How the Netherlands became a corporate tax haven

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And that disparity is entirely unjustified, because far more untaxed American profit hides out in the Netherlands than in Bermuda. Since 2005, nearly half a trillion (!) dollars in American profit has been safely stored in the Netherlands by companies such as Nike, General Electric, Heinz, Caterpillar, Time Warner, Foot Locker – the list goes on and on. Half a trillion dollars: it’s an unfathomable amount of money, nearly twice the country’s entire budget.

pub. 06/2017

Psst–and to bring it back home:

If history is any guide, the US government will eventually swing legislation back in your company’s favor.

In 2005, for example, Congress passed a law that allowed American multinationals to bring home their foreign profits at a temporarily low rate of 5.25% – a mere one-sixth of the regular tax rate. Some $362 billion flowed back into the US as a result. A quarter of that – a whopping $90 billion – had been cached in the Netherlands.

The promise was that the law would create American jobs. But it didn’t, revealed an analysis conducted by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Nonetheless, another profit repatriation tax break will probably take effect soon. Trump’s proposed tax plan includes a temporarily reduced rate of 10% on overseas earnings that are returned to American soil.

And so Trump, for all his MAGA rhetoric, reinforces American companies’ biggest lesson: earn your money in other countries and you’ll pay less tax.

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On the confluence of political and economic division in America

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The idea that an increasing sense of material precariousness can lead to cultural retreat from liberalizing “self-expression” values can help us understand why low-density white America turned out to support a populist leader with disturbingly illiberal tendencies. But this idea can also help us understand why our larger national culture seems to be growing apart in a way that has made it seem harder and harder to communicate constructively across the gap.

pub. 02/2017

Okay, this one is a bit of a challenging read. It’s an interesting analysis, though, and from a libertarian rather than liberal source. And there’s fun with data visualization.

De Correspondent on the EU security industry: Who it is, who’s paying for it, and where else the tech goes

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Early last year, journalists from the Netherlands’ de Correspondent contacted their counterparts across the EU, beginning a joint effort to answer questions about European security:

Bodycams, drones, border surveillance, airport scanners, lawful interception, facial recognition – high-tech gadgets are being developed by businesses and deployed across Europe. But what kind of businesses make these technologies? How much money do they earn from them? How are they working with governments? And do these tools really make us safer? We wanted to find out. Not on our own, but working with a team from all over Europe.

pub. throughout early 2017

They’re collecting the many and complex answers in their series Security for Sale; the articles are linked in the right sidebar of the page. Among other things, in a globalized and often opaque world, it’s great to see the collaborative efforts of investigative reporters in action.

A theory on why Europe dominated the second half of the last millennium

Take-home point: The balance between unity as a continent and separation of individual nations created an intellectual climate in which countries competed with each other but also shared ideas.

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We must recognise that Europe’s (and the world’s) Great Enrichment was in no way inevitable. With fairly minor changes in initial conditions, or even accidents along the way, it might never have happened. Had political and military developments taken different turns in Europe, conservative forces might have prevailed and taken a more hostile attitude toward the new and more progressive interpretation of the world.

pub. 02/2017

From Der Spiegel: Germany and Europe must stand against the US

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It is thus somewhat ironical that it is Germany, the country that is politically and economically dominant in Europe, that will now have to fill in many of the gaps created by America’s withdrawal from the old world order, the one referred to by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as “Pax Americana.” At the same time, Germany must build an alliance against Donald Trump, because it otherwise won’t take shape. It is, however, absolutely necessary.

pub. 02/2017

On the upside, I wonder if, during an otherwise dark time, a Europe unified against the US could become a bastion of liberalism?