On The Monitor this week:
- A round up of US national security news with Jonathan Landay
- William Black on the Trump administration’s dismantling of the Obama administration’s already insufficient post-2008 financial regulations
More about this week’s guests:
On The Monitor this week:
- NATO: Part of Solution — Or Problem? An interview with David Gibbs
- Burger King Tax Dodge – How Inversions Hurt Economies. An interview with James Henry
More about this week’s guests:
David Gibbs is professor of history and government at the University of Arizona. He has written extensively on NATO and is the author of First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia
“Foreign policy specialists have rightly condemned Russian intervention in the Ukraine, which has aggravated political divisions in that country. At the same time, we should recognize that the United States and NATO have also contributed to the destabilization. Russia’s actions are at least partly a response to policies adopted by the U.S. and NATO immediately following the Cold War.
“People often forget that post-Soviet Russia was at first highly cooperative with U.S. and Western policy, and they disbanded the Cold War era Warsaw Pact alliance. Russians assumed that in response the U.S. would gradually disband NATO, as a symmetrical action, or at the very least the U.S. would not expand NATO. Instead, the U.S. orchestrated NATO’s expansion, beginning in the late 1990s, incorporating several post-Soviet states. More recently, there has been open discussion of further expanding NATO, with possible membership for the Ukraine and Georgia. Russia views its interventions in the Ukraine as defensive actions, against NATO threats to its border security. NATO expansion must be viewed as a short-sighted action, one that was bound to provoke the Russians, and it laid the groundwork for the Ukraine’s civil war.”
James Henry is former chief economist at the international consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. He is now senior fellow at the Columbia University Center for Sustainable International Investment and senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network, which earlier this year in their report “The Price of Offshore Revisited” estimated that total wealth in tax havens was between $21 trillion and 32 trillion dollars.Henry is featured in the film “We’re Not Broke,” which tells the story of U.S. corporations dodging billions of dollars in income tax and is available on Netflix.
“You now have 100 major U.S. companies looking at ‘inversions’ like what Burger King is doing. This deal is a tax dodge by a Brazilian billionaire and other investors, it will hurt the U.S., Canada and such deals hurt virtually everyone else. These deals exposes domestic companies to competitors that are not paying substantial taxes. Contrary to some analysts, the Miami-based Burger King’ deal for Canada’s Hortons WOULD shift BK to Canada for tax purposes. BK is saying that that the deal would not ‘materially effect’ its effective U.S. tax rate of 27 percent, given that Canada’s ‘corp tax rate’ is ‘26.5 percent.'”Since Canada has a territorial corporate income tax it also does not benefit from this deal: the U.S. IRS will lose, but Canada is already not collecting any taxes on BK’s non-Canadian income. And it does lose yet another outstanding domestic company to rapacious global vultures.” See: “Tim’s + BK = $ for Canada right? …. Wrong! (in one table).”
Forbes writes: “The Burger King inversion deal is being driven by Jorge Paulo Lemann, Brazil’s richest man and co-founder of 3G Capital, the private equity firm that holds a majority stake in Burger King.” Says Henry: “I’ve met Lemann and he made his fortune in the Brazil privatization wave of the 1990s — it was like Russia’s disastrous privatizations, riddled with corruption. Brazil sold assets for $98 billion and gave $99 billion in tax benefits — they actually lost money on selling off assets. Now, Lemann goes around like some business genius, but he’s just a scam artist. It’s not business, it’s tax dodging. Brazil’s tax system, inspite of recent presumably progressive administrations, has a very regressive tax system — the top 10 percent of Brazilians pay lower share than the bottom 50 percent. Lemann probably doesn’t pay any taxes in Brazil.
“It’s been tech companies and pharmaceutical companies that have lead the charge on these schemes. Apple last year off shore revenue paid 1 percent in taxes — they funnel their profits through their Irish subsidiary and then through the Bahamas. GE’s effective tax was zero. Now it’s getting into retail. So these companies do business in the U.S., they benefit from the airports, hospitals, police, fire, education. The rest of us pay for the military. Some of them are even federal contractors — they don’t pay taxes but they make money directly from our national coffers.
