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Index August 2010

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After Iraq

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America has had a bruising decade. But do not underestimate either the superpower or its president

Published on The Economist, Aug 26th 2010.

… The wrong turn:

To many Americans, the misadventure in Iraq has come to symbolise a broader wrong turn America made after Osama bin Laden assaulted it on September 11th nine years ago. Nearly six out of ten Americans now say that they oppose even Mr Obama’s “good” war—the one against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. An America that is bleeding economically at home, with unemployment stuck at nearly 10% and debts as tall as the eye can see, is losing confidence in its ability, and perhaps in its need, to shape events in far-flung regions such as Central Asia and the Middle East. Continue Reading…

A costly lesson

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Published on The Economist online, August 27, 2010.

If “executive” MBA programmes are not much different from their full-time counterparts, how do business schools justify charging twice the price?

IT STARTED with a little-reported court judgement in an American backwater. In 2007 Ruth Creps, a resident of Idaho, was made redundant by her employer. She applied for funds from the Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance programme, a scheme designed to help retrain workers who lost their jobs due to international trade competition. Ms Creps wanted to take an MBA at nearby Boise University, but decided that she would rather do the $41,000 part-time “executive” MBA (EMBA)—which is usually paid for by employers who are looking to train up their high potentials—instead of the full-time programme which cost just $14,000.  Continue Reading…

The U.S. and Iraq: what now?

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Published on PEOPLE’S WORLD, by PW Editorial Board, August 27 2010.

… Actually there are several big questions.

To what extent are “combat troops” being replaced by Special Operations forces, other U.S. personnel, and private contractor mercenaries?

Will all U.S. troops leave in December 2011, as the U.S.-Iraqi agreement specifies? Reports are that Special Operations forces will stay on. What about other U.S. forces and private contractors?  Continue Reading…

AUSTERITY IN THE FACE OF WEAKNESS

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Watch this latest video with Doug Henwood on the RealNewsNetwork, 13.13 min, by Paul Jay, August 26, 2010, or read the Video Transcript.

Le projet de loi US contre le terrorisme intérieur

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Enquête primée par Project Censored

Published on Voltairenet.org, par Lindsay Beyerstein, Jessica Lee, Matt Renner, 18 août 2010.

En 2007, l’administration Bush tenta de faire adopter une loi assimilant les défenseurs des droits des animaux, les militants anti-mondialisation, les membres du mouvement pour la vérité sur le 11-Septembre, et bien d’autres groupes contestataires à des terroristes. La Maison-Blanche s’appuya au Congrès sur la représentante Jane Harman (qui vient de racheter Newsweek) et sur le sénateur Joe Liberman (figure du mouvement sioniste). Face aux critiques, ce projet a été abandonné. Au demeurant, l’administration Obama a fait bien pire en ordonnant purement et simplement l’assassinat de citoyens états-uniens suspectés de liens avec « le » terrorisme.  Continue Reading…

Russia backs African nuclear treaty

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Published on UPI.com, August 24, 2010.

MOSCOW, Aug. 24 (UPI) — Even though Russia and the United States have the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, Moscow is backing a nuclear initiative to ensure that Africa remains free of nuclear weapons.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has submitted to the Duma for ratification two protocols to a treaty establishing Africa as a nuclear-free weapons zone, Itar-Tass reported.

The protocols propose a ban on nuclear tests in Africa along with the use of nuclear weapons against African countries.  Continue Reading…

Where to Is the Financial Crisis Drifting?

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Published on Current Concerns, by Professor Dr Eberhard Hamer, No. 15 /August 2010.

Theoretical alternatives of solution – Both market and administration economy offer alternative solutions:

• Market-based solutions:

  • When banks are highly indebted or hold unreliable or rotten papers they have to devaluate, according to the laws of the market, charge off, and, if necessary, file for bankruptcy. In these cases the losses remain with the banks’ owners, and in addition also with its creditors.
  • This is exactly why the international high street banks were not allowed to be handled and liquidated according to market procedure: The owners behind them (high finance) did not want to bear the losses, and on the other hand they had such great political power via the governments they controlled, that they were able to enforce a solution to the expense of others.  Continue Reading…

Swiss Farmers as Pioneers and Guarantors of Direct Democracy

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Published on Current Concerns, by thk, No. 15 /August 2010.

