All posts by James Cannon

James Cannon

About James Cannon

James Cannon is an experienced hedge fund analyst. He has served on the advisory boards for various different Fortune 500 companies as well as serving as an adjunct professor of finance. James Cannon has written for a variety of Financial Magazines both on and off line. Contact James at james[at]businessdistrict.com

Toledo Museum of Art Exhibiting the Work of the Anonymous 5th Century, BC Berlin Painter

Ancient Greek pottery in the Antikensammlung Berlin. Photo courtesy Sailko.

The Toledo Museum of Art will be hosting a touring exhibition of ancient Athenian vase-painting, with a special focus on the work of an anonymous fifth century BC artist known as the Berlin Painter. Organized by the Princeton University Art Museum, the tour includes 84 vessels plus bronze and terracotta statuettes, curated from 15 museums and two private collections.

Dozens of the pieces were created by the Berlin Painter, while the remainder are the handiwork of other artists from the same time period. The range of subject matter of the artworks span from athletics and music to Greek myth and epic.

Museums that contributed to the exhibit with the loan of their works include the British Museum; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Musée du Louvre, and others.

Many organizations and individuals partnered to make this special event a reality. The Leon Levy Foundation and the Starvros Niarchos Foundation provided major support for the exhibition in general. The Toledo Museum show was made possible by the 2017 Program Sponsor ProMedica, Dina and Hicham Aboutaam of Phoenix Ancient Art, and several others.

The Berlin Painter created exquisite paintings on Greek vases from about 490 to 460 BCE. Since vase painters did not sign their work, a system was developed to more easily identify ancient vases by their unique styles. Classical archeologist and art historian Sir John Davidson Beazley, during the mid-20th century, categorized Attic Greek vases, finding the one piece that was most representative of that style, and calling that the artist’s “name-vase.” The painter is then named after some characteristic of that name-vase, such as its location, i.e. Berlin; its motif; where it was found; its former owner; or other criteria. The name-vase of the Berlin Painter is part of one of the most important collections of classical art in the world, known as the Antikensammlung Berlin, now held at the Altes Museum and Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany.

Congress Suing Trump Over Foreign Gifts and Payments

Official portrait of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Close to 200 lawmakers have filed suit alleging that President Donald Trump is violating what is called the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. The suit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia early on Wednesday, June 14.

The plaintiffs argue that they have standing to sue the President since the clause states that only Congress has the ability to approve payments and gifts the president receives.
“The framers gave Congress a unique role, a unique right and responsibility,” said Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut one of the organizers of the lawsuit.

Before taking office Trump bequeathed control of his assets to his two grown sons and a senior executive, but he did not divest from his holdings in any way. Therefore, there is a real possibility that he will gain financial benefit from the profits of the Trump Organization, and that will include foreign governments.

This third such suit also states that no one can discover the full extent to which the Trump Organization benefits from these payments since the president has never released his tax returns.

The first of the two previous lawsuits over the emoluments clause was only a few days after Trump’s inauguration in January; filed by a liberal-funded government watchdog group. Two co-plaintiffs joined the suit later; a restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry. The second suit was filed earlier this week by two Democratic lawyers with a similar claim.

The Justice Department and Trump stated that these are baseless lawsuits: the clause does not include normal business transactions such as hotel payments or real estate deals.
Michigan Democratic Representative John Conyers said that together with Blumenthal they organized “greatest number of congressional plaintiffs on any lawsuit against a president.” He added that they’re taking the action “not out of any sense of pleasure or partisanship but because President Trump has left us with no other option.”

Defying Trump, Business Leaders Say They Will Stay in Paris Accord

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will be moving the United States away from strict compliance with the Paris climate change accords shocked many in the business community, not just green activists.  Some of the country’s most respected business leaders were strong in their condemnation of Trump’s decision.

