Friday, December 26, 2014

Condolences to Piketty, Saez, and the 250 French Economists Who Endorsed Francois Hollande for President and his 75% Tax Rate on the Super Rich

In 2012, 250 French economists endorsed Francois Hollande for President, especially his proposal to impose a 75% marginal tax rate on the earnings of French residents that exceeded one million euros, an increase of 30 percentage points over the top rate of 45%.  Once in office, Hollande promptly imposed the tax.

Two years later, Hollande is letting the 75% top rate expire on December 31, 2014, which takes it back 45%.

Piketty, Saez, and their colleagues must have had a "Blue Christmas."

The imposition of a 75% marginal tax rate on the super rich had no impact on reducing inequality.  It collected only 420 million euros over two years, amounting to 0.005% of France's October 2014 deficit of 87 billion euros.  Indeed, it is likely that lost investment reduced the incomes of low- and middle-income French households more than 420 million euros.  France's appeal as a home for high-income earners was damaged along with its competitiveness for international senior managers.

It will be a very long time before another leftist French government, or a government of any stripe in Europe, puts Piketty into practice.

Professors Piketty and Saez should have been aware of the famous quote:  "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Buy Gold and Silver to Protect Yourself Against the Vagaries of Government Paper Money--Really?

Your friendly proprietor is deluged with radio and television ads to buy gold and/or silver bullion and coins to protect himself against the inflationary decline in purchasing power of government-issued fiat paper money.  Whatever the daily price, promoters confidently assert that "gold (or silver) is poised to go higher" next month, next year, or over the next few years.

Gold peaked at $1909 an ounce on August 22, 2011.  It stood at $1177/ounce on December 23, 2014. That is a decline of 38.3%. Profit for the dealer, shipping, and handling puts the loss at about 40%. Silver peaked at $48.58/ounce on April 28, 2011, falling to $15.81 on December 23, 2014--a decline of 67.5%.

What I want to know before investing in gold or silver is whether the merchants stating that gold and silver are protection against an inflationary loss in purchasing power and wealth have reimbursed their customers' losses?

Of course not.  All investments carry some measure of risk.  Caveat emptor!