Mapping The Witch-Hunt Of The World's Offshore Bank Account Holders

Tyler Durden's picture

A cache of 2.5 million files of cash transfers, incorporation dates, and links between companies and individuals has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts. The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) lay bare the names behind covert companies used by people from American doctors to Russian executives and international arms dealers in more than 170 countries (as shown in the map below). One wonders how and why this sudden (and timely) leak of documents occurred (which just happened to turn up at a source's house). If we were a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist we might suspect that this is a staged coup to create a witch-hunt against all offshore capital (legitimate or illegitimate) - and an attempt, as with Cyprus, to push money out of banks and into circulation (pushing the velocity up) as all other monetary policy 'tricks' have failed. While 'offshore' is synonymous with 'tax cheat', there is nothing illegal in moving assets offshore. In fact, as Simon Black notes, given that there is going to come a time, likely soon, that retirement savings will be targeted; diversifying abroad is one of the sanest things you can do to protect yourself against the real criminals.

 

Where are all the people that have offshore capital?

 

and an example of the kind of offshore network that is undertaken...

 

Key Findings from ICIJ:

  • Government officials and their families and associates in Azerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts.
  • The mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people.
  • Many of the world’s top’s banks – including UBS, Clariden and Deutsche Bank – have aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore hideaways.
  • A well-paid industry of accountants, middlemen and other operatives has helped offshore patrons shroud their identities and business interests, providing shelter in many cases to money laundering or other misconduct.
  • Ponzi schemers and other large-scale fraudsters routinely use offshore havens to pull off their shell games and move their ill-gotten gains.

The impact of offshore capital...

The vast flow of offshore money — legal and illegal, personal and corporate — can roil economies and pit nations against each other. Europe’s continuing financial crisis has been fueled by a Greek fiscal disaster exacerbated by offshore tax cheating and by a banking meltdown in the tiny tax haven of Cyprus, where local banks’ assets have been inflated by waves of cash from Russia.

 

Anti-corruption campaigners argue that offshore secrecy undermines law and order and forces average citizens to pay higher taxes to make up for revenues that vanish offshore. Studies have estimated that cross-border flows of global proceeds of financial crimes total between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion a year.

Legal And Illegal...

The files obtained by ICIJ shine a light on the day-to-day tactics that offshore services firms and their clients use to keep offshore companies, trusts and their owners under cover.

 

ICIJ’s 15-month investigation found that, alongside perfectly legal transactions, the secrecy and lax oversight offered by the offshore world allows fraud, tax dodging and political corruption to thrive.

 

And Simon Black's less inflammatory take on this debacle:

Secret. Dirty. Sham. Shadowy. Illicit. Fake. Covert. Questionable. These are typically the words used to describe the world of offshore asset protection in mainstream media.

 

The classic presumption is that if you go offshore-- foreign bank account, overseas safety deposit box, foreign trust, foreign corporation, etc.-- then you MUST be doing something wrong.

 

This is an absurd conclusion and only highlights how brainwashed most people have become.

 

The world has become a gigantic financial nudist colony, full of government agents who pry ever more deeper into our nether regions looking for loose change betwixt the sofa cushions. Yet people are all too willing to comply. And anyone who shows up with a bath towel is branded a criminal or financial terrorist.

 

Clearly there are people who use offshore jurisdictions to hide graft or fraudulent activities. But this is not unique to the offshore world.

 

The #1 tax haven in the world, in fact, is none other than the United States of America. More ill-gotten wealth is hidden in Wall Street banks through Delaware corporations than any other place on the planet.

 

Yet the attention is always focused on places like the British Virgin Islands, Channel Islands, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Cook Islands, Panama, Seychelles, Hong Kong, etc.

 

Just yesterday, the farcically named Center for Public Integrity released a fifteen month study based on 'leaked' documents from various international financial centers. The data shined a spotlight on the financial dealings of nearly 130,000 individuals in jurisdictions around the world.

 

The group's assessment is anything but flattering: "This investigation lifts the curtain on the offshore system and provides a transparent look into the secret world of tax havens and the individuals and companies that use and benefit from them."

 

Just think about the implications. They're essentially saying that nobody has the right to financial privacy... and that deriving 'benefit' is somehow evil and wrong.

 

Fact is, moving money and assets offshore is not illegal. It's perfectly legal, as long as you pay tax on the income and make the appropriate disclosures.