There is no sector of economy that affects life and survival as basically as agriculture. Due to our climate and topographic conditions, Swiss agriculture has developed in Switzerland in plains and in valley grounds first. In Switzerland, the cultivation of cereals, in particular wheat and barley were dominating. As early as in the 8th century, the farmers discovered the great advantages of the three-field-system which was replaced by crop rotation towards the end of the 18th century.

In order to ensure the food supply to the population of those times, the farmers developed the mountain ranges and the alpine pastures and started cattle and dairy farming under the most difficult circumstances.  Continue Reading…

Who Actually Owns BP?

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Published on Global Research.ca, by Rand Clifford, August 22, 2010.

Most relevant sources agree that 40% of the shares of BP are held in the United Kingdom, 39% of the shares are held in the United States, while the remaining 21% are held throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The largest single holder of shares is getting harder to track down. Generally an Internet search will lead to the other 9 leaders, roughly 23%: … //

… Too many sites fail to mention who owns a whopping 28.34% of BP—more than the other 9 out of the top 10 together. That would be Wall Street’s JPMorgan Chase. And that certainly explains why our own government has offered mostly limp and phony bluster and coverup as BP has done pretty much whatever it wants in our new energy sacrifice zone—such as the deliberate blockage of oil collection in favor of bringing in “Carolina Skiffs” and huge aircraft to spray dispersants at night. BP lies, our government lies and covers, and the Gulf dies. Evidently, our government’s top priority is limiting BP’s liability. Continue Reading…

Blood Money

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Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, Q.C., former Prime Minister, alleged potential war criminal

Published on Global Research.ca, by Felicity Arbuthnot, August 21, 2010.

… Writer and activist, David Wilson, suggested other book signings he deemed apt for the relevant week, to the Guardian:

  • “Waterstones are pleased to announce a programme of book signings for the week of 6 – 10 September 2010.
  • 6 September, Osama bin Laden: ‘Town Planning in Manhattan’
  • 7 September, Radovan Karadzic: ‘Hill Walks above Sarajevo’
  • 8 September, Tony Blair: ‘A Journey’
  • 9 September, General Than Shwe: ‘Gated Communities in Rangoon’
  • 10 September, President George W Bush: ‘Shock and Ore.’ “  Continue Reading…

The political and social roots of Russia’s wildfire disaster

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Published on WSWS, by Andrea Peters, 21 August 2010.

A cold wave hitting central Russia has finally provided relief to millions of Moscow residents who have been living in suffocating heat and smog for weeks. While the wildfires that turned the air in the nation’s capital into a toxic haze have reportedly been brought under control, numerous blazes continue to burn in other areas, in particular Siberia and the Far East … //

… The lesson that the ruling elite is drawing from these events is that it is necessary to further consolidate its grip on power in order to prevent similar crises in the future from sparking a challenge to its authority. In an August 11 article published in the government newspaper Rossiskaia Gazeta and entitled “Lessons of a Hot Summer,” Nikolai Zlobin warns that the Russian state must consider the national security implications of the wildfire disaster.  Continue Reading…

Finance after the crisis: Survival of the richest

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Our continuing series of profiles of financial firms looks at the evolution of Blackstone, the most public private-equity outfit

Published on The Economist, Aug 19, 2010.

BLACKSTONE is used to wowing people with the size of its deals. The firm has taken part in seven of the 25 largest leveraged buy-outs in history. In 2006 it bought Freescale Semiconductor, a chipmaker, for $17.6 billion, and Equity Office Properties for $38.9 billion; it forked out $25.8 billion for Hilton Hotels in 2007. Times have changed. On August 13th Blackstone announced it would buy Dynegy, an energy firm, for nearly $5 billion, the largest buy-out of the year so far but a sum that would scarcely have turned heads in the boom.  Continue Reading…

Accountability and Transparency in the World of Big Money: Banks too Big to Jail

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AS BANKS SETTLE FRAUD COMPLAINTS, WHAT HAS REALLY BEEN SETTLED IN THE CONFLICT WITH THE BANKSTERS?

