7 February 2015   Leave a comment

The US has a commanding share of the world’s “very wealthy people” who are defined as those with net worth of $50 million or more.  The concentration of wealth is not only extraordinary domestically, but also internationally.  According to the New York Times:

“Propelled by market gains and a skewed economic recovery, the United States’ share of the world’s superrich is rebounding. Since mid-2013, the number of millionaires in the United States has grown by 1.6 million, by far the biggest increase in the world and dwarfing the 90,000 Chinese who crossed the million-dollar mark since then, Credit Suisse estimates.”

The charts in the article are quite revealing of the discrepancy.  One of our colleagues, Julia Worcester, forwarded a link to a New York Times article that documents the sale of luxury apartments in New York to wealthy individuals who are represented only by shell corporations.  Some of these individuals are criminals who are using the apartments to shelter money.  According to the Times:

But The Times also found a growing proportion of wealthy foreigners, at least 16 of whom have been the subject of government inquiries around the world, either personally or as heads of companies. The cases range from housing and environmental violations to financial fraud. Four owners have been arrested, and another four have been the subject of fines or penalties for illegal activities.

The foreign owners have included government officials and close associates of officials from Russia, Colombia, Malaysia, China, Kazakhstan and Mexico.

They have been able to make these multimillion-dollar purchases with few questions asked because of United States laws that foster the movement of largely untraceable money through shell companies.

Vast sums are flowing unchecked around the world as never before — whether motivated by corruption, tax avoidance or investment strategy, and enabled by an ever-more-borderless economy and a proliferation of ways to move and hide assets.

 

One of the most famous studies of human behavior was conducted by Yale Psychologist, Stanley Milgram, who studied obedience to authority in the 1960s.  We have not replicated his studies because of deep ethical concerns, but many continue to probe his conclusions in all sorts of creative ways.  Milgram’s conclusions tend to hold up quite well in the face of these sustained critiques.

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke at a security conference in Munich on Saturday and her analysis of the military situation in Ukraine was quite straightforward and at odds with the rhetoric of several analysts in the US:

“I cannot imagine any situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily,” Merkel said. “I have to put it that bluntly.”

US President Obama has been under increasing pressure from several Republican Senators, including Senators Graham and Corker, to provide lethal military aid to the Ukrainian government.  Obama has not signaled yet which way he will go.

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Posted February 8, 2015 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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