 

And despite the media hype, this is not something that's just for the criminal terrorist class. As a matter of fact, going offshore is one of the best tactics to protect yourself against the criminal terrorist class... and by that, I mean central bankers and politicians.

 

Insolvent governments throughout history have ALWAYS resorted to a very limited playbook.  Capital controls, wage and price controls, direct confiscation of assets... these tactics are nearly foregone conclusions in heavily indebted countries.

 

Just look at what happened in Cyprus. Look at what's happening in Argentina. The evidence is overwhelmingly obvious. Pretending that 'it can't happen here' is dangerous thinking.

 

There is going to come a time, likely soon, that retirement savings will be targeted. Capital controls are already in the works, cheered along by economic 'luminaries' like Paul Krugman. Central bankers will continue to steal the purchasing power of our hard-earned savings. It's happening.

 

Moving a portion of your assets abroad isn't criminal. It's not crazy. If properly disclosed, it's one of the sanest things you can do to protect yourself against the real criminals.

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JLee2027's picture

Let the seizures begin!

Banksters's picture
  • We don't call it, theft but rather a tax or a levy.

Mario GS Draghi

diogeneslaertius's picture

thats's okay then, we thought maybe it might be theft

as long as its just a little off the sides

just a trim. just a haircut or some other 1984 newspeak shit its all groovy :D

strannick's picture

Basically, to sum it up, if you dont voluntarily submit to putting your head into the hollar of the Progessive gulags' waterwheel, your a tax cheat.

bobola's picture

This is why farm land value keeps going up.

Wealthy investors are trading cash for fertile land, which will always keep producing an income, if it has a decent water supply.

Called 'land banking'.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

I don't know about you guys, but I lost everything I had in a boating accident.

BoNeSxxx's picture

"We don't call it, theft but rather a tax or a levy."

Mario GS Draghi may take some comfort in the fact that we don't call it decapitation...

We call it "Columbian Necktie."  Sleep easy my friend.

James_Cole's picture

First, Simon Black is a giant moron.

Second, before whining about it actually look at the report. 

redpill's picture

"Gunter Sachs?"

 

I think they misspelled Goldman.

Matt's picture

Goldman Sachs was founded by Marcus Goldman and his son-in-law, Samuel Sachs. Could be a descendant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldman_Sachs#1869.E2.80.931930

Pseudo Anonym's picture

decapitation

We call it "Columbian Necktie."  Sleep easy my friend.

is that it: http://tinyurl.com/czegrmg  ?

MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

Once governments have this money, they can start paying down their deficits. This is he solution to all our debt problems. Runaway spending will end, and government budgets will be balanced thereafter. This is the final tax.

McMolotov's picture

This is the final tax.

Pinkie-swear?

eatthebanksters's picture

MDB would bet his life on that statement I'm sure!

Pure Evil's picture

So, exactly how much private capital has MDB given to help pay down the deficits? (Not counting current taxes already paid)

barliman's picture

 

While some liken MDB to a moden day Noel Coward -  posting acerbic comments so broad they must be sarcasm ...

... I see only an ass - one more member of the braying herd who think they have a sharp eye and wit but only prove Twain's comment about removing ALL doubt. (But, at least, he has Bruce Krasting to keep him company)

Rather than chattering about the latest distraction - the filthy rich who are HIDING from the taxman - might we not rather discuss first principles?

Who wants to hold up there hand and state that they BELIEVE this nonsense to be true ... that governments are relentlessly pursuing the 1% of the 1% ???

No one ???  GOOD.

Why then ALL the publicity and pronouncements, the leaked inside information, the HUE and the CRY?

This is all stage setting, the diversion of the illusionist preparing you to SEE what he wants you to see. The hidden wealth, be it $ 8 trillion or $ 32 trillion, is the EMBELLISHMENT, the smoke and the mirrors, the RUSE.

In this electronic age, this digital paradise of ones and zeroes equalling WEALTH ... the governments have no NEED to seize the hidden wealth of the 1% of the 1% ... they only NEED to SAY they have FOUND, TAXED, PENALIZED/SEIZED the wealth ...

VOILA !!! The trumpets of the media blare the sudden windfall, the instantaneous offset to the horrific deficits incurred during the SCOAMF's tenure have all been PAID IN FULL ...

You'll believe them if they tell you that, won't you?

