Monday, March 23, 2009

Links - March 23

** Also see our searchable archive of past story summaries; and Offshore Watch. **

Where on earth are you? Big companies in tax havens
March 23 (TJN) _ A new TJN report, producing information and analysis that has never been seen before, surveyed 97 of the largest quoted companies in the UK, the Netherlands and France. Of those companies all but one had tax haven subsidiaries. 99 per cent of the European quoted companies surveyed operate in tax havens. As in the USA, the largest user of tax havens in every country surveyed was a bank.

Where on earth are you?
March 21 (Tax Research) - This report builds on a finding in the United States that 83 per cent of the largest US companies have tax haven / secrecy jurisdiction subsidiaries. The report surveyed 97 of the largest quoted companies in the UK, the Netherlands and France. All but one had tax haven subsidiaries. 99 per cent of the European quoted companies surveyed operate in tax havens. As in the USA, the largest user of tax havens in every country surveyed was a bank. This is the first time we have had this information.

Tax havens exist because of the hypocrisy of larger states
March 21 (FT) - Excellent article by John Kay, despite the ominous headline. Havens exist only because larger states allow them to exist, and larger states allow them to exist because the customers of havens are the rich and powerful. In the 1860s, the typical client of a haven was a patron of Blanc’s casino: in the years after 2000, the typical client of a haven was a hedge fund registered in Grand Cayman.

The Big Takeover
April 2 edition (Rolling Stone) Wonderfully written long article about AIG and the financial crisis, comparing it to Enron. This is a company that built a giant fortune across more than a century by betting on safety-conscious policyholders — people who wear seat belts and build houses on high ground — and then blew it all in a year or two by turning their entire balance sheet over to a guy who acted like making huge bets with other people's money would make his dick bigger.

Barroso sees US-Europe ‘convergence’
March 20 (FT) - The US and the European Union are finding common ground in their efforts to strengthen global financial market regulation. José Manuel Barroso predicted that, if the push for tighter regulation ran into obstacles, they might come from big emerging countries such as China rather than the US or UK.

Macho poker bets, summary sackings and an 'electric chair'
March 20 (Guardian) - High stakes poker games, a "cow eating club", brutal sackings and a team-building exercise in which an executive was strapped into a mock electric chair.

Watchdog fears market ‘Ponzimonium’
March 20 (FT) - US federal regulators have warned of a “rampant Ponzimonium” as they disclosed they are investigating “hundreds” of possible scams in the aftermath of the $50bn fraud allegedly perpetrated by Bernard Madoff.

RBS faces probe over 'threats' to directors
March 22 (Guardian) _ The scandal engulfing the Royal Bank of Scotland reaches new heights today with serious allegations from a senior Labour politician that at least three of its former non-executive directors may have been intimidated and threatened with the sack for asking searching questions about its financial affairs.

Peripheral care should be the central concern
March 22 (FT) - Europe and the US guaranteed that no other important financial institution would be allowed to fail. Many poor countries could not offer similar guarantees. So capital fled from the periphery to the centre. The flight was abetted by national financial authorities at the centre who encouraged banks to repatriate their capital. When history is written, it will be recorded that – in contrast to the Great Depression – protectionism first prevailed in finance rather than trade.

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