|W.I.L. Home Page||Offshore News Digest Home|
|Sign Up||Finance Digest Home|
TIME TO RUN?
As this digest has evolved over time we have included more and more pieces on making a permanent or semi-permanent move away from one’s home country. The articles generally cover either general considerations or specific countries and ideas. But it is actually making the move that is, of course, the most difficult part. What would it take to actually get you to pick up stakes? That simple question alone is worth considering.
Lila Rajiva suggests you start creating the option to make such a move right now. Even if you do not exercise the option the actual cost is not that high. As she puts it: “It is an insignificant price to pay for something that will renew your spirit no matter what you decide.” Precisely.
Is it time to run?
That is what I have been asking myself for three years now.
Before that, I thought it was simply a matter of finding a better place to live. A place that was quieter and cheaper. Where flippers and developers had not taken over the neighborhood. Somewhere safe I could park my car on the street and not worry about it.
But by the time I found it, I also found that the thieves were inside the house, not on the street. There is really no hiding from them. And no hiding from what they can do.
Our mene, mene, tekel upharsin is on the wall.
It is time to run, not hide.
I mean that. We are in the throes of an economic collapse of a kind last seen in the 1930s. The government is intent on grabbing control of whatever it can. American firms are dropping like flies. Unemployment is soaring. Debt is soaring. The money supply is soaring. Our foreign policy is a wreck – we have more enemies than we can count. We have a drug war on the borders, we have gang war in the ghettos, we have culture wars in the academy and media.
We have criminals in government.
The future is not any brighter. Subprime is only the first leg down. We still have a second wave of housing trouble in store, centering around commercial real estate and option ARM loans.
Gerald Celente, the CEO of Trend Research, wrote a piece last year predicting that by 2012 there would be food riots, tax rebellion, and revolution across the country. Celente has a good track record in the forecasting business.
Experts predict a 100% rise in prices across the board. In the best-case scenario, it will happen over 10 years. In the worst case, it might happen within months.
More “hate crimes” laws are on the table. They will not only crimp political speech, they will make it criminal. The likely targets will be people who propose tax rebellion and secession or oppose U.S. support for Israel or militant Zionism. Other candidates for thought reform are Christians who oppose abortions and gay marriage and environmental and animal rights activists.
Homeland Security is preparing a network of emergency facilities for civilians. Innocuous? Maybe, but it is odd that these holding camps should be built on military installations.
Medical information is being centralized in online data banks accessible by the government, and some favored groups.
Bills to snoop, bills to spy, bills to control. Each time one gets struck down, another sprouts in its place.
Is it really the best strategy to fight each bill one at a time, over and over? Why? If this is what the public and the congress want, so be it. So what if they are unconstitutional? We have long ago established that the Constitution means just about whatever anyone wants it to mean. When it comes to torture, Republicans rip up the Constitution. When it comes to tax and spend, Democrats rip it up. The whole thing is a partisan racket. Whoever shouts the loudest gets what he wants. So be it.
Rather than forcing the country to change, a far simpler and humbler strategy is to let the country go whichever way it wants, and get out of its way. I am not a cynic. I am not telling you to stand on the sidelines and egg both sides on. I am not telling you to forget your native soil or your community. I am suggesting that it might be easier for you to defend them from abroad. And I am suggesting that you start making yourself a foothold abroad. Just in case.
If you are finding it hard to manage, if you have reached a dead end, if you are depressed by the way things are here, go.
How to do it?
First. Get your papers in order. I am amazed at the number of people who do not have passports. A passport is the nearest thing you have to a veto on Washington. Get it in order. You will also need other valid documents. Now is the time to start getting them together. You should at least have your driving license, passport and birth certificate ready to go. You should also start collecting other documents you might need (marriage, divorce, and adoption papers, incorporation papers, name changes, social security papers, bank statements, recommendations, letters of authorization, educational and work certifications). These can take months to get from the proper source. You might also need to have them validated by the embassy of the country where you want to move.
Second. Figure out where you want to live. This is not as hard as it sounds. Almost all your research can be done on the net, though at some point, you will have to buy a ticket and try living where you want to move.
A good place to start your research is the CIA World Factbook, which lists current geographic and economic statistics. Wiki will give you maps, photos, and general background. For property prices, Viviun or glo-con.com have a wide selection of all kinds of property in practically every part of the world. Be aware that prices on English language international sites are usually higher than what you will be able to find from local sources. I suggest you pick a dozen countries you think might interest you and start researching them systematically.
How you choose your country will depend on who you are and what you plan to do. Families with children should look at job opportunities, political stability, crime rates, and schools. Cheap prices cannot be their only criterion. For retired people on a fixed income, warm weather and good health care might be much more important. For those working on the net, an important factor will be good DSL and accessibility to a major city for tech help. I remember I saw what looked like the perfect little farm in the remote highlands of a little visited Central American country. The excitement faded quickly when I found that it was on top of a volcano and more than hundred miles from any kind of town. The volcano was extinct, but a little googling told me that “extinct” volcanoes can come to life.
Spanish will take you anywhere in Latin America. French helps in Africa and in some parts of Asia. But language is made out to be a much bigger problem than it really is. Buy a decent phrase book and a dictionary, make good use of online translators like babel fish, and you will be fine. I have conducted lengthy email conversations about renovation costs, world politics, alternative medicine, and Dick Cheney, all with Babel Fish. The translations are crude and sometimes off the wall, but foreigners are forgiving of people who at least try to talk their language.
Purchasing property in a foreign language is a bit trickier. For that, you are wise to look for local lawyers and notaries. A good place to make contacts is the online forum of an expat community in that country. Get an internet alias and start asking questions before you leave. Make sure you double-check everything your hear against the local government’s official information. Ownership, work, and residency rules for foreigners are constantly changing.
Third. Visit your safe-haven. Every fantasy has to hit the ground for it to become real. For many people, this is the hard part. Dreaming is one thing. But only people who are willing to do the hard work, take some risk, and live with something less than perfection get to make their dreams come true.
Each time you try anything, you will always have a hundred naysayers at your elbow, most of them, your nearest and dearest. They mean well. They are doing what they think is best for you. And about half the time, they may even be right. Don’t bite their heads off. Smile sweetly, listen to all the advice, and when it is over, make your own decision. Weighing pros and cons is a good start. But ultimately, do not flinch from making a decision based on gut feeling. Two heads may be better than one. But one strong gut reaction is far better than any number of heads. Listen to it.
You need about two months to prepare for a trip properly. Book well in advance to get the best prices. I started using the BootsnAll Travel Community site many years ago and it is still one of the best. Some places need you to take shots, but usually you can skip this if you have not been out of the U.S. in a while.
Here are a couple of important tips:
Make it a priority to visit one foreign country within the next six months. You are going to find that having another option besides staying put is going to change the way you think and feel about everything here. It may be that leaving for good is not for you. You may find that you prefer home with all its problems to a strange culture. Well and good. What have you lost? A small amount of rapidly depreciating money.
- Book a hotel or a hostel for the first few nights. Then find an apartment from there. You need to meet the owner in person to feel comfortable in a rental apartment.
- Pack light. Security checks are increasingly uncomfortable and time-consuming. The less you carry, the easier your trip will be.
It is an insignificant price to pay for something that will renew your spirit no matter what you decide. And one day, it may end up being your only avenue of escape from trouble.
PANAMA: A NEW POLITICAL DIRECTION?
Clearing of land titles will ultimately create the emergence of a middle class society.
Panama’s new presidential administration, led by supermarket magnate Ricardo Martinelli, has among its primary agenda items the resolution of the title ambiguity which infests much of the country’s land – especially some of its most desirable land.
Titled Panamanian property may be understand, modulo the usual local eccentricities, to be similar to titled land as the concept is understood in most countries where the concept exists. The title holder “owns” the property, subject to various restrictions and the payment of whatever property taxes various political entities dictate. (Fail to pay the taxes and you will discover who really owns the property.) Panamanian property held under “Rights of Possession” confers a far weaker useage right, which is subject to whimsical interpretation by government officials who maintain “the power to do whatever they want with the land if they were to so choose because it is not specified in the Constitution of Panama.” Most of this type land is on the Panamanian coast and its islands. Not surprisingly, much of that land has not been developed or otherwise improved ... but one can see it has served as a convenient leverage point for politicians of many stripes.
Now the new “conservative” administration has announced plans in principle to provide a facility for efficiently converting “Rights of Possession” land into titled land. If they make good on the plan, this would effect a sea-change within Panama the likes of which one does not get to witness very often.
As the author of this article summarizing the issue puts it: “Panama ... the international investment community is watching you closely.” We believe he is not exagerating.
Panama has a new president, a new administration and a new direction and the outlook from this election looks good for the people of the country and looks awesome for the global investment community which already holds Panama in high esteem.
