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Foreign banks in Britain pay fraction of tax rate, by Tom Bergin
Some of the biggest foreign investment and commercial banks operating in Britain paid an average tax rate of just 6 percent on the billions of dollars of profits they made in the country last year, a Reuters analysis of regulatory filings shows. That is less than a third of Britain’s corporate rate of 20 percent. There is however nothing illegal about this.
Canada, Fraudster’s Nirvana, by Jonathan Manthorpe Column
Canada was slammed in a new report on corruption. It matters because tricks –blind trusts, shell companies, anonymous accounts in tax havens — are spurring the kind of populist, enraged politics that elected Donald Trump and is behind Brexit. Unless Ottawa ensures that Canada’s privileged classes play by the same rules as everyone else Canada, too, will experience a tide of outrage.
Who knew? Modi’s secretive attack on black money, by Douglas Busvine and Rupam Jain
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi staked his reputation and popularity on a secretive flash attack on the corrupt “black money” his government has struggled to eradicate.
Suspected of Corruption, Finding Refuge in the U.S. by Kyra Gurney, Anjali Tsui, David Iaconangelo, Selina Cheng
Wealthy politicians and businessmen suspected of corruption in their native lands are fleeing to a safe haven where their wealth and influence shields them from arrest: the United States, an increasingly popular destination for people avoiding criminal charges.
Donald Trump’s Constitutional Problem, by Richard Tofel, ProPublica
Far from ending with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he will separate himself from the management of his business empire, the constitutional debate about the meaning of the Emoluments Clause — and whether Trump will be violating it — is likely just beginning.
Pacific Rim Leaders Scramble in Trump Trade Era, Reuters, by Rosalba O’Brien and Mitra Taj
Leaders of Pacific rim nations scrambled to find new free-trade options on Friday as a looming Donald Trump presidency in the United States sounded a possible death knell for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
EU Bids to Seal Canada trade Pact as US Prospects Dim, by Philip Blenkinsop and Tatiana Jancarikova
EU ministers took steps to approve a contentious free trade deal with Canada, while France and Austria demanded that talks towards a similar agreement with the United States should stop. Both deals have triggered demonstrations.
If carbon pricing is so great, why isn’t it working? by Peter Fairley
Carbon pricing has yet to deliver on its potential. To date most carbon prices remain low — “virtually valueless.” That has led even some economists to question whether carbon pricing’s theoretical elegance may be outweighed by practical and political hurdles.
Bitcoin “miners” face fight for survival, by Jemima Kelly
On July 9, the reward for bitcoin miners will be slashed in half. Written into bitcoin’s code when it was invented in 2008 was a rule dictating that the prize would be halved every four years, in a step designed to keep a lid on bitcoin inflation.
Financial firms invest $28 billion in making banned cluster bombs. By Alex Whiting
More than 155 financial institutions have invested billions of dollars in companies making cluster bombs, weapons which are banned under international law because of their impact on civilians, a pressure group said. The firms include those in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and Britain, countries which have signed a convention banning the weapons.
Going green helps Rust Belt cities revive. By Winifred Bird
Gary, Indiana is joining Detroit and other fading U.S. industrial centers in an effort to turn abandoned neighborhoods and factory sites into gardens, parks, and forests. In addition to the environmental benefits, these greening initiatives may help catalyze an economic recovery.
The G7 wrapped up its 2016 summit with warnings, of risks to economic growth, health threats from microbes resistant to antibiotics and the handling of health emergencies, as well as a loss of public trust in tax systems to the need for infrastructure investment and trade agreements.
Which Brexit forecast is trustworthy? by Nauro Campos
At one extreme, Economists for Brexit predict that the main economic consequence of Brexit is that UK incomes in 2030 will be about 4% higher. In the middle, studies suggest UK incomes by 2030 will be will be unaffected. And At the other extreme, various studies (including the Treasury, the LSE, the OECD, and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research reports) indicate substantial losses to the UK economy, of about 7% by 2030. How does one think this through? An economist offers suggestions.
