• McKenna At Medium: Two New Columns For the Bull Market Collection

    By • Oct 18th, 2014 • Category: Writing for Others

    You may have seen via my LinkedIn page that I’m back at Medium.com.

    (I posted for three months last year under the “By The Numbers” collection to help kick off the site.)

    This time I’m part of a group effort, edited by Evan Hanson called “Bull Market”. The team includes former Reuters finance blogger now Fusion editor Felix Salmon, MSNBC commentator Alexis Goldstein, and University of Connecticut law professor and blogger at The Baseline Scenario James Kwak.

    My first two posts are about taxes—offshore tax avoidance and Amazon’s allergic reaction to paying them.

    “Meet the Big 2 Accounting Firms That Help U.S. Companies Stash Billions in Taxable Income Overseas” is about two of my favorite Big Four firms. (I don’t really have a favorite or a favorite Big Four nemesis. Really!)

    Data included free!

    An excerpt:

    Two lists — one published this month by the Financial Times of some likely tax inversion candidates and another put together last March by Bloomberg of the US multinationals with the most untaxed cash and earnings parked overseas — highlight how EY and PwC are the ones serving almost all of the companies with the most cash parked overseas and the most motivation to become inversionists. EY and PwC are auditing, advising, lobbying or doing all three for the companies cheating US taxpayers the most out of tax revenue.

    I took the overseas parked cash list and added the three FT inversion candidates with “at least $21bn in ‘trapped’ offshore cash that the deals could unlock.” I added a column for each company’s auditor and its tax advisor and/or tax lobbyist.

    The second one, “Amazon Minimizes Profits Because CEO Jeff Bezos Hates Paying Taxes” is about Amazon and the reason I think the company avoids reporting profits. It’s personal for Jeff Bezos.

    Recently Benedict Evans, of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, suggested that it’s not as important whether consistently profit-poor Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos can “capture the future” but instead, “How long are you willing to wait?”

    Evans says Amazon, the granddaddy of growth and market share over short-term profits, is brilliant for putting every last bit of earnings back into its business. Evans thinks “someone at Amazon has the job of making sure that each quarter, this nets out to as close to zero as possible, at least as far as net income goes.” And Evans doesn’t seem to see any problem with someone doing that.

    I agree with Evans’ conclusion. There are few other ways to achieve consistently equal revenue and expense lines than by hands-on management of the results. CEO Jeff Bezos wants Amazon to be the biggest and best retail organization in the world. But I believe Bezos and his team massage the numbers each quarter to minimize profit for a bigger reason.

    Amazon reports little or no profit because Jeff Bezos hates paying taxes, on his own income and Amazon’s.

    Although I don’t write for traders alone, this time there’s a hook at the end they may want to watch before Amazon reports its 4Q and annual numbers.

    I’ll be doing at least two columns a month at Medium and commenting on the others.

    It’s a collective!

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