The New Administration will be led by President Ricardo Martinelli who considers, among other issues, prioritizing land ownership as a major facet of his campaign. Newly elected, it is now high on the country’s agenda. Specifically, the new President seeks to resolve the issue of ownership, and ultimately entitlement for “Right of Possession” land, by taking away the government’s long-held ambiguity and interpretation in this area
s The new President plans to “intelligize the opportunity,” and streamline the process of its resolution through a vehicle that acts as a catalyst for the benefit of the people of Panama. Everyone is watching this important development with much interest.
Ownership of titled property in Panama provides the same rights to foreigners owning real estate as it does Panamanians.
Historically, there have been different ways to obtain property in the Republic of Panama. The most common are Titled Property and “Rights of Possession.” Most foreign investment is in titled land and for good reason. Titled property is land duly recorded and titled in the Public Registry (CATASTRO). Ownership of titled property in Panama provides the same rights to foreigners owning real estate as it does to Panamanians.
What is “Rights of Possession?”
Possession rights are land use acknowledgments which are recognized based on the occupation and use of a certain area of land, whereby the owner is the Government. This is a very limited ownership previously clouded by interpretation by government officials, maintaining the power to do whatever they want with the land if they were to so choose because it is not specified in the Constitution of Panama. Obviously, this is not an element of an otherwise democratic nation.
Most of this land is “owned” by Panamanian farmers who have maintained and improved this land for centuries and consider it a family legacy. Most “Right of Possession” land is on the coast of Panama and its islands, and so it is also some of the most desirable land.
Because of the ambiguity and risk of ownership of Rights of Possession property, much of the land has been left unchanged and undeveloped. I have spoken to Panamanian individuals personally whose land and home has been threatened by government action in the court system now.
The key element of this process is creating the appropriate vehicle in which to undergo this major transformation within the country. Titling “Rights of Possession” property will create wealth for Panamanian citizens in tandem with creating a major cash flow for the government providing for civic spending, infrastructure development, education and health care.
Normally, the transformation of government lands into titled lands only happens ONCE in the history and emergence of a nation. While all prior governments of Panama had opted to maintain these “Rights of Possession” lands for the government, Martinelli’s new progressive approach will be much more valuable and long lasting to the prosperity of the government, its people and the interest of foreign investors. My mentor, Don Klein, once told me that confusion is a catalyst for opportunity. Never before in my life has an opportunity of this nature ever exemplified this statement more effectively.
I was in attendance at an Assembly meeting in Panama City six months ago where land ownership was the focus of the discussion, and the need to clarify the “Rights of Possession” ownership was on the table. This government had decided that it owned the land and some government officials declared their desire to bulldoze everything on the coast that is considered “Rights of Possession.”
During this meeting, the first part of the process was for the government to officially recognize “Rights of Possession” as a form of ownership. Then, the meeting shifted to the entitlement of lands, and the two million files representative of two million respective “Rights of Possession” properties that have been collecting dust in CATASTRO during the entire previous administration.
As a result of this forum, the Assembly introduced six laws into congress which under the administration at that time rejected everything unilaterally. Protests ensued in the streets of Panama City. The new administration is much more prudent with its approach to titling land, the majority of which has been used and improved upon by the family of Panamanian farmers for centuries.
As the current administration delivers the vehicle to define ownership and provide Title, we will see prices and values of property skyrocket and the nation continue to prosper significantly. This, because titled land is much more valuable, with prices reflecting greater than 10 times the value of Right of Possession.
As these lands are titled, this will create substantial wealth for the lower class of Panama and ultimately create the emergence of a middle class society. In addition, taxes are not paid to the government on “Rights of Possession” land and there are annual taxes on titled property.
The government is highly incentivized to facilitate this process, especially with two million files sitting in an office, representing two million different properties people are waiting to pay taxes on. In addition to there will be a tremendous influx of foreign investment creating jobs for citizens, attracting a huge influx of additional commerce and stimulating the economy on all levels. Also, bear in mind that taxes in Panama are minimal by an comparative perspective.
How will this affect the current climate in the country ...?
Well, besides already proving its distinguished status as the most industrial, sophisticated in policy and economically distinguished country in Latin America, Panamanian conditions will only improve.
Having the foresight to see the direction the country is headed under this administration; one will note that beachfront land will increase from 5 to 10 dollars per meter to 50 and 60 dollars per meter in a relatively rapid amount of time.
Look for all of the coastal and island property to be bought up by foreigners and Panamanians alike, especially along the Pacific Coast to the Azueros Peninsula and Pedasi. Those that already bought in Pacific Coast developments will see significant profits in their property purchase given the fact that to replicate the model of these developments would take a much larger amount to begin with, leading to higher costs of capital, and sacrificing green spaces for higher density.
What is the downside? There is no downside.
Panama ... the international investment community is watching you closely.
BARBADOS: A COUNTRY OPEN TO INVESTMENT
Barbados is an English-speaking and fairly prosperous independent Caribbean island nation, some basic background of which was covered last week. The country is better known for being a tourist destination than an international financial center. This is because Barbados has never passed legislation which would make it very attractive within the IFC universe. For example, companies and individuals who are resident and domiciled in Barbados for tax purposes are subject to income tax on their world-wide income whether or not income is remitted to Barbados. This displays a virtual intent not to attract tax haven business. Nor does Barbados’s name come up among the strident defenders – or ex-defenders – of financial institution client privacy.
With its stable governmental institutions and balmy climate, Barbados has achieved ample success without the headaches that accompany being an international financial center – which must look like a pretty wise decision these days. The investment opportunities which do exist there are mostly tourism, either short-term or extended-stay, related. Some details are provided below.
Recently I read that real estate sales and investment trends in the Caribbean reveal some “unexplained oddities,” according to a recent report from Global Property Insight which cited the island of Barbados as doing “surprisingly well,” noting that this is most likely a “testament to the fact that nothing can hit those who have mucho money in the bank.”
In places like Barbados and British Virgin Islands, the report concludes, “foreign demand for luxury houses has stayed strong, and banks are still willing to lend to qualified homebuyers.” ... “Central locations, locations where people who matter spend time, seem to be doing better than fringe speculative areas,” the report continues.
Several of the reports cited by Global Property Insight were developed by property agents, who often act as boosters more than researchers, it should be noted. But there is evidence that prices in many parts of the Caribbean continue to hold, even though tourism has been in decline – for the moment. The reality is that tourism in the Caribbean will bounce back a lot sooner than it will in most other places.
Places like Barbados and BVI are a few of several spots that have made it easier for investors to buy property, the Wall Street Journal recently reported. And the property firm Knight Frank recently singled out Barbados as one of its top property locations in its 2009 Wealth Report.
“The term ‘flight to quality’ is one being used above all others at present, and I do not think it is more applicable than in the Caribbean,” Knight Frank’s Georgina Richards wrote. Right now Barbados is not only primed for, by fully established with great incentives, to attract foreign real estate and business investment.
Let us learn more about the opportunities available in this independent, yet still very British, island in the eastern Caribbean.
Overview of Barbados
Barbados is an independent English-speaking Commonwealth country with a dynamic economy. The official language of Barbados is English, however the local “Bajan English” dialect is the natural choice for casual and social communication. The most easterly of the Caribbean islands, it is just over 3 hours by plane from Miami, 4 1/2 hours from New York and 8 hours from London.
The island is just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide at its widest point and is made up of soft coral lime stone which is responsible for the gently rolling landscape. The terrain rises in steps from the west coast, reaching its highest point of 1100 feet at Mount Hillaby in the eastern parish of St. Andrew. The island is fringed coral reefs which is responsible for the white sand beaches that are present along the coast line.
The capital city, Bridgetown, and the three other regional towns are located along the west coast or Caribbean side of the island, while the Atlantic coast on the east side is less densely populated. The Barbadian population is predominately of African origin, while people of European, Indian and other ethnic groups are represented among the 273,000 persons live on the island of 166 square miles.
Barbados enjoys a pleasant and stable climate with daytime temperatures ranging between 31 and 23 degrees Centigrade [88 and 73 deg. F]. There is a dry season from February to March and a definite wet season between July and November. Although the island lies in a hurricane belt it has not suffered a direct hit since 1955. Natural resources include oil, natural gas and fish.
Barbados is today a world class business center, with the professionalism of management necessary for the continued high level of business and social development. With its modern infrastructure, Barbados is an ideal place to live, work and to invest.
A leading destination for American, British and European tourists, Barbados is well known for well trained people and a stable government.
Considered to be a leading island destination for North American, British and European tourists, Barbados is very well known for its well-trained, industrious people, its stable government, a wide range of accommodations and attractions and its fine coral-sand beaches.