How a bank turned a $10 billion profit into a tax loss. By Tom Bergin
When Barclays sold a fund management business to U.S. financial group Blackrock Inc. in 2009, the larger-than-expected price tag was not the only good news for the British bank’s investors: they reaped a tax loss, earning billions almost tax free. The legal deal is the latest example of how some companies benefit from tax regimes that regulators worldwide are trying to crack down on. … read more
Illegal Gold Mining in the Amazon, by Bruno Kelly
An area the size of Switzerland belongs to the Yamomani people. But in their lust for gold illegal miners — who in the 1980s used guns and disease to kill 20 per cent of the population — continue felling trees and poisoning rivers with mercury. Authorities stage raids and destroy the miner’s equipment. But who are the illicit business interests behind the miners? … read more
Inequality threatens democracy — investors. By Laurie Goering
Global wealth inequality is becoming a fundamental risk to democracy and to economies around the world as more people feel government rules are “rigged” in favour of the rich leave them with few options, say investors and governance experts.
Move everything, to curb climate change — investors. By Laurie Goering Report
Meeting the goals of a new global agreement to tackle climate change will require social change on an almost unprecedented scale, sustainable investment experts told a global conference. That includes shifting trillions of dollars each year into renewable energy – up from $345 billion last year – and making everything from transport to agriculture and consumer products much greener very quickly.
How do you mine Bitcoin – and is it still worth it? By Paul Levy
Most people are bamboozled by Bitcoin, but there are definitions of Bitcoin that even a five-year-old could understand. Bitcoin is an online form of money – each one is currently worth around £290. So, when you read “cryptocurrency”, think digital gold. Think virtual money.
German economist challenges orthodoxy, inequality, by Noah Barkin
Marcel Fratzscher, in contrast to many of his German counterparts, does not believe the German economy and the rules-based governance – Ordnungspolitik – that has shaped it since World War Two is a model that others should emulate.
The Executive Pay Cap That Backfired. By Allan Sloan, ProPublica
Wealth, jobs and pay inequality are big political issues in America. A favoured political tool for tackling these problems is the U.S. federal tax code. But trying to legislate corporate behavior and economic fairness — however you define fairness — through the tax system is a lot trickier than it sounds.
Iran’s elite guards gain regional, economic power. By Parisa Hafezi
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards did well under international sanctions, and the elite military force is destined to become still richer now they’ve been lifted. Iran is expecting an economic boom in the post-sanctions era, and the Corps, will be a beneficiary.
Momentum fading for global economic growth. By Reuters
Economic growth is losing momentum across emerging and developed economies as is inflation, with trouble in China now the biggest worry for 2016, according to the overwhelming majority of hundreds of economists polled by Reuters around the world.
Globalization: elite British golfers rue sale to Chinese investors. By Estelle Shirbon
Conflict at an elite golf club in the United Kingdom is a case study in globalization and inequality: wealthy locals are in high dungeon at being pushed out by richer foreign buyers. The case feeds into a wider debate in Britain over perceptions that prime assets are being sold off to foreigners who may not always have local interests at heart.
JANET YELLEN: an unorthodox economist. By Jason Lange
Former colleagues paint a picture of U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen as a pragmatic economist who is ready to adjust course when necessary, but one who relies on data and economic theory rather than guesswork or hunches.
U.S. Space mining law dangerous and potentially illegal. By Gbenga Oduntan
An event of cosmic proportions occurred on November 18 when the US congress passed the Space Act of 2015 into law. The legislation will give US space firms the rights to own and sell natural resources they mine from bodies in space, including asteroids.
VW took corporate ethics industry to the brink. By Kelly Kollman & Alvise Favotto, University of Glasgow
The Volkswagen emissions scandal may have fatally undermined the credibility of claims that corporations care about being benign and useful participants in society.
