October 10, 2009
October 10, 2009
Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Italian tax evaders, lured by the country’s third amnesty since 2001, are repatriating funds at a record pace as the recession prompts them to pump cash into their companies.
“We’ve already received interest for twice as many funds that may be repatriated as in the previous amnesty,” Luca Caramaschi, head of private wealth management at Deutsche Bank AG in Italy, said in a telephone interview from Milan.
Italy’s parliament voted last week to forgive past false accounting under the amnesty, allowing companies to repatriate funds. Asset managers say the amount moving back home is poised to exceed both previous amnesties combined, when about 80 billion euros ($118 billion) was returned. Evaders have until Dec. 15 to apply for pardon in return for a 5 percent fee.
“There’s definitely an acceleration of interest,” said Giuseppe Marino, a tax consultant, author and a professor of fiscal law at Bocconi University in Milan. “It’s driven by the need to inject fresh capital in companies.”
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pledged that Europe’s most indebted nation will spend the proceeds from the amnesty on state universities and health care. Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti said last month the measure will help small companies stay afloat as the economy emerges from recession. Italy’s economy is set to contract about 5 percent this year and tax income is shrinking, according to the Ministry of Economy.
‘Moment of Crisis’
“In a moment of crisis, we expect a return of company money,” Attilio Befera, who runs Italy’s tax collector, the Agenzia dell’Entrate, said yesterday at a Milan briefing organized by Mediolanum SpA, the financial services firm partly owned by Berlusconi. Befera declined to estimate how much he expects to be repatriated.
While entrepreneurs are likely to account for the bulk of repatriations, older people who have stashed personal savings outside Italy are also seeking to move money back to share with family members, said Ferruccio Ferri, chairman of UBS AG’s Italian fiduciary unit, which administers client assets.
“Estates held abroad are re-emerging in notable dimensions,” said Ferri. UBS has about 16 billion euros under management at its Italian wealth management unit. “There’s been a significant increase in interest this early on in the amnesty.”
The push by Group of 20 leaders to target tax havens and clamp down on money laundering may also be boosting repatriations, according to Bocconi’s Marino, author of “Paradisi e paradossi fiscali,” (“Fiscal Paradises and Paradoxes”) published by Egea in 2009.
“The global context this time is different,” said UBS’s Ferri. “It’s not just an Italian initiative.”
The amnesty started on Sept. 15. The tax collector will take into account the complexities involved in moving assets, Befera said. Evaders can send in their paperwork after the deadline expires if they have paid beforehand, he added.
“There may be some difficulties given the relatively short timeframe,” Francesco de Ferrari, chief executive officer of Credit Suisse Group AG’s private banking unit in Italy, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Interest is very strong among individuals and entrepreneurs.”
|10/10/2009 - 09:57 AM|
JENIN, (PIC)-- Palestinians in east Jenin whose lands were isolated behind the separation wall have said that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) guarding gates of the wall were blocking their entry into their land.
The villagers said that the IOF soldiers, who usually open those gates at 8 am and close them at 5 pm, were harassing them and hardly allowing them to enter their own lands to harvest the olives crop.
They complained that they have been denied entry for three days without any justification.
The villagers of Faku'a village said that the IOF issue a limited number of entry permits for them, asking for the intervention of human rights groups to allow them to reach their land.
"The boom in securitization was based on investors’ willingness to believe what investment banks and credit rating agencies said about these securities. Buying a mortgage-backed security is making a loan. Ordinarily you don’t loan money to someone without proving to yourself that he is going to pay you back...Investors are no longer willing to trust the ratings agencies or rush back into opaque world of structured finance. The reason the securitization boycott continues, is not because of "investor panic" as Fed chair Ben Bernanke likes to say, but because people have made a sensible judgment about the quality of the product itself. It stinks. That said, how will the economy recover if the main engine for credit production is not repaired? That's the problem.
The securitization bubble happened because investors were willing to outsource that decision to other people — banks and credit rating agencies — who had different incentives from them." (Baseline Scenario)
"The continued disarray in debt-securitization markets, which in recent years were the source of roughly 60 percent of all credit in the United States, is making loans scarce and threatening to slow the economic recovery. Many of these markets are operating only because the government is propping them up.Securitization could be fixed with rigorous regulation and oversight. Loans would have to be standardized, loan applicants would have to prove that they are creditworthy, and the banks would have to hold a greater percentage of the loan on their books. But financial industry lobbyists are fighting the changes tooth-and-nail. That's because securitization allows the banks to increase profits on miniscule amounts of capital. That's the real story behind the public relations myth of "lowering the cost of capital, disaggregating risk, and making credit available to more people." It's all about money, big money.
Enormous swaths of this so-called shadow banking system remain paralyzed. Depending on the type of loan, certain securitization markets have fallen 40 to 100 percent.
A once-thriving private market in securities backed by home mortgages has collapsed, from $744 billion in 2005, at the peak of the housing boom, to $8 billion during the first half of this year.
