Archive for the Financial Freedom Category

The American Dream (An animated history of banking)

Posted in Asset Protection, Asset Protection & Tax Planning., Economics, Financial Freedom, Nanny State, Privacy, Private Banking, Secrecy on September 8, 2012 by John

The banks have created a system whereby everyone has to borrow to keep up with the inflation (caused by their lending practices), but there is never enough money in the economy to pay back the debt plus interest. It’s like a board game where every round, one of the players must go bankrupt, and the bank takes their real assets. It’s a great game for the banks, but a fraudulent contract at the root. See “The American Dream” for an excellent and entertaining video on how this all works:

Viewer discretion is advised

This is not a children’s cartoon and deals with themes that may be above the understanding of younger children. The film has some moderately strong language and cartoon violence, which is a shame as it should be shown in Senior/high schools.

European Union

Posted in Big Brother, Economics, Electronic surveillance, Financial Freedom on August 10, 2012 by John

Great images of the people of Europe showing how we can unite behind  a common cause

European Union

People of Europe United in a common cause

IMF Head Christine Lagarde Saving the World?

Posted in Asset Protection, Economics, Financial Freedom, Nanny State on March 7, 2012 by John

Don’t make me laugh. In what can only be viewed as a glowing and adoring profile, the BBC highlights the efforts by International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde to contain the ongoing Eurozone crisis. For the past month Ms Lagarde has given the BBC unusual behind-the-scenes access as she steers her 187-member organisation to manage the biggest financial crisis of our lifetimes – thefiscal nightmare that is the eurozone. Her conviction that the euro crisis leaves no country immune is what is driving Ms Lagarde to ask the world to help pay for a $500bn (£314bn) global firewall. It is a job that keeps her extremely busy and extremely mobile. On that travel occasion she was on her way to Mexico City for a meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and she invited us to join her. This summit is a

 Christine Lagarde  - New World , New Ideas ???

Christine Lagarde - New World , New Ideas ???

chance to pass around the IMF cap for those hundreds of billions of dollars. She uses all her easy charm and lawyer’s training to cajole non-eurozone countries to surrender their domestic interests to the greater global good. As any adherent to the Austrian school, or common sense in general, should know, the oft-mentioned “common good” or “global good” is a complete non sequitur used by those desperate to throw an appealing facade over their true intentions. Like the public sector union which invokes images of uneducated and starving children or a large corporation painting itself as a fighter for the working man by endorsing further labor regulations such as a raising of the minimum wage, these seemingly noble goals are not so angelic at their core. Public sector unions, like any organization run by men acting purposefully, strive to maintain their relevancy and cash flow. Convincing politicians and Joe Taxpayer that the blood of a million dead children are on their hands if they fail to funnel more funds to their cause- that is employing more government employees- is a clever way to keep the pork flowing. Same goes for the chain of big box department stores which petition for an increase of the minimum wage. Despite all evidence that mandated wage floors perpetuate poverty by pricing less productive members of society out of the labor force, advocates of the minimum wage enjoy the law because it imposes a higher cost on their small time competitors. When it comes to the Eurozone crisis, those in favor of the bailouts don’t have a shred of concern for the taxpayers footing the bills. As has been pointed out many, many times on LvMIC, the real beneficiaries of the European Central Bank and IMF’s attempt to shove the PIIGS full of liquidity are the banks which hold their debt. Taki Theodoracopulos sums up the situation perfectly in regard to Greece: The Greeks cannot and will not ever be able to pay the debt and interest simply because even under the cruelest austerity by the year 2020 the deficit will still be more than the GDP. Most likely the economy is in freefall and will continue to fall for years to come. The Euro Scum Elite know this but have an agenda of their own—keeping their perks and positions of power in Brussels—so they are immune to Greek suffering. The ones suffering are the innocent poor made up of those who work for a salary in the private sector, pensioners, and small businessmen and women. Lagarde isn’t saving the world; she is saving the governments which fund her employer and the banks which fund those governments that in turn receive all types of special privileges such as cartelizing regulations that cut off entrepreneurial competition and a spot at first receivership of newly printed currency. Since Lagarde used to hold a prominent position in the French government as Economic Minister, was previously chairwoman of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie, and was firmly against any debt restructuring prior to her role at the IMF, it’s not hard to pinpoint where her allegiances lie. To further drive the point home, see this interview where Lagarde openly admits that during times of crisis, which is the only way to accurately describe the situation in the EZ, the IMF grows in authority and influence. Put simply, there is no such thing as the “global good.” Evaluating positives and negatives is only done on an individual basis. Groups don’t act, only individuals do. As Murray Rothbard writes: Only individuals have ends and can act to attain them. There are no such things as ends of or actions by “groups,” “collectives,” or “States,” which do not take place as actions by various specific individuals. “Societies” or “groups” have no independent exist­ence aside from the actions of their individual members. Thus, to say that “governments” act is merely a metaphor; actually, certain individuals are in a certain relationship with other in­dividuals and act in a way that they and the other individuals recognize as “governmental.” The BBC article surprisingly acknowledges that national sovereignty is being choked to a slow death in order to ensure the bailouts keep coming. The fallacy comes when the phrase “asking” is used since the funding for the IMF comes from governments themselves which don’t ask their citizens to pay taxes but merely swindles money by the threat of imprisonment. What Lardge heads is not some divine institution serving as the world’s guardian against fiscal calamities but a blackmailing racket to ensure holders of government debt rarely see any repercussions for their less-than-stellar investing habits and to promote inflation on a global scale.

