Author: High Economist

Panama papers – Offshore leaks of the wealthiest 1%

Offshore Trove Exposes Trump-Russia Links And Piggy Banks Of The Wealthiest 1 Percent

https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/paradise-papers-exposes-donald-trump-russia-links-and-piggy-banks-of-the-wealthiest-1-percent/

A trove of 13.4 million records exposes ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of the chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the offshore interests of the queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world.

The leaked documents, dubbed the Paradise Papers, show how deeply the offshore financial system is entangled with the overlapping worlds of political players, private wealth and corporate giants, including Apple, Nike, Uber and other global companies that avoid taxes through increasingly imaginative bookkeeping maneuvers.

One offshore web leads to Trump’s commerce secretary, private equity tycoon Wilbur Ross, who has a stake in a shipping company that has received more than $68 million in revenue since 2014 from a Russian energy company co-owned by the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The new files come from two offshore services firms as well as from 19 corporate registries maintained by governments in jurisdictions that serve as waystations in the global shadow economy. The leaks were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and a network of more than 380 journalists in 67 countries.

The promise of tax havens is secrecy – offshore locales create and oversee companies that often are difficult, or impossible, to trace back to their owners. While having an offshore entity is often legal, the built-in secrecy attracts money launderers, drug traffickers, kleptocrats and others who want to operate in the shadows. Offshore companies, often “shells” with no employees or office space, are also used in complex tax-avoidance structures that drain billions from national treasuries.

The offshore industry makes “the poor poorer” and is “deepening wealth inequality,” said Brooke Harrington, a certified wealth manager and Copenhagen Business School professor who is the author of ‘Capital without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent.’

“There is this small group of people who are not equally subject to the laws as the rest of us, and that’s on purpose,” Harrington said. These people “live the dream” of enjoying “the benefits of society without being subject to any of its constraints.”

Offshore leaks database: https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/
If you check if there is local Romania / Moldova guys involved too in leaks, of course they are. Just some of them:
– Alexandru Sîrbu / John Maxemchuk and Sun Communications: https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/10101340
https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/10101689
– Ion Sturza: https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/12096662
– Anatolie Stati: https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/12102317
– OMV Petrom S.A.: https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/12139794
– Sorin Ovidiu Vintu: https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/28909

Advertisements

Grand theft Moldova – how billions are vanishing

Moldova is a tiny country squeezed between the interests of Russia and the European Union. Despite or perhaps because of its rampant poverty, it has grown into one of the biggest money laundering hubs on the continent.

Billions in black money flow annually through local banks. Moldova is a proxy – most of the money flowing through its banking system is not Moldovan. But the process has corrupted Moldovan society and wreaked havoc on the country’s politics, economy and judiciary.

The November billion vanished after the banks gave loans to companies owned by people whose identities remain hidden in a maze of offshore corporations. The borrowers took the money and ran. The collapse of these loans was a serious blow to a Moldovan banking sector already buffeted by corruption scandals:

  • The Magnitsky Affair began in 2007 when US$ 230 million was stolen from the Russian budget. Eventually, the money was routed through a group of Moldovan banks; some of it was traced to high-end real estate in New York City.
  • The Russian Laundromat, uncovered by OCCRP in August of 2014, was much bigger, passing US$ 20 billion in stolen Russian funds through some of the same Moldovan banks en route to Europe.

Resources:
https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/4203-grand-theft-moldova

Belarusul pune cetățenii la lucru…

Presedintele belarus Aleksandr Lukașenko își impune cetățenii care nu lucrează să plătească ”impozitul pe parazitism”. Este vorba de decretul nr. 3 privind „Impozitul pe parazitism” (Декрет №3 о тунеядцах – «О предупреждении социального иждивенчества»).

Aceste măsuri au făcut ca mii de cetățeni să protesteze recent în Belarus la așa-numitele ”marșuri ale neparaziților”.

Decretul impune un impozit pentru cei care nu lucreaza 6 luni sau mai mult într-un an. Taxa impusa este de aproximativ 360 de ruble belaruse (circa 190 $).

Având în vedere admirația domnului “Președinte” Dodon față de Președintele belarus Aleksandr Lukașenko, ar trebui să ne așteptăm la o astfel de abordare și în Republica Moldova pentru a ferici poporul?

