UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

March 15, 2009

CRASH TALK

Guardian, UK - Gordon Brown hailed the beginning of the end for tax havens, as Switzerland opened up its legendary system of bank secrecy and agreed to hand over information on wealthy clients suspected of tax evasion.

The move, described as historic by anti-poverty campaigners, came as international pressure, including action from Brown and Barack Obama, forced the world's tax havens to hand over previously undisclosed data on account holders.

In a remarkable week, Europe's secrecy jurisdictions – Liechtenstein, Andorra, Austria, Luxembourg, Jersey and ­Switzerland – all entered into international information sharing agreements. Swiss ministers said the government caved in after learning the country was going to be included this month on a blacklist of uncooperative tax havens drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Having agreed to sign up to the OECD protocol on tax, Switzerland will hand over information on account holders suspected of tax evasion by another country. Until now tax evasion was not illegal in Switzerland and secrecy has been the bedrock of its economy.


Financial Times
- The recession has spread from Wall Street to Sesame Street. The home of Elmo and Oscar the Grouch announced on Wednesday that it would eliminate a fifth of its 355-strong workforce as market turmoil ate into its income and assets. . . A spokeswoman did not elaborate on the reasons for the move, but the workshop has relied heavily on donations from Wall Street firms, large corporations and private foundations, all of which have been cutting back on philanthropic activities.

Gordon Brown hailed the beginning of the end for tax havens, as Switzerland opened up its legendary system of bank secrecy and agreed to hand over information on wealthy clients suspected of tax evasion.

The move, described as historic by anti-poverty campaigners, came as international pressure, including action from Brown and Barack Obama, forced the world's tax havens to hand over previously undisclosed data on account holders.

In a remarkable week, Europe's secrecy jurisdictions – Liechtenstein, Andorra, Austria, Luxembourg, Jersey and ­Switzerland – all entered into international information sharing agreements. Swiss ministers said the government caved in after learning the country was going to be included this month on a blacklist of uncooperative tax havens drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Having agreed to sign up to the OECD protocol on tax, Switzerland will hand over information on account holders suspected of tax evasion by another country. Until now tax evasion was not illegal in Switzerland and secrecy has been the bedrock of its economy.


Independent, UK - Much of the new money the Bank of England has "printed" to stimulate the UK economy is ending up abroad where it will be of no benefit to UK households and businesses, according to an analysis of the Bank's "quantitative easing" program. . . City experts analyzing the scheme for The Independent say large quantities of money will simply end up abroad because so many of the gilts are held by foreign investors. They fear that they will hoard the cash, which will be of no benefit to the British economy, or dump it in favor of safer currencies, which could cause a run on sterling. More than a third of gilts are owned by foreign entities, official statistics reveal, and there are doubts about how effective the policy will be if that sort of proportion of the new money is diverted abroad.

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