The market for securities backed by commercial real estate loans is in worse shape. No new securities of this type have been issued in two years." ("Paralysis in Debt Markets Deepens Credit Drought" Jenny Anderson, New York Times)
"The banks don’t need to sell securitized debt to make loans — they could start lending out of all those excess reserves they currently hold. Or to put it differently, by the numbers there’s no obvious reason we shouldn’t be seeking a return to traditional banking, with banks making and holding loans, as the way to restart credit markets. Yet the assumption at the Fed seems to be that this isn’t an option — that the only way to go is back to the securitized debt market of the years just before the crisis."There are only two ways to fix the present system; either regulate the shadow banking system and every financial institution that trades in securitized assets, or ban securitization altogether and return to the traditional model of banking. Regrettably, the Fed is pursuing a third option, which is to pour more money down a rathole trying to rebuild a system that just blew up. It's madness.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he is the world's most prosecuted man.
|Israel's urban police tactics are being exported around the globe. (Mamoun Wazwaz/MaanImages)|
By Paul Hudson
Climate correspondent, BBC News
Average temperatures have not increased for over a decade
This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.
But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.
And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.
So what on Earth is going on?
Climate change sceptics, who passionately and consistently argue that man's influence on our climate is overstated, say they saw it coming.
They argue that there are natural cycles, over which we have no control, that dictate how warm the planet is. But what is the evidence for this?
During the last few decades of the 20th century, our planet did warm quickly.
Recent research has ruled out solar influences on temperature increases
Sceptics argue that the warming we observed was down to the energy from the Sun increasing. After all 98% of the Earth's warmth comes from the Sun.
But research conducted two years ago, and published by the Royal Society, seemed to rule out solar influences.
The scientists' main approach was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature.
And the results were clear. "Warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity," said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But one solar scientist Piers Corbyn from Weatheraction, a company specialising in long range weather forecasting, disagrees.
He claims that solar charged particles impact us far more than is currently accepted, so much so he says that they are almost entirely responsible for what happens to global temperatures.
He is so excited by what he has discovered that he plans to tell the international scientific community at a conference in London at the end of the month.
If proved correct, this could revolutionise the whole subject.
What is really interesting at the moment is what is happening to our oceans. They are the Earth's great heat stores.
In the last few years [the Pacific Ocean] has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down
According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.
The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).
For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.
But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.
These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.
So could global temperatures follow? The global cooling from 1945 to 1977 coincided with one of these cold Pacific cycles.
Professor Easterbrook says: "The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling."
So what does it all mean? Climate change sceptics argue that this is evidence that they have been right all along.
They say there are so many other natural causes for warming and cooling, that even if man is warming the planet, it is a small part compared with nature.
But those scientists who are equally passionate about man's influence on global warming argue that their science is solid.
The UK Met Office's Hadley Centre, responsible for future climate predictions, says it incorporates solar variation and ocean cycles into its climate models, and that they are nothing new.
In fact, the centre says they are just two of the whole host of known factors things that influence global temperatures - all of which are accounted for by its models.
In addition, say Met Office scientists, temperatures have never increased in a straight line, and there will always be periods of slower warming, or even temporary cooling.
What is crucial, they say, is the long-term trend in global temperatures. And that, according to the Met office data, is clearly up.
To confuse the issue even further, last month Mojib Latif, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years.
Professor Latif is based at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany and is one of the world's top climate modellers.
But he makes it clear that he has not become a sceptic; he believes that this cooling will be temporary, before the overwhelming force of man-made global warming reasserts itself.
So what can we expect in the next few years?
Both sides have very different forecasts. The Met Office says that warming is set to resume quickly and strongly.
It predicts that from 2010 to 2015 at least half the years will be hotter than the current hottest year on record (1998).
Sceptics disagree. They insist it is unlikely that temperatures will reach the dizzy heights of 1998 until 2030 at the earliest. It is possible, they say, that because of ocean and solar cycles a period of global cooling is more likely.
One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over. Indeed some would say its hotting up.
The German section of IPPNW has initiated a study, which approves that children under the age of five living near nuclear power stations have contracted cancer at a greatly higher rate than the national average. The study was paid for by the German Federal Radiation Protection Agency (BfS) the government's main adviser on nuclear health. It was conducted by the German Register of Child Cancer, an office in Mainz which is funded by the 16 German states and the federal Health Ministry.
The risk of cancer increased by 60 percent for children living less than five kilometres (three miles) from a nuclear power plant, according to the study. The risk was 117 percent higher when only leukemia was taken into account. The study looked at statistics from between 1980 and 2003 in regions near 21 reactors or former reactors. In those areas, 77 cases of cancer were found among children under five, or a 60-percent increase over the national average. Some 37 cases of leukemia were recorded instead of the average of 17.
"Our study confirms that in Germany a relationship is observable between the proximity of the home to the nearest nuclear power plant at the time of diagnosis and the risk of contracting cancer (respectively leukemia) before the child's fifth birthday," the researchers write.