No need to raise your hand ... a simple "BAAA" will do.

slightlyskeptical's picture

How about each country just print the currency to pay off it's debts. Print more to buy the outstanding debt in the system. Then run the government using the interest off that debt. No taxes needed, just borrowers. In a few decades all that money will have been payed back, thus returning government balance sheets to the way they should. 

Matt's picture

WTF? If the government prints money and buys it's own bonds with the money it printed, how can the government operate off the interest of the bonds it owes to itself?

THECOMINGDEPRESSION's picture

MillionDollarBonus_ what a total tool. Let them go bankrupt and starve to death. BUDGETS would NEVER be balanced. They will keep taking and taking and taking and taking....

cramers_tears's picture

MDB=Tyler Durden

Soylent Green is made from people!!!!

Joe Davola's picture

If a corporation holds it's profits overseas - fine and dandy, someday gubbermint will cave and declare a holiday.

DaveyJones's picture

Good point and now with SCOTUS, they get to be "people" when they want a congressmen to see their piles money and not people when they don't.

Reminds me of patenting "food" (overturning 150 years of legal precdent). They get to call it highly unique to say it needs a patent, then nothing out of the ordinary when we ask to study and label GMOs.

It's almost as if they're liars

Vashta Nerada's picture

I assume the names of the people who make up the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists are also being made public.

Just kidding, of course they won't release their names.

 

James_Cole's picture

I assume the names of the people who make up the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists are also being made public.

Gawd people are lazy idiots. 

http://www.icij.org/journalists

Vashta Nerada's picture

Good find.  I bet they are getting nervous about now.

James_Cole's picture

Real journalists have guts, they're not the fucktards seen / unseen on American 'news'

 

Urban Redneck's picture

They may not be fucktards but they are certainly retards because they missed the biggest truth starring them in face over thousands and thousands of pages-

"Offshore" is just layover, and hence myth in a giant comic circle-jerk where the final destination of the money is right back in the very hands and domicile it started off in.

They're chasing THE LEGAL TITLE to dollars already in the domestic economy for tax revenue purposes, NOT THE DOLLARS THEMSELVES.  When they get around to taxing them, that pulls money out of the local economy.  

Savers with rainy day bank accounts with several thousands of dollars of in cash (the Simon Black scenario) are a minuscule and loss generating part of a much larger industry.

There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  And if the "journalists" can't see that now, then they really are dumb as bricks.

James_Cole's picture

They're chasing THE LEGAL TITLE to dollars already in the domestic economy for tax revenue purposes, NOT THE DOLLARS THEMSELVES.  When they get around to taxing them, that pulls money out of the local economy.  

Savers with rainy day bank accounts with several thousands of dollars of in cash (the Simon Black scenario) are a minuscule and loss generating part of a much larger industry.

There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  And if the "journalists" can't see that now, then they really are dumb as bricks.

Another dumbass that obv didn't bother reading the brief article posted on the ICJJ page. The investigation (involving many media agencies, so no doubt there will be a lot more to come shortly) looks at - first line of the article "A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over."

The journalists are not searching for a "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow"

Urban Redneck's picture

I know far more about this industry than either you or they do.

I've seen the view from the top and it is quite clear, for those trying to scale the peak, the view kind of sucks.

James_Cole's picture

I know far more about this industry than either you or they do.

Whether true or not, your points themselves weren't in dispute (as is seen in the case of Cyprus) but you're engaging a * clearly * separate issue to what the ICIJ discussed in their own piece leading to the obvious conclusion you didn't read it and simply went on Tyler's mischaracterization.

ZH has gleefully covered the French Minister's resignation over Swiss account and now when the data dump itself (from which that revelation originated) comes out it's all a big conspiracy to go after the 'pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.' 

Urban Redneck's picture

I glanced over the site YESTERDAY, and there were a lot fewer articles, but the focus was the same, it's the small shit sensational diversion stories and regurgitation of misleading and misunderstood statistics like the BCG study.

The "tax havens" are used to redomicile asset title, but the bulk of the money flows right into the major money center banks (under new title).  Kleptocratic governments (usually run by tax evaders themselves, but the charitable foundations of "dear leaders" are beyond what these "journalists" are willing to "expose" - this is very different then the trusts which they are willing to expose) are desperate to finance the unsustainable status quo they have promised their favored constituencies.  The problem and sheer stupidity of their design (per Hanlon) is that if they create a bank run in the money center banks then they will bring down the very house of cards they are trying to prop up.

