Posts Tagged ‘wall street journal’
Friday, March 8th, 2013
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on March 7th, 2012
Peggy Noonan penned a telling article about the US economy in the Wall Street Journal: she says the focus should be on jobs, because the country needs jobs more than it needs class warfare and threats of doom and gloom from President Obama…..even though 236,000 jobs were created in February, much better than expected. She is certainly right that with vastly reduced unemployment our economy would be in significantly better shape, and budgets could be balanced more easily as fewer would be relying on government aid, and many more would be inserting tax dollars into the government coffers. She thinks the culprit is Obamacare that scares off companies from hiring……yes, that certainly needs tweaking. Personally, I think the tax code needs the most urgent attention when you consider that it currently encourages large corporations to house profits outside of the USA…..instead of investing them here, preferably in job creation.
The build-up of offshore profits — totaling almost $ 2 trillion — is increasing because of incentives in the U.S. tax code for booking profits offshore and leaving them there. The stockpiles complicate attempts to overhaul the tax system as lawmakers look for ways to bring the money home and discourage profit shifting.
What if the USA instituted a policy right now that allowed companies to bring back those profits at a flat tax rate of 25% but only if they invested 25% ($ 500 billion)of those funds into job creation. $ 500 billion would have to go towards paying down the US deficit. The other $ 500 billion would create FIVE MILION jobs paying $ 50,000.00 per year for TWO YEARS. Companies could still boast how smart they were at making money, but this way they would actually be helping the country AND themselves by creating 25 million new viable consumers…. consumers who don’t require government assistance, consumers who pay taxes, who buy goods, who buy houses, who buy I-phones, that will fuel demand…..that will only help further fuel corporate profits.
Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on September 12th, 2012
The Wall Street Journal addressed Stribling’s Kirk Henkel’s sensationalist report on the super luxury market…
Monday, April 16th, 2012
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on April 16th, 2012
As politicians blabber about the Buffet Rule and taxation fairness, I thought a recent Wall Street Journal article outlined the ‘non-soundbite’ version of what is really going on tax-wise in the USA. The only conclusion I can draw is that the system is much too complicated. Here are some facts to ponder:
- Some multi-millionaires do pay a lower effective income-tax rate than some middle-income taxpayers; receiving a chunk of your income via long-term capital gains rather than a paycheck is just one reason that happens.
- The top 20% of income earners paid 70% of federal taxes in 2007, according to the most recent data available from the Congressional Budget Office. That group also pulled in 60% of total pretax income.
- 46% of taxpayers don’t pay any federal income tax, but they often pay a hefty portion of their income to levies at the federal, state and local level. Those include payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare; state and local sales taxes on groceries, clothing and other purchases; and federal and state excise taxes on things such as gas, cigarettes, alcohol and airline tickets.
- The payroll tax for Medicare is paid by all workers, but the Social Security tax isn’t levied on income over $110,100 (in 2012). So people with bigger six-figure salaries pay a lower portion of their income to Social Security taxes than those earning less.
- In 2011, federal corporate income taxes ate up an estimated 7.7% of income for the top 1% of income earners, compared with a 0.4% bite for taxpayers in the lowest fifth of the income ladder, according to the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.
- The top 1% of earners saw a smaller share of their income go to payroll taxes.
- State and local taxes: People in the lowest 20% of income earners paid about 17% of their income to federal, state and local taxes in 2011, versus about a 30% effective rate for the top earners, according to an estimate from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. But the share of total taxes paid roughly matches the share of total income for each of the income groups.
- Sales taxes can have an outsize effect on lower-income people. A wealthier family is “more likely to have a portion of their income that they can put to savings or investments that will never be subject to sales taxes.”
- What about those 46% who don’t pay federal income tax?
- 46% of Americans pay no Federal taxes at all. 23% of U.S. taxpayers don’t make enough money to owe that tax once they take their personal exemption and standard deduction. Another 23% qualify for tax breaks that bring their bill to zero or provide a refund.
- Wealthier people face a tax rate as high as 35% on earnings but they get the biggest tax breaks. They start off with such a high tax that the biggest tax breaks don’t bring them down to zero. They’re benefiting hugely from tax breaks—much more than the poor people—but because they start off at the high level, their tax bills stay positive.
- 1,470 millionaires were among those who paid no federal income tax in 2009.
Sunday, March 25th, 2012
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on March 24th, 2012
We just listed a $ 25million townhouse at 815 Fifth Avenue, a rarity if there ever was one. A little over 25 ft wide, with over 11,000sf, we suspect it will be bought by someone anxious to transform it to a single-family mansion. Already multiple parties are interested. The Wall Street Journal covered it this weekend in an article about how the very high end of the market continues to soar in New York City….
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on January 11th, 2012
In a recent Wall Street Journal article a survey of those with investable assets of $ 30m+ revealed that the rich prefer commodities, real-estate, private companies in 2012 to place their investable dollars. 48% plan to increase their allocation to commodities in 2012, and 45% of respondents are looking to real estate….we see this already with the market starting off with a bang.