One member of the expert commission that oversaw the study even considers the conclusions to be understated. According to him, the data indicate an increased risk of cancer for children in a radius of 50 kilometres.
It needed lobbying since 2001 by the local IPPNW section and more than 10,000 protest letters from the public authorities and ministries to get the BfS to commission the study. The campaign was triggered by a study initiated by the IPPNW and carried by Dr. Alfred Körblein (Environment Institute Munich), which found significantly higher child cancer incidence near Bavarian nuclear power stations.
The BfS commissioned its study to the Mainzer Kinderkrebsregister (Mainz Child Cancer Register) in 2003.
“Now that the connection between increased cancer and leukemia rates and proximity of the residence to the nuclear power station has been established, the causes of this must be further clarified immediately,” IPPNW says in a media release.
“The population affected at nuclear power station locations must be examined by suitable screening methods quickly and comprehensively.”
“Given these massive findings at every German nuclear power station location, a radiation-linked cause is highly likely in every case. Anyone who now still talks of coincidence is making himself ridiculous,” writes Dr. Angelika Claussen, chair of the German IPPNW.
“The precautionary principle enshrined in European environment law now demands that the German nuclear power stations be switched off immediately.”
“The IPPNW demands that the environment ministry now greatly reduce the obviously too lax upper limits for radioactive emissions from nuclear power stations. From now on the burden of proof of cause of illness should no longer have to be borne by parents, but conversely by the operators of the nuclear installations.”
The BfS media release about its study in German: www.bfs.de/en/bfs/presse/aktuell_press/Studie_Kernkraftwerke.html
More IPPNW background and chronology in German at www.ippnw-ulm.de
Contact: Reinhold Thiel, #49 0176-511 64 195 or #49 7346-8407,
Dr. med. Angelika Claussen, IPPNW Chair #49 521-15 22 13,
Henrik Paulitz, IPPNW expert on nuclear energy issues #49 621-3972-668.
|Palestinians retrieve their possessions after the Israeli army demolished their home in the West Bank village of al-Walajah, near Bethlehem, December 2006. (Fadi Tanas/MaanImages)|
Iran, holder of the world’s second- largest gas reserves, is open to foreign companies investing in its energy sector, the country’s deputy oil minister said.
“Many companies that belong to the government now will become private very soon,” Azizollah Ramezani, deputy Iranian oil minister, said on Tuesday in an interview in Buenos Aires. “I think the Iranian energy sector in very interesting for foreign companies, including American companies.”
Iran is executing a plan to sell 80 percent of its major state-owned companies to boost the economy and stock values, following a 2006 order by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. At least three- quarters of the Iranian economy is controlled by the state.
The National Iranian Gas Company is also open to potential ventures with private groups, said Ramezani, who’s also managing director of the state-owned gas producer.
“We are ready to negotiate partnerships,” he said. Iran plans to invest $50 billion during the next 10 years on liquefied natural gas projects. The country plans to export as much as 8 million tons of the fuel, known as LNG, by 2012, Ramezani said.
Iran is seeking to develop its mineral assets amid United Nations sanctions and the threat of military action over what Western nations say are its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
Global gas demand will probably rise between 2 percent and 3 percent a year for the next 20 to 25 years, with India and China the main markets for Iran’s gas exports, Ramezani said.
“All of our liquefied natural gas will be exported,” Ramezani said. “We will invest in the development of the projects and infrastructure, like plants.”
Liquefied natural gas is gas that’s cooled to a liquid to allow transport on tankers. Russia is holder of the world’s largest gas reserves.
The country also aims to increase natural gas exports by fivefold to 60 billion cubic meters a year by 2014, from 12 billion in 2009, he said.
“The world market for natural gas is not mature yet,” Ramezani said. “The demand will grow faster than for oil and for coal.”
---------$15 billion a year
Iran is investing $15 billion a year to expand its annual gas output capacity to 300 billion cubic meters in five years, from 170 billion, the deputy oil minister said.
Economic growth in Brazil, Russia, India and China, known as the BRIC nations, is prompting rising gas demand for use in power generation and industry. Demand in many so-called emerging economies is rising, while the economic crisis has curbed gas use in the U.S. and Western Europe, Repsol YPF SA Chief Executive Officer Antonio Brufau also said Wednesday.
“Brazil is too far and Russia has its own gas reserves,” Ramezani said. “China and India should be the main destinations for our natural gas exports.”
Still, the Iranian government has sought to increase ties with Latin American countries in talks with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Relations with Brazil have “no limits,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters in New York Sept. 24.
Iran can help Brazil in the development and the exploration of the South American country’s new oil reserves and in the construction of refineries, Ramezani said. “Brazil is a good potential partner,” he said.
Oil prices will probably remain at around $70 a barrel for the next year and rise “gradually” in 2011, according to Ramezani. “I believe $70 is a bottom level for oil prices,” he said.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Lieberman has been urged to employ a zero tolerance
policy for instances of anti-Semitism.