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The gaslit uplands are here

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/09/2021 - 7:55pm in

When the government is insisting that the lights won’t go out, there will be enough food, and not to panic as there is quite enough petrol to go round, you have to why we are having such a conversation. We are not victims of chance. We’re heading into the winter of a ‘perfect storm’: unaffordable... Read more

The speaker should be a bastion of our democracy..

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/09/2021 - 7:39am in

But now, I’m afraid isn’t… Sir Lindsay Hoyle – Speaker of the UK House of Commons has now decreed that he wants no jeans or sports wear for The House. Should he perhaps have prescribed Ermine – just of lesser quality than the Lords? Or even better, a Frock coat and tights? After all, MP’s... Read more

The current chaos cannot continue. The worry is we don’t know when it will end, or what will come next

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/09/2021 - 5:34pm in

Nobody expected a shortage of bed linen in hotels to be a consequence of Brexit. But along with shortages of food, cars, blood testing bottles and HGV drivers and an excess of pigs it apparently is.

But then so too is the denial that all this has anything to do with Brexit another consequence of Brexit. A brave face in the breakdown of politics and the economy seems to be the order of the day. I noted one commentator in the FT this morning saying:

The US economy today is about as strong as it has been in generations, with the tightest labour markets and highest inflation rates seen in decades. That is even accounting for a recent moderation of growth driven by the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, reflected in Friday’s disappointing August jobs data.

It seems that there is a collective denial going on. Evidence is being swept aside. A collective pretence is being presented that if we just hang on all will be well.

Even the government is doing it. Put up with a couple of years of chaos, it is saying, and all will be fine. Except, it has no basis for saying that, because it simply cannot know. And as for the US economy? Add in Covid, a crisis of international confidence, climate change and threats to the US constitution arriving via state abortion and election legislation and the last thing its prospects look like are rosy.

The reality is that in a remarkably short period of time considerable change has taken place. The route from social democracy to authoritarian populism has been steady, beginning in 1947 with the creation of the Mont Pelerin Society by Hayek and Milton Friedman, but with growing momentum since 1980.

During the 80s that movement might have been honest about its intent. Before and after then it is very hard to think that it has been: subterfuge as to its vision has been normal because it’s very hard to say that your aim is the limitation of democracy to serve the interests of very few in society, and yet in Trump and Johnson (and others, elsewhere) that is very obviously what the ultimate aim has been. And it has succeeded, by and large, in delivering just that.

The underlying threat to society at large may be even bigger than that created by inequality though. It does not take much to read a eugenicist approach into Dominic Cummings rants on the rights of the 0.01%. It is much easier to see that Rushi Sunak has a decided bias against those least well off, as had Trump. The aim is to oppress.

But, to achieve that goal something had to give, and that something, it now seems, was order. The order of trade. The order of international relations,. The order of the rule of law. The order of parliamentary sovereignty. The order within the media, and its right to question. The order that lets routine happen and markets function, and supply chains operate. And into that already chaotic scene Covid was thrown, by accident, but with revelatory consequences by showing how the new order of government was to work for the benefit of a few.

The result is not strong economies, or strong anything else. The consequence is weak government, shown to be without an agenda beyond destroying constraints on their own action, but without apparent knowledge of what action they desire because that, they claim (conveniently) is for markets to decide, even though those in the markets clearly do not wish for that choice.

So where are we? In chaos, it would seem, with no route out. The dogma without substance that has gripped popular politics has no answer to any question except how to increase short term inequality.

The question is, his long can this situation last? What will the tipping point be? It’s still not clear. But there will be one. Either democracy will collapse, and that is possible in the chaos that is developing, or there will have to be a backlash to save it. The mess we are in has nothing within it that suggests it meets any of the needs of society. So society has either to be suspended, or resume its role. What is not possible is that current chaos might continue, because at some people will have had enough. It’s just a matter of when.

What can be done about tax havens?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/09/2021 - 5:14pm in

In the first four videos in this series on tax havens I have explored how they work, what they abuse, and why that abuse should worry anyone who is concerned for fair markets, the rule of law and democracy, all of which tax havens (or secrecy jurisdictions as I prefer to call them) actively seek to undermine.  

This then leads to the obvious question, which is what can be done to tackle the abuse that tax havens promote? I have spent years addressing this topic and in this video I highlight four of the themes that I have worked on.

The first of these tackles the abuse of tax havens by multinational corporations. In 2003 I created the concept of country-by-country reporting, which requires that multinational companies report their trading activities, tax related cash flows and limited balance sheet data for each jurisdiction in which they have an operation. My original 2003 proposal is here.  In 2015 the OECD adopted this idea as a key component of their Base Erosion and Profit Shifting programme that tackled tax haven abuse. The requirement to account in this way is now a legal requirement in more than 90 countries. However, there is a major flaw still, and that is that all this accounting for transparency still takes place in secret. We need this data in the accounts of public companies as well. Then we will all be able to see who is, and is not, abusing tax havens.

Second, there is automatic information exchange from tax havens. This involves the supply of data from secrecy jurisdictions to the tax authorities of the countries where those who have accounts in those places really live. This has been a legal requirement for several years now, but the question is, is it really working?

That brings me to my third theme, which is the need for properly functioning company registers, everywhere, and not just in tax havens. In my onion company registers should show that a company exists, what it does, who owns it, who manages it, who benefits from it if not any those previously mentioned people, and what it actually does i.e. its accounts should be available, and in full. That is because companies enjoy the privilege of limited liability which comes at potential cost to the rest of society and transparency is a requirement as a consequence of that. Almost no tax haven provides this data as yet. It is hard enough to get in the rest of the world. And without it automatic information exchange cannot really function, which is why this is key.