The message is all about the need to invest in tangible assets. Art, collectibles should do well to. Maybe this is the strongest argument that those in the know (and lets face it, the rich usually know first) feel certain that inflation is on the horizon…..we think its here already, quietly hidden by government statistics that omit critical factors when evaluating inflation. And real estate has always been a solid hedge against inflation, which bodes well for the New York luxury cash-driven market. With Metlife getting out of the mortgage business too, obtaining mortgages will be the challenge for the rest of the market.
I suspect pricing records for premium properties could be broken in 2012. We shall soon find out.
Saturday, November 19th, 2011
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on November 19th, 2011
As our beloved government teeters on the edge of another major meltdown with the ‘super-committee’ due to formulate a solution to our budget crisis by the middle of next week (something that could cause radical ramifications throughout the markets, especially the credit markets…. think housing), maybe its time for all of us throughout this country to re-direct the anger recently demonstrated by the rather un-focused, semi-kooky and often misdirected OCCUPY WALL STREET to a newer, more focused, more pertinent movement: OCCUPY WASHINGTON DC!
Yes, we Americans are sick and tired of the games Washington plays: remember lots of the bad behaviour and criminal activity associated with the Great Recession happened in great part because of certain action and in-action by government. Now of course they are all blaming one another, even though they are all to blame. Pretty much all government activity seems to boil down to 2 things: 1) money and 2) re-election.
Both the Democrats and Republicans are playing political games at the expense of the country: Republicans delusional pandering to those who receive un-warranted tax breaks while a vast majority of ‘the 1%’ pay their fare share is disgraceful. Remember just because the tax rate is the same for all does not mean all earning the same income pay the same taxes: the same is true for real estate taxes where the disparity between very similar properties is often very different. Democrats on the other hand need to acknowledge that we are spending much more than we earn: raising the retirement age and a host of other common-sense budget cuts are practical and essential, not cruel, and willing this committee to fail to blame the Republicans for the gridlock so that Obama can be re-elected is reckless at best.
I never thought I would see the day when I’d agree with Sarah Palin, but this week her editorial in the Wall Street Journal struck a chord…..and it may explain why we have the housing mess that ultimately caused the financial meltdown that we are still suffering from. In her article she shows how Congress, the lawmakers of our country, obey a different set of laws than the vast majority of us mere voters (and taxpayers!)…. Here are some examples:
Insider Trading – using government information not available to the public at large to predict which companies’ stocks will rise or fall.
IPO Gifts – While it is illegal for members of Congress to accept cash gifts from interested parties, there is no restriction on their being offered initial public offerings in firms, which can be very profitable.
Self-Serving Earmarks – Some members of Congress have submitted infrastructure earmark requests for their districts that appeared to increase their value of their real estate holdings.
Encouraging Campaign Donations – Palin calls this “subtly extorting campaign donations through the threat of legislation unfavorable to an industry.” She may know about this subject first hand with the oil industry in Alaska?
The insider advantages to being a Washington player are obvious, and the hypocrisy pretty astounding as witnessed this week by Newt Gingrich. Ms. Palin cites in this article that 47% of Congressmen are millionaires compared to 1% of the US…..very telling, but also somewhat hypocritical when she has parlayed her career from a lowly beauty-queen/sportscaster to a career politician of almost 20 years…..and now more recently she dumped low-paying government realizing the value of her time in ‘the club’, transitioning from governor to a very highly paid book writer, speaker, activist and correspondent for FOX TV, certainly roles that would not pay as well were it not for her lengthy political career.
Maybe it is time for us to OCCUPY WASHINGTON DC: This government is obviously in need of a major overhaul, and the loudest possible message should be sent to end the political game-playing that is taking place at the expense of 99,99999999999% of the country that have to foot the bill.
Some may wonder why a real estate blogger would be writing this political post: let’s face it, there won’t be much of a real estate market if we do not fix this government….fast!
Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on April 6, 2011
The Wall Street Journal just reported on that small segment of society that thrives on very, very little sleep. However, out of every 100 people who believe they only need five or six hours of sleep a night, only about five people really do. The rest end up chronically sleep deprived, part of the one-third of U.S. adults who get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, according to a report last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sometimes it amazes me as I tour the homes of New Yorkers and see how badly designed their bedrooms are, certainly not the kind of environment to encourage good sleep habits. If we spend 7 hours a day asleep, that is almost a third of our lives in one place…..surely that should inspire us to create the best possible environment, maybe more so than any other living space?
So these are the things I believe make my bedroom function well for a third of my life:
1) THE BED: I spent 6 months getting my bed just right: No, I do not own one of those $ 20,000 mattresses, although I hear they are amazing. I do have a quality king sized mattress with box springs: the top is layered with a memory foam pad, an organic wool fleece cover (wool is cool in summer and warm in winter), an all cotton pad over that, and then super-quality high thread count cotton sheets. Restoration Hardware does a great quality if you are more budget conscious (I am not a fan of Frette….). I have an A-grade down comforter, covered with a cotton cover….medium weight. There are three firmness levels of pillows. And of course in winter, an Hermes wool blanket adds warmth. I have a cashmere throw too because some fabulous interior design magazine said I need one.
