The 10 Things We Learned At Davos

The alpine town of Davos in the Swiss Alps.

By Dennis K. Berman

Here’s the scary part about Davos: You schlep to this Swiss redoubt expecting to meet a secret colony of people in the know. But turns out they don’t know either. Which is in fact why they’re here, too — to find and interrogate people who do.

This collective “pinging” feels more akin to a high-frequency trading platform than a seminar devoted to improving the state of the world. The cocktail parties are no more than lubricated information markets, where each node is trying to calibrate itself based on information transmitted and received. What emerges about Europe, or social media, or green energy is eventually rendered a mushy consensus. This is what they might call in Davos the market-clearing price of a thought.

So, what was the mushy consensus?

“Not optimistic. But Less Pessimstic.”

Imminent crisis averted in the Eurozone, dozens of CEOs in private interviews struck a remarkably similar tone about the world economy. It’s banal if only for the scramble of phrases: Some spoke of the timeless “caution,” others declared themselves “not pessimistic but not optimistic either” and “hesitant.” The only honest position seems to be this: No one has a clue.

“Governments don’t create growth. They create circumstances.”

Perhaps the most provocative quote of the week, from an unnamed CEO. Such antipathy was in wide circulation across the week, as CEOs variously complained about financial overregulation, competing international standards, and European governments’ inability to change labor and safety-net laws. The struggle over corporate tax dollars — particularly in the strapped U.S. and Europe — is only beginning. There just doesn’t seem much trust left between government and business, which does not bode well.

via The 10 Things We Learned At Davos – Corporate Intelligence – WSJ.

Impact 2012 budget will have on business owners

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01:  George Osborne...

Although Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2012 Budget Speech (SA’s first-ever R1 trillion budget speech) received mixed reactions from the public. He repeatedly made a point that in order for the country to effectively address inequality and poverty, a partnership between government and the private sector was critical. He also revealed a number of tax-related changes that will impact and affect small business owners.

According to Kobus Engelbrecht, Marketing Head for Sanlam Business Market, the key change of the budget speech is the implementation of dividend withholding tax on 1 April 2012. This will bring an end to secondary tax on companies, and entails that dividend withholding tax at 15% will be paid on any dividend paid out to the shareholders of the company. The Minister further announced that businesses with a revenue of less than R1 million are likely to be given the option of making payment for turnover tax, VAT and employees’ tax at twice-yearly intervals from 1 March 2012. Businesses that make less than R1 million would be able to file a single combined tax return on a twice-yearly basis. This means that the number of returns required for these taxes will fall from about 18 per year to only two per year.

“The tax exclusion amount on the disposal of small business when a person is over the age of 55, will go up from R900 000 to R1 800 000. The market value of assets allowed for small business disposal for business owners over the age of 55 will increase from R5 000 000 to R10 000 000,” says Engelbrecht.

Some of the key aspects of the National Budget in relation to individuals

Karin Muller, Head of Sanlam Growth Market Solutions, shares some insights:

• Minister Gordhan mentioned personal income tax relief of R9,5 billion. The majority of this will go to lower income earners.

• The most talked about items on the budget speech (on social networks) are the so-called “sin taxes”: tobacco products will increase between 5-8%. A 750ml bottle of spirits will cost you R6 more (a 20% increase) and a 340ml can of beer will cost 9c more (a 10% increase).

• More capital will be spent on nursing institutions and the rebuilding of five tertiary training hospitals.

• Currently there are not enough incentives to make the public save and Minister Gordhan proposed a new saving mechanism to help. This is still a proposal and a discussion document will be published in May 2012. The mechanism will enable you to save without paying tax on the returns you earn, which will surely enable many South Africans to make their savings work harder.

• If you’re under the age of 45, you can deduct up to 22,5% of your income if you contribute towards your retirement, irrespective of whether you are saving in a pension or provident fund (and irrespective of whether you or your employer makes the contribution). These deductions will, however, be limited to a maximum annual deduction of R250 000 for people younger than 45 years and R300 000 for people older than 45 years.

via The impact the 2012 budget will have on business owners – Men’s Lifestyle, Sports, Health, Fashion Tips & Business Network | Destiny Man.