“Some are even using this to push for a tax repatriation holiday or a gutting of the corporate income tax. Both of these would be a disaster. When there was a repatriation holiday in 2004, 90 percent of the benefit went to Pfizer and they then laid off workers. And gutting the corporate tax rate would not only be horrible for us in the U.S., it would be a disaster for poor countries. It’s a race to the bottom. In Africa, you have countries that have effective negative tax rates. Instead of collaborating on tax collection across countries — they’re competing to go lower and lower. And all this is being driven by the fact that the corporate lobby doesn’t discriminate. Both establishment parties have been on the take and that’s why you have so little leadership on this issue.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Nomi Prins on her new book All the Presidents’ Bankers
- Ross Caputi on ‘serving’ in the Military and the current situation in Iraq
More on this week’s guests:
Nomi Prins is a renowned journalist, author and speaker. Her most recent book, All the Presidents’ Bankers, a groundbreaking narrative about the relationships of presidents to key bankers over the past century will be out April 8, 2014. Her last book was a historical novel about the 1929 crash, Black Tuesday. Before that, she wrote the hard-hitting, acclaimed book, It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bonuses, Bailouts, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street (Wiley, September, 2009/October 2010). She is also the author of Other People’s Money: The Corporate Mugging of America (The New Press, October 2004) which predicted the current financial crisis, and was chosen as a Best Book of 2004 by The Economist, Barron’s and The Library Journal, and Jacked (Polipoint Press, Sept. 2006).
She has appeared on numerous TV programs: internationally for BBC, RtTV, and nationally for CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, CSPAN, Democracy Now, Fox and PBS. She has been featured on hundreds of radio shows globally including for CNNRadio, Marketplace, NPR, BBC, and Canadian Programming. She has featured in numerous documentaries shot by international production companies, alongside prominent thought-leaders, and Nobel Prize winners.
Her writing has been featured in The New York Times, Fortune, Newsday, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Truthdig, The Guardian UK, The Nation, Alternet, NY Daily News, LaVanguardia, and other publications.
Her engaging key-note speeches are thoughtfully tailored, and she has spoken at venues including the Purdue University/Sinai Forum, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Forum, Ohio State University Law School, Columbia University, Pepperdine Graudate School of Business, Environmental Grantmakers Association, NASS Spinal Surgeons Conference, and the Mexican Senate.
Nomi received her BS in Mathematics from SUNY Purchase, and MS in Statistics from New York University, where she completed all of the required coursework for a PhD in Statistics. Before becoming a journalist, Nomi worked on Wall Street as a managing director at Goldman Sachs, ran the international analytics group as a senior managing director at Bear Stearns in London, and worked as a strategist at Lehman Brothers and an analyst at the Chase Manhattan Bank.
Ross Caputi is a former US marine, having served from 2003 to 2006. He took part in the second siege of Fallujah in November 2004. He became openly critical of the military and was discharged in 2006. Ross holds an MA in linguistics and is the founding director of the Justice for Fallujah Project. and is on the board of directors of ISLAH (Arabic for “repair” or “reform”). He is also the director of the documentary film Fear Not the Path of Truth: a veteran’s journey after Fallujah.