Barbados is a “mature” Caribbean tourism destination. Large-scale tourism development dates back to the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, but colonial ties to Britain had made Barbados a popular destination for wealthy British nationals for decades prior to World War II.
The tourism product in Barbados is diverse and includes varied accommodation – hotel rooms, villas and guest houses, scores of restaurants and other food and beverage facilities, nature attractions – including caves and marine parks, historic sites, festivals, great golf courses and a full range of other activities.
Barbados has an economy driven by tourism, business, financial services, agriculture, and manufacturing. Low tax rates, double taxation agreements and exchange of information treaties have provided Barbados with an ideal environment for its development into a major international business and financial services centre. In addition, Government has a liberal policy towards foreign exchange controls and is committed to moving towards the elimination of these controls.
The island is highly rated for the quality of its educational, social and healthcare services and continues to enjoy stable political and labor relations. The availability of daily scheduled air transport to major international cities in North America, England and Europe and ready access to telecommunications, power, water and other utilities make Barbados a place at works.
Looking towards the future, the National Initiative for Service Excellence, NISE, was launched in 2004 jointly by the trade unions, the private sector and Government to position Barbados to consistently deliver excellence in service in all aspects of business and social interaction. In this way, an enabling environment will be created within which Barbados will be able to attain its vision of being a developed country by 2025.
Barbados has a market based economy. Over the last four decades, the economy has shifted from an emphasis on agriculture towards the provision of services. The economy is now based on tourism, business, finance and general services, agriculture and manufacturing. Over the years, Barbados has achieved a relatively high per capita income under conditions of low inflation, low external indebtedness and a solid social and economic infrastructure.
Barbados has an extensive road system of about 1475 km. of paved roads which have undergone major improvement in recent years. A highway links the north and south of the island.
The Grantley Adams International Airport, located about 15 minutes from the capital city Bridgetown, plays an important role as a vital center and link for international air traffic in the Eastern Caribbean. The main passenger terminal handles in excess of 2.0 million passengers each year and it has been recently upgraded and expanded. There are non-stop daily scheduled airline services to the major international cities – New York, Miami, Toronto, London – as well as to other Caribbean islands. ...
The Seaport at Bridgetown is one of the most modern ports in the Caribbean with both a deep-water harbor and a shallow draught facility. There are regular freight sailings to North America, Europe and the Caribbean. The Bridgetown Port is well equipped with container-handling and berth facilities for ocean-going freighters and passenger vessels, including major luxury liners. It has won the prestigious award of “Caribbean Port of the Year” on several occasions during the last ten years.
Barbados is equipped with a modern telecommunications infrastructure with the latest in digital technology and fiber optic systems including international direct dialing, facsimile transfer and satellite telecommunications which allows for the efficient transmission of electronic data. Internet and e-mail services as well as express mail and courier delivery are also available. The water service in Barbados is reliable and the water supply is safe and refreshing to drink.
Judicial, political and administrative institutions are closely modeled on the British system.
Solid leadership has served this 166 square mile island well, maintaining its political, economic and social stability. This stability is underpinned by the existence in Barbados of the third oldest Parliament in the British Commonwealth.
- All political parties are “middle of the road” and supportive of the free enterprise system, and committed to the rule of law.
- Barbados has had representative government since 1639 and became an independent country in 1966. There are two houses of Parliament, an elected House of Assembly and a nominated Senate. Executive authority is vested in the Prime Minister and Cabinet who are collectively responsible to Parliament.
- Elections are held every five years.
- Government actively encourages foreign investment.
From the very beginning, Government’s policy has shown a firm commitment to the social and economic development of the island. The Government of Barbados therefore fully supports inward investment and ensures that appropriate incentives and legislation are in place to give confidence and predictability to investment decisions.
The legal system is derived from English common law and Statutes. The courts administer the laws of Barbados which consist solely of local legislation. The judicial system is composed of a lower Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court which includes a Court of Appeal and a High Court. Final Appeal from Barbadian courts is to the Privy Council in England.
Companies and individuals who are resident and domiciled in Barbados for tax purposes are subject to income tax on their world-wide income whether or not income is remitted to Barbados. Individuals who are resident but not domiciled in Barbados are taxed on their income derived from Barbados and on any overseas income remitted to Barbados. Non-residents are taxed only on income derived from Barbados.
With certain exemptions (e.g., financial services and the sale of real property), Value Added Tax (VAT) is levied on all goods and services produced in Barbados and goods imported into Barbados.
Public and Private Sector Commitment to Development Solid leadership over the years has served this 166 square mile island well and laid the foundation for the advancement of its political, economic, and social stability – a stability supported by the fact that the country is governed by the third oldest parliamentary democracy in the British Commonwealth. Click Here to see Related Articles
A sustained commitment to a policy of social and economic development in the island has been demonstrated by successive elected administrations. As a result of this, inward investment is fully supported by the Government which is committed to ensure that appropriate incentives and legislation are in place to give confidence and predictability to investment decision making.
Since 1993 the public/private sector commitment has been taken to another level of unique co-operation, with the formalization of protocols between Government, the private sector and labor unions with the intention of defending the economic achievements of Barbados and promoting sustainable development.
As a result of this co-operation through the Barbados Social Partnership, the economy has realized a sustained growth in excess of 4% annually and a reduction in the level of inflation while producing real increases in industrial wages.
Investors can realize several benefits from investing in the tourism sector of Barbados. In addition to receiving good rates of return on their investments, investors have the opportunity to work in a business environment where the Government, labor unions and the business community work in partnership to promote sustainable economic development.
The Barbados tourism industry has shown steady growth over the last 50 years despite periods of relative instability driven by world economic and geo-political crises. Travel and tourism is expected to grow by 4.6% per annum, in real terms, between 2002 and 2012. The travel and tourism economic contribution should rise from 37.4% to 43.8% during that same period.
Barbados continues to be a location chosen by discerning investors looking for a sophisticated and authentic Caribbean destination ...
Barbados continues to be a location chosen by discerning investors that are looking for a sophisticated and authentic Caribbean destination that provides high levels of service, an enabling business environment, and one that offers a range of tax and financial concessions.
Additionally, substantial increases in Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) and annual hotel occupancy rates of over 70% have made Barbados very attractive to many major hotel brands that are actively looking to raise their flag on the island.
For this reason the investment focus of this article is on the hugely popular and thriving tourism sector in Barbados.
Why Invest In Barbados Tourism
Barbados is the leading island destination in the Southern Caribbean for North American, British and European tourists. It is known for its well-trained, industrious people, its stable government, a wide range of accommodations and attractions and its fine coral-sand beaches. Barbados is a mature Caribbean tourism destination. Large-scale tourism development dates back to the late ‘50s and early ‘60s but colonial ties to Britain had made Barbados a popular destination for wealthy British nationals for many years before World War II.
The tourism product in Barbados is diverse and includes varied accommodation – hotel rooms, villas and guest houses, scores of restaurants and other food and beverage facilities, nature attractions including caves and marine parks, historic sites, festivals, golf courses and a range of other activities.
Tourism Track Record
By the end of 2005, the island had hosted over 1.1 million tourists, of whom 547,534 were stay-over visitors and 563,588 were cruise ship visitors. Accommodation for tourists is targeted to increase from approximately 6,255 rooms in 2005 to approximately 9,500 rooms by 2010.
Over 70% of the country’s foreign exchange is earned by the tourism sector. It is anticipated that by the end of 2006 Tourism’s contribution to real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be in the region of 12%.
Over 12,000 people are directly employed by tourism currently (9% of total employment). This number is expected to increase to approximately 11% of total jobs by 2012.
The Uniqueness of Barbados Tourism
Barbados is renowned worldwide as a secure, reputable and rewarding international business centre. The island’s well defined business legislation and extensive array of double taxation treaties have created an ideal offshore investment and business domicile. The Tourism Development Act provides a range of incentives for companies involved in:
Double Taxation Treaties and Bilateral Investment Protection Treaties have been established with USA and Canada as well as many leading developed countries in Europe.
- Construction of hotels
- Financing of hotel construction
- Operation of hotels
- Construction and operation of attractions
- Provision and operation of tourism-related services
Legislation and Incentives
Two primary legislations, the Tourism Development Act and the Special Development Areas Act, provide benefits and incentives for investment in the tourism and hospitality sector in Barbados and all other incentives can be obtained under the Special Development Areas Act.
The following is an overview of these two important legislations: ...
We will let those interested in the details go directly to the source.
TIPS FOR WEATHERIZING YOUR CARIBBEAN PROPERTY
Annual painting and or refinishing of damaged exterior building components do not have to be part of owning and maintaining housing in the region.