Some of this stuff is pure hogwash designed to elicit an emotional reaction.  I use nominee directors here in Switzerland for SPVs all the time- who has time to travel to required directors' meetings, update their directors' insurance for every legal entity, then assume legal responsibility for every corporate filing (which course you had time to read before signing), then there's the minor fact that for stuff like trusts down the road in Lichtenstein, or captive entities up the road in Luxembourg, there are LEGAL REQUIREMENTS for LOCAL DIRECTORS (and I have no desire to become a legal resident of either douchebag duchy).

There are disreputable firms that may (definitely) don't have adequate controls or the necessary staffing to properly review the documents that the local directors are signing off on, but that is a different issue (and it's more complex if there is a large non-resident supporting staff doing the DD before signature).

 

DosZap's picture

In fact, as Simon Black notes, given that there is going to come a time, likely soon, that retirement savings will be targeted; diversifying abroad is one of the sanest things you can do to protect yourself against the real criminals.

Yep,as long as it is not where you cannot HOLD it.Sure not into OTHER Banks.

johnQpublic's picture

are you implying whats needed is multiple worldwide canoeing trips accidents?

asteroids's picture

No Mario, it IS theft. What the common man will do is pull out his cash from your stupid banks and they will implode.

fomcy's picture

I hope Crimex defaults soon, bunch of paper crooks and scammers!!!

Here is some start!
"Last week, a rubicon was crossed in the precious metals market as one of the largest banks in Europe defaulted on their gold contracts, and informed their customers there was no physical gold available for delivery.

ABN AMRO, the largest Dutch bank in the Eurozone, issued a letter to their gold contract customers of failure of delivery, and instead will pay account holders in a paper currency equivalent to the current spot value of the metal."

"ABN AMRO, the biggest Dutch bank, has sent a letter to its clients stating that they will no longer be able to take physical deliveries of the gold they have bought through ABN. Instead they are offered money at the current market rate for gold. Basically, instead of owning a risk free, physical asset (a gold bar or a gold coin), the bank’s clients now own a monetary claim on ABN AMRO, being exposed to the bank's credit risk"

http://www.examiner.com/article/largest-dutch-bank-defaults-on-physical-...

strannick's picture

Classic. For your gold, they pay you out in paper, at the suppressed paper-gold price.

sgt_doom's picture

Exactly, JLee2027, exactly!

"If we were a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist we might suspect that this is a staged coup to create a witch-hunt against all offshore capital ..."

You ain't man enough to wear a tin foil hat, TD!

And TD proclaims, "there's nothing illegal...."

Yup, and since last week when the Drone Master Obama signed the "Monsanto Protection Act" into law, nothing Monsanto now does can be considered "illegal" (just like EVERYTHING illegal they did previously is completely ignored by our so-called legal system).

Perhaps because enough people are getting sick of what's mentioned in the interview below:

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/the_men_who_stole_the_world

 

bitHedge's picture

Bernanke will save us, .. wont you?

Archduke's picture

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-inflation-expansion-counterfeit...

a proposal for the Corporate and Commons Capital Preservation tax restructure

 

by Archduke

 

 

First a quote from ZH: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/over-past-4-years-news-corp-generated-1...

 

 Over The Past 4 Years News Corp Generated $10.4 Billion In Profits And Received $4.8 Billion In "Taxes" From The IRS

 

How does Murdoch make money off the tax system? There are three basic elements, disclosure statements show.

One is the aggressive use of intra-company transactions that globally allocate costs to locations that impose taxes --

and profits to areas where profits can be earned tax-free.

For that Murdoch can thank laws and treaties that treat multinational corporations much more generously than working stiffs, such as those who make up the audience for his New York Post and for his British tabloids with bare-breasted women.  Working stiffs have their taxes taken out of their pay before they get it, while Murdoch gets to profit now and pay taxes by-and-by.

News Corp. has 152 subsidiaries in tax havens, including 62 in the British Virgin Islands and 33 in the Caymans. Among the hundred largest U.S. companies, only Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have more tax haven subsidiaries than News Corp., a 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office study found

 

This further highlights why there's something fundamentally wrong with our tax structures. Allowing funds to move freely between national fiscal barriers, and taxing only profits and actually indemnising refunds on alleged losses leads to this sort of abuse.

 

 

Offshoring: the real shadow banking, or profits are not made where you think they are, and nor are losses.