2) LIGHTING: I have no overhead lights, just a task light on either side of the bed to allow easy reading. All lights have dimmers to provide soft lighting at all times.
3) SOUND: My windows are very sound-proofed. I require a quiet bedroom to sleep well, and yes I also wear ear plugs too. Fabric curtains absorb sound too. The more fabric the better. I also have ducted central air conditioning, which is something of a dream come true after living with noisy, inefficient wall units for decades.
4) LIGHT: Blackout is essential to me. I have one layer of roller solar shades to soften the outside light. The heavy linen curtains have a black-out lining.
5) TECHNOLOGY: Yes there is a television…..but it is turned off at least an hour before sleep time. Although watching any reality TV (besides the Real Housewives of New Jersey) puts me to sleep. The only technology thats allowed is my I-pad to read or music…..I play soft classical music through the built in system before sleep while reading. My cellphone is turned off by 11pm.
6) COLOR: I love a monochromatic bedroom. For me it encourages a calming environment. So the linen curtains almost match the color of the walls, a neutral greyish beige.
7) A VIEW: I am very fortunate in that I have a view of my terrace that is planted with evergreens so that its green all year round. I also have a yummy chaise lounger covered in a soft aqua green velvet and mid century floorlamp to look at…..the point is, some kind of pleasing ‘view’ is essential to my sleep. And if I did not have this terrace, I would place a piece of art, a great photo, SOMETHING that provides a calming exposure to see as you drift into sleep, or wake up to.
8) FOOD: No food in or near the bed…..only a good cup of tea in the morning, or some Camomile before bedtime. AND: No meals just before sleep time…..a lighter meal (not easy for me) should be completed at least three hours before sleep time.
And I am militant about having a minimum of 7 hours of good sleep per night. Without that, I could not survive the craziness that is Manhattan real estate.
Friday, March 18th, 2011
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on March 18, 2011
The number of millionaires is almost at the level of those in 2007 reports the Wall Street Journal to-day. Bidding wars are back. There is a shortage of un-affordable housing. Kelly bags are wait listed at Hermes. Manhattan luxury pricing is breaking some records on even some 2007 prices. New Construction is soaring and dormant buildings have been bought out or brought back to life. There is a war in the Middle East. The Dow is around 12,000.
Does this mean 2007 is really back?
Soon we will be referring to these times as ’2011′.
Friday, December 31st, 2010
Posted by Leonard Steinberg on December 31st, 2010
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on alternative uses for the traditional dining room. As a broker I consistently hear the story of ‘the un-used dining room’…..its a story how everyone buying a home dreams of lavish dinner parties in their dining room surrounded by prized furnishings, accessories and artwork, only to realize years later that the room is hardly ever used.
We have seen over the years how the dining room is being re-invented: the paradigm is that a large table surrounded by chairs is for dining alone….the reality is a large table with chairs can be used for a host of other things, including a large work desk that converts to a dining table when needed. We think this is a brilliant solution to a decades long issue. A large table can be used for a host of other uses besides dining: conversation, casual entertaining, work space, etc, etc. It is only once we look at these ‘problem areas’ in homes with new eyes that solutions are formed. Maybe dining tables are hoisted up into the ceiling, and stored there when not in use?
Most New York homes require as much flexibility as possible, even the larger lavish ones. As the cost of space rises, the need for clever engineering increases. We see a huge future in space ENGINEERING, rather than mere design. With so much time spent on I-pads, laptops, etc, sitting at a ‘dining’ table sounds much healthier.
And now to come up with a name change: If not DINING ROOM, then what? The FLEX-ROOM? I-ROOM?
Friday, November 19th, 2010
The penthouse at the Superior Ink building in Greenwich Village, New York, owned by Houston Rockets owner, Leslie Alexander, has sold for a record $ 31,5million according to the Wall Street Journal. But is it a record for Downtown? Yes and no.
The quadruplex combination penthouse at 200 Eleventh Avenue sold for around $ 33 million, also raw, in 2009, and while larger, hence a lower $$$/sf price, that selling price does beat this sale. The sale of the penthouse at 145 Hudson Street is another notable exception.
“It is nevertheless a testament to the ressiliancy of the Greenwich Village real estate market in New York, a zip code named one of the Top 5 by FORBES recently,” says Leonard Steinberg publisher of LUXURYLETTER and a managing director with Prudential Douglas Elliman. “The Robert A. M. Stern designed building boasts superb sunset views over the Hudson River, and is one of very few full service buildings in the area. It commands a premium for many reasons, but most notably are the views, services, quality of space and the Stern-cachet. I do believe the price could have been significantly higher if the space had been beautifully finished out, as there is always a market for SUPER-TROPHY-PENTHOUSES in Manhattan.”