Some very practical advice for homeowners in the wet climate of the Caribbean. As the author expresses it: “In order to survive down here in the jungle, and elsewhere in the region, property owners need to learn how to deal with Costa Rica’s (and the region’s) unique climatic characteristics and how they impact our dwellings.” This turns out to mean overriding many default local approaches to construction which result in unnecessary damage to dwellings and thus, obviously, unnecessary maintenance expenses.
The recent rain we have received here in Costa Rica has inspired me to remind you that this is an excellent time to pay close attention to your homes roofing, flashing and rainwater drainage systems that may need tightening up before the real rainy season begins. The moderate downpours that are now upon us will reveal the deterioration that occurred during the summer months from intense ultraviolet penetration of your dwellings exterior building components.
Here in Costa Rica, we usually receive three to four weeks of dry weather after the spring rains and before the heavy rainy season. During this brief period of dryness, you will have the opportunity to make repairs and improvements in order to insure that your roofing and exterior building component installations are adequate to protect your dwelling for the rest of the year.
I have been building and inspecting housing and buildings here for over 16 years and from this constant exposure to construction here, I can tell you that 95% of the dwellings I have inspected have inadequate roofing and flashing installations that allow rainwater infiltration into the exterior overhangs fascias and soffits. And, this fact does not just apply to Costa Rica but to all of the countries in the Caribbean and Central America.
Previously, most soffit construction was finished with wood strips and then Fibrolit, cementious laminates became widely used. This construction materials reaction time to water infiltration is much longer than modern imported materials such as Densglass and green drywall that require installation and finishing according to the manufacturers proprietary methods.
From years of working with Costa Rican contractors, architects and engineers, I can tell you that their attitudes have been that annual painting and or refinishing of damaged exterior building components are part of owning and maintaining housing here. I have suggested to them that locally available, building components can be utilized to avoid the problems, only to be told “that is the way we do it in CR.” Even though, building materials consistently become damaged following the dwellings exposure to the first rainy season.s
In North America, most roofing and exterior overhang structures on housing are designed and built with construction materials that entirely enclose the structures and do not permit air or water infiltration, except where the design professionals have intentionally provided for ventilation.
This opening between the roof structure and the finished roof covering is where most water infiltration occurs.
Here in Costa Rica, even in expensive housing, 95% of the time there is no flashing or other materials installed at the roof edge where the gutters and or fascia boards are located. This opening between the roof structure and the finished roof covering is where most water infiltration occurs. The infiltration of water ends up inside the overhang cavity soffit and initially causes damage to the soffit building materials in the form of mold, mildew and deterioration. After a period of time, the unsightly cosmetic damage graduates into building materials becoming saturated with moisture and then replacement inevitably becomes necessary.
A dwellings roof is one of the most vulnerable components, often times receiving significant damage while protecting everything under it from natures forceful elements. It is prudent to seek the most suitable roofing products, not the most cost-effective. Roofing material components are very important. However, the proper installation of the underlayment and flashing are vital to the success of a complete roofing system.
Some finished roofing products are basically cosmetic applications, while the majority of the weatherproofing and insulating of the building structure is accomplished with the underlayment and flashing materials and their proper installation procedures. The galvanized roofing panels and flashing materials used here in Costa Rica require specific dimensions of laminate and flashing overlapping, as well as watertight sealants applied between the product overlaps according to the manufacturer’s recommended installation techniques.
Most folks do not understand that metal laminates respond to temperature change just like wood, by expanding and contracting. This causes the fastener holes size to increase, resulting in leaks.
According to the manufacturers of metal roofing laminates, panels installed over metal Perlin should not harm the roof system with thermal movement. However, I can tell you from personal, hands-on experience that the manufacturer’s installation recommendations, of attaching the metal laminates directly to a metal Perlin structure, with screws provided by the manufacturer, still expand, contract and move. I have seen with my own eyes, 2-inch metal screws; unscrew themselves as a result of the metal laminates movement, during one seasonal change.
Zinc and hot dipped galvanized steel roofing products that are frequently used ... tend to oxidize rapidly in areas of high humidity.
Additionally, zinc and hot dipped galvanized steel roofing products that are frequently used here, and elsewhere in the region, tend to oxidize rapidly in areas of high humidity. The result of this oxidation process, especially near the coastlines and in the mountains, is the relatively quick formation of surface rust which can act as a useful barrier between metals and the environment.
However, in roofing applications, this surface rust gets washed away by precipitation and accumulating moisture on the laminates, especially when used as an underlayment below clay and tile roofing products that absorb and maintain humidity. The zinc corrosion tends to runoff with precipitation, causing premature deterioration of the roofing laminates and other attached building components.
Additionally, this zinc runoff can contaminate the adjacent soil and ground water.
Therefore, in most areas of CR, especially the humid coastal and mountainous regions, it is prudent to consider using the following anti-corrosive and waterproof roofing components.
In conclusion, all dwellings, residential and commercial, require consistent maintenance in order to maintain the exterior surfaces. The extent and nature of maintenance will depend on the size and exposure of the individual buildings.
- Roof decking of Plycem, 14mm, 122cm x 244cm.
- Prodex insulation underlayment with top and bottom aluminum faced, 5mm, overlapped, on ridges, valleys and at least 4” over the roofs edge into the gutters.
- Vertical nailers of 1/2” PVC tubes installed so water can pass below.
- Horizontal nailers of 1/2” PVC tubes installed into first set of vertical nailers
- Application of two coats of SUR Fastyl, anticorrosive paint onto the heads of the screws used to attach all nailers.
- These plastic roof tiles screwed into the PVC nailers with galvanized screws.
- Gutters, aluminum, minimum 6” x 6”, installed with aluminum supports screwed into the roof tiles.
- Downspouts, aluminum, rectangular, minimum 2” x 4” at every corner and more on long runs.
It may be a good idea to make sure that the following basic maintenance tasks are completed before the rainy season begins:
Remember, our pride of home ownership and level of comfort are not fulfilled by waiting for the inevitable storms to pass. “Hasta manana” is a local tradition that most foreigners have been exposed to.
- Wash down exterior surfaces.
- Re-apply exterior protective finishes that have deteriorated during the summer.
- Maintain the exterior surfaces and connections including joints, penetrations, flashings and sealants that may provide a means of moisture infiltration.
- Clean out gutters, downspouts, blocked pipes and overflows as needed.
- Prune back vegetation that is close to or touching the building.
- Clearance between the bottom edge of exterior sheathing and the finished ground cover should always be maintained.
However, in order to survive down here in the jungle, and elsewhere in the region, property owners need to learn how to deal with Costa Rica’s (and the region’s) unique climatic characteristics and how they impact our dwellings.
Consistent preventative maintenance will go a long way in protecting your property – which is normally your biggest investment.
WTO PROTECTION FOR CARIBBEAN OFFSHORE CENTERS?
Sir Ronald Sanders is a former Caribbean diplomat and is now a corporate consultant. He is often quoted on matters concerning the Caribbean offshore financial services industry. He suggests, apparently seriously, that the Caribbean countries with financial sectors at risk due to U.S. efforts to suppress them consider combining and making a grievance to the WTO. His sensible argument is that the clamp-down efforts constitute de facto unfair discrimination against the Caribbean financial services in favor of jurisdictions “with more political muscle like Hong Kong and Singapore.”
The argument may be sensible on its face, but expecting U.S./OECD pawn the WTO to turn against its masters is probably not sensible.
Business consultant and former diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders has suggested that Caribbean countries should band together against any effort by the United States to clamp down on their offshore sectors and take their grievances straight to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Just last month the Obama administration indicated that it would seek to curb the use of so-called “offshore tax havens,” and has supported bills aimed at stopping tax shelter abuses. The American government said it would raise about US$210 billion in revenues over the next 10 years by doing so.
But Sir Ronald, responding to questions posed by the Inter-American Dialogue bi-weekly publication, said the efforts by the U.S. as well as other leading members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) may displace offshore business “to jurisdictions with more political muscle like Hong Kong and Singapore.”
“Such action will be viewed in the Caribbean as discriminatory and unfair. Offshore jurisdictions service legitimate demands of individuals and corporate entities in developed countries that wish to take advantage of better fiscal and legal structures in the offshore centers of their choice,” he said. “U.S. corporations should resist attempts to restrain their trade, and affected Caribbean jurisdictions should test any such restraint by collectively filing formal complaints at the WTO.”
Sir Ronald said the matter strikes at the heart of international trade rules, particularly where all countries have a right to compete on a level playing field, with the WTO as “referee.”
He said that such international trade includes financial and legal services that enable individuals and corporations to conduct their financial activities from offshore jurisdictions within the legal framework of the countries involved, including their home country.
“The issue is not about regulation but about global free trade. The majority of business conducted through offshore centers is legal in the country of origin of the investors, taking advantage of the benefit of the originating country’s tax breaks and special provisions that have built up over generations of home country tax bills, often intended to serve some particular interest,” Sir Ronald noted.