Trans-Pacific Partnership details released. By Krista Hughes and Matt Siegel.
The long-awaited text of a landmark U.S.-backed Pacific trade deal was released October 5, revealing the details of a pact aimed at freeing up commerce in 40 percent of the world’s economy but criticized for its opacity.
Global oil industry slipping into the red. By Ron Bousso, Karolin Schaps & Anna Driver
The oil sector is slipping into the red after years of fat profits as the steep slump in oil prices shows little sign of ending, with this quarter shaping up to be the worst since the downturn started. The world’s top oil companies have struggled to cope with the halving of oil prices since June 2014. They have cut spending repeatedly, made thousands of job cuts and scrapped projects.
North Korea’s black market the new normal. By James Pearson & Damir Sagolj
The underground market is becoming the new normal in isolated North Korea, a dilemma for the Kim family’s hereditary dictatorship, which up until now has kept tight control of a Soviet-style command economy, largely synonymous with rationing and material deprivation.
Playing the market: China’s small investors. By Aly Song, Reuters, a photo essay
Some are in it for the money, some want a few yuan to buy a meal. And then there are also those who trade for fun or to spend time among friends. Millions of mom-and-pop investors – from pensioners, to security guards, to students – dominate China’s stock markets.
Africa’s Bright Spot: Ivory Coast is booming. A Reuters photo essay
From Abidjan airport’s packed arrivals hall to the hotels and plush villas mushrooming across the city, Ivory Coast is booming, a rare African bright spot as the world’s biggest cocoa producer bounces back from years of turmoil and civil war.
Yanis Varoufakis in conversation, as Syriza splinters and Greek election beckons. By Yanis Varoufakis et al
The Conversation asked nine leading academics what their questions were for former Greek finance minister Dr. Yanis Varoufakis, a man who describes himself as an “accidental economist.” His answers reveal regrets about his own approach during a dramatic 2015, a withering assessment of France’s power in Europe, fears for the future of Syriza, a view that Syriza is now finished, and doubts over how effective Jeremy Corbyn could be as leader of Britain’s Labour party.
Military gambit behind Putin’s Arctic oil ambitions. By James Henderson
The United States Geological Survey has estimated that the Arctic regions contain around 130 billion barrels of liquids and 47 trillion cubic metres of gas, equivalent to 22% of the world’s undiscovered hydrocarbon resources. It is hardly surprising then that all the countries whose coasts encircle the region, the US, Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia, have made claims on territory outside of the clear boundary for each, which stretches 200 nautical miles from their shoreline.
The snow will be fake, but the very real financial muscle China boasts proved decisive on Friday when Beijing won the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Human rights activists criticized the award, saying the International Olympic Committee had sent the wrong message at a time of growing government pressure on activists and civil society.
Notebook: Secret IMF staff report shocks Greece deal , by F&O (Notebook)
“Greece’s debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far,” the staff of the International Monetary Fund said in a report released Tuesday, hours after Monday’s controversial agreement between Greece and 18 partners on a third bailout for the indebted country. The Debt Sustainability Analysis noted it was published without the input or approval of the organization’s executive board.
Explainer: tumult in China’s casino stock market, by Michele Geraci
When I teach stock market investment to my Chinese students, I always remind them that the Shanghai stock exchange should be thought of more as a casino, rather than as a proper stock market. In normal stock markets, share prices are – or, at least, should be – linked to the economic performance of the underlying companies. Not so in China, where the popularity of the stock market directly correlated with the fall in casino popularity.
EU makes last ditch effort to save Greek bailout. By Renee Maltezou and Lefteris Papadimas, Reuters
EU authorities made a last-minute offer to salvage a bailout deal that could keep Greece in the euro as the clock ticked down on Tuesday, with Germany warning that time had run out to extend vital credit lines to Athens. With billions of euros in locked-up bailout funds due to expire at midnight, the European Commission urged Greece to accept the proposed deal, while holding out hopes that some tweaks could still be possible. If no agreement is reached, Greece will default on a loan to the IMF, setting it on a path out of the euro with unforeseeable consequences for the European Union’s grand currency project and the global economy.