Fourth, extending this transparency requirement to trusts simply extends the reach of the measures I suggest for companies in a way that is necessary to break tax haven secrecy, where trusts are often used to add to the opacity of these places.

I explore all these issues in the video. We still have a lot to do, but I also stress, progress is definitely being made. We can end the abuse from tax havens.

Why are tax havens harmful?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/09/2021 - 4:16pm in

In the first three videos in this series on tax havens I explored why tax havens should really be called secrecy jurisdictions, what tax havens are used for now and how they try to undermine the regulation of other states.

In this video I move on to ask why tax havens are so harmful? Drawing on economic theory and the simple ethics of fairness that every child understands I argue that tax havens are intended to undermine fair markets, and do. As a result, for from being the bastions of free enterprise that they claim to be tax havens are actually places that seek to undermine the entire market system.

On the way to achieving that goal I argue that they also undermine two other thing as well. One is the rule of law, and the other is democracy.

In that case tax havens exist to create a form of oppression where a few can economically abuse most people through the use of offshore corporations. That is, of course, one description of fascism.

The Real Looters Of South Africa

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/09/2021 - 3:02pm in

Documentary filmmaker, Rehad Desai, discusses how South Africa and her people have been looted by shadowy fixers, venal politicians and dodgy corporate deals that have all but bankrupted the country.

The post The Real Looters Of South Africa appeared first on Renegade Inc.

The Real Looters Of South Africa

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/09/2021 - 3:02pm in

Documentary filmmaker, Rehad Desai, discusses how South Africa and her people have been looted by shadowy fixers, venal politicians and dodgy corporate deals that have all but bankrupted the country.

The post The Real Looters Of South Africa appeared first on Renegade Inc.

How do tax havens work?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/09/2021 - 3:38pm in

In this third video in a series on tax havens I look at how tax havens work.

As I explained in the first video in the series, the key to understanding tax havens is to understand that their primary product is not now tax abuse, but a more general abuse of the regulation of other countries. Key to that process is secrecy.

This understanding gave rise to my theory, first published in 2009, of how tax havens really work. That understanding has underpinned much change in regulation since then and is reflected in the work of a number of authors, including that of Nick Shaxson, who wrote the best-selling ‘Treasure Islands’.

My theory is based around how the users of tax havens try to get around regulation by moving the recording of transactions from the place where they really are, and might usually be regulated, (‘here’, as I describe it), to either another identifiable place that should regulate them (‘somewhere’, as I call it), or to a place that does purposely not disclose that it may be regulating the transaction (‘elsewhere’ in my description, which refers to most tax haven activity), or to the ultimate goal of the tax haven user - which is ‘nowhere’, meaning that the transaction is knowingly not regulated anywhere at all.

Understanding these stages of separation is key to understanding how tax havens work. I explain how in this video. The paper in which the thinking was first explored is here.


What are tax havens used for?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 4:08pm in

In this, the second in a series of five videos on tax havens, I look at what tax havens are now used for.

Because of the work of international regulators, under pressure from tax justice campaigners, the days when tax havens were used for hiding away suitcases full of ill-gotten cash are now pretty much gone. But they are still in business. So, what are tax havens used for now, and why?

In this video I have two themes. The first is that tax abuse is not the only use for a tax haven now. In fact, it is just as likely that a tax haven, or secrecy jurisdiction, is being used to hide an activity from any number of regulations, none of which need involve tax. That regulation could relate to competition law, employment regulation or environmental demands. Alternatively, the use of a secrecy jurisdiction could simply be motivated by the desire to hide wealth from creditors, business partners or a spouse.

Second, when it comes to tax, I explore what taxes are most likely to be abused from these places now.  It’s still commonly thought that income taxes - whether personal or corporate - are the taxes that are being abused in tax havens. Although that is undoubtedly true in some cases and in some havens, I strongly suspect that much of the business in tax havens is now focussed on avoiding capital gains taxes, and taxes on wealth and inheritance. I discuss why in this video.



What is a tax haven?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 31/08/2021 - 3:46pm in

When I first began working on tax havens in the early years of this century it quickly became very clear that there was no precise definition of what a tax haven might be, and little chance of agreeing on one. The reason was simple: there were too many varieties of tax haven for one definition to cover all that they might do.

However, as I explain in this video, there was one characteristic that all the places that might have been called a tax haven seemed to have in common, and that was secrecy. What I realised was that without secrecy to hide their activities from scrutiny most of those using the paces usually called tax havens would not undertake activity there.

So, adapting the term secrecy jurisdiction that I had first heard used by the late US Senator Carl Levin, I changed the focus of attention when seeking to define these places away from tax and towards the secrecy that they almost always provide. The result was my definition of a secrecy jurisdiction, which has underpinned much of the progress on tackling these places since I first offered it in 2009.

I define secrecy jurisdictions as places that intentionally create regulation for the primary benefit and use of those not resident in their geographical domain with that regulation being designed to undermine the legislation or regulation of another jurisdiction and with the secrecy jurisdictions also creating a deliberate, legally backed veil of secrecy that ensures that those from outside the jurisdiction making use of its regulation cannot be identified to be doing so.

I explore this issue in this video.

The paper in which I redefined tax havens as secrecy jurisdictions is here. 

This is the first in a series of five videos on the theme of tax havens.