While the G20 summit in Australia made headlines over global warming, economic growth and terrorism, much less attention was paid to the giant spectre of global corruption.That is too bad as this is a problem that is arguably more dangerous to humanity than even terrorism because it siphons off an estimated $1 trillion from developing countries annually through bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, extortion and other financial crimes.Recent World Bank estimates suggest that much of the worlds direct aid to the poorest countries ends up stolen, perhaps as much as $40 billion in recent years.And it has been estimated that up to 3.6 million of the worlds poorest die annually from inadequate health care and living conditions directly because corruption has leached away development aid of all kinds.At its most extreme, corruption causes people to lose faith in government, states to fail and violence to erupt in the form of organized crime and terrorist movements.Only slightly less malign, its the dirty grease that keeps many repressive and violent dictators in lavish power.
Want to see how global companies can avoid billions in taxes by routing their profits through Luxembourg? All the information is there in the leaked documents, but understanding the complex structures companies set up is not an easy task. Here are a few tips on how to read the documents and knowing what to look for.
Senator Elizabeth Warren will be part of the Democrats leadership team in the Senate, the party decided on Thursday morning. At the urging of Majority Leader Harry Reid, a new position was created for Warren: strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.Several outlets have reported Warren will be a liaison to liberal groups, which will indeed be part of her duties—but a source close to Reid stressed to The Nation that Warren was brought into leadership to help steer policy and communications decisions. Senate Democrats have a number of important decisions to make as the minority party in the coming two years: which Democratic proposals to highlight, which Republican bills to aggressively oppose, and what amendments to propose to must-pass legislation. Soon-to-be Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will embrace an open amendment process. Senate Democrats will also be an important potential counterweight to any compromises that President Obama may try to work out with Congressional Republicans if Democratic votes are needed. The source close to Reid said Warren will be a “crucial” voice and vote at the leadership table when strategic decisions are being made. Its hard not to conclude that progressives will thus have a stronger ability to steer the partys strategic course going forward. Warren is an outspoken opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal, which is likely to come up for fast-track consideration some time next year. Both McConnell and Obama favor it, while Reid and many but not all Senate Democrats oppose fast-track authority.She also is vocal about closing tax loopholes for corporations and not only protecting Social Security but expanding it. Corporate tax reform is also something Obama and McConnell both ostensibly want, and Social Security could come up during tense budget standoffs between the White House and Congress. Senate Republicans are already planning a commission to “study options” on Social Security.
Its 2014, but when it comes to wealth inequality in the United States, its starting to look a lot like 1929.In the late 1920s, the top 10 percent of Americans possessed 84 percent of the countrys wealth. Since then, wealth inequality in America has followed a U-shaped trajectory, declining through the Great Depression until the mid-1980s, then steadily increasing since then. Now, the richest Americans have a share of the countrys wealth almost big enough to rival those in the late 1920s, according to a new studyThe study, from Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, uses a greater variety of sources to paint its picture of wealth inequality in the US than other recent analyses.Recommended: What is your social class? Take our quiz to find out!Recent economic growth in the US appears to be positive and steady. The latest jobs report for October saw unemployment drop to a six-year low and the economy add 214,000 jobs. But while more people appear to be working, Americas overall wealth is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. According to an analysis of data sourced through 2012 – including detailed data on personal income taxes and property tax – Professors Saez and Zucman found that the richest 0.1 percent of Americans have as much of the countrys wealth as the poorest 90 percent. Both groups control roughly 22 percent of total wealth, but while the average wealth of the bottom 90 percent is $84,000, the top 0.1 percent were comprised of 160,700 families with net assets above $20 million, according to their study.
The American people have spoken. But what did we really say about inequality?At first glance, it seems that extreme inequality mattered little to the majority of voters who put pro-business candidates into office. After all, the Republicans, along with far too many Democrats, are certain to cater to their Wall Street/CEO donors. Do Americans really want an ever-rising gap between the super-rich and the rest of us?An important study “How Much More Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay” by Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Michael I. Norton provides insight on why Americans aren’t more upset about rising inequality: It shows we are clueless about how bad it really is. Their analysis of a 2009 international survey of 55,187 people from 40 countries found that when it comes to understanding the severity of inequality, we’re the most clueless of all.Americans are virtually blind to the growing gap between CEO pay and the pay of the average worker. As the chart below shows that gap has increased dramatically. In 1965, for every dollar earned by the average worker, CEOs earned $20. By 2012, that gap mushroomed to 354 to one.
A NEW paper by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics suggests that, in America at least, inequality in wealth is approaching record levels. The authors examine the share of total wealth held by the bottom 90% of families relative to those at the very top. In the late 1920s the bottom 90% held just 16% of America’s wealth—considerably less than that held by the top 0.1%, which controlled a quarter of total wealth just before the crash of 1929. From the beginning of the Depression until well after the end of the second world war, the middle class’s share of total wealth rose steadily, thanks to collapsing wealth among richer households, broader equity ownership, middle-class income growth and rising rates of home-ownership. From the early 1980s, however, these trends have reversed. The top 0.1% consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average hold 22% of America’s wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak—and almost the same share as the bottom 90% of the population.