Gasoline prices and a sluggish housing market got you down? Cheer
up! The National Retail Federation has released its annual forecast
for the holiday season (November and December), and it predicts a
sales increase of five percent compared to last year for a total of
There seems to be a growing optimism that consumers will return to
stores this year, even without being offered deep discounts. Tracy
Mullin, the Federation’s president, was quoted in The New York
Times as saying, “The worst of it is over,” but adds that
consumer spending will “not be robust.” Consumers are
expected to hold back on expensive purchases, but are ready to indulge
on smaller products.
The five percent increase tops average retail sales from 2000 to 2002,
which saw gains of no more than 3.4 percent.
THE COST OF CHEATING
Cheating on taxes now equals about seven cents out of each dollar
paid by honest taxpayers, as much as $70 billion a year, according
to a U.S. Senate report released in August.
Schemes for evading taxes are many and varied, ranging from out-and-out
lying to creative bookkeeping. Setting up tax shelters is an apparent
favorite among the country’s über-rich. So many evade taxes
using offshore accounts that law enforcement cannot control the growing
misconduct, the report stated.
The Senate’s investigation took 18 months, involved 74 subpoenas,
80 interviews and the collection of more than two million documents.
The 400-page report recommends eight changes, some aimed at strengthening
the aiding and abetting statutes to go after the law firms, accounting
firms, banks and investment advisers that enable complex and secret
tax schemes so that advisers can claim they had no idea that the overall
transaction was a fraud.
NO BETTER AT THE TOP
Job security, apparently, doesn’t follow you up the corporate
ladder these days.
Liberum Research, in late August, reported that 17,612 corporate managers
from CEO to vice president changed their jobs between January and
July of this year—more than double that of during the same period
The pressures of complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which
focuses on public company accounting reform and investor protection,
and meeting stockholders’ demand for better performance are
cited as main reasons why top-level executives are either taking early
retirement or are being forced out.