Friday, 30 May 2014

How to protect US subsidiaries

As the excesses of the US legal and regulatory process become more and more extreme it is time that companies - especially large ones with deep pockets - start thinking about protecting themselves against compensation claims and punitive damages that are in a direct line from the infamous McDonald's coffee scalding case.
In the run up to WWII certain large companies protected their overseas assets, in particular their US assets, from a potential takeover by Nazi Germany in the event their country was invaded and occupied. All these assets were put into a separate company that would have been out of reach for the occupiers.
Maybe it is time that major companies isolate their US assets in a similar fashion by setting up legal entities that shelter the parent company against any US claims. Special care should be put into designing a capital structure that would make it easy to cut loose this entity.
Of course, it would be helpful it the EU in particular could take a tougher line against the US overreach but at present that seems to be no more than a vain dream. The wet rags in Brussels and the major EU capitals are all in the pocket of the 'International' (i.e. Washington-inspired) consensus.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Inequality - Facts and Causes

The recent debate about rising inequality is welcome. But even more welcome would be substantive suggestions about possible solutions. The old ideological divide (should taxes be higher or should there be more 'free market' economics) will not do. What is really needed is an investigation of many policy measures that set the rules for the way business is conducted under the present economic framework. To mention just the most obvious ones: ownership of businesses, inheritance taxes, copyright protection, fair taxation, access to education, design of welfare system.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Times Rich List, Piketty and Inequality

At a time when there is heightened awareness about inequality it is astounding that serious (?) media commentators suggest that the (Times) Rich List 'should be taught as a set text to inspire the next generation of risk takers'.
Quite how this inspiration should work in detail the author leaves to our imagination. It certainly is not possible to become the next Duke of Westminster, one of the rare true British members of the top ten entrants in this year's list.
And how one should emulate the various oligarchs and tax exiles - some of feature only because they chose the right parents - could also be of great interest to those lucky or unlucky enough to be given the benefit of these lectures.
It would also be interesting during which class these lectures would be held. Religion, Philosophy, Politics or Economics?
The really sad thing with this sort of fawning at the superrich 0.01% is the fact that there is very little reporting about the reasons such extreme wealth can be accumulated and what should be done to prevent it. Not a word about fairer tax laws, more effective inheritance taxes, better regulation, less generous copyright protection or a wider spread of ownership of productive assets.