Which states in part: “One year ago ISIS was concentrated in Syria, with almost no presence in Iraq. During this time, a nonviolent protest movement, which called itself the Iraqi Spring, was in full swing with widespread support in the Sunni provinces and significant support from the Shia provinces as well. This movement set up nonviolent protest camps in many cities throughout Iraq for nearly the entire year of 2013. They articulated a set of demands calling for an end to the marginalization of Sunnis within the new Iraqi democracy, reform of an anti-terrorism law that was being used label political dissent as terrorism, abolition of the death penalty, an end to corruption, and they positioned themselves against federalism and sectarianism too. Instead of making concessions to the protesters and defusing their rage, Prime Minister Maliki mocked their demands and chose to use military force to attack them on numerous occasions. Over the course of a year, the protesters were assaulted, murdered, and their leaders were assassinated, but they remained true to their adopted tactic of nonviolence. That is, until Prime Minister Maliki sent security forces to clear the protest camps in Fallujah and Ramadi in December of 2013. At that point the protestors lost hope in the tactic of nonviolence and turned to armed resistance instead. It is important to note that from the beginning it was the tribal militias who took the lead in the fight against the Iraqi government. ISIS arrived a day later to aid Fallujans in their fight, but also to piggy-back on the success of the tribal fighters in order to promote their own political goals. …While publicly criticizing the Maliki government’s sectarian policies, the U.S. has been aiding and facilitating” the Maliki government. Caputi added: “The impunity of the Maliki government is never questioned in the debate raging within the U.S. It is simply unimaginable within the limits of this debate that Maliki might be held accountable for the war crimes his regime has committed against his own people.”
This week’s show looks at the games in politics and on Wall Street. We start with the Middle East and end with JP Morgan:
- The history of the start of the CIA’s influence on the Arab World – an interview with Hugh Wilford
- Is the Volker Rule as substitute for the Glass-Steagall Act? – an interview with William Black
More about this week’s guests:
Hugh Wilford joined the California State University Long Beach History Department in 2006, having taught previously at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Trained in the U.K. as a U.S. intellectual historian, he has published widely on such topics as the New York Intellectuals, the history of the American left, Americanization and anti-Americanism in Europe, and the “Cultural Cold War.” His most recent works concern the role of the CIA in shaping Cold War American and western culture, and the role of culture in shaping the Cold War operations of the CIA. The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (Harvard University Press, 2008) examines the relationship between the CIA and various apparently private U.S. citizen groups the Agency secretly funded in the Cold War “battle for hearts and minds.” America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (Basic Books, 2013) tells the surprising story of a group of pro-Arab operatives in the early CIA, locating them in longer traditions of American missionary and British imperial engagement with the Arab world.
- America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (New York: Basic Books, 2013).
- The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (Cambridge,MA: Harvard University Press, 2008).
- The U.S. Government, Citizen Groups, and the Cold War: The State-Private Network, ed., with Helen Laville (New York: Routledge, 2006).
- The CIA, the British Left, and the Cold War: Calling the Tune? (London: Frank Cass, 2003).
- The New York Intellectuals: From Vanguard to Institution (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995
Bill Black is an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He was the executive director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention from 2005-2007. He previously taught at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and at Santa Clara University, where he was also the distinguished scholar in residence for insurance law and a visiting scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
Professor Black was litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, deputy director of the FSLIC, SVP and general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, and senior deputy chief counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision. He was deputy director of the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement.
His book, The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One (University of Texas Press 2005), has been called “a classic.” Professor Black recently helped the World Bank develop anti-corruption initiatives and served as an expert for OFHEO in its enforcement action against Fannie Mae’s former senior management.
He teaches white-collar crime, public finance, antitrust, law and economics, and Latin American development.