Published on Global Research.ca, by Danny Schechter, August 18, 2010.

… We all wonder why there have been so few prosecutions and convictions of Wall Street higher ups.

The while world blames the United States for plunging the world economy into crisis but executives here are able to maneuver around findings of pervasive fraud in real estate, sleazy practices of securitization and devious insurance policies by “settling” complaints written off as a cost of doing business and passed on to shareholders. Meanwhile we pass financial “reforms” that will take years to implement and are much softer than the rules in most other countries. Britain, for one, has made fighting financial fraud a priority.  Continue Reading…

Understanding America’s class system

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Published on Online Journal, by Joe Bageant, August 18, 2010.

How about them political elites, huh? Five million bucks for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding; 15K just to rent the air-conditioned shitters — huge chrome and glass babies with hot water and everything. No gas masks and waxy little squares of toilet paper for those guys.

Yes, it looks big time from the cheap seats. But the truth is that when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune. Washington’s political class is about as upwardly removed from ordinary citizens as the ruling class is from the political class. For instance, they do not work for a living in the normal sense of a job, but rather obtain their income from abstractions such as investment and law, neither of which ever gave anybody a hernia or carpal tunnel. By comparison, the ruling class does not work at all … //  Continue Reading…

Military Agenda: U.S. Using ASEAN to Weaken China

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Strategy to contain both China and Russia in South East Asia – Published on Global Research.ca, by Kazi Mahmood, August 15, 2010. ( /13 )

Washington is using the Asean region for a bigger military purpose and this strategy is becoming clear to observers due to the U.S. push for greater influence in Asia. The show of force of the American navy in the recent ‘military games’ bordering the Chinese seas and the American tough policies towards North Korea coupled with its diplomatic penetration in Myanmar and Vietnam.

The show of force of the American navy in the recent ‘military games’ bordering the Chinese seas and the American tough policies towards North Korea coupled with its diplomatic penetration in Myanmar and Vietnam gave the Asean group an idea of the ‘global’ powers that Washington is capable of wielding.  Continue Reading…

Unregulated Greed has Destroyed the Capitalist System

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The Big Things That Matter And The Little Things That Annoy – Linked with Paul Craig Roberts – USA.

Published on Global Research.ca, by Paul Craig Roberts, August 12, 2010.

… Secretary Regan reminded me of my memo to him detailing that Treasury was going to have a hard time getting President Reagan’s economic program, directed at curing the stagflation that had wrecked President Carter’s presidency, out of the Reagan administration.  The budget director, David Stockman, and his chief economist, Larry Kudlow, had lined up against it following the wishes of Wall Street, and the White House Chief of Staff James Baker and his deputy Richard Darman were representatives of VP George H.W. Bush and did not want s substantial Reagan success that would again threaten the Republican Establishment’s hold over the party. Baker and Darman wanted to be sure that George H. W. Bush, and not Jack Kemp, succeeded Ronald Reagan, and that required a muted Reagan success that they could claim as theirs for moderating an “extremist” program.  Continue Reading…

GM and French trade unions force through wage cuts

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Published on WSWS, by Pierre Mabut, August 14, 2010.

General Motors workers at the Strasbourg plant last month were blackmailed into voting for major concessions demanded by GM and the US government, which owns 60 percent of the carmaker, and backed by the French government and the trade unions. Workers were told they would have to accept a wage cut of 10 percent or the plant would be closed and production transferred to GM Mexico … //

… In fact, the role of all the unions has been exactly to bring down wage levels. At the same time they have promoted economic nationalism. All unions are engaged in wage cutting, as witnessed by the Continental Tyres where CGT pushed through an uncompensated increase from 35 to 40 hours a week in 2007 supposedly to “save” jobs, only to have workers lose them in 2009.  Continue Reading…

Banks, blood and chocolate

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Published on Pambazuka, by Khadija Sharife, August 12, 2010.

