Blackstone‚??s Twin Engines for U.S. Growth in 2013 (CNBC)
Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone Group (BX), spilled the beans yesterday on CNBC‚??s ‚??Squawk on the Street‚?Ě by divulging his company was betting big on a revival in the U.S. real estate market in 2013. In fact, Blackstone‚??s $3-billion portfolio of residential real estate (properties for rent, not sale) makes it the largest owner of individual homes in America. Schwarzman went on to tell investors that besides the recovering real estate market, his company is also heavily into the U.S. automotive industry. BX expects that real estate and automobile production will be the twin engines driving the U.S. economy in 2013. Now it‚??s up to you to decide if you agree with Blackstone.
Greece to Can 150,000 Civil Servants to Earn Next Bailout Purse (Bloomberg)
Greek government officials are locked into discussions with their international creditors about the next milestone that needs to be passed to earn the next round of bailout funds.¬† Creditors want the embattled country to decrease its government workforce by some 150,000 civil servants through 2015. Most importantly, that plan has to be fleshed out enough to identify redundant positions and areas for cuts to satisfy creditors. Once ready, Greece will receive the next installment of 2.8 billion euro ($3.6 billion) by month‚??s end.¬† Unfortunately for the Greek government, its populated by two left-leaning parties which have great difficulty making decisions of this nature. With that on the horizon, March will be an interesting month for Greek politics — and a potential cesspool for investors.
Drug Makers‚?? Next Tax Target for U.S. Government (Bloomberg)
The United States missed out on some $7.05 billion in tax revenue last year from drug makers, as the country‚??s six biggest companies legally shifted their profits into overseas accounts. For years now, these companies have been moving ownership of patents and trademarks to no-tax countries to avoid payment of taxes unless those funds were returned home. But seeing those funds returned is exactly what a number of U.S. lawmakers are striving for — especially when global titans like Merck and Johnson & Johnson each saved about $2 billion in taxes. The drug makers are hardly alone, though.¬† Bloomberg reported 83 U.S. companies have kept $1.43 trillion in untaxed profits offshore. How far would that tax revenue go to combat a deficit?