 

to paraphrase Treasure islands by Nicholas Shaxson:  http://treasureislands.org/the-book/

The offshore business is at its heart about manipulating trails of money across borders.This practice is  known as transfer pricing.  To understand how it works consider bananas. The trade for each bundle transacted follows 2 distinct routes.  The first is the physical, where a farmer in Honduras collects it, sells it to a packer, then to a broker and they finally end up in M&S in Britain.  The second half of the trade, the money trail, is more convoluted.

It turns out the Honduran banana company has no assets and rents all its capital equipmentfrom its parent in the Cayman Islands, and the managerial exploitation costs are outrageous as is the rent at 10x its property value.  This front is in turn managed by a fiduciary trust that also is the majority owner of the Panamaian broker, who incidentally also operates barely at black, due to mispriced cost of leasing to a Manxx registered fleet, insurance to Bermuda, supply-chain management in Jersey and and marketting in Ireland.  Each of these is owned by another blind trust which is managed by financial holding company in Luxemburg, which incidentally owns the the banana's retail brand company, say FairFruit Inc based in Delaware. At the end of the day, none of the subsidiaries paid any tax, some were evencompensated for costs and which of course were carried back up the chains as interest expense, and a massive profit, 'de'-measurate' with the sale of a bundle of bananas, was entered in a Swiss bank account destined to the beneficiaries of the trust managed by the Luxemburg holding.

First we consider that in modern fiscal theory we tax profits alone, while losses are credited.  One of the keys here is understanding how both of these ideas are localised, ie within specific national jurisdictions, which the modern offshore multinational structure is designed to exploit.  Some would say evade or bypass, but I use exploit because it actually leverages loss into gain. One fundamental problem is in identifying where the lion's share of the profits are generated. Was it at production in Honduras? At the broker's in Panama? In the FairFruit HQ in the US?  Multinationals play with these numbers using the technique known as transfer pricing.

The corollary problem in offshoring is why are there losses at all if the banana retail nets a profit?  Which is to say if that if the banana's retail sale flow generates a net profit, is it fair to construct artificial localised losses in high-tax areas and deduct these from the loop, thus multiplying by far the amount of money from the actual sale?  Now recall the credit is money, and income tax credit is money just the same.  So compensating a local loss with tax break is in fact a public subsidy.

Where did the money come from to pay operating expense deductibles in the banana republics of Honduras, Panama, and the deregulated havens of Ireland, the Channel Islands and Britain? Why, from the poor taxpaying sucker, the underclass, who thus have subsidized enormous profits that far outstrip the global retail sale of the bananas.  Modern multinational corporations, you see, are not in the business of selling products.  In fact the banana bundle is only a pretext, the special purpose vehicle to fleece the public.  (but hey, keep the retail sale proceeds as well). The offshored multinational claims your cake and eats it too, and then taxes you for the crumbs.

 

 

Follow the Money, or money supply, fractional reserve, and debt as money.

 

Recall that in fractional reserve banking, every new dollar represents an unrealised asset,which is another way of saying a debt.  Yet fractional reserve means every asset is recirculated and reissued as we find new wants (often) and needs (rarely) to exploit from the transformation of those same resources. a forest can represent wood from trees, printing paper from wood, or rent from adventure tourism.   An asset value thus represents a forward in time of projected exploitation value.  But it's still only the same forest.

Each asset or debt, creates new money in the form of profit or interest depending on which side of the asset you're on.  Now the thing about interest is that it compounds. So while the monetary and debt growth is exponential, equivalent to interest on the issued tier-1 capital, the underlying resources are constant at best (sustainable) or for mining and extraction: depleting, minus depreciation, spoilage, and waste. Recall there is a limit to production and transformation: thermodynamics say that every step introduces waste and loss, so the underlying resources are more than likely trending to depletion than sustainability.  Sustainability is a difficult constant upward battle.

One resource however is guaranteed to be ever-present within the system, because it is the basis upon which the system is predicated.  That resource is human agency, which means labour and invention.   It is this process that drives innovation and what Karl Marx called creative destruction (contrary to popular creed, not Alan Greenspan).  When an asset is realised, and the debt of the forest netted by the sale of the trees, the fairy of innovation then can come into action and reprocess, realign, and rerecycle, spent capital into new opportunities.  Innovation then, is what drives interest, and its sister inflation.

