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The recently signed tax compromise bill-also unofficially known as Stimulus II-not only contains a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for everyone, including those who don't want it except for the politicians who obsessively pushed for it. It also included about 50 or so tax breaks for businesses.
I already detailed the bonus depreciation and R&D tax credit.
Here are more encouraging signs that the economic recovery continues to gain strength.
Credit quality continues to improve and some indicators stand at two-year highs.
According to Standard & Poor's, the US speculative-grade default rate fell to 3.35 percent in mid-December, down from a peak of 11.4 percent hit in November 2009. In the US, 53 issuers defaulted through November, compared with 185 at the same time in 2009.
Small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are cautiously optimistic heading into the new year.
Nearly one-third (30 percent) expect the economy to improve in 2011, according to a new survey. This is just slightly more than the 28 percent who expect it to get worse.
It is not looking like a happy holiday season for Visa and Mastercard, but their woes may be a positive thing for retailers in North America. New proposed rules for interchange fees in the US, and an "anti-competitiveness" investigation in Canada could change the landscape for retail businesses on both sides of the border.
The Federal Reserve Board has put forth two proposals for overhauling debit card interchange fees as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, which should vastly reduce the costs to merchants of processing card transactions for their customers.
Two new programs out from the Small Business Administration (SBA) promise easier loan access for US companies, which is good news for the many small firms that have struggled to get funding from banks over the past few years.
The first program is called Small Loan Advantage, and its main goal is to reduce the paperwork involved in getting loan approval and decrease the wait-time from application to money receipt.
Who would have thought?
It looks like the federal government is doing a better job of holding down health care costs than the private sector.
President Obama's second stimulus plan--which is widely being called a tax deal between the two major parties--continues to encourage companies to issue dividends. This is because among the many goodies for individuals and companies, the bill would extend for two years the 15 percent tax on qualified dividends.
As a result, Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Indices, expects more companies to hike their dividends in 2011, and the increases to be bigger, according to published reports.
A new study out by the UK's Accounting Standards Board (ASB) holds insights on analyzing and explaining internal corporate capital that could prove useful to US and global companies.
The study, which evaluated the quality of capital management disclosures at companies reporting to the ASB, found that although some firms offered thorough analysis of their capital resources, the majority of companies were missing some or most of the information that would "convey meaningfully how they assess capital and how they manage it over the medium to long term."
We see all sorts of conflicting reports about whether the decrease in small business lending is caused by meager demand or stingy supply. But the research usually comes from different institutions.
Now it looks like people within the Federal Reserve are reporting divergent opinions.
While much of the focus of the pending tax cut package seems to be on the reductions and breaks for individuals, there are some goodies tucked in for corporations as well.
They include a two-year extension of the research and development credit, which covers employment costs of employees involved in research, and $22 billion for accelerated depreciation, which allows companies to write off all of their costs of assets placed in service after September 8, 2010 and through December 31, 2011, in one year. This will be followed by 50 percent bonus depreciation for assets purchased during 2012.