18 September 2017   Leave a comment

Russian President Putin personally observed the Russian military exercises with Belarus along the border with the Baltic States.  It apparently is an impressive show of military power with 250 tanks and 70 fighter aircraft involved.   Russia asserts that the exercise is purely defensive, but what one side may regard as defensive is invariably viewed by the other side as offensive.  The US  military and NATO forces are wargaming the exercise as well.  The critical question is whether all Russian forces and military equipment are removed when the exercise ends in two days.  If not, the pre-positioned forces will cause a high degree of concern among the Baltic allies in NATO.


The Syrian government has sent its military forces near the town of Deir al-Zor across the Euphrates River into an area controlled by US-backed rebels.  The river has served as an informal dividing line between those forces backing the Syrian government and those opposed to President Assad.  It has also served to keep pro-Russian and pro-US forces apart in the battle against Daesh (the Islamic State).  The area is not densely populated but it is the region where Syrian oil and natural gas reserves are located.   Thus far, the two sides have not openly clashed, but a potential clash is something to worry about.


A new paper has been published by the National Bureau of Economic Research that estimates that as much as 10% of world GDP is held in offshore bank accounts and it therefore not taxed.  According to the Bloomberg report on the paper:

“One-tenth of the world’s GDP is held in offshore tax havens, but that share jumps to as much of 15 percent for Europe and as much as 60 percent for Gulf and some Latin American countries, new research shows. When it comes to total offshore wealth as a share of GDP, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Argentina lead the pack, while Germany, the U.K. and France all have above-average holdings. The U.S. is slightly below average.”

The money is increasing being held in Asian tax havens because national efforts to restrict the ability of citizens to hide their money in Swiss bank accounts have been successful to a degree.  TO make sure that everyone pays their fair share for public services, these efforts should be redoubled.

Posted September 18, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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