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Monday, August 29, 2016

Transportation: High speed trains coming within ten years

Amtrak’s next-gen high-speed trains may arrive at the same time as the Hyperloop

G20 : Is the West ganging up against China?

China Wants a Successful G20 But Suspects the West May Derail Its Agenda

Sunday, August 28, 2016

EU-US controversial trade deal on death bed

Germany's Vice Chancellor Gabriel: US-EU trade talks 'have failed'

Saturday, August 27, 2016

EU Data Regulations: Five Things to Know About the New EU General Data Protection Regulation - by Don Aplin

The European Union has finally gotten around to updating its seriously old and outdated framework privacy regime. The old EU Data Protection Directive has been around since 1995—when Clinton was president … the dude, not his wife—the lady who might be living in the White House next year.

The new EU Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is designed to bring things into the digital world and comes into effect in May 2018.

But you don’t have to read all of the 261-page regulation. In a recent video segment, Bloomberg BNA Privacy & Security News Managing Editor Don Aplin points to five things you should know about the GDPR.

First, it sets up one privacy and data security law for the EU rather than separate laws in the 28 EU member states—27 if the U.K. follows through on its Brexit divorce from the bloc.

Second, the GDPR has a right to be forgotten provision to allow individuals in the EU to ask search engines like Google to remove search links to stuff where privacy outweighs the public’s right to know.

Third, if a company gets busted for violating the GDPR they may face really big fines of up to 4 percent of their worldwide revenue.

Fourth, the two year delay until the GDPR takes effect gives companies a chance to get their privacy policies and practices into line before facing any risk of those mega-fines.

Fifth, even though the EU is moving to a one major privacy law regime, there will still be lots of room for interpretation. So privacy and data security attorneys will definitely be busy for the foreseeable future.

Read more: Five Things to Know About the New EU General Data Protection Regulation | Bloomberg BNA

Friday, August 26, 2016

US Presidential Race: Clinton now Leads Trump By only 5 Points In Latest Poll

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads her Republican rival Donald Trump by 5 percentage points among likely voters, down from a peak this month of 12 points, according to the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released on Friday.

The Aug. 22-25 opinion poll found that 41 percent of likely voters supported Clinton ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election, while 36 percent supported Trump. Some 23 percent would not pick either candidate and answered “refused,” “other” or “wouldn’t vote.”

Clinton, a former secretary of state, has led real estate developer Trump in the poll since Democrats and Republicans ended their national conventions and formally nominated their presidential candidates in July. Her level of support has varied between 41 and 45 percent during that period, and her lead over Trump in the tracking poll peaked this month at 12 percentage points on Tuesday.

During the past week, Clinton has been dogged by accusations by Trump, which she has denied, that donations to her family’s charitable foundation influenced her actions while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Questions have also surfaced again about her use of a private email server and address rather than a government one during her period at the State Department.

Meanwhile, Trump and Clinton also sparred over who would be a better advocate for African Americans and other minorities, and Trump hinted he could soften his hard-line stance on immigration. [nL1N1B714Z]

In a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll that includes candidates from small, alternative parties, Clinton leads the field by a smaller margin. Some 39 percent of likely voters supported Clinton in the four-way poll, compared with 36 percent for Trump, 7 percent for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and 3 percent for Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

Read more: Clinton Leads Trump By 5 Points In Latest Poll

Thursday, August 25, 2016

EU Taxation Policies: US warns EU over Apple’s tax case

Is Apple cutting corners when paying taxes?
The US government has threatened the European Commission (EC) with retaliation if the body decides to proceed with its plan to demand millions of dollars in unpaid taxes from technology giant Apple.

The US Treasury Department issued a rare warning on Wednesday, August 24, accusing the Brussels-based body of becoming a “supranational tax authority” that poses a threat to international agreements concerning tax reform.

“The US Treasury Department continues to consider potential responses should the Commission continue its present course,” the Treasury said in its strongest language to date.

“A strongly preferred and mutually beneficial outcome would be a return to the system and practice of international tax cooperation that has long fostered cross-border investment between the United States and EU member states,” the warning added.

