Friday, December 12, 2008

Short Takes: Corruption, House Prices, and Tax Evasion

1. The state of Illinois will stop doing business with the Bank of America. Governor Blagojevich is upset that the bank received $25 billion of taxpayer money in a bailout, but refuses to restore credit to a Chicago business. Is it possible that this type of political interference had something to do with the bad loans that caused the credit crisis? Amusingly, a couple of days later Blagojevich was arrested for a “political corruption crime spree” that included trying to sell Obama’s recently vacated Senate seat. Then he decided to ignore Obama’s call for his resignation. Sounds like a soap opera.

2. Larry MacDonald kicks the tires on a new way to measure house prices that promises to be more accurate than the old method of just averaging recent sale prices.

3. Million Dollar Journey discusses an important lesson in real frugality. For items you need for the long-term it’s important to focus on dollars per unit of time rather than just one-time cost.

4. MoneyGardener has some interesting graphs that show a strong correlation between oil prices and the value of the Canadian dollar.

5. Jonathan Chevreau reports that electronic sales suppression software is available for sale (the web page with this article has disappeared since the time of writing). This software helps businesses cheat on their taxes by eliminating records of a fraction of point-of-sale transactions. CRA’s strategy to catch those who sell this software seems to be to get honest businesses that are approached to contact law enforcement.

6. The Big Cajun Man discusses the perfect storm of snowfall and a transit strike causing major traffic snarls. He’s happy that at least gas prices are low, but that contributes to the traffic problem.

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