Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter Now a Democrat/Successor Liability for a TP/More Stories from RB: It is not About Where You Come From But Where Do You Want or Need to Go

I have heard for years many partisans of the GOP tribe describe Senator Arlen Specter as a closet Democrat, and the same phrase was used to describe the two senators from Maine. So Specter has come out of the closet and changed party affiliation. NYTimes.com   If the comedian from Minnesota is ultimately seated, then the Democrats will have 60 votes in the Senate, sufficient to overcome a GOP filibuster.  I have been discussing in this post the increasing tendency of the GOP to move further to the right, becoming in the eyes of many a fringe party and suggesting some need to evolve into a less narrow and dogmatic political party.  The GOP is showing no signs to me, at least, of moving away from the dead weight, ball and chain, of the Rush Limbaugh faction.   

The Democrats are probably inching closer to fulfilling some of their dreams, and this will have some impact on my investment decisions in the coming months.   I am monitoring the student loan issue due to my small position in OSM.   I expect, as close as foregone conclusion, a rise in the marginal tax rates for couples making over $200,000 along with some giveback in the favorable tax rates on dividend income and possibly capital gains.  Even the Democrat's health care agenda appears to be to be doable for them before the end of this year.

I thought that I would add a caveat to this post.  I had to take a course in Federal Income Taxation about 35 years ago.  On the first day of class, I thought that I was being mentally tortured, worse than playing loud rock music for Abu Zubaydah.   The professor had to be the most boring LB that I had ever met in my life even up to the current date.  He was a drone on an excruciatingly boring subject.  So, after the first day, I next showed up to take the final exam which I was sometimes prone to do.  My information about taxes comes solely from my status as an individual investor, learning only what I need to know to make investment decisions.  My knowledge is limited to the basics, like the holding period for a long term capital gain, or the top rate for a qualified dividend.  Every investor needs to know those basics, and it is not necessary to be a lawyer to understand them.   For those who know my background, it was primarily in litigation, first in antitrust and later in torts,  along with the entertainment business. And, I am now as close to being retired from that line of work as one can get without being 100% retired, and no need whatsoever for any hassles. 

So, some will try to get me to venture an opinion on some esoteric subject.  The most recent request came into the email system about whether Bank of America is as liable for the Trust Preferred issues of FleetBoston as it would be for its own original issues.    I was involved in a couple of matters involving successor liability, both involving an asset purchase agreement which has different successor liability rules attached to it than a merger where one of the corporations ceases to exist.  While I do not know for certain, and have no desire to research the issue, I would seriously doubt that BAC could escape liability for the FleetBoston Trust Preferred issues.  For my limited purposes as an investor, I would personally treat a FleetBoston TP as functionally equivalent to a BAC TP.    I would therefore doubt that BAC, for example, would ever defer payment on FBFPM and continue paying BACPRC. Thus the main considerations for my decision about buying one or the other would be the maturity date and the yield at my cost. But I would emphasize that I have not researched at all this particular issue.  

I am sure that some would look at the picture of my Great Uncle Tom, shown in the picture posted earlier, and say that hick could not be much of a stock investor.RB Wants to Tell a Story/VZ/Posts on Tax Issues relating to Equity and Trust Preferred Stock and Deferral of Cumulative Preferred Dividends  He did not go to college, probably never left Tennessee except for service in the military, and grew up in the middle of nowhere, Nunnelly Tennessee.  And, obviously, he started with very little change in his pocket.  Sometimes, appearances can be deceiving, and  I suspect that he beat the pants off the writer of this post or any reader of it.  His first cousin left Nunnelly and traveled to Chicago as a young woman, with her poems to become a songwriter, and one of her poems was "Let Me Call You Sweetheart".

 My father and mother married after graduating from high school just in time for my father to serve in WWII. Both are still alive which historically is not unusual so I have to plan to reach at least 90 myself. My dad had to borrow $2 to buy the wedding ring, and the honeymoon was over after a trip to the Nashville airport to buy a coca cola. Back to work the next day.  All of these stories mean something to RB and are part of its view of the world, as in it is not about where you come from but where you want or need to go.  So, as an example, RB could care less about the market's swoon since November 2007. 

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