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Tax evasion and Swiss banks

Switzerland has faced turbulence in recent times over tax evasion and banking secrecy, and the Swiss have this year agreed under duress to sign up to a multilateral agreement sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which provides for automatic sharing of banking information from 2017. However, a French economist claims that Swiss banks will continue to have tempting incentives to cheat.

South Stymies North in Global Trade Talks

A group of developing countries brought a tectonic shift at the World Trade Organization last week by turning the tables against the industrialised countries, when they offered a positive trade agenda to expeditiously arrive at a permanent solution for food security and other development issues, before adopting the protocol of amendment of the contested Trade Facilitation Agreement.

World Bank Board Declines to Revise Controversial Draft Policies

A key committee of the World Bank’s governing board Wednesday spurned appeals to revise a  draft policy statement that, according to nearly 100 civil-society groups, risks rolling back several decades of reforms designed to protect indigenous populations, the poor and sensitive ecosystems.

Luxemburg Tax Regime Under Siege

Amid the rolling, wooded farmland of the Ardennes, the highway from Brussels briefly hugs the Luxembourg frontier at Martelange, a small town famous for the border that runs down the middle of its busy main street.

On one side – in low-tax Luxembourg – is a profusion of petrol stations offering some of the most lightly taxed fuel in Europe. It is a striking example of the “gas pump tourism” that boosts Luxembourg’s exchequer at the expense of its neighbours.

Is the World Bank weakening its poverty reduction policies?

A leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed new Safeguard Policies appears to reverse a generation of gains. Despite over two years of input from civil society, project-affected communities, and experts on a wider range of social and environmental issues, the leaked proposal reveals a significant weakening of those standards. The proposed policies, which are up for discussion by the Bank’s board on July 30 ahead of public consultations, are not only at odds with the Bank’s stated goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, but they also lower the bar for the entire international community.

What NML vs Argentina means for the world

At the end of June, 2014, a New York’s Second District Judge ruled in favour of a hedge und, NML Capital, and against the Republic of Argentina.  The issue at stake was if a hedge fund that bought debt paper three years after a debt restructuring, had or not the right to collect on the same terms as the rest of creditors. The ruling was, yes it has. The problem is that in the original debt restructuring creditors received new instruments with a strong haircut that made the payback possible for Argentina, while the old instruments do not have any debt reduction. In this way, the profitability of the hedge funds in buying, in 2008, those old unwanted instruments of a debt rescheduled in 2005, and unpaid since 2001, will be of 1,600%.

On Money Laundering and Child Migration

The increasingly costly and divisive border crisis is pushing federal investigators to crack down on money-laundering schemes they say are being used to smuggle thousands of Central American children into the United States.

Human Development Report 2014: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience

The 2014 Human Development Report “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience” - shows that overall global trends in human development are positive. Yet, people at all ages are also facing threats and challenges to their wellbeing, including by natural or human-induced disasters and crises.

Read the report

OECD and its guidelines for automatic exchange of financial information

On Monday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released detailed guidelines on the common reporting standard for automatic exchange of financial information. The plan inches closer to implementation of a global standard but continues to keep developing countries looking in from the outside.

Honest Accounts? The true story of Africa's Billion Dollar Losses

New research published today by 10 UK and African NGOs reveals Africa is losing $192 billion every year to the rest of the world – almost 6 and a half times the amount of ‘aid’ given back to the continent. This research is the first attempt to calculate Africa’s losses across a wide range of areas. These include: illicit financial flows; profits taken out of the continent by multinational companies; debt payments; brain drain of skilled workers; illegal logging and fishing and the costs incurred as a result of climate change.

Read the report

On the unreliability of poverty data

MDG 1 has been met in 2010. Extreme poverty in developing countries was halved in twenty years! This is the statistical reality, but we know that there has been little improvement for people in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to official World Bank statistics, extreme poverty in SSA still hurts 413 million people, more than twice the number of 1981 and 50 % more than in 1990. Even proportionally, extreme poverty was only reduced from 51,45 in 1981 to 48 % in 2010.

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