December 15, 2006

Couldn’t Help But Notice (121506)

Two more tips (here, which may require registration; and here, with a HT to RightAngle at RAB) of a very big iceberg have peeked out of the water. It’s not pretty.

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If this becomes law (HT Instapundit), and if it’s deemed to apply to bloggers (many are saying it will, regardless of John McCain’s intent), no blogger, forum, or anyone else with a brain will allow unmoderated comments (Comment sections not allowing pics can still have links to them).

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I agree that if I were Microsoft, I would not be bragging about this (HT Techdirt):

The launch of Microsoft’s Vista will create 100,000 jobs in the US, the same as that claimed for Europe, but will bring in almost twice as much cash – some $70bn.

Hey, the consultants will be happy, but Techdirt sees the larger point:

Put another way, companies will have to bring on 100,000 more people and spend another $70 billion to deal with the launch, if the figures are accurate. Why are they bragging about this again?

Mac Snob Alert: Would mass conversion to OSX cost anywhere near $70 bil?

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Tax tips — These three items were legislated into effect for another year by Congress last week (actually more were, but the others are too boring and narror to mention):

  • The deduction for state and local sales taxes (you get to deduct the greater of state/local sales taxes or state/local income taxes IF you itemize)
  • The above-the-line deduction for qualified higher education expenses
  • The above-the-line deduction for teachers’ classroom expenses (I believe this up to $250)

The aforementioned mind-numbing detail would not have been necessary if the Fair Tax were in place instead of our insult-to-our-intelligence income tax system.

Delinquencies and Foreclosures Edged Up (MarketWatch, which requires free regstration, said “Jumped,” which I say is an exaggeration, except for subprimes, which DID jump):

U.S. homeowners had a harder time keeping up with their mortgage payments in the third quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday, with the delinquency rate rising to 4.67% from 4.39% in the second quarter. A year ago, 4.44% of mortgage holders were 90 days or more past due on their loans.
The foreclosure rate inched higher in the third quarter, with 1.05% of mortgages in the foreclosure process vs. 0.99% in the second quarter, the MBA said. While delinquency rates on all types of loans rose in the third quarter, it was the subprime category — loans made to less creditworthy borrowers, that shot up the most to 12.56% from 10.76% a year ago.

A comprehensive disaster appears not to be on the horizon, except in subprimes, which if bad enough (and it isn’t yet nationally, but it is in some locales), could pull the real estate market down with it. The subprime problem can be laid at the feet of the mortgage securitizers (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.), who relaxed standards way too much; some lenders, who approved loans they knew people had little chance of repaying; and many borrowers, who should have known better. The “fun” will be divvying up the blame if subprime delinquencies get much worse.

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