Nine things to know about Greece’s IMF debt default, by André Broome
Greece is set to miss the deadline on its €1.6 billion loan repayment due to the IMF. The country’s stalemate with its international creditors and the decision to hold a referendum on its bailout offer means Greece will become the first advanced economy to default to the fund in its 71-year history. Here are nine essential things to know about the default
Saying the clock is ticking and humanity is late in addressing threats to life on this planet, John Fullerton tackles Regenerative Capitalism: How universal principles and patterns will shape our new economy. The report — briefly excerpted — notes that global threats including climate change, inequality, and the 2008 financial crisis have led to questioning of capitalism, while experiments are ongoing that reimagine capitalism for ll levels of society — and the planet. The aim, it says, is “to create a self-organizing, naturally self-maintaining, highly adaptive Regenerative form of capitalism that produces lasting social and economic vitality for global civilization as a whole.”
Why Comcast Walked Away By Leticia Miranda
Comcast announced that the company is walking away from its proposed $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable. Comcast had recently met with the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. The deal had been troubled for weeks. The Justice Department and FCC had reason to carefully evaluate the merger, which was first announced in Feb. 2014 and had been expected at the time to be completed by the end of 2014 or early 2015.
Lessons from Norway: women on corporate boards. By Cathrine Seierstad, Morten Huse, and Silvija Seresl
It recently emerged that there were more men named John running large companies in the United States than women. Actually the U.S.S is about average when it comes to the percentage of women it has on boards – 19 per cent. Japan does badly with women holding just 3 per cent of board seats, but Norway has one of the best records with women holding 35.5 per cent of the seats on Norwegian stock index companies. Norway’s success at having such a relatively high percentage of women on boards is largely a result of the country’s introduction of quotas.
Flash Crash jitters: high-speed trading. By Andrei Kirilenko
The transition from human to electronic trading came with the promise of using faster and cheaper technology to drastically lower the costs of trading shares and to make it much easier to determine the most up-to-date prices for all market participants (commonly known as price discovery). But with all that speed, automation and complexity comes the risk that a string of problematic ones and zeros could cause a market meltdown, even if only a temporary one.
State capitalism is back. By Daniel De Bonis
State capitalism, which was considered only a few decades ago a relic of the mid-20th century, is back – with a vengeance. China has already surpassed the US as the world’s largest economy, after purchasing-power parity adjustments. And together, the economies of the so-called BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – should be twice as big as the American economy by 2018, according to the IMF. Each of these countries in its own way share an important trait: an interventionist state, whose tentacles spread across economic sectors, exercising direct or indirect control over a good number of enterprises.
Fracking: it’s everywhere (at least in America). By Peter Dykstra
Forget, for the moment, whether you think fracking is an energy godsend or an endtimes disaster. Just consider how it’s everywhere. In the long run, fracking will impact our lives far more than four of its fellow inductees into the Merriam-Webster dictionary this past year: Hashtags, selfies, tweeps, and turduckens all have their place in society. But none touch everyone’s lives like fracking will, and already has.
Just drink it: wine is rarely worth an investment By Karl Storchmann
Investing in fine wines has become increasingly popular over the past few decades as many in the viticulture industry have promoted fermented grapes as a way to boost returns and diversify a portfolio. The rapid rise in public interest has been accompanied by a growing body of economic literature. The evidence suggests it may not be wise to buy wine as investment instead of for drinking. Investing in common stocks yield higher returns in the long run – and is less risky.