The U.S. and other OECD countries have made much noise recently about regional countries being tax havens.
Just after leaders of the world’s largest economies, at their G20 Summit in London, agreed on tough standards for financial regulation and punishment for those who fail to comply, the OECD released a list of countries on a white list – which gives credit to 40 jurisdictions that “have substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard”; those on a gray list that have committed to the internationally agreed tax standard but have not yet substantially implemented it; and the dreaded black list.
Barbados and the U.S. Virgin Islands were the only two Caribbean countries initially on the OECD white list of 40 nations, but Bermuda was this week also placed in that category after it signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA) with the Netherlands. It was the country’s 12th such agreement with a foreign country.
The other Caribbean nations were among the 30 on the gray list. Many of them have indicated they are working on completing TIEAs with other countries.
According to the OECD, the internationally agreed tax standard requires exchange of information on request in all tax matters for the administration and enforcement of domestic tax law without regard to a domestic tax interest requirement or bank secrecy for tax purposes. It also provides for extensive safeguards to protect the confidentiality of the information exchanged.
EU PUBLISHES COUNCIL CONCLUSIONS ON TAX, FINANCIAL SUPERVISION
It wants more of both.
The EU has been hard at work figuring out how to widen the scope of the Savings Tax Directive as quickly as possible. Among recent proposals are to extend the scope “to income equivalent to interest obtained through investments in some innovative financial products as well as in certain life insurances products” and to better ensure the taxation of interest payments which are channeled through “intermediate tax-exempted structures” such as trusts and foundations.
Since it was all but inevitable that financial planners would take advantage of whatever “loopholes” the taxers had left in place in the first round, this second round attempt to eliminate those avoidance procedures is to be expected. Also specifically suggested was “a broader use of personal identification numbers and the use of the information on actual tax residence.” This in combination with other proposals indicates a greater emphasis on attempting to discover and tax ultimate human beneficiary/owners, whatever the formal legal structures may be technically interposing.
European Union Finance Minister discussed a number of tax matters during their meeting on June 9, including proposals to tighten the Savings Tax Directive, value-added tax reforms and international tax transparency.
The main item on the agenda however was the preparation of the EU summit, to be held on 18-19 June 2009 in Brussels. The ECOFIN Council paid special attention to the reform of the European supervisory framework ... In its conclusions, the Council endorsed the establishment of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) – an independent body intended to exercise macro-prudential supervision over all financial sectors. ...
During the meeting of the Council of Finance Ministers (Ecofin), the EU Presidency (until the end of June, the Czech Republic) reported on the progress made on the Commission’s proposal to review the Savings Tax Directive in order to widen the scope of the legislation. Ministers welcomed the Commission proposal on acceleration of the work on legislative proposals relating to the savings taxation Directive.
In November 2008, the Commission proposed to widen the Directive, so as to better ensure the taxation of interest payments which are channeled through “intermediate tax-exempted structures” such as trusts and foundations. The Commission also proposed to extend the scope of the Directive to income equivalent to interest obtained through investments in some innovative financial products as well as in certain life insurances products.
More specifically, the Council agreed that the Directive should be improved in the framework of an overall agreement in particular by:
The proposal calls for a “rapid continuation of work” to find “constructive solutions to outstanding issues.” These include options for covering certain insurance products, detailed provisions to ensure the coverage of certain untaxed entities, and arrangements within the EU and in the dependent and associated territories.
- an extension of the scope of the Directive to at least other substantially equivalent income than just interest from savings;
- the introduction of a look-through approach for payments to certain non-EU entities and arrangements and a more systematic application of paying agent upon receipt responsibilities; and
- a broader use of personal identification numbers and the use of the information on actual tax residence, when available, in identification procedures.
The work should continue in the area of the savings Directive with a view to reaching “a balanced political agreement in the autumn of 2009,” the Council stated.
Meanwhile, in the area of VAT, Ministers adopted amendments to the Directive on a common system of value added tax (VAT) regarding tax evasion related to imported goods, and a technical amendment of the same directive, with respect to import and the place of taxation of gas and electricity and tax deduction systems during use of property for business and non-business purposes.
“Importation of goods is exempt from VAT if followed by a supply or transfer of those goods to a trader in another member state,” the Commission’s statement said. “Inadequate implementation of this exemption in national law has lead to difficulty in following-up the physical movement of the imported goods. Experience shows the increasing use of this particular exemption in missing trader fraud schemes.”
The Presidency also reported on the progress made on the Commission’s proposal aiming at modernising and simplifying the current complex VAT legislation for financial services and insurance. These services are generally exempt from VAT but the exemption dates from 1977 and the Commission has conceded that legislation has “not kept abreast of developments since then.”
This exemption is not applied uniformly by the member states and the European Court of Justice has been asked to fill the legislative gap and clarify the correct interpretation on a frequent basis.
The Commission proposal seeks to address the VAT problems of the financial sector by allowing financial institutions to opt for taxation and by introducing of a “sector-specific cost-sharing exemption scheme.”
Ecofin is also attempting to reach a conclusion on the Commission’s recent communication on “good governance in the tax area” which has been given life by the global drive to increase tax transparency, led by the OECD and the Group of 20 nations. This communication identifies how exchange of information procedures can be improved and “fair tax competition” promoted as a means of ensuring a “level playing field” and combating cross border tax fraud.
Ministers agreed on the need to comply with the OECD standards for exchange of tax information upon request and to implement the standards within the EU as well as in relation to third countries. The Council has also acknowledged that the Commission will submit proposals for negotiation directives with selected third countries (San Marino, Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland) with respect to agreements that would include these standards. The Council also called upon the Commission to conclude negotiations with Liechtenstein on the anti-fraud agreement. The ECOFIN Council will address the issue of good governance again in the autumn.
CAYMANS ARE A FULLY TRANSPARENT TAX JURISDICTION, STATEMENTS BY THE U.S. NOTWITHSTANDING
Chairman of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association calls out Obama.
Anthony Travers, chairman of the Caymans FSA, has rather pointedly requested that if Obama and other U.S. federal government nitwits are going to change the U.S. tax code to squeeze the multinationals for more revenue, that they do it honestly.
The Caymans have an extensive set of information exchange treaties with the U.S. and E.U., so no tax evader is going to ply their trade via the Caymans – the islands’ reputation to the contrary. Moreover, the “outrage,” in Obama’s words, of 18,000 corporations being headquartered at one Caymans address is in fact fully compliant with the U.S. tax code, and no one is making any attempt to hide the structurings. If the U.S. wants to change the tax code, alright then, but enough with the insinuations that somehow some unintended loophole is being exploited there.
Travers goes on to point out that there were good reasons for the tax law being written the way it was, and the U.S. benefits from that law. So maybe, just maybe, lawmakers ought to think – assuming they know how – before changing the law due to taking their own press releases too seriously.
The Caymans direct international capital flows in a tax-efficient manner. We provide a tax-neutral platform from which trillions of dollars move from international capital markets to the balance sheets of U.S. financial institutions for the benefit of pension funds and universities as well as ordinary investors. At bottom, it is unfair to mischaracterize Cayman as a “tax haven” – a phrase that implies secrecy and wrongdoing – as President Obama and others have done recently.
The Caymans are worlds apart from nontransparent jurisdictions such as Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Switzerland – where recent reports indicate tax evasion actually occurs. By contrast, the Cayman Islands have full-transparency tax treaties with the United States and the European Union. Those treaties – little publicized – took tax evasion off the list of options for Cayman investors a decade ago.
No tax evader would seek to use the Cayman Islands, given the unrestricted powers of the U.S. IRS, the U.S. Department of Justice and the EU’s treasury departments to obtain full information on any Cayman account.
To avoid any further confusion on this issue, we agree the U.S. should take the opportunity to make its agreement with Cayman even more transparent by making it proactive. What would that mean? Reporting to the U.S. government the opening of a bank account in Cayman the day it is opened – without waiting to be asked by the U.S. authorities. Proactive reporting would assist U.S. policymakers in understanding that no additional U.S. tax revenue is to be derived from the Cayman Islands, because it is not, in fact, a locale used by U.S. citizens to evade tax.
Tax evasion is illegal. Tax avoidance is not. Every country has domestic tax laws that present corporations with a set of rules. In the U.S., those rules for multinational corporations have included tax deferral, meaning a corporation can wait to pay tax on profits earned overseas until those profits are repatriated in the U.S. The corporations already pay tax in the countries where their business is conducted and the profits are made. These U.S. tax-deferral rules have been a central plank in U.S. corporate tax policy to keep multinationals on an even footing with competitors, most of whom pay tax only once and in the country where their business is conducted.
