Empire Center for
for Policy Research
Fiscal Watch Memos
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November 14, 2013
The report of Governor Cuomo’s Tax Reform and Fairness Commission is a useful, well researched collection of interesting and provocative ideas — some much better than others. Not a bad place to start a further exchange of ideas leading to a fruitful debate on the topic, assuming such a thing is possible in Albany. (One can always dream.)
For example, the report is very good on the subject of how to “modernize” (i.e., broaden) the sales tax base. But takes a wrong turn in recommending what ought to be done with the money raised by these changes.
July 2, 2012
Today is full of bad news for Wall Street. The New York Times reports that the street is moving mid-paying jobs to middle America, and S&P has a new report out saying that the i-banking business is moving to a “less profitable, but somewhat lower risk, business model.”
The S&P analysts expect a decline of up to 10 percent in revenues this year relative to last year. They say, too, that new regulations aren’t banking’s biggest problem. The industry’s biggest problem, rather, is that the economy is weak, and even if it recovers, it won’t need as much of what Wall Street is selling: debt.
The best recent indication of Wall Street’s listlessness, though, is not in the financial press but in the Times’s metro section. (more…)
November 1, 2011
New York is at the top of the debt list in the latest U.S. Census data on state and local government finances.
As of 2009, New York’s state and local long-term indebtedness came to $15,202 per-capita, more than any state and 74 percent above the national average. In 2008, New York’s per-capita state and local debt load was $13,804 and ranked third, trailing only Alaska and Massachusetts.
Comparatively speaking, state and local debt in New York wasn’t much lighter when measured as a share of income, coming to $326 per $1,000 — 45 percent above average and narrowly trailing only Alaska. In the debt per $1,000 category, the Empire State’s #3 ranking was unchanged.
Tables based on the newly released 2009 Census data on state and local government finances have been updated at the Empire Center’s Data Bank.
October 7, 2011
Nicole Gelinas has a must-read op-ed in the New York Post today on the sinking fortunes of New York City’s financial sector. Her message:
Thanks to Washington’s support for big banks, New York City has been a cocoon of prosperity compared to the rest of the nation over the last three years.
But banks can’t stay on the dole forever — and the city’s done nothing in the 37 months since Lehman Bros. collapsed to prepare for a leaner Wall Street.
April 1, 2010
The lead business section story in today’s New York Times profiles the 10 highest-earning hedge fund managers. A quick Google search indicates that only three of the firms run by these superstars — Soros Fund Management, Paulson & Co., and Harbinger Capital Partners — are based in New York City.
Two others — Renaissance Technologies and Icahn Capital — are based in East Setauket, Long Island and White Plains, respectively. The remaining five can be found in Connecticut (SAC Capital Advisors of Stamford and ESL Investments of Greenwich); Chatham, New Jersey (Appaloosa Management); Chicago, Illinois (Citadel Investment Group); and Houston, Texas (Centaurus Partners).
To be sure, most of these guys either have trading rooms or a personal pied-a-terre in Manhattan. So they don’t totally escape New York taxes, but are certainly in a position to minimize them based on how much time they spend in the city.
Memo to tax-hungry New York lawmakers: a fabulously successful hedge fund can be anywhere. Even Houston, Texas.
October 22, 2009
Governor Paterson’s proposed budget deficit reduction plan includes a $300 million raid on the coffers of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), which would be required to issue new bonds and send the proceeds to Albany. But BPCA board member Charles Urstadt and former authority spokesman Avrum Hyman have a better idea, which they describe on the op-ed page of today’s New York Times:
As two of the officials who helped carry out Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller’s 1967 mandate to build a Lower Manhattan community on landfill in the Hudson River, and considering the unquestionable success of what he proposed evident in today’s vibrant Battery Park City, we believe that New York City, which has a little-remembered option to buy the entire property for $1, should hand over that dollar bill. Let’s finally make Battery Park City, with its 10,000 or so residents and 92 acres of businesses, housing and beautifully maintained green spaces, a part of the city to which it really belongs.
October 19, 2009
An editorial in today’s Daily News calls for “the world’s richest bank” — that would be Goldman Sachs — to “give the taxpayer a bonus” and pass on $321 million that the bank is rightfully set to collect from New York City and State government.
Goldman should hold its ground vs. misplaced populist pressure — including by our billionaire mayor — and take its money. (more…)
October 8, 2009
The Institute for Justice, which argued the landmark Kelo case before the Supreme Court nearly five years ago, has a new report out that calls New York “perhaps the worst state in the nation when it comes to eminent domain abuse — the forcible acquisition of private property by the government for private development.” (more…)
September 30, 2009
Xerox is buying Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) for $6.4 billion. Why?
Partly because ACS does a lot of work for government entities, processing Medicare benefits and all kinds of other stuff. Big businesses — including Xerox and ACS competitor IBM, which is running ads all over political TV shows to push its own smart-government-through-data stuff — think that big government is a growth center in the next few years, for two reasons: (more…)
August 24, 2009
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Between the second quarter of last year and the same period this year, the ranks of New York City’s unemployed nearly doubled, from 192,987 jobseekers to 361,390 jobseekers, the city comptroller reports.
But unemployment among people who have a bachelor’s degree or higher has nearly tripled in the same time frame, from 33,285 to 98,103.