Roll up, roll up!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Kiva Microfunds, is an organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to microfinance institutions in developing countries, which in turn lend the money to small businesses.

It is a non-profit organization, headquartered in San Francisco, supported by donations from its users, and through partnerships with businesses and other institutions.

Kiva allows microfinance institutions around the world, called "Field Partners", to post profiles of individual qualified local entrepreneurs on its website. Lenders browse and choose an entrepreneur they wish to fund. As the entrepreneurs repay their loans, the Field Partners remit funds back to Kiva, and, as the loan is repaid, the Kiva lenders can choose to withdraw their principal, or, re-loan it to another entrepreneur.

Kiva claims that its borrowers have a historical default rate of 3.1%.


The corporate motto of the world‘s fourth-largest supermarket chain – ‘Every Little Helps’ – is applied with zest in minimizing its tax bills. A network of ‘offshore’ schemes set up by Tesco – which operates worldwide, including the Fresh n’ Easy chain in the US – is designed to reduce its tax liabilities.

One such scheme uses subsidiaries registered in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, said to be accumulating $100 million a year, free of corporation tax. Another has deposited $2 billion in the Swiss tax haven of Zug.

The corporation claims: ‘Successful companies need to plan and manage their investments… in a responsible but efficient manner, in order to compete successfully on the world stage.’ The world stage netted Tesco profits of $5.5 billion in 2006/7 and $5.6 billion in 2007/8.

Rupert Murdoch:
In four years prior to March 1999, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation paid just $250 million in corporation tax worldwide – a mere six per cent of its profits. At the time, corporation tax in its three main areas of operation - Australia, Britain and the US - was over 30 per cent. During the previous 11 years Newscorp Investments, Murdoch’s holding company in Britain, had paid no corporation tax at all, despite accumulated profits of $2.8 billion.

His ‘financial engineering’ constructed a worldwide maze of about 60 News Corporation subsidiaries in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands.

At the same time, Murdoch was encouraging parents in Britain to compensate for the lack of funds for public education, by collecting tokens in his newspapers to buy school textbooks.

Irish minstrel and anti-poverty campaigner Bono joined the band of celebrity tax dodgers (which includes the Rolling Stones) in 2006, when it was revealed that U2 had moved its royalty income from Ireland to the Netherlands.

For many years Ireland had famously – and much to the benefit of U2 – not taxed the income of ‘artists’. Then the Government decided to set a cap of $200,000 a year – a fortune for most artists, but not for U2.

Ireland is itself a corporate tax haven, and Bono would have done well enough had he decided to stay put. But the Netherlands offered a more competitive deal, partly through its link with the Antilles. Another band member, The Edge, pleaded: ‘Who doesn’t want to be tax efficient?’

New Internationalist: Nominees For Most Artful Tax Dodger

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Some Christmas Games For You

Star Wars: Clones v Droids
Line Rider
Super Obama World

Saturday, December 06, 2008

It's Kitschmas!!!

To celebrate the countdown to Christmas, the satirical Christian website, Ship of Fools, has published its annual selection of religious-themed gifts spotted on sale.

This military Santa gets to the emotional heart of Christmas with his universal message of peace and goodwill to all men - except the enemy, whoever they may be.

BBC: In pictures: Kitschmas