"The Internal Revenue Service spent an estimated $49 million on at least 220 conferences for employees over a three-year span beginning in fiscal 2010, according to a forthcoming report that will prompt fresh scrutiny of the already embattled agency.
During the conference, employees watched two training videos that cost at least $60,000 to produce, according to the audit’s estimates. The first video is a “Star Trek” parody and stars division employees discussing how they might identify and address allegations of tax fraud.
One employee, mocking the Russian character Pavel Chekov, is seen telling another colleague, “Back in Russia, I dreamed someday I’d be rich and famous.”
“Me, too,” the colleague responds. “That’s why I became a public servant.”
The second video stars some of the same employees learning how to dance the “Cupid Shuffle” from a 2007 song by the performer Cupid. As other employees learn the dance moves, one female employee comments, “They don’t pay me enough to do this.”



A Fed Reserve bank president gives a speech in Istanbul on the positive effects on unemployment increasing inflation would have as the Turkish government beats and gasses peaceful protesters.

Thousands of Turkish protesters poured onto the streets and reoccupied a central Istanbul park as the police withdrew after three days of clashes that sparked a massive anti-regime demonstration.
The police retreat from Gezi Park and nearby Taksim Square today came as supporters of the opposition Republican People’s Party marched on the square. After reoccupying the park, they danced and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who appealed for an end to protests while ordering an investigation into police use of pepper spray.

ISTANBUL—Turkey’s annual inflation jumped in January due to tax increases on tobacco products and rising food prices, the state statistics agency said Monday, despite the central bank’s desire to slow inflation to 5% this year.
But analysts say the central bank will tolerate some surprises and isn’t likely to take action unless forecasts change.
The consumer-price index rose 7.31% annually and 1.65% on a month-to-month basis in January, the statistics agency said. The pace accelerated from a 6.16% annual increase in December. The rise in CPI was above the 6.8% annual rate and a 1.15% monthly increase forecast by six economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.


"State and local governments face unmet pension fund obligations of as much as $4 trillion according to some studies, possibly jeopardizing their ability to provide essential services and meet their debt service payments. Moves by Coventry and a few other towns around the country have sparked fears in the municipal bond market that the situation could unravel.
By the end of that painful case, retirees' pension payments were slashed in half, but bondholders escaped unscathed after state legislators passed a law."


Lumber prices vs. ISM, S&P and S&P forwrd EPS estimates 


"These policies are not “beggar-thy-neighbor” but rather are positive-sum, “enrich-thy-neighbor” actions. No really, they are. You got any pot?"

"Wall Street investors hungry for advance information on upcoming federal health-care decisions repeatedly held private discussions with Obama administration officials, including a top White House adviser helping to implement the Affordable Care Act.
White House records show that Elizabeth Fowler, then a top ­health-policy adviser to President Obama, met with executives from half a dozen investment firms in 2011 and 2012."

Surely Ms. Fowler knew not much and had even less to share with the investment firms. Right?

"When the legislation that became known as "Obamacare" was first drafted, the key legislator was the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, whose committee took the lead in drafting the legislation. As Baucus himself repeatedly boasted, the architect of that legislation was Elizabeth Folwer, his chief health policy counsel; indeed, as Marcy Wheeler discovered, it was Fowler who actually drafted it. As Politico put it at the time: "If you drew an organizational chart of major players in the Senate health care negotiations, Fowler would be the chief operating officer."
"Elizabeth Fowler is leaving the White House for a senior-level position leading 'global health policy' at Johnson & Johnson's government affairs and policy group."

The pharmaceutical giant that just hired Fowler actively supported the passage of Obamacare through its membership in the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) lobby. Indeed, PhRMA was one of the most aggressive supporters - and most lavish beneficiaries - of the health care bill drafted by Fowler."