Capital One's advert for its World Mastercard is quite emphatic: "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, there's no limit." That kind of certainty normally comes wrapped in fundamentalist religion. It could be the magical thinking of an economic system drifted dangerously far from its real world roots, or just the "bring it on" machismo of banks desperate to forget the consequences of reckless lending.More
We are used to thinking of tax havens as states that are wholly distinct from ourselves. However, a new book by Nicholas Shaxson argues that tax havens are in fact “controlled by the world’s major powers, notably Britain and the United States”.
For example, Britain has a large array of tax havens affiliated with it in the form of “Crown Dependencies”, which include Guernsey and Jersey, and “Overseas Territories”, such as the Cayman Islands.More
The International Monetary Fund’s monitors are back in Athens this week, overseeing the beleagured Greek economy’s efforts to pay off its debt. Government officials across Europe will be watching nervously as the Papandreou government’s efforts to ram through austerity measures are put under Washington’s beady eye.More
A freelance reporter has published a leaked document that reveals that George Osborne opposed EU plans to place strict limits on bankers’ bonuses. The European Parliament is limiting the proportion of large bonuses that can be paid out in upfront cash to 20%, in the hope that this will discourage the risk-taking and short-termism that blights the financial services industry. However, the UK Treasury lobbied for this cap to be relaxed to 40%.More
There are more than just bankers and businesspeople here. There are NGO, university, trade union and spiritual leaders too, and there is a joke that’s going round them about the Irish bankers.
There used to be worries, apparently, that all Ireland’s banking elite used to fly to Davos in the same plane together. The joke is: why did God miss such a heaven-sent opportunity?More
The campaign to end legal loansharking in the UK has made some great progress in the past few months, mostly thanks to a dedicated new Labour MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, who has successfully tabled a motion to vote on the introduction of a cap on credit costs in the UK.More
The government is driving significant change in the way in which public services are delivered (or not delivered) and seeking to invigorate of local democracy and increase public participation through the localism and the Big Society agenda. The spatial implications of many recently-announced change are monumental: a number of its reforms and initiatives involve citizens and front-line staff actively redrawing the geography of service delivery. More
UK Gross Domestic Product contracted 0.5% in the last three months of the year; this wasn’t supposed to happen – the script was helpfully written out by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) last year. The OBR is the new body set up by Chancellor George Osborne, staffed by Treasury officials and based in the Treasury.More
Do you have the power to strongly influence huge amounts of capital in and out of developing nations, but lack proper accountability? Are your sales guaranteed because your lucrative products are required to be used by law, yet, in much of the EU, you have no liability for them if they don't work or cause harm? Did you help cause the financial crash, but have suffered no sanction or consequence? Do you only have two competitors? More