Friday, April 14, 2017

Dirty Secrets: How Tax Havens Destroy the Economy

Mitching stories at Easter

Sysadmin accused of crashing former employer's Oracle database with logic bomb

Always ensure the office laptop gets returned

Thanks for letting us know. Scammers often operate overseas w/VOIP numbers (aren't easily traceable & appear local). ^MP

Thank you. Every report from the public assists us with investigation and public awareness campaigns regarding scams. ^MP

Drug giant 'plotted to destroy stocks of cancer medicines' 

One of the world's leading drug companies 'plotted to destroy supplies of life-saving cancer medicines' over a battle to drive up prices in Europe, it has been claimed.

The conference focused, in effect, on our longstanding policy platform, the ABC of tax transparency:
  • Automatic, multilateral exchange of tax information
  • Beneficial ownership (public registers for companies, trusts and foundations); and
  • Country-by-country reporting (public).
I don’t think Cayman will be signing up to the public elements in particular any time soon. But a few years ago, there would have been a comprehensive rejection of the whole thing – whereas I was able to commend the government on signing up to automatic exchange under the OECD CRS (from 2018); and on committing to introduce (private) country-by-country reporting under BEPS. Halfway to the ABC?
There may be just a little more mutual understanding after last week – a little more awareness of the extent to which we share an interest in a level playing field, and a little more clarity on the transparency demands of civil society and the basis for making them. Because we’re not going away…
Speaking notes by Alex Cobham on The Caymans: Reputation, Rhetoric, and Reality with the video. See also the very interesting opening presentation from Pascal Saint-Amans, and a panel including Radhanath Housden from the Global Forum among others, and the closing session

Inside Higher Education published a review of‘Dirty Secret: how tax havens destroy the economy‘ this week. Its author, Scott McLemee, noted: 

Murphy also, surprisingly, regards tax havens as an affront to the power of the marketplace and their defeat as essential tosaving capitalism from itself. I admit that this argument caught me off guard. Here is the author making it in brief.
If markets are to be efficient in the way that economists have described — and as those who suggest they provide optimal solutions profess to believe they operate — then there must be the highest-quality information available to all market participants so that they can act rationally, allocating resources to the person who is best able to use them to maximize return, and who exposes the provider of capital to the lowest risk in that process. Very obviously, tax havens undermine these principles. They are in fact designed to deny market participants the information they need to act rationally, allocate resources efficiently and minimize risk. … If risk is increased, then the required rate of return within marketplaces also increases. This means that the number of projects that can be invested in is reduced, so that the amount of capital committed is diminished. As a consequence, productivity declines, and along with it growth, output, wages and profits
The suite of reforms Murphy proposes amount to a program of robust data collection by the European Union and other international actors combined with legislation that would, bit by bit, make access to secrecy jurisdictions more difficult and less profitable. The alternative is even more staggering levels of inequality than have already become the norm. Murphy’s trust in the possibility for reform would be easier to credit if the shadow economy were some kind of lamprey that had attached itself to an otherwise healthy organism; then it could be removed. But his book is too persuasive in its depiction of tax havens as tightly connected to banks, accounting firms and other established institutions. They seem to exist in a kind of symbiosis — which can’t end well.

Dirty SecretsRichard Murphy (City University, London), Dirty Secrets: How Tax Havens Destroy the Economy(2017):

The Panama Papers were a reminder of how the superrich are allowed to hide their wealth from the rest of us. Dirty Secrets uncovers the extent of the corruption behind this crisis and shows what needs to be done in the face of this unregulated spread of rampant greed.

Tax havens, we are often told, are part of the global architecture of capitalism, providing a freedom from regulation necessary to make markets work. In this book, leading authority Richard Murphy uncovers the truth behind this lie. The fact of the matter is that this increasingly popular practice threatens the foundations of democracy, sowing mistrust and creating a regime based upon opacity.

As Murphy shows, how we manage our economy is a political decision, and one that can be changed. Dirty Secrets proposes ways to regulate tax havens and what the world might look like without them.

George Nott

Allie Coyne