Five Facts You Need to Know About China’s Currency Manipulation

Currencies From Around the WorldOdds are that Mitt Romney’s promise to brand China a “currency manipulator” will figure heavily in tonight’s foreign policy debate. There’s good reason for that. Branding China a “currency manipulator” is popular! That’s why almost every presidential candidate promises to do it. But it also doesn’t make much sense, which is why presidents typically don’t do it.

More importantly, though, it is, at this point, an out-of-date argument. The “currency manipulator” question made a lot of sense in 2000 or 2004 or 2008. It doesn’t make much sense in 2012. But the political conversation on this issue, as so often happens, hasn’t quite caught up to the facts. It’s missing the substantial improvements China has made in recent years, and the role that other actors now play in global currency manipulation.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. What you’re saying when you say you want to put an end to global currency manipulation is that you want a weaker dollar.
  2. China is not the world’s worst currency manipulator, or even particularly close to it.
  3. China is getting much better.
  4. Calling someone a “currency manipulator” doesn’t trigger some magical process that leads to them no longer manipulating their currency.
  5. Many experts think calling China a “currency manipulator” will backfire.

Read the original post at

Legislature Retroactively Eliminates Michigan 10 Year Audit

GavelOn June 26th, Governor Snyder signed House Bill 5543, now Public Act (PA) 211 of 2012. By clarifying when Michigan’s four year statute of limitations begins, the new law will end the Michigan Department of Treasury’s current practice of conducting ten year use tax audits on registered Sales, Use, or Withholding taxpayers who have filed current returns. The PA amends Section 27a of the Revenue Act to provide that the filing of a return includes the filing of a combined, consolidated, or composite return whether or not any tax was paid and whether or not the taxpayer reported any amount in the Use Tax line, including zero.

PA 211 of 2012 expresses a legislative intent that the amendment be retroactive and effective for all tax years that are open under the statute of limitations provided in Section 27a, for all matters regarding the filing of a return under this section. PA 211 also expresses intent that the amendment not affect a refund required by a final court order for which all rights of appeal were exhausted or had expired before May 1, 2012.

Expansion at Schwab rankles RIAs

Business Men Shaking HandsWith its acquisition of money manager ThomasPartners Inc. last week, The Charles Schwab Corp. took another step in building out its small but fast-growing proprietary separate-account platform.

But by buying the firm, Schwab risks once again ruffling feathers among its army of more than 7,000 registered investment adviser custody customers, some of whom worry about competition from the money managers.

“I’m always concerned about a custodian buying asset managers,” said Ken Winans, president of Winans International Corp., which manages about $140 million. “As a money manager, you have to be concerned with this.”

The deal parallels the 2010 purchase of Windhaven Investment Management Inc., a tactical manager of exchange-traded-fund model portfolios. By all accounts, Windhaven has been a success for Schwab, with assets under management tripling to $12.5 billion since the acquisition.

Dividend Strategy

The $85 million cash purchase of ThomasPartners, which has $2.3 billion in assets under management, adds a dividend strategy to Schwab’s money management mix, a hole that the firm wants to fill as investors increasingly search for yield.

The deal also adds to Schwab’s profitable stable of fee-based offerings that have bolstered earnings as traditional business lines tread water, and it positions the company to meet a goal of having a quarter of its retail clients in some type of managed account — close to what the wirehouses have — up from about 16%. The transaction is expected to be completed before year-end.

For some RIAs, the acquisition brings back bad memories of August 2011 when Schwab sent a marketing piece to companies with retirement plan assets under its custody — including advisers’ clients. The letter said that Schwab would be adding Windhaven portfolios and another managed-fund programs as investment options, but that the action didn’t apply to those who worked with an independent adviser.

Bernie Clark, head of Schwab Advisor Services, later apologized to advisers, saying that the letter was a mistake and against Schwab’s policies.

In an interview, he said that he hasn’t heard negative feedback regarding the Thomas-Partners deal.

But some advisers can’t help wonder about the competitive implications.