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£13tn hoard hidden from taxman by global elite Study estimates staggering size of offshore economy; Private banks help wealthiest to move cash into havens - A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore -- as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together -- according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.
James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.
He shows that at least £13tn -- perhaps up to £20tn -- has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, "protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy". According to Henry's research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than £4tn in 2010, a sharp rise from £1.5tn five years earlier. (London Guardian)
Why the Dollar's Reign Is Near an End For decades the dollar has served as the world's main reserve currency, but, argues Barry Eichengreen, it will soon have to share that role. Here's why--and what it will mean for international markets and companies. - The single most astonishing fact about foreign exchange is not the high volume of transactions, as incredible as that growth has been. Nor is it the volatility of currency rates, as wild as the markets are these days.
Instead, it's the extent to which the market remains dollar-centric.
Consider this: When a South Korean wine wholesaler wants to import Chilean cabernet, the Korean importer buys U.S. dollars, not pesos, with which to pay the Chilean exporter. Indeed, the dollar is virtually the exclusive vehicle for foreign-exchange transactions between Chile and Korea, despite the fact that less than 20% of the merchandise trade of both countries is with the U.S.
Chile and Korea are hardly an anomaly: Fully 85% of foreign-exchange transactions world-wide are trades of other currencies for dollars. What's more, what is true of foreign-exchange transactions is true of other international business. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries sets the price of oil in dollars. The dollar is the currency of denomination of half of all international debt securities. More than 60% of the foreign reserves of central banks and governments are in dollars. (Wall Street Journal)
Quakers, anti-war rallies on alert list Taxpayer-funded bulletins listed meetings of Tea Partiers, Quakers and Pittsburgh anti-war activists as potential security threats.
A year's worth of bulletins released Friday by the governor's office shows the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response warned state Homeland Security officials about events as far away as the Sinai and as easy to predict as looking at a calendar.
The reports ignited controversy earlier this week when opponents of Marcellus gas drilling learned that gas companies had received the "Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletin" listing their planned participation in public hearings as part of a warning about potential terrorist threats to public infrastructure. (Pittsburg Tribune-Review)
Europeans Push Global Tax to Fund Poverty-Reduction, Climate Change Causes A group of 60 nations will meet next week at the United Nations to push for a tax on foreign currency transactions as a way to generate revenue to meet global poverty-reduction goals, including “climate change” mitigation.
Spearheaded by European Union countries, the so-called “innovative financing” proposal envisages a tax of 0.005 percent (five cents per $1,000), which experts estimate could produce more than $30 billion a year worldwide for priority causes. (CNS News)
Making the economy more just by Katrina vanden Heuvel - Congress has passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, but the task of transforming our economy into one of shared and sustainable prosperity has only just begun. Structural reform will come not through the sweep of a single piece of legislation but with new, innovative economic models that better reflect the democratic values of this country.
The good news is that some of these transformative ideas are already taking root. Here are five ways to build a more just economy that Americans are experimenting with across the country.
The answer is 'B'
Corporations are compelled to pursue a single objective: maximize profit. In fact, a company can be sued for following goals that veer from that statutory obligation.
That's why Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin sponsored the Benefit Corporation legislation that was signed into law this spring. It gives businesses the option to register as a "B corporation," an entity legally obligated to maximize both shareholder value and advance a common public purpose such as cleaner air, open space or affordable housing. The B corporation's stated public goal is vigorously monitored by independent, third-party groups. It's a new business model with social consciousness in its DNA.