Rudolf Elmer, whistleblower and former CEO of Swiss bank Julius Baer’s Cayman Island operations, reveals the secrets of the murky world of offshore banking to Khadija Sharife. ‘Mauritius is in many ways the Switzerland of Africa,’ says Elmer, but there is another African nation vying to be the ‘golden’ financial gateway: Ghana.

At one point during our conversation, the phone goes dead. Much later, Rudolf Elmer, one of the world’s most infamous whistleblowers and the former chief executive officer of private Swiss bank Julius Baer’s Cayman Islands operations, would rattle off to me a list of possible intelligence services that might have been involved.  Continue Reading…

Contractionary Monetary Policy and the Dynamics of U.S. Race and Gender Stratification

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Linked with Political Economy Research Institute PERI.

Published on Political Economy Research Institute PERI, by Seguino, Stephanie and Heintz, James, August 9, 2010. Download the 41 pdf-pages. Abstract: This paper explores the distributional effects of contractionary monetary policy by race and gender in the U.S. from 1979-2008 using state-level panel data … (full text).

This Economy Stinks, Yes It Does

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Published on truthout, by Dean Baker, August 10, 2010.

… At this point in a recovery, the economy should be generating 300,000-400,000 jobs a month. Instead, we are flirting with zero.

So, we are sitting here with a moribund recovery that promises to leave tens of millions of people unemployed or underemployed for the indefinite future. And the political options at the moment seem to be between Democrats who tell us things are good and Republicans who say the economy stinks, but don’t have a clue on how to make things better.

Just to be clear, we do know how to make things better, we just lack the political will.  Continue Reading…

The Illusion of Economic Recovery: The Fed Creates Money Out of Thin Air

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Published on Global Research.ca, by Bob Chapman, August 11, 2010.

Well, it’s just the same old, same old, business as usual in America.  The Fed creates money out of thin air, uses it to keep the economy from teetering over the edge of destruction as ludicrous salaries and bonuses are collected by Wall Street Illuminists and as US consumers are deceptively informed that we have green shoots sprouting up and that recovery is just around the corner.  So go out and borrow, borrow, borrow, and spend, spend, spend, so US Illuminist transnational conglomerates can continue to generate their off-shore, untaxed profits to pay Illuminist salaries and bonuses for their henchmen in Corporate America.  Then you have the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (aka the Plunge Protection Team, aka the PPT for short), rigging markets around the world 24/7 with the money created out of thin air by the Fed via the repo pool … //  Continue Reading…

Were Revolutions in China Necessary?

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Published on Socialist Project, by By Robert Weil, August 9, 2010.

Is socialist revolution necessary? Under what conditions? How far should it go? Is more than one revolution needed, even in the same society? What about the issue of revolutionary “excess”? Is there such a problem, and if so, what causes it and does it lead to counterrevolution? If the revolution is “defeated,” was it still worth undertaking? And finally, who gets to decide these questions, and write the history of revolutionary change? For each country or society, these queries must be broken down more specifically. In the case of China, for example, was a revolution in land control needed? Should it have been carried to the point of the collective socialist organization of rural society? Why was the Great Leap Forward undertaken, and the Cultural Revolution? Did they go “too far”? Did their “excesses” lead China back to the “capitalist road” under Deng Xiaoping? … //  Continue Reading…

Obama Economic Team Bails as System Fails

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Published on Global Research.ca, by Danny Schechter, August 8, 2010.

… Is anything changing? The banks say they will not change the way they finance mortgages so it is still buyer beware. The Wall Street Journal reports another instant crash of the markets is possible. And General Motors that was down and on the way out is back thanks to the government’s largesse but sniping at its rescuers, insisting an end to government ownership would be good for their image and “employee morale.” Huh?