[Written by James E. Miller, editor, Mises.ca]

Reproduced from the Dollar Vigilante please visit their website at:

http://www.dollarvigilante.com

Debt Mountain

Posted in Asset Protection, Economics, Financial Freedom, Nanny State with tags on January 6, 2012 by John

Hi
I have just been reading a brilliant article by Martin Weiss of Weiss Research and the reasons behind his prediction of a coming economic crisis in the US similar to what has been seen in Greece but on a much larger scale. Definitely worth a read but I had to post these wonderful images from the article of what these vast amounts of money might look like as it is all just looks like telephone numbers written down.

The piles are in 100 dollar bills (its all about the Bennys) from the top is 1 million – 1 billion – trillion and bottom the current US government debt of 14.5 Trillion.

The complete report can be found here: http://finance.moneyandmarkets.com/reports/SMR/4597/vsp-smr2-1-w.php?s=p446&e=4597580&p=2

Russian Mini Economic Boom in 2012

Posted in Asset Protection & Tax Planning., Economics, Financial Freedom, international tax advice, international tax planning, International Trusts, Private wealth management. with tags on December 28, 2011 by John

It’s not easy being contrary. But it is where profits are often found.

Take Russia, for instance. It’s a market that has been on a downward slope for much of the year as global investors fret about what’s to come with new elections – now that former-President Vladimir Putin is looking for another tour of duty.

That kindles bad memories of iron-fisted Russian premieres of the old Soviet Union.

And just this month, protestors began taking to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg and clashing with police in the aftermath of questionable parliamentary elections.

It’s in moments like these, when non-economic turmoil upsets markets, that you often find the best opportunities.

Russia is the cheapest of all the so-called BRIC nations today. It’s benefiting from what I call “micro booms” – this one in the consumer and in resources and this micro boom means that 2012 will be a good year for Russian stocks.

I was sitting in a small conference room in Zurich, talking with Alex, the former head of private banking in Moscow for a major Swiss bank. Having spent years living and travelling in Russia, he has a knowledge base of the country as deep as Russia’s winter freeze.

Today, Alex still invests in Russia for ultra-high net worth private clients from his office in Switzerland. I searched him out because I wanted a non-American view of Russia.

It’s very easy for American equity analysts to allow cultural prejudices to color their thinking about Russia, especially because of all we’ve gone through with the Great Bear during the Cold War and beyond.

Indeed, Americans like to cut-and-paste their own Western economic and political values and apply them to the rest of the world. That leads them to miss opportunities, because they’re looking at the country through a distorted lens.

Europeans see Russia from a different perspective. And Alex’s take is that “Russia is cheap.”

Back in my hotel overlooking Lake Zurich, I pulled up a list of major Russian stocks to gauge their valuations and see just how cheap they might actually be. And they are cheap – by any measure … and ridiculously so.

I found gads of stocks with P/E ratios in the low- and mid-single digits. The MSCI Russia index, which tracks the market as whole, is now trading nearly 50% below the 10-year average. That’s the kind of cheap that presumes everything in Russia is headed in the wrong direction … but that’s not the case.

Russia is in a pretty good position, economically. Its economy is deeply reliant on oil, and oil-price movements exert big influence on its stock market. At the moment, there are worries about recession in Europe and whether that flows through America and, ultimately, through oil prices.
but that’s the short-sighted view.
America and Europe are busy increasing their money supply, and oil prices will move higher, relative to the dollar – since the two tend to move in opposite directions. And that, ultimately, is good news for the Russian economy and its stock market. 

By Jeff D. Opdyke, Investment Director,

The Sovereign Individual

“This report is a damning indictment of HMRC and the way its senior officials handle tax disputes with large corporations”

Posted in Economics, Financial Freedom, international tax advice, international tax planning, Tax Avoidance, Tax Planning on December 20, 2011 by John

The Commons Public Accounts Committee publishes its 61st Report of the Session which, on the basis of evidence from the Cabinet Office and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), examined tax disputes.

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:

“This report is a damning indictment of HMRC and the way its senior officials handle tax disputes with large corporations. We uncovered both specific and systemic failures which must be addressed.

There is more than £25 billion outstanding in unresolved tax bills and it is essential that there should be proper accountability to Parliament for the settlements reached by HMRC.

Having looked at the two cases in the public domain, we are concerned that many millions of pounds may be lost to the public purse.

It is extremely disappointing that senior HMRC officials were not prepared to cooperate with our inquiry in a spirit of openness. We accept that there is a need for confidentiality to protect individual taxpayers, but this must not be used as a cloak to protect the Department from scrutiny.

It is absurd that we had to rely on the media and the actions of a whistleblower to find out about the details of individual settlements. Parliament and the public have legitimate concerns that large companies are being treated more favourably than ordinary taxpayers, whether they be small businesses or hard-working families.