Dark Money: How a Mining Company Defeated an American Senator. By Theodoric Meyer
When billionaire Chris Cline’s company bought an option to mine a swath of northern Wisconsin in 2010, the company touted the project’s potential to bring up to 700 well-paid jobs to a hard-pressed part of the state. But the Florida-based company wanted something in return for its estimated $1.5 billion investment — a change to Wisconsin law to speed up the iron mining permit process. So, Cline officials courted state legislators and hired lobbyists. And, unbeknownst to Wisconsin voters and lawmakers, the company waged a more covert campaign, secretly funding a nonprofit advocacy group that battered opponents of the legislation online and on the airwaves.
Hong Kong’s storms threaten China’s Economy. By Damian Tobin
The pro-democracy protesters in the streets of Hong Kong, once again confront Beijing with the age-old conundrum of how to balance authoritarian control and the demands of a complex modern society. For Beijing, this conundrum is particularly acute as the Communist Party has long lacked the ability to mobilise popular opinion after the discrediting of the mass, populist campaigns of the Maoist era. For Hong Kong, the conundrum offers another insight into the failure of its legislative council to adequately respond to pressing social issues and emerging threats to Hong Kong’s role as a gateway to China.
U.S. Financial Reform: Secret Recordings and a Culture Clash. By Jake Bernstein
One day Carmen Segarra purchased a tiny recorder at the Spy Store and began capturing what took place at Goldman Sachs. In the tale of what happened next lie revelations about the challenges of reforming the American financial system, in the wake of the 2008 crisis that crippled global finances and continues to reverberate through the world economy.
Electric cars new Company Workhorses. By Richard Brooks.
Who, beyond the early adopters, are likely to take the gamble on buying electric vehicles? Forget California or Tokyo — think the company accountant of your local delivery firm. It is the business owner, fleet manager and procurement officers who are beginning to take a hard look at the benefits offered by EVs and are likely to be the driving force to mainstream adoption.
BRICS Bank a Game Changer. By Ali Burak Güven, The Conversation
The top news from this year’s BRICS summit was theannouncement of a New Development Bank. Headquartered in Shanghai, the bank will become operational in 2016 with an initial capital of US$50 billion. Its core mandate is to finance infrastructure projects in the developing world.
Aggressive Tactic on the Fracking Front. By Naveena Sadasivam, ProPublica
For the last eight years, the American state of Pennsylvania has been riding the natural gas boom, with companies drilling and fracking thousands of wells across the state. And in a little corner of Washington County, some 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh, EQT Corporation has been busy – drilling close to a dozen new wells on one site. It didn’t take long for the residents of Finleyville who lived near the fracking operations to complain — about the noise and air quality, and what they regarded as threats to their health and quality of life.
U.S. Treasury secretary Geithner: “I should have paid more attention.” by Jeff Gerth, ProPublica
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expands his previous mea culpa — on his failure failed to adequately regulate the banking giant Citigroup during his tenure as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — in his new book “Stress Test,” on the financial crisis.
Weibo IPO Reveals a Company Struggling With Censorship. By ProPublica staff.
Weibo, “China’s Twitter,” has begun offering shares on one of America’s free market stock exchanges. But unlike in the United States, where freedom of expression is protected, in China social media companies rely on censorship for their business model. Weibo’s regulatory disclosures reveal a company’s balancing act between censoring too much and too little.
Landowners often losers in deals with U.S. energy companies. By Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica
At the end of 2011, Chesapeake Energy, one of the United State’s biggest oil and gas companies, was teetering on the brink of failure. Its legendary chief executive officer, Aubrey McClendon, was being pilloried for questionable deals, its stock price was getting hammered and the company needed to raise billions of dollars quickly. The money could be borrowed, but only on onerous terms. Chesapeake, which had burned money on a lavish steel-and-glass office complex in Oklahoma City even while the selling price for its gas plummeted, already had too much debt. In the months that followed, Chesapeake executed an adroit escape, raising nearly $5 billion with a previously undisclosed twist: By gouging many rural landowners out of royalty payments they were supposed to receive in exchange for allowing the company to drill for natural gas on their property.