“We want the government out period,” blusters GM’s ungrateful CEO Edward E. Whitacre Jr. This same company recently spent $3.5 billion buying a new subprime lending company to replace GMAC, the GM lender whose bad loans sunk GM. On top of that, these geniuses just produced The Volt electric car that sells for $40,000, hardly a brilliant move in this economy. Of course they blame all their problems on the government, never themselves.

Like so many others, they seem to be banging on Obama, everyone’s target of choice. If that’s your inclination, let’s blame him also for what he has not done.

He hasn’t led a consistent push back against Wall Street, perhaps because he hopes in vain that big business will create private sector jobs and wants to show naysayers how pro-business he really is. This has turned him into an inversion of FDR.

As Ezra Klein of the Washington Post observed: “The reality is that America’s supposedly anti-business president has led an extremely pro-business recovery.

Businesses are sitting on about $2 trillion in cash reserves. Business spending jumped 20 percent last quarter, and is up by 13 percent against 2009. The Obama administration has dropped taxes for small businesses and big ones alike.”

So much for that canard.

Is there anything to be done? There is no shortage of proposals for jobs programs and taxes on transactions, for tougher rules on derivatives, and imposed compensation limits. In most cases the US, with pressure from Wall Street and its political allies, has opted for easily maneuvered around and malleable regulations.

One small reform has been proposed by the much-maligned Ralph Nader for those of us who live in the appropriately named “Empire State, ” one that currently shelters a Wall Street where hedge fund managers make billions.

Nader notes, “Low-moderate and middle-income New Yorkers already pay a higher percentage of family income in state and local taxes than do the richest one percent of New Yorkers!

Surprisingly, there is a simple way to eliminate the state deficit and prevent tens of thousands of layoffs and large service cutbacks.

What most New Yorkers do not know is that for about a century there has been a state stock transfer tax on purchases of securities. This year, this tax, similar to ones imposed in 30 other countries, will amount to about $16 billion. Amazingly, since 1979, this tax has been instantly rebated by New York State back to the brokers or clearinghouses who paid it. A 100% rebate every year for the bailed out industry that caused the recession and its immense human damage.”

Putting a stop this sleazy practice could be as important in phasing out the Bush tax cuts but so far it’s not on anyone’s agenda, Dems, Repugs or Media.

Maybe because they think of it as “structural.” (full text).

Copenhagen and Carbon Trading: Why the commodification of Nature will not solve climate change

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Published on Socialist Project.ca, by Mary Thibodeau, August 2010.

As the Yes Men hoax of the Copenhagen negotiations and environmental justice movements expose Canada’s shameful position on climate change, we are faced with many possible takes on the climate change issue. The Yes Men hoax illuminated Canadian inaction through a fake Environment Canada press release stating that Canada is “taking the long view on the world economy” and reversing its previous woefully inadequate positions on climate change, thereby acknowledging the need to take full responsibility for emissions. Later it emerged that Canada was not, in fact, acknowledging its climate debt to poor nations, and that tar-sand development would continue on as usual. As climate justice movements and the climate debt agents mobilized around the indebtedness issue, others saw ‘hope’ in Obama’s presence at the negotiations … //

… Conclusions:  Continue Reading…

Pentagon can’t account for $8.57 billion in Iraqi funds

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Published on Online Journal, by Jerry Mazza, August 6, 2010.

… A contrite DOD, attaching responses to the audit, agreed with the report’s recommendations for better guidelines. Big deal! Did any heads roll? Was this the first time they’ve handled huge amounts of money? Not on both counts. Can the DOD really be expected to change their ways? Good luck. And remember, they got about $700 billion of US taxpayer money this year. That’s your money they’re playing games with.

This problem bleeds too into Afghanistan where billions in reconstruction funds have been “mismanaged” (fraud), and hampered US-led efforts to “rebuild Afghanistan.” What a joke. We can’t even rebuild one of the felled twin towers at Ground Zero since 9/11/2001. The billions poured into that project are like the $60 billion poured into Afghanistan since 2001 to bring electricity, clean water, jobs, roads, and education to a crippled country. It hasn’t happened and it’s morally pathetic.  Continue Reading…

Why World War II ended with Mushroom Clouds

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Published on Global Resear.ca, by Jacques R. Pauwels, August 6, 2010.

