Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pikkety, Panama Papers and OECD: Global Matters Baisakhi

As my wonderful father used to observe it is a one random single snowflake that causes an avalanche noise (roar) to the High Tatra Mountain ...

“I do not particularly like the word 'work.' Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.”
Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution 

Mr Jordan has called a meeting in Paris for Wednesday  of tax officials from around the world and will propose a joint international investigation with experts from each of the participating countries. The meeting will be chaired by the Australian Taxation Office's head of international tax, Mark Konza. ... In Paris, Mr Konza will propose the 28 countries set up joint teams to pool and analyse data and then to mount operations.
Mr Jordan said a six-country collaboration he set up in 2012 to investigate the world’s largest e-commerce companies, was the prototype for the Panama Papers investigation. “We’re basically trying to get the bigger picture,” Mr Jordan said. "It's never been tried on this scale before The Panama papers OECD emergency meeting as crime links emerge

Holly Watt, Panama Papers: global tax officials to launch unprecedented inquiry(Guardian 4/12/16), here.  Excerpts:
The aggressive new approach is being led by the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (Jitsic) network, of which the UK is a leading member.
A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirmed that it would be sending delegates to the Paris conference. 

“A number of countries have got slices or pieces of the data and that’s been very useful, but really, the start of the conversation is to work out who’s got what, how we can pool that information and start to work together.”  Jordan has emphasised the importance of speed, telling officials that he expects immediate information exchange, rather than the traditionally slow approach.  The meeting in Paris will be chaired by the Australian tax office’s head of international tax, Mark Konza.
  • IRS Web Page, here.
  • Memorandum of Understanding, here.
  • Terms of Reference, here.
  • Sullivan & Cromwell LLP Memo on Impact of Multilateral Tax Information Exchange Programs (2009), here, discussing inter alia JITSIC.
From ICIJ Panama papers to CIA and JITSIC

Economist David Boyle, described by Co-operatives UK General Secretary Ed Mayo as “the finest radical voice of this generation”, is the author of a host of books about history, social change, politics and the future. He shares with colleagues a distinguished track-record at the New Economics Foundation, a leading UK thinktank which promotes social, economic and environmental justice via ground-breaking research David Boyle

Jack Townsend, Articles on ICIJ’s Panama Papers and Ramifications

Coda as Jack has  Periodic posting of thoughtful articles on ICIJ ...

Crawford Kilian, The Man Who Foretold the Panama Papers (The Tyee 4/5/16),here.  This is a book review of Thomas Piketty's new book, Why Save the Bankers? And Other Essays on Our Economic and Political Crisis, here, which was just published.  Piketty, here, is the author who stirred the global pot with his massive Capital in the Twenty-First Centuryhere, with more data and analysis of data than most of us want to think about much less read. (I have heard that Piketty's book has the lowest number of actual readers among persons who have purchased the book; disclaimer: I too purchased it and have yet to read it other than episodically.)  The book being reviewed here is a collection of other smaller works by Piketty that develop and sometimes predate publication of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.  Here are some excerpts (bold face-supplied by JAT):
But why bother to buy a scrapbook of ancient columns when you can read Capital in the Twenty-First Century? For one very good reason.

The world's greatest economic detective 
Because Thomas Piketty follows the money. He goes into the tax archives of the last two centuries, and he has become the greatest economic detective the world has ever known. He has tracked the wealth of the rentier class since Napoleon -- the families of the "independently wealthy" who live off the income paid them because they own moneymaking enterprises and land.  
In one column, published five years ago on April 5, 2011, Piketty offers what is almost a throw-away line: "... at the world level, the net financial position is negative over-all, which is logically impossible unless we assume that on average we're owned by the planet Mars. More likely, this contradiction suggests that a nonnegligible share of financial assets held in tax havens and by nonresidents is not correctly reported as such." 
In other words, every country in the world is losing money, and therefore losing tax revenue. The implication is that every country is making up for the loss either by taxing its poorer residents more than they should be, or by cutting social services.
Five years later, almost to the day, the Guardian and the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung broke a major global scandal: the Panama Papers.
Piketty's colleague, Gabriel Zucman, published on that issue in the The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (2015), here.

TaxGrrrl, The Panama Papers: Where Are The Americans?
hugging polar bears links
A guide to the 5 biggest revelations from the Panama Papers (so far) Vox. Notice it includes Putin but not Ukraine’s Porshenko.
White Collar Watch: Panama Papers Show How Lawyers Can Turn a Blind Eye New York Times. “Can turn a blind eye”? That’s what they were paid to to.
Cameron vows to stop tax cheats Austrailian. Note that this is part of the Brexit story, since the pro-Brexit Tories are attacking Cameron over his the Panama Papers revelations and his record of being soft on reining in tax haven abuses

KPMG should be charged with facilitating tax evasion: watchdog

Megan McArdle, Those Tax ‘Loopholes’ Were Created for a Reason. Megan deals with some nonsense:
I have now been referred to the same New York Times article on Delaware corporations multiple times. Why bother moving your money abroad when you can illegally shelter it right here?
This argument is deeply, deeply confused. And since it’s confused in a way that often muddles our conversations about tax policy, it seems worth talking about.
Start with a simple observation: Delaware corporations are not really a good place to hide your money from U.S. tax authorities.
If you think she’s wrong, try hiding your U.S. income in a Delaware corporation sometime without telling the IRS. You won’t care for the results.

 Goldman Mortgage Settlement Is Much Less Than Meets the Eye New York Times. OMG, the New York Times finally puts a headline on one of these mortgage settlements that should have been applied to all

For a Generalist, ‘Too Big to Fail’ May Be Too Tricky to Judge New York Times. Andrew Ross Sorkin departs from his usual big finance fanboy-dom. But insurers are not important sources for him, and his TBTF friends are probably annoyed that Met Life got off easy

Antidote du jour (martha r):