Thinking back over all I have written in these Blogs it seems to me, apart from deviations now and again, that three subjects predominate – sex, religion, and money. (Maybe deviations was the wrong word to use – should I have said going off on tangents?) Just as there are primary colours in the spectrum maybe these are the primary colours of life, as it were. Bit pretentious that but you will know what I mean. Sometimes it seems they all impose themselves on each other one way or another and to different degrees. What about politics you say? Well politics is influenced by all three so that goes without saying.
What little nuggets of information on any of these subjects do I have for you today? Well let’s start with money that reputedly (and in all likelihood does in fact) makes the world go round.
I read that the global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion (£13tn) hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study. In fact $21tn is probably a conservative figure and the true scale could be $32tn. A trillion by the by is 1,000 billion. This is only with financial wealth deposited in bank and investment accounts, and not other assets such as property and yachts.
The group that commissioned the report, Tax Justice Network, campaigns against tax havens. They said the super-rich move money around the globe through an "industrious bevy of professional enablers in private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries. The lost tax revenues implied by the estimates is huge. It is large enough to make a significant difference to the finances of many countries. The report highlights the impact on the balance sheets of 139 developing countries of money held in tax havens that is put beyond the reach of local tax authorities. Fewer than 100,000 people worldwide own about $9.8tn of the wealth held offshore. Governments are evidently now trying to claw back all their lost tax revenue.Colm O Regan on the BBC News Magazine writes, “The mind can't comprehend the amount. If it was denominated in $1 bills, it would fill nearly 10,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Provided the pools were empty and that it was possible to provide enough security personnel to guard all of the pools. Overwrought quantification metaphors aside, $21tn is a lot of money to stash. How would you even go about hiding it? With the entire output of the world's economy only being about $60tn (£39tn) or so, surely like an elephant hiding behind a curtain, you would notice the bulge somewhere?
Except now the elephant isn’t even in the room.”