Moneygram admited Anti-Money Laundering violations …

United States Department of Justice on November 9, 2012
Moneygram International Inc. Admits Anti-Money Laundering and Wire Fraud Violations, Forfeits $100 Million in Deferred Prosecution

MoneyGram International Inc. – a global money services business headquartered in Dallas – has agreed to forfeit $100 million and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the Justice Department in which it admits to criminally aiding and abetting wire fraud and failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, as charged in an information filed today in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

According to court documents, MoneyGram was involved in mass marketing and consumer fraud phishing schemes, perpetrated by corrupt MoneyGram agents and others, that defrauded tens of thousands of victims in the United States.  MoneyGram also failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act.  The Justice Department will return the forfeited funds to the victims of the fraud scheme through its Victim Asset Recovery Program.

“MoneyGram’s broken corporate culture led the company to privilege profits over everything else,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.  “MoneyGram knowingly turned a blind eye to scam artists and money launderers who used the company to perpetrate fraudulent schemes targeting the elderly and other vulnerable victims.  In addition to forfeiting $100 million, which will be used to compensate victims, MoneyGram must for the next five years retain a corporate monitor who will report regularly to the Justice Department.”

(more…)

The power of free market

Milton Friedman: The Power of the Market (Free To Choose – 1980) vol.1

America’s freedom and prosperity derive from the combination of the idea of human liberty in America’s Declaration of Independence with the idea of economic freedom in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Friedman explains how markets and voluntary exchange organize activity and enable people to improve their lives. He also explains the price system. Friedman visits Hong Kong, U.S. and Scotland.

Free To Choose: The Original 1980 TV Series
Free To Choose® is the ground-breaking PBS television series featuring Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning economist. These programs, filmed on location around the world, have helped millions of people understand the close relationship between the ideas of human freedom and economic freedom. The interaction between those ideas has created in the U.S. the richest and freest society the world has ever known. Milton Friedman sees this success threatened by the tendency in the last few decades to assume that government intervention is the answer to all problems. In these programs, which first aired on January 11, 1980, Dr. Friedman focuses on basic principles. How do markets work? Why has socialism failed? Can government help economic development? The 1980 version consists of 10 one-hour programs.

Formarea pietei libere & criza financiară

Notițe de lectură  despre formarea pieței libere.
George Friedman  – “Următorul deceniu: de unde venim … și încotro ne îndreptăm” (2011) : Capitolul 3. Criza financiară și renașterea statului

Piaţa liberă modernă este o invenţie a statului, iar regulile sale nu sunt impuse natural, ci sunt rezultatul aranjamentelor politice. Motivul pentru care am ajuns la această concluzie este că fundamentul practic al economiei moderne este corporaţia, iar corporaţia este o născocire care a devenit posibilă datorită statului modern. Corporaţia este o invenţie extraordinară. Creează o entitate despre care legea spune că este răspunzătoare pentru datoriile unei afaceri. Persoanele care deţin afacerea, fie că sunt proprietari unici, fie că vorbim despre un număr mare de parteneri, nu sunt personal răspunzătoare de acele cheltuieli. Ele nu se expun pierderii unei sume mai mari decât investiţia iniţială. În acest fel, legea şi statul mută riscul de la îndatoraţi la creditori. Dacă afacerea eşuează, creditorii trag ponoasele. Nu exista aşa ceva înainte de naşterea „companiilor coloniale“ în secolul al XVII-lea. Înainte de acea vreme, dacă deţineai o afacere, erai răspunzător pentru fiecare parte a ei. Fără această inovaţie, nu ar fi existat piaţa de acţiuni aşa cum o cunoaştem noi astăzi şi nimeni nu ar fi investit în firme start-up şi în micii întreprinzători.

Pretutindeni în lume, criza din 2008 a redefinit graniţele dintre corporaţie şi stat, reducând autonomia pieţei şi puterea elitei financiare, ceea ce a avut un impact minimal asupra Chinei şi Rusiei, unde sistemul era deja puternic orientat spre stat. A avut un oarecare efect în Europa, unde puterea statală a fost întotdeauna mai puternică decât în SUA. A avut un efect substanţial în Statele Unite, unde piaţa şi elita financiară dominaseră încă din timpul lui Reagan. A aprins în acelaşi timp şi o dispută politică între stânga şi dreapta asupra justificării acestei modificări. În Statele Unite, în special, limitele sunt în continuă schimbare, iar disputa se poartă tot timpul în termeni morali. În ciuda fluctuaţiilor, întărirea statului va fi una dintre caracteristicile definitorii ale următorului deceniu, la nivel global.