The European Union (EU) has been investigating a series of tax deals between Apple and Ireland which allow the iPhone maker to pay little or no tax on income earned across Europe.

The EC is expected to rule on the case next month. This is the biggest corporate tax avoidance investigation ever undertaken by the commission.

The EC is the executive body of the EU, responsible for implementing decisions, proposing legislation, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the bloc.

According to investment bank JP Morgan, if Apple is forced to retroactively pay the Irish corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent on its pre-tax profits, the company might need to cash out as much as $19 billion.

A 2013 report by US Senate confirmed that Apple has paid little to no taxes on at least $74 billion of the profit it earned by exploiting Irish and American tax laws.

Tim Cook, who became Apple’s CEO after the death of its founder Steve Jobs five years ago, has denounced the case as “political crap.”

“There is no truth behind it,” he said. “Apple pays every tax dollar we owe.”

The EU estimates that tax avoidance by multinational corporations costs member states anywhere between $50 million to $78 billion a year in lost taxes.

In addition to Apple, other American companies like Amazon and Starbucks are also suspected of tax evasion.

Note EU-Digest: Hopefully the EU Commission does not cave-in for these US misguided threats and intimidations and tells the US Treasury Department where to shove this warning, which is protective of US corporate tax evaders.   

Read more: PressTV-US warns EU over Apple’s tax case

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Monetary Policies: Demystifying Monetary Finance by Adair Turner

Eight years after the 2008 crisis governments and central banks – despite a plethora of policies and approaches – have failed to stimulate enough demand to produce sustained and strong growth. In Japan, so-called Abenomics promised 2% inflation by 2015; instead, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) expects it to be close to zero in 2016, with GDP growth below 1%. Eurozone growth halved in the second quarter of 2016 and is dangerously dependent on external export demand. Even the US recovery seems tepid.

Discussions of “helicopter money” – the direct injection of cash into the hands of consumers, or the permanent monetization of government debt – have, as a result, become more widespread. In principle, the case for such monetary finance is clear.

If the government cuts taxes, increases public expenditure, or distributes money directly to households, and if the central bank creates permanent new money to finance this stimulus, citizens’ nominal wealth will increase; and, unlike with debt-financed deficits, they will not face increased future taxes to pay off the debt incurred on their behalf. Some increase in aggregate nominal demand will inevitably occur, with the degree of stimulus broadly proportional to the amount of new money created.

But the debate about monetary finance is burdened by deep fears and unnecessary confusions. Some worry that helicopter money is bound to produce hyperinflation; others argue that, in terms of increasing demand and inflation, it would be no more effective than current policies. Both cannot be right.

One argument that it might be ineffective stems from the specter of a future “inflation tax.” In an economy at full employment and full potential output, a money-financed stimulus could produce only faster price growth, because no increase in real output would be possible. Any increase in private-sector nominal net worth would be offset by future inflation.

All of that is obviously true – and irrelevant. As I argue at greater length in a recent paper, no “inflation tax” can arise without increased inflation, which will result only if there is increased nominal demand. The idea that a future “inflation tax” can stymie the ability of money finance to stimulate aggregate nominal demand is a logical absurdity.

Accounts of how helicopter money works often implicitly assume a simple world in which all money is created by the monetary authority. But in the real world commercial banks can create new private deposit money and hold only a small fraction of those deposits as reserves at the central bank. In this world, another form of future tax becomes relevant.

To see why, it’s important to note that monetary finance is fundamentally different from debt finance only if the money created by the central bank is permanently non-interest bearing. Effective monetary finance therefore requires central banks to impose mandatory non-interest-bearing reserve requirements.

Doing so is entirely compatible with raising policy interest rates when appropriate, because the central bank can pay zero interest on mandatory reserves, while paying the policy interest rate on additional reserves. But if commercial banks are forced to hold non-interest-bearing reserves even when market interest rates have risen from zero, this imposes a tax on bank credit intermediation – a tax that is mathematically equivalent to the future tax burden that would result from a debt-financed stimulus. A recent paper by Claudio Borio, Piti Disyatat, and Anna Zabai argues that, as a result, monetary financing cannot be more stimulative than debt financing.

Read more: Demystifying Monetary Finance