickledown economics, the Census Bureau reports that the gulf between the rich and the rest of us is at an all-time high. Maybe that’s why the rich and their apologists are getting a bit defensive lately. Like a drug addict turning every cushion upside-down in search of lost change, the 1 percenters are scrounging up every timeworn myth, lame justification and absurd rationalization they can think of to convince us that the rich are super-smart, hard-working job creators instead of greedy parasites refusing to pay their share in taxes and play by the same rulebook as everyone else. This line gets harder to sell every minute.
Strange stories from the newswires: Thousands of Wall Street traders subscribe to "financial astrology" newsletters. A series of wealthy Americans erupt into rage-filled public outbursts. Mitt Romney wonders why you can't open a jet's windows in mid-flight. more »
motherjones.com — Mitt Romney's taxes are once again in the news thanks to Friday's release of his full 2011 tax return. As with his 2010 filings, the documents highlight the GOP candidate's extensive overseas holdings, which some tax experts believe has allowed him to lessen his tax liability. But the problem with Romney's reliance on offshore tax havens goes beyond his own tax bill. The Internal Revenue Service and many members of Congress have sought for years to close some of the loopholes that are draining billions of dollars from the federal treasury and shifting the tax burden from wealthy corporations to average individuals. Yet through his work at Bain Capital and his personal investments, Romney has supported a shadowy financial system with far-reaching ramifications for the U.S. and foreign governments.