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Update: Safe Harbor 401k, Union Pensions, Obama Health Care

May 31, 2009 --

Barran Liebman LLP
Electronic Alert

1. IRS Relaxes Safe Harbor 401(k) Plan Restrictions
2. Union Pension Plans May Require Increased Employer Contributions
3. New Details on Obama’s Healthcare Proposal

Three important developments require attention by employers sponsoring retirement and health plans for their employees.

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PMAR: 8,000 Reasons to Purchase Your First Home

May 30, 2009 --

Kathy Querin, PMAR Chief Executive Officer:  Portland, Ore. — If you’re thinking about purchasing your first home, have good credit, and can afford a mortgage payment, but have been sitting on the fence, wondering when to make your move, there are 8,000 reasons that may push you right off to the other side of that fence.

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Providence tops digital records. Praise and caution.

May 29, 2009 --

Oregon Small Business Association,

The push for digital medical records, fueled by $19 billion from the federal stimulus package, would completely change the way doctors prescribe and practice medicine—by digitizing the entire medical record-keeping process.  Backers say such technology will cut costs and save lives.  But a growing body of research suggests potential challenges.

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Consumer Confidence: A Very Positive Economic Sign

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By Bill Conerly, Businomics, Conerly Consulting LLC,

Today’s report on consumer confidence lends credence to economic forecasts that call for a recovery soon.

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A second look at new credit card laws

May 28, 2009 --

Credit Cards, Asymmetric Information and the Role of Government in Preventing Bad Choices
By Patrick Emerson
Oregon Economics Blog

The new credit card (and guns) bill is about to be signed into law and it begs the question: what is the market failure that this government intervention is suppose to correct?  After all, credit card contracts are full information – all the facts are there for credit card applicants to review – and if a private citizen in the United States wants to enter in a legal contract with another entity, why should the government prevent this?  The answer lies in whether you believe that by making extraordinarily dense and complicated contracts an asymmetric information problem exists despite this ‘full disclosure.’ 

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Obama oversea tax plan would hit Intel, Nike.

May 27, 2009 --

Taxation Update:

In an effort to pay for its increased spending the Obama Administration is going after corporate overseas earnings.  This could mean diminished competitiveness for U.S. companies operating overseas. Companies like Intel and Nike would suffer under new rules proposed by the Administration.  “The bottom line is they have proposed a tax increase of $190 billion on overseas activities of U.S. multinationals,” said Kenneth J. Kiles who has represented General Electric, Microsoft and others on tax issues.

The Administration has already factored in the new tax receipts calculating them into its budget figures for 2011.  The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent.  Businesses operating outside the U.S. don’t pay that on profits overseas unless they bring the money home.  The current tax-deferral system is a  attempt to deal with the fact that most other countries don’t tax their companies’ overseas profits.  The U.S. is just behind Japan in its corporate tax rate at 39.25 percent for the combined (central, regional, and local) 2008 corporate tax rate.

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Income tax revenue to IRS drops 44%

Economic optimism…in the long term

May 26, 2009 --

By Bill Conerly, Businomics, Conerly Consulting LLC,

Take 20 minutes and watch this wonderful Ted Talk by Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University.  He’s a professor but he speaks English.  Much of what he says will be familiar to those of you who have heard my presentation, Freedom and Prosperity: The Case for Optimism.  Like all Ted Talks, this one is both insightful and crisp–not a single extra word.

Read the full article and discuss it »

What Portland business owners learned from China trip

May 25, 2009 --

By Alyssa Williams,

The Portland Business Alliance (PBA) traveled to China on a trade mission last month in part to hear from Oregon companies in China, investigate sustainability practices and tour the Port of Shanghai, one of the Port of Portland’s important trade partners.Over the nine-day mission, 29 individuals from over 20 companies learned about the country’s manufacturing, port and distribution, banking and investment, green buildings and marketing and service sectors. The group’s experiences were blogged throughout the entire trip.

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Small Biz Index: Future Expectations Show Optimism

May 24, 2009 --

Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index,
See Chart here:

According to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, surveyed April 1-14, small business owners’ optimism for the future rose for the first time since 2007. The “future expectations” (next 12 months) score rose nine points (to 10) while the “present situation” score dropped 6 points to negative eleven (-11). These metrics comprise the overall Index score, which reflects six key measures: financial situation, cash flow, revenues, capital spending, job hiring and credit availability.

Read the full article and discuss it »
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