In the European Theatre, World War II ended in early May 1945 with the capitulation of Nazi Germany. The “Big Three” on the side of the victors – Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union – now faced the complex problem of the postwar reorganization of Europe. The United States had entered the war rather late, in December 1941, and had only started to make a truly significant military contribution to the Allied victory over Germany with the landings in Normandy in June 1944, less than one year before the end of the hostilities. When the war against Germany ended, however, Washington sat firmly and confidently at the table of the victors, determined to achieve what might be called its “war aims” … //  Continue Reading…

Capitalism is dying a natural death

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Published on Online Journal, by Siv O’Neall, August 3, 2010.

The curtain is going down on the lone-superpower world we know and it is now a most urgent question if and when and how forces for true democracy, human rights, peace and civilization can come out and dissipate the cloud that has spread over what was once an almost decent way of life.

The long-time descent into totalitarian capitalism and neglect for anything but corporate profit has just about finished its course. The party is over. Bankruptcy is next. What we don’t know yet is how far-reaching this economic freefall is going to be.  Continue Reading…

Treasure islands: Mapping the geography of corruption

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Published on Pambazuka News, by Khadija Sharife, July 29, 2010.

Neither the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nor the country’s government agree that Mauritius is a tax haven, but Khadija Sharife’s investigations suggest otherwise … //

… The narrow geography of ‘corruption’ has been limited to behavioural ‘demand-side’ activities i.e.: Corruption on the part of state officials for public gain. This definition was launched by corruption watchdog Transparency International, and ratified by resource-seeking and financial multinationals, and developed governments – systemic providers of supply-side corruption such as the Louvre Group.  Continue Reading…

Preparing for World War III, Targeting Iran – Part I: Global Warfare

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Published on Global Researach.ca, by Michel Chossudovsky, August 1, 2010.

Humanity is at a dangerous crossroads. War preparations to attack Iran are in “an advanced state of readiness”. Hi tech weapons systems including nuclear warheads are fully deployed.

This military adventure has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board since the mid-1990s. First Iraq, then Iran according to a declassified 1995 US Central Command document.  Continue Reading…

US transfer pricing hearings: statements

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Published on Tax Justice Network, by TJN, July 26, 2010.

Linked on our blogs with Tax Analysts.COM.

For the record, and for adding to our Transfer Pricing Page, (see also a big file on wikipedia) we are providing a set of links to the recent U.S. hearings on transfer pricing on July 22.

We would like to highlight two presentations in particular. The first is by Martin A. Sullivan of Tax Analysts. It highlights how just five jurisdictions – Bermuda, the Caymans, Singapore, Switzerland and Ireland – account for almost a quarter of foreign profits of non-financial U.S. multinationals, shows how the problem has been getting worse, not better – citing an annual revenue loss $28 billion over and above the revenue loss if transfer pricing rules were as effective as they were in 1999 – and that number represents a conservative estimate. Continue Reading…

The political spinning of the WikiLeaks exposé: Antiwar whistle-blowing or war propaganda?

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Published on Online Journal, by Larry Chin, July 30, 2010.

Since the release of classified US military papers by WikiLeaks, the material has been aggressively spun by various political factions. Meanwhile, virtually no attention has been devoted to investigating the source of this “leak,” or questioning the agenda behind it … //

… Leak as imperial war propaganda:  Continue Reading…

Offshore City of London puffed up shadow banking

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Published on Tax Justice Network, by blog owners, July 27, 2010.

The IMF has produced a curious new working paper with the exciting title of The (sizable) Role of Rehypothecation in the Shadow Banking System, with a particular look at the role that the United Kingdom has played in this vast, dangerous unregulated market.

Please forgive the slightly wonkish nature of this, but rehypothecation is the practice that allows collateral posted by, say, a hedge fund to its prime broker (the investment banks or securities firms that provide lending and a bunch of other services to hedge funds) to be used again as collateral by that prime broker for its own funding. Continue Reading…