While we accept that good reasons may exist to change U.S. law on this point, describing the tax conduct of every Fortune 500 company that has lawfully relied on a legitimate provision of U.S. law as “using a loophole” is wrong, and implying that the Cayman Islands is complicit in that wrongdoing is unnecessary.
It is axiomatic that the U.S. has the absolute ability to change its domestic law at any time. The issue of tax avoidance is always a question of domestic tax law. If the U.S. removes the anomalies or loopholes in its domestic tax law, the issue of tax avoidance will disappear.
Should the lawful structuring of a fund or finance vehicle that accesses the international capital markets for the benefit of U.S. financial institutions and markets be changed? Is it really objectionable to locate management, administration, custodial arrangements, shareholder servicing, legal domicile and boards of directors in different jurisdictions when that is done for the purpose of efficiency and not illegality? The 18,000 corporations listed in one building – described as an “outrage” by Mr. Obama – are necessarily domiciled there to ensure the application of the Cayman legal system and its zero tax to the capital flows from which U.S. financial institutions and markets have received trillions of dollars.
The international capital markets are pillars of global financial architecture. The Cayman Islands is an important participant in those markets, similar to any other transparent, tax-neutral platform through which those capital markets are invariably but lawfully and transparently accessed. It is the absolute right of the U.S. government to amend its domestic tax law as it sees fit to remove any form of tax avoidance. We respect that. But please, can we stop the unnecessary name-calling that is obscuring the benefits the Cayman Islands has conferred on the United States and let the U.S. government use the real facts to decide whether and how to change its tax laws?
BRITAIN WARNS ITS OWN TAX HAVENS
Sign tax information exchange agreements within six months, or else.
The British crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are on the OECD “white list” of jurisdictions that have already implemented a number of bilateral agreements to share tax information with other authorities, but that is not good enough for Gordon Brown. He has informed them he expects rapid further progress to end tax and banking secrecy. Evidently Brown’s “white list” is stricter than the OECD’s.
The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has put British overseas tax havens under renewed pressure to end their culture of secrecy within six months or face sanctions.
Mr. Brown has written to all British Crown dependencies and overseas territories, setting them a September deadline to sign agreements to share tax information with the authorities.
Leaders at the recent G20 summit in London pledged to crack down on the tax abuse and shadow banking through offshore jurisdictions that was central to the global financial crisis.
The new move by Downing Street puts Britain in the unusual position of threatening punitive action against its own dependencies.
Mr. Brown has also signaled in the correspondence that he wants to tackle not just illegal tax evasion through personal offshore bank accounts, but also tax haven companies used for tax avoidance by corporations and super-rich individuals.
Seven British territories were named by the OECD when it published, to coincide with the G20 summit, a list of havens that had either not agreed to, or not yet implemented, its international tax standards.
Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos were all placed on the OECD’s “grey list” for failing to deliver on promises to be more transparent, despite signing up to do so, in some cases, several years ago.
Mr. Brown has also written to the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, telling them that he expects rapid further progress to end tax and banking secrecy. All three are on the OECD’s “white list” of jurisdictions that have already implemented a number of bilateral agreements to share tax information with other authorities, but they are still used by companies engaged in tax avoidance.
Four countries placed on the OECD “black list” because they had not even agreed to share tax information have already changed their positions under the global political pressure. Costa Rica, Malaysia, the Philippines and Uruguay have been moved to the grey list, having promised to reform.
OBAMA’S OFFSHORE TAX PROPOSALS PROMPT JITTERS IN IRELAND
Obama has been threatening to take some chunks out of sections of the U.S. tax code which allow U.S. corporations to defer taxes on certain overseas profits until those profits are sent to the U.S. ... if they ever are. Rhetoric to the contrary, a nuanced read of Obama’s actual proposals would indicate that the actual undermining of the deferment principle is not crushing. Ireland and other countries which have benefited from the law as it has been implemented heretofore are breathing a collective sigh of relief for now.
Here is what we wonder: Let us say the deferment principle is more seriously compromised. Thus for the priviledge of being domiciled in the U.S. a corporation would be forced to pay taxes on unrepatriated overseas profits. The $64 question, which never seems to occur to Obama or others with similar ideas: Could the affected companies not ultimately relocate their headquarters away from the U.S.? That in the long run could save them a lot of grief.
President Obama launched his offshore tax reform proposals last month with a briefing note stating that Ireland, Bermuda, and the Netherlands accounted for nearly a third of all foreign profits reported by U.S. corporations in 2003. These are precisely the profits Mr. Obama hopes to tax.
The three countries named in the memo did a shocked double-take: “Who, me?”
It was not an entirely ingenuous reaction. The president’s intent to rein in offshore tax havens and close corporate tax loopholes was signaled long in advance.
Although the issue has remained relatively under the radar in the U.S., it has caused something of a furor in Ireland, where unemployment is skyrocketing, the budget deficit is deepening, and the banking sector threatens to disappear down a black hole left by the imploding property market.
More than 500 U.S. firms employ 100,000 people directly in Ireland. In 2008, those firms paid more than $3.6 billion in corporation tax to the Irish government – 40% of the country’s total corporation tax take that year. If the new rules were to prompt a mass exodus of U.S. multinationals, as some analysts predict, the economy would effectively be almost entirely hollowed out.
The Irish press has reacted to the proposal with dismay, but more sober minds have since combed the president’s statement and exhaled an uncertain sigh of relief. For Ireland, and for every other country with a substantial U.S. corporate presence, deferral is the big issue. Existing law allows multinational corporations to defer reporting their foreign income to the IRS and to obtain U.S. tax credits for paying foreign taxes.
The president stopped short of repealing the tax deferral law, but he proposes to prohibit businesses from receiving tax deductions for overseas investments until taxes are paid to the IRS on the profits gained abroad.
Beyond the Brass Plate
It is a situation that makes countries like Ireland, with a corporation tax rate of 12.5%, considerably more attractive as an export base than the U.S., with its 35% rate.
Pat Wall, a tax expert with the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland and a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dublin, says existing tax rules are hideously complex. The president’s proposal to reform deferrals would take in an estimated $60 billion over a 10-year period.
“To be honest with you, that’s not a hill of beans,” Mr. Wall says. “Don’t get me wrong, anything that tilts the playing pitch against foreign investment has to be bad news for us, but I suppose to some extent we are lining this up against the worst-case scenarios that people were painting in the run-up to all of this.”
Those worst-case scenarios included a complete end to the deferral system.
“That would have been Armageddon,” Wall says. “What [Obama] is proposing is nuanced, and to be honest, you could not really argue with it. It is fair enough.”
It is hard to find anyone with a beef against the majority of the tax reform proposals – closing loopholes, cracking down on the abuse of tax havens, and giving greater resources to the IRS. It is the possible impact on overseas operations with legitimate, nontax reasons for being there that has businesses antsy until the details are fleshed out.
“There is that sense that when people look at what are brass plate operations, they fail to distinguish how real the footprint of most of these multinationals is in Ireland, and how central their Irish operations are in terms of their global reach,” says Austin Hughes, chief economist with KBC Bank in Dublin.
“The reason they are here is partly taxes, but also it is because Ireland is a very similar economic model to the U.S.,” Mr. Hughes adds. “American companies will find a workforce that is young, that is well skilled, that is – and this tends to be dismissed sometimes – English speaking. There are very significant cultural similarities and it is easy to do business here.”
Ireland Hopes to Keep U.S. Businesses
Richard Bruton, deputy leader of the opposition Fine Gael party and the man many believe will someday serve as finance minister, says Ireland is scrambling to help keep U.S. businesses from fleeing.
“It is worrying that [Obama] put us up there in the headlights,” he says. “It demands a very high level strategy from government to analyze, anticipate, lobby, and to work with companies based in Ireland to help them maintain their Irish operations in the face of this new threat.”
Could it backfire?
It is not just the Irish who have a lot riding on this. Britain fears that all of the financial jobs lost during the banking crisis will never return, but instead be repatriated to the U.S.
In India, another country which made it into Obama’s briefing, the president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Sajjan Jindal, warned that the U.S. could be the biggest loser in all of this.
Resorting to “protectionism tendencies will kill the spirit of competition and dilute spirits of World Trade Organization,” he says.
It is a sentiment that echoes much of the criticism the measures have drawn in the U.S. The Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group are just three on a long list of irate business groups that have spoken out against the reforms.
Diplomatic Jousting Begins
The new rules will not become law until next year, which leaves the rest of this year for an intense diplomatic offensive. In that regard, it is worth noting that within a week of the release of the White House briefing, that provocative paragraph citing the Dutch, Irish, and Bermudans disappeared. Evidence of the president’s susceptibility to diplomacy and lobbying?
