Friday, January 15, 2010

Better to be Small

President Barack Obama’s proposal to tax bonuses given by banks who received government bailout money may have an unintended bonus. The proposal would have huge popular support in the midst of all the anger being targeted toward Wall Street ( The proposed tax would apply to bank, thrift and insurance companies with more than $50 billion in assets. It would not apply to certain holdings, like customers’ insured savings, but to assets in risk-taking operations. The silver lining in all this may be found as the banks attempt to circumvent the tax, which of course, they certainly will. One solution to avoiding this tax would be to keep assets under the threshold of $50 billion. Companies could splinter off “subsidiaries” in a reversal of the way they consolidated during the late stages of the 20th century. The result would be fewer companies “too big to fail”.

By Sam DelPresto

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bah Humbug

I recently heard about the Spanish Christmas lottery, El Gordo, or “The Fat One, that takes place later this week. It is the oldest lottery in the world, dating back to 1812, and also the largest. Last year’s prize was nearly two billion euros. Tickets are expensive, 200 euros each, but you can buy “pieces” of a ticket for twenty euros. People often give tickets as Christmas gifts.

As for me, I’ll never buy a lottery ticket as a gift for someone. If they won, I’d be sick about it. I might even have to consider suicide. Imagine buying a winning lottery ticket for once in your life and handing it over to someone who you don’t care enough about to buy them a real gift. No thanks. I don’t need that kind of aggravation in my life. If I’m looking for a little gift in the one dollar range, I’ll stick to a McDonald’s gift card. Bah humbug! In the words of Ogden Nash, “Merry Christmas to almost everyone.”

By Sam DelPresto


Sports television ratings are through the roof. All sports. All networks. The NBA on TNT is up 25% to the highest levels in 26 years. NFL ratings are hitting 20 year highs. The MLB Game 1 of the World Series hit five a year high. I can safely predict, with little trepidation that Tiger Wood’s next TV tournament will set new records for golf viewership, if not for sports ratings in general. We are either in the midst of or coming out of, depending on who you read, the second worst financial recession of the past 100 years. You don’t need a PHD in anthropology to see the connection. Escape, baby, escape. In a decade where the evening news has become an assault weapon, sports remain one of the great, inexpensive escapes. Unlike the war in Afghanistan or medical insurance reform, the intricacies of NFL playoffs can be mastered in a few short hours. Whether or not this is healthy for our society or not, I could not say. Or certainly I couldn’t say with the NFL about to kick off.

By Sam DelPresto