Cel mai semnificativ efect al crizei din 2008 se va face simţit la nivel geopolitic şi politic, nu economic. Criza financiară din 2008 a demonstrat importanţa independenţei naţionale. O ţară care nu îşi controla propriul sistem financiar sau propria monedă era foarte vulnerabilă în faţa acţiunilor altor ţări. Această conştientizare a făcut ca anumite structuri precum Uniunea Europeană să nu mai fie la fel de bine privite ca înainte. În următorul deceniu, principalul curent nu va mai fi unul de limitare a suveranităţii economice, ci de creştere a naţionalismului economic.

Why states fail and how to rebuild them ?!

Reading of the day -> The Economist: Why states fail and how to rebuild them
What we can learn from countries that failed to build themselves?!

failed-state-001_

– Few things matter more than fixing failed states. Broadly defined, state failure provides “a general explanation for why poor countries are poor”. Life in a failed or failing state is short and harsh.

– Lawless regions, such as the badlands of Pakistan and Yemen, act as havens for terrorists.[…] In the most extreme form of state failure, in places like Somalia, the central government does not even control the capital city. In milder forms, as in Nigeria, the state is far from collapse but highly dysfunctional and unable to control all of its territory. Or, as in North Korea today or China under Mao Zedong, it controls all of its territory but governs in a way that makes everyone but a tiny elite much worse off.

– The key to understanding state failure is “institutions, institutions, institutions”.

– States are not wretched and unstable because of geography—if so, how to explain the success of landlocked Botswana? Nor is culture the main culprit: if so, South Koreans would not be more than 20 times richer than North Koreans. Some societies have “inclusive institutions that foster economic growth”; others have “extractive institutions that hamper it”.

The world’s newest country, South Sudan has received billions of dollars of aid and the advice of swarms of consultants since seceding from Sudan in 2011, but has failed to build any institutions worthy of the name. South Sudan failed to build institutions that transcended tribal loyalties or curbed the power of warlords. There are plenty of government buildings, including state ministries of education, culture and health. But none of them does much. Nowhere in South Sudan does the state do what it is supposed to.

The fighting becomes tribal because warlords recruit by stirring up ethnic tension so that their kinsmen will rally to them. This creates a vicious circle. Lacking protection from other institutions, people seek it from their own tribe. Rather than demand evenhanded government, they back tribal leaders, knowing that they will steal and hoping they will share the spoils with their kin.

– “The politics of the vast majority of societies throughout history has led, and still leads today, to extractive institutions.” These tend to last because they give rulers the resources to pay armies, bribe judges and rig elections to stay in power. These rulers adopt bad policies not because they are ignorant of good ones but on purpose. Letting your relatives embezzle is bad for the nation but great for your family finances.

– But failed states are not doomed to stay that way. Even states that have collapsed completely can be rebuilt. Liberia and Sierra Leone were stalked by drug-addled child soldiers a decade and a half ago; now both are reasonably calm. The key is nearly always better leadership: think of how China changed after Mao died. Many bad rulers continue deliberately to adopt bad policies, but they can be—and often are—replaced with better ones.

Afghanistan case. Afghanistan’s president since 2014, Mr Ghani is a former academic and author of a book called “Fixing Failed States”. His TED talk on fixing broken states has been viewed 750,000 times. Now he is trying to put his own theories into practice.

Evolutia populatiei Republicii Moldova si a României

Găsiţi mai jos câteva grafice privind evoluţia populaţiei Republicii Moldova şi a României începând cu anii ’40 ai secolului trecut.

Evoluția populației Republicii Moldova (1940-2016)
După câte se vede trendul actual al populației este negativ. Începând cu 1940 și în timpul Uniunii Sovietice, populația Moldovei  a crescut de la 2,468 mln până la un maxim de 4,366 mln. în 1991, după care a urmat un trend negativ. Scăderea abruptă din 1997-1998 se datorează faptului că nu sunt incluși locuitorii regiunii transnistrene.

md_pop

Link pentru tableau view
Data source: http://www.statistica.md

Evoluția populației României în conformitate cu recensămintele organizate în perioada 1948-2011
Demografia în România a avut un trend pozitiv până la începutul anilor ’90 ajungând de la o populaţie de aproape 15,9 milioane în 1948 la cifra de aproape 22,8 milioane de persoane în 1992; după care trendul se modifică şi recensământul din anul 2011 arată o populaţie de 20,1 milioane. Trendul se menţine şi în continuare – pentru anul 2015 Institutul Naţional de Statistică din România raportează pentru 01.01.2015 cifra de 19,87 milioane.

dashboard-1

Link pentru tableau view
Data source: http://www.recensamantromania.ro