8 TOOLS TO FIND SOMEONE ONLINE
Perhaps many have had this type of experience: You get the notion to track down an old long-lost friend. You try Googling the name, the name plus last known address, the name plus whatever other tidbits of information you may recollect, etc. No joy. The name being too common or the person being a woman who may well have gotten married and changed her name are common obstacles. Well here are some additional search tools which may increase one’s chances for success.
With our privacy orientation on this site we also see these tools as an opportunity to discover just how well hidden you are, if that is your goal. Try tracking yourself down and see how successful you are.
Finding a way to contact someone has gotten a lot easier: Just type their name into Google and follow a few links. For many people, you will quickly find a profile on Facebook, a blog or even an email address you can use to get in touch. But a Google search does not turn up good results for everyone. Maybe the person you are trying to reach has a fairly common name. You may need a tool a little better than a simple Google search to find him.
123people provides a good start when you are looking for someone online. You can type in just a first name and a last name and get pictures, phone numbers, email addresses, Amazon wishlists, websites, documents and more. It turns up a lot of search results for relatively common names – or names that refer to someone famous in addition to the person you are looking for. The only drawback to so much information is that it can take a little while to search through it all and find the specific person you are searching for.
Pipl is a free search tool, although it brings in results from several other sites which do charge for access to particular records. Between those various sources, Pipl turns up a good number addresses and phone numbers, along with links to public records, online mentions and other useful pieces of information. Particularly helpful is Pipl’s ability to search withing a specific city, state or zip code. If you know the geographic location of the person in question, you will be able to narrow down search results to that area.
If you are confident the person you want to find has a profile on some social networking site, a good search tool is YoName. The site searches across a whole list of different social networking sites, from big names like MySpace to less common options like Webshots. The results can take a little time to look through, but the process is made easier by the fact that they are laid out in a table – you can browse through it quickly.
4.) Zoom Info
Zoom Info is particularly useful if you are looking to connect with someone at their job. Search results include job titles and employers, along with locations. The site offers a “contact this person” button, but requires you to sign up for a free trial in order to use it. After the free trial, using that button and some of the site’s other features cost $99 per month. If you are willing to do a little more legwork by calling up the company listed and seeing if you can ask for a direct number or email address, you can generally skip paying that fee.
Jobster’s main focus is searching for jobs, but it also offers a tool to search for individuals. In most cases, it is used for employers and recruiters looking for leads – but it can offer up some contact information that can help your search. A few other job sites offer a similar opportunity, as well.
6.) Inmate Search
Unfortunately, you may find yourself in need of Inmate Search – while the site is not pretty, it includes a list of contact information for each state’s system for finding inmates, as well as the federal system. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of options for searching all states at once, but if you know the state the person you are looking for might be incarcerated in, you can speed up the search process.
To access most of the information available through Intelius, you will be asked to pay a fee. The site offers everything from phone numbers to complete background checks and actually can have useful information. I have purchased information from Intelius in the past and it did lead me to exactly the person I was looking for. However, I know the price tag (often starting around $40) can be off-putting, especially if you are only casually searching or if you need to find information on a long list of people.
8.) Zaba Search
I know many people who swear by Zaba Search when it comes to searching public records for free. I have had minimal luck on it myself, but if you are having some difficulty, it may be worth a try. The reverse phone look on Zaba Search is particularly problematic – the site actually uses Intelius to look up phone numbers, which charges for the information.
There are more than a few other options for searching for people out there. These eight are just options I have actually used in the past. There are also a lot of specialized search tools, like if you are trying to find a person’s criminal record or you want to look for someone who works for the – government. You can also check social networking sites individually – most search tools that cover social media focus on larger sites, and ignore the smaller ones, along with forums and message boards. Unfortunately, there is still not a particularly good tool for searching such sites – even if you are willing to pay. You are left with essentially searching those sites by hand.
The drawback to the options listed above is that they all primarily focus on the U.S. I have had little luck finding resources for international searches. If you have any suggestions, please share them in the comments.
HOW THE RECESSION IS WRECKING FRIENDSHIPS ACROSS THE LAND
When the money runs low one will discover something that was true all along: Intimate friendships and being part of a healthy social community are more important than money, beyond a certain point. With the recession people are discovering this the hard way, as certain old friendships based on certain unstated assumptions get stressed to the breaking point when one friend’s income level changes.
This is too bad, and probably should happen less than it does. As the old cliché goes, it is not a problem ... it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity for authentic communication and a genuine rethinking life and relationships at a deeper level. Those activities do not require money.
In his book The Big Sort, Bill Bishop shows how our country is ever more divided along economic lines. Migration patterns differ by income, reinforcing the separation of people into rich and poor counties – a phenomenon that has been on the rise since 1976 with a big jump since 2003, according to a recent paper by professor of government James Galbraith. One of the reasons schools are so often segregated, in terms of class as well as race, is that rich and poor people – or even middle-class and working-class people – do not live side by side in many places.
Even small, nuanced class differences can be hard to negotiate. Do you feel your throat constrict when you suggest a meal with a friend at a restaurant that you worry might be too pricey, or not pricey enough? Have you ever had a friend over a few times and not been invited to her place in return, only to figure out, when you have finished feeling insulted, that your friend is embarrassed by her apartment? We often sidestep relationships in which spending habits do not match up exactly, I think, to spare ourselves feelings of inadequacy or insensitivity, those awkward breaches that make intimacy feel like work. Remember that indie movie Friends With Money, in which Jennifer Aniston flummoxes her whole circle of screenwriter and fashion-designer friends by going to work as a maid?
But the recession is forcing more of that pricking of conscience upon us. Because of the downturn, friendships between two people whose Saturday-night spending and overall class status used to calibrate precisely have now turned into trickier relationships between one person who still has money and one person who does not. The sudden uneven footing is not easy to negotiate, as I have learned from the responses I got to my question about the effect of the recession on friendships. The one-sided change in circumstance trips up even – or, perhaps, especially – old and close friends. People need BFFs to sustain them through this time of doldrums. Yet, judging from my inbox, sometimes these, too, are lost. The rifts between friends created by the recession are a kind of collateral damage. We are only beginning to sift through the rubble.
One reader – call her Katie – says of her best friend, “We have always been able to lean on each other until recently.” (The readers who wrote to me did not want their real names used for this story, and who could blame them?) What has changed is that when the recession hit Michigan, where Katie lives, her friend lost her job. Meanwhile, after years spent digging herself out of the debt of divorce, Katie scored, in a small way, by buying a house at the right time. “How can I confide in her when small problems arise in my life, when hers are so much worse?” she asks. “We have not seen each other in a few months and phone calls and emails are down to about two a week. I miss my friend, but I do not want to add to her problems or make her feel worse. When we do talk, I never discuss my life, I always make her talk about hers.”
That is a familiar feint: When you feel like talking about yourself amounts to the pouring of salt in a friend’s wound, you try turning every question back on your friend and hope you win points for listening. But most of us cannot sustain this for long. We forget and slip up, especially with people we are used to feeling comfortably matched with. Another reader writes in about a friend at work who is now her family’s sole earner. “I’ve gradually learned that I can’t share too much of what is going on in my life because she gets so mad,” the reader writes. “She really blew up at me one day when I mentioned we were going on our third trip for the year. I realized I was being insensitive to her situation. We still have lots of laughs and I like being around her but I am sorry I have to be on guard as to what we talk about.”
Maybe this kind of unease is not a bad thing for people who live in comfort. Watching someone you care about fall apart, one unpaid bill at a time, should breed empathy. It should take you out of your new sandals and into the frayed flip-flops of someone else. And yet the e-mails I got were shot through with more bitterness than kindness. “I am starting to think I need new friends,” writes one reader – let’s call her Anna. She is in her mid-20s, and she has had the same small group of best friends since 7th grade. They have kids and she does not yet, so in the past, she says, she helped them out. “I was always helpful – back to school clothes for their kids, girl scouts, soccer, etc. I paid all the fees and shuttled them to and fro.”
But last year, to help her parents keep their house after her father’s salary was cut, Anna and her fiance moved in with them to a town about an hour and a half away from the city where she grew up and where her friends still live. Anna lost some hours at work and her health insurance and also took a pay cut. Her free time in the city, where she still works, no longer matches up well with her friends’ schedules. She does not have the gas money to make a lot of separate trips in to visit. And her friends, she says, are upset with her, not for her. “My friends are talking behind my back complaining that I do not see them anymore or that I am a bad friend because I am not helping them in these tough times,” she writes. “One friend is losing their house and thinks I should live with them not my parents.”
“Real friends understand what we are all going through, right?” Anna asks. Then a note of judgment creeps in. She writes about her own savings – canceling the Internet at home and the movie channels from cable – and frames a comparison: “Most of my friends have not done anything to cut back where they can (and there are things they could cut out as well, which I pointed out to them).” Maybe they would say they do not want to hear that from her. In any case, in spite of the years they span, these relationships sound like they are breaking into fragments of mutual resentment. ...
