Economy

US and Finland go Head to Head in Competitiveness Report

The United States and Finland are the two most competitive economies in the world, according to a report by the World Economics Forum. Finland is the most competitive economy in the world, followed by the United States, Sweden, Denmark and Taiwan respectively. Highlights of The ReportFinland is the most competitive economy holding first position in the Growth Competitiveness Index rankings due to a good all-round performance.

New Pilot Program Created to Assist Identity Theft Victims

The Financial Services Roundtable took a major step this week to help victims of identity theft/fraud recover their financial identities and restore their credit ratings. A pilot program, scheduled to launch in May 2004, will allow victims of identity theft/fraud to alert banks, credit card companies and law enforcement agencies with just one phone call.
Tax

House Bill Aims to Grow Jobs, Cut Corporate Taxes and Avoid Sanctions

By a vote of 24 to 15, the House Ways and Means Committee moved a bill forward Tuesday that supporters hope will generate new jobs for American workers in the form of a $128 billion corporate tax cut."The American Jobs Creation Act does just that—creates jobs for American workers," said Bill Thomas (R-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means and sponsor of the bill, in a release issued by the Committee. "We will protect and expand jobs for hard-working Americans."H.R.

Report Ranks Countries' Corruption Levels, U.S. Ranks in Top 20

A report released by the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) ranks countries based on the perceived level of corruption that exists among politicians. Finland ranked as the least corrupt country in the world, but the United States made it into the "Top 20." The TI Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks 133 countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist.
A&A

New IRS Material Helps Retirement Plans Stay Compliant

The Internal Revenue Service recently released new materials, including a CD-ROM, to help small businesses and plan administrators understand how to keep employee retirement plans eligible for tax-favored status.These materials, in various formats, explain the IRS programs available to assist employee-retirement plan administrators navigate the complex tax laws. The materials also explain how to correct errors in the plans, often without even having to notify or correspond with the IRS.

The 'New Color of Money', Colorized $20's Hit The Streets

The first currency with a hint of color for greater security and safety begins circulation today.
A&A

NCSL Opposes Rule Affecting State Authority Over National Banks

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has let the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency know that it opposes a proposed rule that would eliminate state authority over national banks and all their diverse range of non-banking operating subsidiaries."The OCC proposal threatens to undermine the integrity of the dual banking system and moves toward a centralized, European-style regulatory model," according to NCSL’s written comments signed by Delaware Representative Donna Stone and Illinois Representative Frank Mautino, chair and vice-chair, respectively, of NCSL’s Financ
Education & Careers

AARP Survey Finds Most Americans Plan on Working Into 70s

A recent nationwide survey conducted by the AARP of 2,001 workers, between the ages of 50 and 70 years old found that many workers plan to continue working well beyond the customary retirement age of 65.Findings reveal that most workers still adhere to the traditional image of retirement, such as spending more time with loved ones and receiving pension and Social Security benefits. It was also uncovered that the majority of respondents said that their personal definition of retirement includes some form of work.
A&A

8th Annual State by State Rankings of Small Business Climates

Last week, the Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC) released its eighth annual rankings of the states according to their respective policy climates for small business and entrepreneurship in the "Small Business Survival Index 2003."In terms of their policy environments, the most entrepreneur-friendly states under the "Small Business Survival Index 200" are: 1) South Dakota, 2) Nevada, 3) Wyoming, 4) New Hampshire, 5) Florida, 6) Texas, 7) Tennessee, 8) Washington, 9) Michigan, 10) Mississippi, 11) Alabama, 12)
Practice

Corporate America Must Take Leadership in the New Economy

Guest Article, submitted by Werner ReisacherThere are as many opinions about the reasons behind the present economic crisis as there are personal interest groups. However, the factors leading up to the present economic situation go beyond opinions and personal interests. They are by far more complex and can be traced back to the 1990’s. During those years, cost reduction exercises were routine. The legacy software systems in place could not support these activities and provide the integrated solutions needed to improve productivity.

Medicaid Cost Containment on State's Agendas Across the U.S.

Press Release With most states coping with their fourth year of fiscal stress, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have planned or implemented Medicaid cost containment actions for fiscal year (FY) 2004.
Tax

Congress Considers Manufacturing Tax Cuts

With time running out to eliminate an export tax the World Trade Organization has called "illegal," Congress is considering two bills that would eliminate the cut by the year’s end deadline and make up the difference through tax cuts to the manufacturing sector.Charles Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced a bill last week that would immediately cut tax rates for domestic manufacturers and phase in all others by 2013. The reduction would save domestic manufacturers $50 billion over 10 years."U.S.
A&A

NYSE’s Grasso Yields to Public Outcry and Resigns

Amid increasing pressure from many fronts to resign, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso told the Board Wednesday night that he is calling it quits.Richard Grasso's compensation package was severely criticized after it was recently made public as part of an effort to add transparency to the activities of the New York Stock Exchange.
Tax

Business Taxes Paid to State and Local Governments Jumps in FY 2003

Businesses across the country paid nearly $400 billion in state and local taxes in fiscal year 2003—a $20.3 billion (5.3 percent) increase over fiscal year 2002, according to a new report from a business tax watchdog organization.The Council on State Taxation (COST) represents 550 corporations in an effort to "preserve and promote the equitable and nondiscriminatory state and local taxation of multi-jurisdictional business entities," according to its mission statement.
A&A

NYSE Chief’s Pay Package Under SEC Scrutiny

With executive pay packages under increased scrutiny after recent scandals, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking into the compensation of Richard A. Grasso, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.The NYSE claims it will save about $3.5 million this year by paying out a lump sum of $140 million to Grasso in the form of accrued savings and incentives.

New York Tallies $13 Billion Toll of Corporate Scandals

New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi has done the math and doesn’t like what he sees.

Latest Identity Theft Scam Centers on Fake Loans

Scammers have a new way of grabbing your identity - and some cold hard cash too. Realistic-looking fake advertisements for financial institutions offering loans are cropping up in newspapers. Victims are finding they are getting more - and less - than they bargained for when they sign up for these loans.The way the scam works is that an advertisement appears in a print publication bearing the actual logo of a recognized financial institution. The contact information, however, is bogus and typically leads to prepaid cell phone numbers.

Pension Benefits: Next Sector to Implode?

With pensions underfunded by as much as $300 billion and the main insurer of retirement plans—the quasi-federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC)—under enormous pressure, the pension sector might be the next to implode.This week, the U.S.

Morgan Stanley Investigated by Massachusetts and New York

Morgan Stanley is under investigation by Massachusetts and New York for allegedly pushing its in-house mutual funds and not disclosing to investors that brokers made better commissions when they sold the house funds.The practice of pushing house funds is not illegal, but full disclosure to investors about commissions is required. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin filed a complaint on Monday, and long with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, plans to look into whether other investment firms improperly tied bonuses and commissions to sales of house funds.

Congress Takes Aim at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

With the housing market the only sector of the economy still thriving, Congress has turned its attention to tighter regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together own or guarantee 47 percent of the nation’s $7 trillion mortgage market.An accounting scandal at Freddie Mac came to light last month, forcing the ouster of the company’s top three executives. The company later admitted to tampering with its accounting to show positive earnings growth and was forced to restate its results. The two companies are shareholder owned and chartered by Congress.Rep.

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