On this week’s show:
- House prices are going up. Sounds like a good thing, right? The picture is a little more complicated than it appears. We talk about it with Laura Gottesdiener
- Honduras has just completed its election cycle. In 2009, the country’s left-of-center President Mel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup that was heavily supported (and, according to Zelaya, organized) by the United States government. After six months and a lot of political repression, the coup government was re-established with an election that almost the entire hemisphere — except, you guessed it, the United States — rejected as illegitimate. Four years later Honduran voters went to the polls again but the result is in dispute. We discuss the election with Mark Wiesbrot
More about this week’s guests:
Laura Gottesdiener is a journalist, social justice activist, and author of A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home published by Zuccotti Park Press. She is an associate editor for Waging Nonviolence, and she has written for Rolling Stone, Ms. magazine, The Arizona Republic, The New Haven Advocate, The Huffington Post, AlterNet, and other publications. She lived and worked in the People’s Kitchen during the occupation of Zuccotti Park. Gottesdiener just wrote the piece “The Empire Strikes Back, How Wall Street Has Turned Housing Into a Dangerous Get-Rich-Quick Scheme — Again,” which states: “You can hardly turn on the television or open a newspaper without hearing about the nation’s impressive, much celebrated housing recovery. Home prices are rising! New construction has started! The crisis is over! Yet beneath the fanfare, a whole new get-rich-quick scheme is brewing…Wall Street’s foreclosure crisis, which began in late 2007 and forced more than 10 million people from their homes, has created a paradoxical problem. Millions of evicted Americans need a safe place to live, even as millions of vacant, bank-owned houses are blighting neighborhoods and spurring a rise in crime. Lucky for us, Wall Street has devised a solution: It’s going to rent these foreclosed houses back to us. In the process, it’s devised a new form of securitization that could cause this whole plan to blow up — again.”
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. He has written numerous research papers on economic policy, especially on Latin America and international economic policy. He is also co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: The Phony Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 2000).
He writes a weekly column for The Guardian Unlimited (U.K.), and a regular column on economic and policy issues that is distributed to over 550 newspapers by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. His opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times,Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and almost every major U.S. newspaper, as well as for Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo. He appears regularly on national and local television and radio programs. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy. He recently wrote the piece “South American Governments Should Support Hondurans’ Rights To Sovereignty and Free Elections“
On this week’s show we look at the Confidential Memo at the heart of the Global Financial Crisis with Greg Palast and how the Egyptian media is covering events in Egypt with Noha Radwan
More about our guests:
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires and Ballot Bandits , Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic, named Book of the Year on BBC Newsnight Review. Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. government’s largest racketeering case in history–winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding. Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Palast set off on a five-continent undercover investigation of BP and the oil industry for British television’s top current affairs program, Dispatches.
Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. government’s largest racketeering case in history–winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding. Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Palast set off on a five-continent undercover investigation of BP and the oil industry for British television’s top current affairs program, Dispatches.
Noha Radwan is Assistant Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature Ph.D., UC Berkeley.
Prof. Radwan’s interests include modern Middle Eastern literature in Arabic and Hebrew and postcolonial literature in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Her Book manuscript about modern Egyptian poetry in the colloquial language, Shi’r al-‘ammiyya and Modernism in Arabic Poetry, is currently under review.
“Egypt is going through one of the bleakest moments of its modern history. Despite the paucity of accurate reporting on the attacks against the Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-ins on Wednesday, there is enough evidence that these attacks must be condemned in the strongest of words. Although [ousted president Mohammed] Morsi’s supporters are not exactly non-violent it is clear the police is using a barbaric amount of excessive force. Yet the tragedy runs deeper. Wednesday was not only a dreadful day of killing and violence. It was the tragic and shameful culmination of a long process of polarizing the Egyptian masses between full support for the rule of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and uncompromising opposition to it. For the past three weeks media sources on the ground, whether they are the governmental or the independent channels (On TV, CBC [Capital Broadcasting Center] and al-Nahar) or the Qatari al-Jazeera have been working the public into nothing short of a mass hysteria. The state media labels the Islamists ‘terrorists’ while the Islamists denigrate all support for the current regime as ‘fascism’. Every media source in Egypt is lying, spreading hearsay, and dismissing reports that do not serve their agendas. The result is a frenzied and divided population that is proving uncharacteristically callous to the bloodshed among one group or the other. There is no doubt that it would have been better for President Morsi to have been voted out and not ousted by the military, but it is debatable whether there was a potential for this option. It is also debatable whether his failures during his year in office are enough excuse for the Egyptian ‘liberals’ and ‘revolutionaries’ to strike an alliance with the military, an alliance that was inconceivable to them a little more than one year ago.”