B corporation legislation has also been passed in Vermont, and it is being considered in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. (Washington Post)
Canadian Civil Liberties Group Mulls Lawsuit as Details of Mass Arrests, Unprecedented Powers at G2O Come to Light Riot-police-peace The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it is looking into suing the Toronto police department following mass arrests at the G20 summit last week. It is now estimated that 1,000 people, including many journalists, were arrested. On Thursday, protest rallies were held in Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg against the brutal police crackdown. Civil liberties advocates are also up in arms after it emerged that the Toronto police were secretly given new and unprecedented powers of arrest in the lead-up to the G20. We hear from David Vassey, the first person arrested under a new law in Toronto that allowed police to detain anyone near the site of the G20 summit if they failed to identify themselves. (Democracy Now)
G8/G20 security costs could reach $900-million Supplementary estimates released by Parliament Tuesday indicate federal government will spend $654-million on security on top of the $179-million announced in March, for a total of $833-million. The total figure greatly exceeds some published media estimates of the overall costs. (UK Globe & Mail)
CFR Meeting: Zbigniew Brzezinski Fears Global Political Awakening "For the first time in all of human history, mankind is politically awakened. That's a total new reality. Total new reality. It has not been so for most of human history, until the last 100 years. And in the course of the last 100 years, the whole world has become politically awakened. And no matter where you go, politics is a matter of social engagement and most people know what is generally going on -- GENERALLY going on -- in the world, and are consciously aware of inequities, inequalities, lack of respect, exploitation." (Council on Foreign Relations)
Global Governance Today Jean-Claude Trichet, President, European Central Bank, New York - It was an unexpected crisis -- largely unexpected in its dimension and in its global nature -- even if it was clear that a number of academics; a number of central banks, I have to say; and also, a number of at his own institution very, very clearly -- the BIS -- had signaled that we were living in a world of general under appreciation of risks in the financial markets. And I have to say I was, myself, on record for having said that quite a time before the first turbulences erupted. But that being said, what we have observed is really something which was very big -- bigger than was expected. And with a number of features that were really also unique. - “A set of rules, institutions, informal groupings and cooperation mechanisms that we call “global governance”. (Council on Foreign Relations)
China's Yuan Ambitions: Currency swap agreements are part of a larger plan to extend the Chinese currency's role in global trade. China is playing a growing role in discussions over solutions to current economic problems. Much of the talk has focused on money -- whether Premier Wen Jiabao's concerns about the value of China's U.S. treasury investments, or the People's Bank of China's paper floating the idea of a de-dollarized international monetary system. Up to now, one limit to China's ability to contribute to global monetary reform has been its own currency policy, particularly the fact that the yuan is not convertible. However, now there are tentative signs that's starting to change.
Beijing has signed currency swap agreements with six central banks: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Belarus and most recently Argentina. These swaps permit those central banks to sell yuan to local importers in those countries who want to buy Chinese goods. This is particularly useful for importers struggling to obtain trade finance as a result of the financial crisis. As such, it's consistent with China's desire to participate in the Group of 20's efforts to support trade financing.
China has long wanted its currency to play a more important role in the global financial system. These swap arrangements come in the context of that broader policy aim. The broader policy goal also has a more practical function in reducing currency exposure and transaction costs for Chinese exporters. The rise in the yuan's value relative to the dollar in early 2008 was a reason why some Chinese exporters went bankrupt. The ability to settle trade in yuan would reduce this risk in the future. (Wall Street Journal)
China ready to discuss new reserve currency at G20 summit "We believe it is necessary to consider the IMF's role in this process and also define the possibility and the need to adopt measures allowing for Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to become an internationally recognized super-reserve currency," Russia's proposal read (NOVOSTI)
New World Order On the regulatory front, the path to a new global approach is pretty clear. Last spring the leaders of the G-7, a club of wealthy nations, agreed to create a "college of supervisors" to more closely coordinate regulation of multinational banks. - Yet regulators around the world were already jointly setting bank-capital standards before the current crisis hit. A lot of good that did us. So there is also much talk about the need for a new architecture--"a new Bretton Woods" was a phrase that echoed around Davos--to rein in global financial flows. (Time Magazine)
Paulson changes tack on financial rescue Consumer-finance sector will get help, but mortgage asset plan's shelved - But in a striking admission, Paulson said that buying up mortgage assets "is not the most effective way" to use government funding. Purchasing these so-called "toxic" assets was once the cornerstone of the rescue plan for financial markets and was almost the entire focus of Congress when the package was being debated before its enactment. But almost as soon as Treasury received the money, it decided that giving capital to banks in return for preferred stock was a better use of the funds. (Wall Street Journal)
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