 

 

a Conflict of Interest: pricing resource depletion, taxation, and the monetary base.

 

So what happens to the interest implied by the asset when I export the asset? that is the million-dollar question.  I can sell the forest at spot value, but the interest and inflation implied from the asset assumes that it stays within national borders, thus allowing it to compound with the invisible hand of potential innovation further down the road.  when I export either the lumber, or even its flip-side when I export the proceeds by offshoring profits to a foreign subsidiary, I deprive this local economy of the future realisations of innovation, either with the same lumber, or by depriving the fractional re-injection of the monies back into the economy through reinvestment.

This is the fundamental epiphany: that exports ultimately cost the economy, and short of depleting all resources to make up for it the only guaranteed dependable resource to cover it is human capital.  every export is a burden on the system and on human labour.  (to mirror the current ZH article, inflation is a result of the imbalance in fractional debt whose underlying assets were wrongfully inflated, mispriced, poached, or transfered out of the domestic economy).

 

So the question is, how can you be sure the price of an export makes up for the loss in capital and fractional interest thereof?  Hopefully an export sale brings cash value that makes up for it.  But what if I undersell at discount?  Worse, if instead of selling the lumber, what if I loan it to a foreign subsidiary for nothing.  I've still deprived the local economy of the lumber, but more importantly also of all the forward gains that creative destruction would imply had the lumber stayed home.  What if instead I send machinery?  What about sending labour?  How about sending money in the form of an injection of capital when I invest abroad?  Note that if my accounting-fu is strong, these acts of goodwill may be claimed as deductible expenses back home, so not only do I deprive the local economy of an fractional interest-making capital asset, and implied tax revenues for the commons, but I may also further penalise the commons by claiming a tax-credit paid by the public.

 

 

the Tragedy of the Commons, or a tax should definitely not encourage inefficiency

 

We have to get rid of this idea that we don't tax foreign transfers and that we subsidize losses.  That to me is the moral hazard of international corporate taxation.  The old fiscal theory was intended to promote risky investment by choosing to tax only profits, but instead it's turned into an orgy of abuse as profit and loss are terms subordinate to an entity's fiscal jurisdiction.  What we need to do is tax flows, specifically, flows that cost the commons missed opportunities.

Also, the  antiquated fiscal notion of the commons deserving a proportional share of your profits, which as we see is circumvented anyway, to me screams of injustice to liberal and libertarian principles.  You shouldn't be charged more because you're better at your business, in fact the opposite should happen: For an identical set of inputs, the more efficient company should keep the higher return, while the less profitable should be discouraged because it wasting an opportunity for the commons to make good on the asset, and hence the implied savings interest rate.

 

 

a Reverse tax, or don't tell us how much you made, rather tell us how much you put in:

 

I think instead, we should tax investment, not profits.  Recall that every dollar in the economy represents a forward on a real or imagined capital asset exploitation.  Thus investing a dollar actually means you are consuming an underlying resource, ie chopping down a tree or hiring a brainy scientist's grey matter.  This is what we should be taxing, because its consumption is at the expense of its better use by another investor or even by the commons.  The tree may prove more useful in its capacity to provide ecological services like erosion control, co2 sinkage, etc, while the scientist's brain may have been more useful enlightening younger generations in public university.  Thus we are taxing the opportunity cost of using or consuming a resource.

It's then up to the corporation, which pays a fixed cost for this asset use or resource depletion, to be efficient and make good on their use. The more efficient, the more profit they walk away with, and justly so.  The caveat, is that offshoring strategies, for example "investing" in a tax haven, hence moving those dollars away from the local economy, would tacitly imply denying the exploitable potential of assets back home, and thus should be taxed equally.  That is you are free to move funds to any more profitable foreign nation, but pay the tax on those funds first.

 

 

a Diligent tax, or all stakeholders have an interest in tracking the capital - the rest is your business.

 

The good news is that this tax need not be excessive.  Forget even notions of 25% capital gains.  I think the only way to fairly price the opportunity cost is to charge the base risk-free interest rate.  That's right: good old LIBOR or whatever rate of return benchmark of choice for your country.  This is actually a blessing in disguise.  Instead of having to predict about how much profit you'll make as a business and plan a taxpool ahead of time, you'll know how much you owe from the get-go.