These leaders are not tree-huggers in disguise. Yes, many do see climate change for what it is, a threat to the future well-being of the entire planet, whether you live in Paris or Pittsburgh. But it is not this threat, which is many years in the future, that is rallying businessmen against Trump’s position on the Paris accords. It is pure and simple economics.

The majority of businessmen, not just in the United States, but around the world, agree that taking a realistic view on climate change and developing technologies and other problem solving methods are actually economic stimulants.

On May 10, with the (misplaced) hope that they could influence the President, 30 CEOs took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, publishing an open letter to Trump whose opening sentence says, “We are writing to express our strong support for the U.S. remaining in the Paris Climate Agreement.”

The letter was signed by the CEOs of the following major US companies:

  • 3M Company
  • Allianz SE
  • Bank of America Corp.
  • BROAD Group
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • Cargill Inc.
  • Citigroup Inc.
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Corning Incorporated
  • Cummins Inc.
  • Dana Incorporated
  • The Dow Chemical Company
  • E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company
  • General Electric
  • The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
  • Harris Corporation
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Kering
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Newell Brands Inc.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  • Procter & Gamble Company
  • Royal DSM
  • Salesforce
  • Solvay
  • Tesla Inc.
  • Unilever
  • Virgin Group
  • The Walt Disney Company

This is just the list of companies that participated in the WSJ ad. There are more companies that agree with their position, including the CEO of Exxon.

Only two other major carbon producing countries refrained from signing the Paris Accord, Nicaragua and Syria. As one commentator put it:

“The U.S. cannot lead the world in any dimension if it abdicates responsibility and leadership for the greatest challenge facing humanity.”

GE and Saudi Arabia Forge $15 Billion in Deals

In the wake of President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, General Electric announced it will sign $15 million worth of business deals to help diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from oil.

GE announced last week at a conference of senior US business executives with their Saudi counterparts its intention to deal with the desert Kingdom to help it diversify.

The agreements are worth about $7 billion in goods and services from GE itself. The range from utilities to healthcare; the oil industry, mining, and natural gas. Some of the deals are still in the form of memos and will need further negotiations to come to fruition.

One of the GE projects will guide power manufacture in Saudi Arabia to become more efficient and also offer digital technology to the operations at Saudi Aramco. The hope is that this project will ultimately create $4 billion in annual productivity increases at Aramco. It also hopes to cooperate in training and medical research.

Tax Reform Plans: A Global Overview

Tax reform plans are often in the making in different parts of the world.  In this article we examine what is going on in the Philippines, the US and Great Britain.

First, the Duterte administration is moving toward more inclusive economic growth, with an assurance from the business community supporting tax reform plans. The  Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) is being put to the BusinessWorld Economic Forum.  Chairman of the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Manuel V. Pangilinan, said “CTRP is central to DuterteNomics; it is in fact the catalyst to the government’s 10-point economic program. That is why I believe the business sector should support it.”

Second, it’s quite interesting what is happening with tax reform in America, primarily because of how concise the plan is.  In just one page, Trump outlined possibly the largest tax cut individuals have received (since Reagan’s administration) in his tax code reformation proposal. Should it go ahead, a reduction from seven to three in the current tax brackets would be implemented with rates of 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent. a married couple would have nearly double in their deductions and would not even have to any amount of taxes on the first $24,000 income they earn, effectively creating a zero tax rate. Tax breaks for charitable giving, mortgage interest and retirement savings would remain in place.

Trump also is seeking to eradicate state and local tax deductions.  According to the Tax Policy Center, the SALT deduction is one of the largest federal tax expenditures, with an estimated revenue cost of $96 billion in 2017 and $1.3 trillion from 2017 to 2026, in an effort to put an end to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) which calls for over 5 million taxpayers to calculate their liability twice and then pay the higher amount.

Third, when looking at the situation in Great Britain, Theresa May is running on a platform of tax reduction for businesses and working families. She is promising no increase in value-added taxes and a maintenance of plans to cut corporation tax to 17 percent by 2020.