Archive for the ‘International’ Category

painting1The Credit Suisse global wealth report (pdf), is out and it has some surprising findings on the world wealth distribution. The report says that the richest 1% of the world’s population is not only getting wealthier but owns more than 48% of global wealth. The bottom half of the world population owns less than one percent of the world’s wealth.

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1412627695611_wps_77_epa04193391_FILE_A_file_vThere is a sad story out of London that is a commentary on the mutating influence of anonymity on the Internet. Brenda Leyland killed herself after being confronted about her online abuse of the parents of the missing girl Madeleine McCann. Sky News tracked her down as the troll responsible for thousands of hate filled messages to Kate and Gerry McCann, whose three-year-old daughter went missing in Portugal in 2007. (more…)

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IMG_1219Let me put this day into five simple ten words: I was almost eaten by a wild pack of dogs. But more on that later. The day started with our saying farewell to Cianciana, the birthplace of my maternal grandparents. We watched the blessing of the bread for women gathered before the statue of St. Anthony. On the way out of town, I was called over by a group of elderly men who said that they had heard that I was a descendent of the town and that my grandfather was Dominick Piazza. One of the men was a Piazza and was named Domenico. We compared family names though it was not clear if we were related. It was a wonderful conversation as the men asked in broken English about my grandparents and America. After saying goodbye, we made our way to Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples.

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300px-Eugène_Delacroix_-_La_liberté_guidant_le_peupleWe have often discussed tax policy on this blog. I am in the minority here on tax policies, particularly the high rate imposed in various countries for top earners. I am admittedly more inclined to a Chicago-school view of such high tax rates than many on this blog. This story caught my eye for obvious reasons. The French government is reporting a 20 percent increase in one year of high earners in leaving the country. We have previously discussed how such taxes produce emigration by rational actors from markets. French President Francois Hollande ran on a pledge to soak the rich in tax increases, a popular political platform but a disastrous economic plan. The result has been predictable. The French economy is in terrible condition and thousands of French families are leaving the country for England, the United States, and other countries. Now, Hollande’s government has announced that it will rescind the tax increase. Hollande and his socialist allies refused to accept the obvious impact of such a tax and now, a few years later, it will remove the tax after losing a huge amount of high earner tax dollars.

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IMG_1109Today, Leslie and I drove from Cianciana to the coastal city of Sciacca, a gorgeous city famous for its ceramics and its seafood. It is about 50 minutes from Cianciana (unless you get lost as we did), but it is worth the trip.

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IMG_1095We arrived in Sicily this afternoon from Rome. Our excitement was dampened when we discovered a two-hour delay in people waiting at Hertz to rent cars. The scene was a madhouse, including two men who came close to blows after one picked up a low-numbered ticket off the ground to skip ahead in line. Hertz left dozens of travelers in total chaos with only two people working the desk for much of the time. Once we got our car from Hertz, we discovered that Auto Europe had sent us a GPS with only North American maps. I kid you not. I spent an hour on the phone only to get Auto Europe to confirm what I already knew: their GPS would only take us to locations in North America because no one at Auto Europe loaded European maps. We ended up having to rent a GPS at the Catania airport and set out almost 4 hours late.

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IMG_1087IMG_0979Italians know how to do babies. Cute plump cherubs abound in this city. Of course, some are more improvised than others like this clown who performed in the Piazza Navona.

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