The other blessing in disguise is that all of a sudden the taxman aligns with shareholder due diligence instead of being at a polar opposite.  All parties have an Interest to know where the money went. Imagine that, instead of the inefficiency of paranoid schemes to cook the costs and bake the books, companies can just pay down the meagre rate and get on with the business of making money.  As much money as they can, and they can keep all of it, without having to tell any but their stakeholders.  Unless they can't beat the LIBOR beta, in which case they have no business being, well, in business.

A possible side effect of that is that this will discourage high-leveraged ventures that misprice risk in lieu of savings.  This is a very good thing.  Instead of the current inflated opaque and volatile system which returns a pittance and fleeces the small investors for all their skin, this should imply a return to quality.  Remember when the savings interest rate was something around 5%?

 

Capital Controls, or how Keynes intended the original World Bank and IMF to operate

 

 

Keynes argued that there is natural conflict between democracy and traditional capitalism. In the face of a recession or depression, one would be tempted to lower interest rates to boost a recovery of local industry. International investors, however, would be tempted to seek areas of higher return. This apparent conflict is quelled if we choose to tax investment flows instead of profits, especially for developed countries undergoing a recession. In such a case the labour costs and thus inputs would be considerably lower, and a greater return on investment would be generated. Such a system would form its own elastic safety net.

 

To solve the frivolous volatilty of capital flight, it was envisaged that transfers of capital between individuals and corporations of different nations would be controlled.  Did you know old passports had a "foreign exchange authorisation" section which entitled or forbade currency transfers? These original Bretton Woods provision are all eroded now.  While I certainly believe in the economic virtue and morality of free capital movements, to borrow a GNU quote this is free as in free speech, not free as in free beer: I think the circulation need to be fairly priced (ie taxed). There has to be skin in the game to discourage the inefficient offshore predation, speculation, and volatility.

 

I'm going to call it the Corporate & Commons Capital Preservation tax

(or CCCP tax - heehee), though it really has nothing to do with socialism let alone communism.  Rather it's a more sensible, efficient, purely marxist-capitalist, way to allocate risk and reward.

Kayman's picture

Trickfucking transfer pricing has been around since multinational corps and banks were invented. We once put a $3 million dollar loss through a head office vice president's expense account. Good ol' Stan, always a company man.

The book losses could never be offset in country X so head office made the U.S. Treasury help ease the pain; 25 years ago.

Buck Johnson's picture

I totally agree, the govt. around the world is hunting black money to scare back into their countries essentially.  And he's right the US is the biggest place to put your money.  What the US wants IS YOUR MONEY, in a pinch and trouble try getting that same money out.  I've always said that eventually when this whole economic system goes under they will make it impossible for people to move their money out of the US, in fact they will make it hard for Americans to leave.

Super Broccoli's picture

finaly ! i thought i'ld never hear about it on ZH :-)

reload's picture

None of the summarised findings are a suprise - to any of us surely. But who dumped the documentation into the lap of the journalists and why?

Presumably the data was collated from various sources initialy - only doable with a lot of organisation and leverage.

So who? and why?

The why ...perhaps to get some money moving `home`? but surely if its dirty and, demonstably so - no problems would be solved. To discredit banks who have been facilitators?....as if Banks need further discredit. To show depositors that their money has been co mingled with dirty money, a la Cyprus......with Cypriot results?

The who.....fascinating to speculate. Putin? he seems to be pulling a few strings right now.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Velocity, velocity, velocity. If it was strictly about theft through seizure of monies in those accounts everyone named in those files accounts would haven been frozen first before the information was made public. Also gives the DOJ and IRS cover for asset forfeiture theft. The hard assets are worth more than the fake money in the accounts to them as far as trying to pay down debt.

 

I ain't buying it for one second that some big names won't have ties to those offshore accounts like people like Warren Buffett or George Soros. If the best that is on that list is the C- listers of the American branch of the Ritchie Rich club like Denise Rich then that list is not comprehensive or information is being held back from the public on purpose so they can move their money first like in Cyprus.

 

It is like there is a coordinated effort to create hyperinflation by jigging the otherside of the price equation without running the printers into oblivion or kickstart any of the major global economies but that would be tinfoil hat low brow fringe conspiracy theorist claptrap.

diogeneslaertius's picture

Total Income Sweep, LLC, a Delaware company.

wee-weed up's picture

First Mattress Savings & Trust

Arcturus's picture

Move your money offshore! OK how does Cyprus sound? Your money in any bank is subject to the whims, laws, new policies of any offshore bank anywhere.