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Top 10 at 10: Hotchin's holiday; Non-comprehensive Capital Gains Tax?; China bubble bursting?; Dilbert

Top 10 at 10: Hotchin's holiday; Non-comprehensive Capital Gains Tax?; China bubble bursting?; Dilbert
Here are my Top 10 links from around the Internet at 10 past 1 pm. I welcome your additions and comments below or please send suggestions for Tuesday’s Top 10 at 10 pm to bernard.hickey@interest.co.nz Dilbert.com 1. Jail for Mark - Blue Chip founder Mark Bryers faces jail time when he is sentenced on Thursday, David Fisher at the NZHerald points out. There will be many cheering on the judge to exercise his discretion in the punishing sense.
The charge for which he could be imprisoned related to him flying to Australia two days before he was legally obliged to face creditors in Auckland. Bryers is due to jet in from Sydney for Thursday's hearing at Auckland District Court after pleading guilty in February to the charges laid by the Ministry of Economic Development.
2. Tennis for Mark - The Sunday Star Times sent a reporter to Hawaii to have a chat with Mark Hotchin and his wife. Funnily enough, the reporter wasn't invited in for a massage and a game of tennis. Instead Hotchin scurried off and sicked his wife onto the reporter. She then opened her mouth, which I suspect was not a good idea...
"We don't have to justify where we get our money or what it's spent on, to anyone," was all she had to say. Told that many Hanover investors were furious with her husband's displays of wealth, and the no-expense-spared holiday in the Hawaii sun, she said: "I don't care what anyone says." She then threatened to call local police.
Cue outrage 3. Treasury research - Catherine Harris at the Dominion Post reports that Treasury is considering some sort of scheme whereby stocks on the NZX that are ignored by brokers would be covered by someone. It's not clear who would pay for it, but the suggestion is it might be the taxpayer. Sigh. Perhaps Mark Weldon could do it in his spare time. Dilbert.com 4. How curious - Grant Thornton associate Drew Herriot points out some changes to the tax rules in 2009 that effectively applied a capital gains tax to some people involved in the business of land, including builders. Herriot speculates in the NZHerald that something similar could be introduced in the budget to widen this into a less than comprehensive capital gains tax.
I certainly don't think the Government will bring all land gains into the tax net. But given the precedent that has been set and the Government's stated frustration at the fiscal cost associated with residential rental properties and the loss offsets against personal income, some form of across-the-board capital gains tax on any non-owner occupied land may be on their agenda. While pure supposition, this could include: * A straight tax on gains where the owner is not the occupier of the property. * The taxability of gains where the property is sold within, say, 5-10 years. * Inventive solutions, such as taxing gains where losses have been claimed during the holding period of the rental property.
Dilbert.com 5. 'We just bought time' - Angela Merkel knows exactly how weak the Euro bailout plan is. The German Chancellors says it only bought time for the various European economies to get up to a similar speed (or down to a similar speed), Reuters reports.
"We've done no more than buy time for ourselves to clear up the differences in competitiveness and in budget deficits of individual euro zone countries," she said. "If we simply ignore this problem we won't be able to calm down this situation."

6. Chinese protectionism? - The New York Times has an interesting piece on growing signs of protectionism within China, which is never a good thing.
China has filed more than a dozen trade cases to limit imports, imposed a series of “buy Chinese” measures and limited exports of some minerals to force multinationals to move factories to China. Foreign executives in China find themselves increasingly at odds with Chinese officials over these measures, which Westerners view as protectionist and intended to give an edge to Chinese companies. Surveys by Western chambers of commerce of executives show growing disenchantment over the past year and a sense that doing business in China, never easy, is growing harder. The trend toward favoring Chinese-owned companies, Chinese and Western executives and economists say, has been driven by a powerful combination of economic nationalism and an evolving blend of capitalism and socialism. Partly state-owned corporations, armed with lobbyists, have gained considerable influence over the state. Many Chinese executives are former party cadre members whose primary concern now is making a profit, not balancing long-term international policy considerations. This has many multinational executives deeply worried. They say severe recessions and the near collapse of banking systems in many Western countries a year ago, coupled with China’s relatively robust economic performance, have persuaded Chinese policy makers that Western policies of free trade and open markets do not work as well as previously thought, and that new industrial policies are worth trying.
6. Has the boom bust? - Bloomberg reports that home resales in Beijing fell 82% in the first half of May from the first half of April. Prices in some parts of Beijing have also fallen 25%, it reports. Maybe the clampdown is working. This looks fast and worryingly ugly.

7. The finger of blame - Greece is looking to blame the investment banks for its predicament, Reuters reported. The finger of blame needs to turn upon itself, as Neil Finn sung.
"We are right now having a parliamentary investigation in Greece which will look into the past and see how things went the wrong direction and what kinds of practices were negative practices," Papandreou told CNN. "There are similar investigations going on in other countries and in the United States ... I hear the words fraud and lack of transparency. So yes, there is great responsibility here," he said. Asked whether there was a possibility of legal action against the banks, he said: "I wouldn't rule out that this may be a recourse also ... but we need to let the due process proceed and make our judgments once we get the results from the investigations."

8. Double dip recession - Robert Shiller forecast the US housing bust and is now saying in a New York Times Op-Ed he is worried about a double dip recession, partly as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
There is still a real risk of a double-dip recession, though it can’t be quantified by the statistical models that economists use for forecasts. Instead, the danger stems from the weakness and vulnerability of confidence — whose decline could bring markets down, further stress balance sheets and cause cuts in consumption, investment and local government expenditures. Ultimately, the risk resides largely in social psychology. It is the fear of fear itself, of which Franklin D. Roosevelt famously spoke. From 2007 to 2009, there was widespread concern about the risk of an economic depression, but that scare has been abating. Since mid-2009, it has been replaced by the milder worry of a double-dip recession, as a count of Web searches for those terms on Google Insights suggests. And with that depression scare still fresh in our minds, sensitivity to the possibility of another downturn remains high.

9. How connected Macquarie Bank really was - It's emerging now how close to the brink Macquarie Bank was in the depths of the crisis and how hard it lobbied the Australian government for help. Michael Evans and Ian Verrender from the Sydney Morning Herald have written about how quickly Macquarie lobbied for a government guarantee and a change to short-selling rules to stop a plunge in its share price.
Macquarie's efforts appear to have been brutally efficient - within days the Australian Securities and Investments Commission would impose a ban on the short-selling of financial stocks - an investment strategy used to make money by punting on a share price falling further - that would halt the plummet of the bank's shares. Within weeks, the government would implement a banking deposit guarantee and a wholesale lending agreement letting Macquarie and other banks use the government's stronger AAA rating to borrow money when credit markets were closed. The backroom dealing began within hours of the collapse of Lehman Bros on September 15, sparking the most intense phase of the global credit squeeze. The next day, Macquarie's Trevor Burns typed a two-page email to the head of the federal Treasury's markets division, Jim Murphy, with the subject line marked ''confidential''. The email has been identified in response to a specific FOI request for correspondence concerning Macquarie's representations to Treasury on the state of global financial markets. The flurry of activity from within Macquarie around the collapse of Lehman Bros is starkly at odds with repeated assurances from chief financial officer Greg Ward that the bank was at no stage under any threat as it had adequate reserves to meet all obligations.
10. Totally irrelevant video - When engineers own dogs. Now if only someone could design a robot for scooping the poop... HT Waymad.

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