The Department’s working practices must be seen by the taxpaying public to be absolutely impartial. The impression being given at the moment is quite the opposite, of far too cosy a relationship between HMRC and large companies.

In several cases, HMRC chose to depart from its normal governance procedures. It is extraordinary that the same officials who negotiated deals also approved them. In one instance, a mistake led to a potential £20 million of interest on a tax liability not being collected. Parliament and the public must be assured that settlements do not short-change the Exchequer.”

Margaret Hodge was speaking as the committee published its 61st Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from the Cabinet Secretary and HM Revenue & Customs (the Department), examined tax disputes.

At 31 March 2011 HM Revenue & Customs (the Department) was seeking to resolve tax issues valued at over £25 billion with large companies, some of which included disputes over outstanding tax. The Department must collect as much outstanding tax as possible and be held properly to account for how it resolves tax disputes. We have serious concerns about how the Department handled some cases involving large settlements, where governance arrangements were bypassed or overlooked until it was too late. In some cases the same officials negotiated and approved the settlements, which is clearly unacceptable.

Investigation of these specific cases has led to serious concern about systemic issues which must be addressed with the utmost urgency. There needs to be proper separation between the negotiation of tax settlements and the authorization of such settlements. And the Department must address issues of accountability so that Parliament and the public can be satisfied that best value is secured.

The Department has made matters worse by trying to avoid scrutiny of these settlements and has consistently failed to give straight answers to our questions about specific cases, which has severely hampered our ability to hold it to account for the settlements reached.

The Department has insisted on keeping confidential the details of specific settlements with large companies, even where there have been legitimate concerns about the handling of cases. Details of some cases only reached the public domain because the press secured the details. We recognise the general intention of the legislation is to keep taxpayers’ details confidential, but there is a provision which allows the Commissioners to authorise disclosure in certain circumstances. Furthermore, HMRC has a clear duty to assist Parliament in its work to establish value for money and detailed information can be necessary if Parliament is to properly meet its obligations. Given the public interest in these very large settlements, it is not unreasonable that they should be subject to more specific scrutiny. As it stands, the Department’s decision to withhold details from us reduces transparency and makes it impossible for Parliament to hold Commissioners to account. This situation is entirely unacceptable.

We discovered that the Department’s governance processes for large settlements were not applied consistently. In one case, a mistake was not picked up until too late because the Department failed to follow its own governance procedures. The C&AG told us that this resulted in a loss of up to £8 million in interest forgone. We have since received evidence from a whistleblower that the total value of interest payable in respect of this particular settlement could be as high as £20 million. Our understanding of how this case was settled is inhibited by the imprecise, inconsistent and potentially misleading answers given to us by senior departmental officials, including the Permanent Secretary for Tax. In particular, his evidence to the Treasury Select Committee on his relationship with Goldman Sachs is less than clear given his evidence to us that he facilitated a settlement with the company over their tax dispute. We expect far greater candour from public officials involved in administering such an important area of government, especially when there is a question about whether HMRC acted within the law and within its protocols. We are concerned that whistleblowers using the provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 face threats of dismissal for providing important and relevant information.

The Department accepts that its governance arrangements have not provided sufficient assurance and that independent scrutiny of large settlements is needed. It has appointed two new Commissioners with tax expertise, and plans to introduce a new assessor role to permit independent review of large settlements before they are finalised. The Cabinet Secretary assured us that proposals would be submitted to the Public Accounts Committee by Christmas. We welcome these measures, but they will not by themselves guarantee proper accountability. In future, the Department needs to ensure it follows its own governance procedures and checks without exception. In particular, it needs to make sure that in all cases there is a clear separation between the roles of those negotiating and those signing off settlements.
We saw little evidence of a culture of personal accountability within the Department. We were told that one individual was held accountable for the mistake which led to a loss of the interest due to the Department. However, those at the top of the Department also need to take responsibility for how the overall system has been designed and operated, since that is the context in which mistakes have occurred.

We have serious concerns that large companies are treated more favourably by the Department than other taxpayers. We were told by the Cabinet Secretary that the relationship management approach adopted for large companies had been very successful in terms of tax collection. But for the public to have confidence in this approach, the Department’s working practices must be seen to be absolutely impartial. The Department has left itself open to suspicion that its relationships with large companies are too cosy. We are also concerned that large companies appear to receive preferential treatment compared to small businesses and individuals – for example, in settling the totals due at less than the sum claimed by HMRC and in the time they are allowed to pay their tax liabilities without incurring interest charges. In order to maintain public confidence, the Department must ensure it avoids any perception of undue leniency in its dealings with large companies and must be seen to treat every taxpayer equally before the law.

We welcome the Comptroller and Auditor General’s proposal to conduct further work to consider the reasonableness of the settlements reached in the specific cases where normal governance processes were not followed, and to report on whether proper legal advice was secured in a timely manner and that HMRC complied with its own published procedures and protocols. The Department has agreed to co-operate fully with this inquiry and with any subsequent hearings we hold.

Sourced from:

  • Report: HM Revenue and Customs 2010-11 Accounts: tax disputes