The Journal reports that the Bush administration is playing it both ways when it comes to free trade and national security. Just weeks before the U.S. started raising hackles about industrial espionage, the administration loosened standards for trade of goods that can have dual military and consumer uses, even fast-tracking two Chinese companies with extensive ties to the Chinese military.
The WSJ says an ex-employee of Lichtenstein bank LGT Group handed the German government data that prompted its ongoing massive roundup of tax evaders, including the CEO of Deutsche Post AG, who has resigned. While rogue traders have been in the region’s news lately, this resurfaces the more problematic rogue-nation issue.
The problem is so bad that the German government paid more than four million euros to the ex-employee to hand it confidential data from the bank. That sounds darn near like governmental overreach until you consider that Lichtenstein is one of those places that protects your friendly neighborhood criminal who needs a safe place to park his ill-gotten money.
Why is this still going on in this day and age?
Liechtenstein has long been a destination for the undeclared funds of wealthy Europeans. Often, money is driven across the border and delivered in cash to local banks Liechtenstein, alongside Andorra and Monaco, remain on a shrinking list of so-called uncooperative tax havens drawn up in 2002 by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Liechtenstein still makes a distinction between money laundering and international tax evasion when it offers to help with international investigations
Far be it for us to suggest Germany squash a smaller, incorrigible neighbor, but it seems like its time to end Liechtenstein’s piratical run.
Wrong answer: GE spokesman Russell Wilkerson on why its chief accounting officer is resigning in the midst of an accounting scandal that just won’t quite go away: “Mr. Ameen’s decision to retire had nothing to do with this probe. It was his personal decision and he had been planning to retire.” The Journal disagrees, citing multiple sources as saying the to-do contributed to the CAO’s decision to quit.
In a big win for consumers and for Sony, Blu-ray has won the battle over the next-generation video format. Several publications are reporting that Toshiba is pulling the plug on its HD-DVD format, enabling consumers to move without trepidation into the post-DVD era.
Still, the win means less than it would have, say, a year ago. As with music, video consumers seem to be moving away from hard-copy multimedia in favor of instant-gratification, high-definition downloads, now available from the likes of Netflix and Apple.
The Los Angeles Times pays needed attention to the housing bust under way in Britain on its business front page. In many ways similar to the crisis in the U.S., the UK is having similar impacts on homeowners and is another stressor on the global banking system.
“Financial institutions have been pretty good at taking governments hostage,” said Charles Wyplosz, an economics professor at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. “The taxpayer is likely to face a huge bill.”
The Breakingviews column in the WSJ is nice today with a step-back look at what it calls the “great deleveraging” we’re experiencing and likely to experience for a long while to come.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that high-end housing is still a buy in the City by the Bay, anyway. A buyer just paid $2,300 a square foot for a penthouse in an unfinished building. One question we had—what housing in San Fran is not high end?
Finally, as if advertisers weren’t already trespassing in your headspace, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a disturbing report on something you’ll be hearing soon: “directed sound.”
The ad folks have already helped turn us into a nation of attention-deficit suffering, anorexic (or oddly enough, obese) consumption addicts, it appears now they think we need to add a little more schizophrenia to the mix.