Elder Assisted Living: An Island of Misery. By A.C. Thompson, ProPublica
Episodes of violence and neglect inside one American facility in Oregon, if sad, are not particularly unique. Page through the regulatory records and court files of any state and one will come across such horror stories. The history of the facility itself reflects a larger reality of the assisted living business. Hundreds of such facilities — some exemplary, some deeply troubled — change hands each year, many of them scooped up by the large chains that have come to dominate this swiftly expanding industry.
U.S. fraudster who saw “death as a holiday” jailed six years. By Jake Bernstein, ProPublica
Joseph Caramadre believed he had found the Holy Grail for investors, a risk-free way to speculate in financial securities 2014 all upside with little or no downside. All he needed to make it work were people who would soon be dead. On December 16, in a federal United States courtroom in Rhode Island, the scheme ended with a six-year prison sentence for Caramadre.
Canadians open first bitcoin ATM. By Deborah Jones
Three young entrepreneurs opened an automated teller in this Western Canadian city, calling it the world’s first ATM able to exchange bitcoins for any official currency. The machine, delivered to Vancouver by Robocoin, an American manufacturer, stands against a wall of a popular coffee shop. It resembles an ordinary cash ATM. However, instead of cash transactions it swaps Canadian dollars for bitcoins, the virtual currency of the Internet invented in 2008 by an anonymous computer scientist known only by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
Default Settings: The Perils of Undischarged Public Debt. By Brian Brennan
What would an American default mean for the rest of the world? Some analysts say a default could trigger a global financial heart attack similar to the one caused by the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, a sprawling global bank. Others claim a default wouldn’t be that bad, because America always has enough tax money coming in to pay its debt service. We do know from history that a government’s failure to meet its debt obligations can have ramifications well beyond the borders of the realm where the default takes place: take the example of the Canadian province of Alberta after it defaulted on a maturing debt obligation.
Fly Me to the Moon: The world’s biggest chopper company. By Deborah Jones.
When pilot Richard Barrette signed on with the international division of CHC Helicopter Corp., he didn’t count on someday being pinned down at a Rwandan hotel, surrounded by warring tribal factions, and finally seeking escape by piloting his noisy Bell 212 chopper out of Kigali’s airport in the dead of night within range of rocket launchers. Most tasks assigned to employees of CHC, based on the far eastern edge of Canada, carry only modest risks, whether ferrying tourists and offshore petroleum workers or repairing engines and frames. But unintentionally covert activities have lately become a prominent feature in the resumes of Barrette and some of the other pilots who fly CHC’s United Nations contracts in strife-ridden countries.
In Animation, Anything is Possible. By Deborah Jones
The star of the adult cartoon The Pink Komkommer’ is a woman snoozing in a rocker. A pot of tea steeps on a nearby table, and a cat and a caged bird look on as domesticity gives way to orgiastic dreams. Outsized, pulsating genitals and grotesque beasts undulate across the screen. The snore soundtrack changes to moans and the cracking of whips. Tiny, winged cherubs assault a sleeping man in an armchair, wrapping their limbs around a part of his body not normally used as a handle and bear him off through a window. Between orgasms, the woman snuffles awake to see if her tea is ready. In animation, anything is possible. When words, still art or live-action film fail to capture an idea, animation fills the breech.
Northern Cod Collapse: an ecological and economic disaster. By Deborah Jones.
This summer, after the government banned fishing of Northern Cod, the smell of fish in Bonavista’s cavernous fish plant is the only remnant of its once-vigorous northern cod fishing industry. Down the road, on a vast cement wharf, grounded fishing boats are lined up like tombstones in a nautical cemetery. For the first time in memory, the fishers of this Newfoundland outport, one of North America’s oldest communities, are not putting out to sea. Because of a two-year federal moratorium on northern cod fishing, life in Bonavista has changed irrevocably.