When it comes to friendship, it seems like money is an important catalyst, the glass of wine that takes the edge off. No wonder it's hard to make do with less of it.
A MODEL OF HOW TO PROCEED AGAINST TYRANNY
Ludwig von Mises’s Memoirs functions as a moral and spiritual guide for any lover of liberty during times of despotism.
Four years ago, the Ludwig von Mises Institute commissioned a new translation of Mises’s memoirs with the intent of preserving his idiom and precision. In the presumably sympathetic opinion of Jeffrey Tucker, editorial vice president of the Institute, “The results are spectacular. Mises’s memoirs have come alive as never before.”
Besides being one of the indisputable giants in the freedom movement, Mises’s personal life was one of high drama at certain key points. He had to flee from the Nazis, first moving from from Vienna to Geneva, and from there across France just ahead of the German army – barely escaping to America before France fell. Heirs to the Nazi traditions of despotism and thought control, or which there are many around today, undoubtedly wish his escape attempt had failed. When von Mises arrived in America he had no money, did not speak English, and his writings either had been destroyed or were MIA. A lesser man would have given up at that point.
In his memoirs, Mises “writes about his time as an economic advisor to Austrian officials; his battles against Bolshevism and the inflationism; and his attempts to prevent New Deal–like policies in Europe. ... He discusses corrupt politicians and central bankers, and all the shills for statism in academia and the media. ... He blasts the enemies of freedom.” One readily understands the number of intellectual pygmy enemies he generated.
“What strikes the reader,” Tucker writes, “is how Mises never lost his focus on the battle of ideas. The enemies in this book are bad ideas. The answer, however, is not war or revolution or a new form of rule. For him, the path to liberty is through the right ideas.”
Surely an inspiration to us all.
These are difficult times for those who love freedom. But they are nothing like what Mises faced during his life. He prevailed, and his Memoirs explain how.
“How one carries on in the face of unavoidable catastrophe is a matter of temperament,” wrote Ludwig von Mises in his private memoir of his life in Europe.
It was true in his time and it is true in ours. This new translation and edition of Mises’s moving account of his life, published by the Mises Institute, provides not only deeply fascinating personal history; it also functions as a moral and spiritual guide for any lover of liberty during times of despotism.
It was written during and after his immigration to the United States in 1940. Despite being driven from his home, seeing his country taken over by a foreign dictator, having his books burned and his papers stolen, and finally pushed out of the sanctuary he had for six years, he never lost determination and never doubted the truth of liberty.
“Again and again I had met with situations from which rational deliberation found no means of escape; but then the unexpected intervened, and with it came salvation. I would not lose courage even now. I wanted to do everything an economist could do. I would not tire in saying what I knew to be true.”
Mises wrote his memoirs and then promptly locked up the manuscript. He had good reason. Many of the politicians and intellectuals he exposed were still alive. Much of the jaw-dropping detail had never been revealed. He figured it would have to wait until after his death.
He was 59-years old, and a political exile, first from Vienna (fleeing the Nazi takeover) and then from Geneva. He had been camped out in Switzerland for six years, teaching and writing the masterpiece that would later become Human Action. But he had been warned that some people wanted him turned in. He had to find a new home.
Leaving Geneva, he and his wife Margit drove across France, just in front of the advancing German army. They barely made it out. There was no professorship waiting for him in the United States. He had lost everything. His library had been burned. His papers were missing. He had no money. He would have to start over, writing and speaking in a new language.
One of the most inspiring books ever written by an intellectual, written by one of the greatest intellectuals of all time.
Making this transition would require all his moral courage. As he looked back over his life, he wrote the most moving, personal work ever to bear his name. It is one of the most inspiring books ever written by an intellectual – and it happens to be by one of the greatest intellectuals of all time.
There is anger in this book but also inspiration. What strikes the reader is how Mises never lost his focus on the battle of ideas. The enemies in this book are bad ideas. The answer, however, is not war or revolution or a new form of rule. For him, the path to liberty is through the right ideas. In this sense, this book is incredibly high-minded, revealing his nobility and intellectual commitments to truth.
Mises writes about his time as an economic advisor to Austrian officials; his battles against Bolshevism and then inflationism; and his attempts to prevent New Deal–like policies in Europe. He talks about his teaching and his seminar. He discusses corrupt politicians and central bankers, and all the shills for statism in academia and the media.
He had almost single-handedly stopped a Bolshevik takeover, and stopped Austria from following Germany into the inflationist abyss. And here he even writes of his one regret – that he compromised more than he should have!
The vault that held Mises’s manuscript was not opened until after his death. He died in 1973. A German translation appeared. F.A. Hayek wrote the introduction. Four years ago, we commissioned a new translation that preserves his idiom and precision. The results are spectacular. Mises’s memoirs have come alive as never before.
With all the interest generated by the Mises biography that came out in 2008, and with the current political trends in the United Stats, this is a perfect time to examine Mises’s own autobiography.
Mises inspires us with his moral example.
He tells of his strategy and teaching methods. “In my seminar, I seized every opportunity to refute popular errors.” Truth is it own standard, he believed.
He talks of his private seminar and the culture it fostered. “Outsiders knew nothing of our gatherings; they saw only the published works of individual participants.” They did not cultivate a sect or society; rather they were “united in the desire to further the sciences of human action. Each was free to go the way his own law guided him.”
He blasts the enemies of freedom. Of the German Historical School he writes that it “did not produce a single thought. It did not write a single page in the history of science. For eighty years it eagerly propagandized for National Socialism.” Further, its members were so unprincipled that “they would have become communists had the Bolshevists come to the fore.”
Finally, he admits to feelings of despair: “From time to time I entertained the hope that my writings would bear practical fruit and point policy in the right direction ... I set out to be a reformer, but only became the historian of decline.”
Even with such feelings, he never gave in. He kept writing and teaching. And what a glorious legacy he left!
In this prose, we have profound determination – moral determination. It was not enough that he was a genius of a scientist, that he made earth-shattering contributions to economics, history, philosophy, and more.
What made the difference for him was character. This is why Murray Rothbard wrote that he was not only a scholar but a hero, an example to us all. We need more like him. But in order to have that, his example needs to be there for everyone.
Guido Hülsmann writes the preface. F.A. Hayek writes the introduction. Arlene Oost-Zinner did the translation. But the book itself is pure Mises, writing his deepest and most private thoughts, now available to the world as an example, a model, and an ideal.
Project Launched to Stop Frog Killing Fungus
Zoos in the United States, Panama and Mexico are deploying researchers in Central America to develop new ways to fight a fungus blamed for wiping out dozens of frog and amphibian species ... The Smithsonian Institution is leading six other zoos and institutes in the Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, which aims to raise $1.5 million to fight the fast-spreading chytrid fungus.
Their protection efforts will focus on a small slice of Panama that is the only area in Central America that appears to be untouched by the disease, said Dr. Karen Lips, a University of Maryland researcher. Lips said it is only a matter of time, though, before even that area is hit with the fungus – perhaps five years.
The speed at which the fungus has spread is “absolutely incredible,” she said. “It is probably much worse than we even appreciate.” Scientists say the chytrid fungus threatens to wipe out a vast number of the approximately 6,000 known amphibian species and is spreading quickly.
Already, 122 amphibian species are believed to have gone extinct in the last 30 years, primarily because of the fungus, conservationists say.
“We are looking at losing half of all amphibians in our lifetime,” said Brian Gratwicke, the Smithsonian’s lead scientist on the project.
The fungus has been found in 87 countries, including the United States. Scientists involved in the project will work on implementing recently published research from James Madison University in Virginia that shows bacteria in frogs’ skin can be used to fight the fungal infection.
Frogs bathed in a mixture containing the bacteria and then exposed to the fungus had a 100% survival rate in the study published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal, said Professor Reid Harris. The survival rate was low for another set of frogs that did not get the bath.
Applications for the research could include a spray to help build frogs’ resistance to the fungus or a benign, fungus-fighting bacteria strong enough to pass from one frog to another. “It is a very exciting discovery,” Gratwicke said. “It is really the only thing we have got going.”
Other groups involved in the project include Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Zoo New England in Stoneham, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.-based Defenders of Wildlife; Africam Safari in Mexico; Houston Zoo; and Summit Municipal Park in Panama.
Jim Rogers’s Gift to My Children Teaches About Money, Life
Ever wish your dad had spelled out his biggest life lessons for you? In his new book A Gift to My Children: A Father’s Lessons for Life and Investing, investor and dad Jim Rogers shares a heartfelt guide to help his two daughters and others find success, happiness and prosperity. Here is an excerpt. ...
|Previous||Back to top||Next|