The German government recently decided to purchase stolen data revealing tax avoiders hiding money in Swiss bank accounts. This is a risky move diplomatically, but, for Germany, the gains from tackling this tax flight appear to outweigh the risks. It is also illustrative of the proliferating efforts by individual governments and the international community to clamp down on tax flight: the loss of tax revenue due to cross border tax evasion or avoidance.
However, the recent spat between Switzerland and Germany is merely the tip of the iceberg; symptomatic of what is one the most serious systemic failures of our time: the lack of intergovernmental cooperation on cross-border financial matters.
Development actors have long argued for an overarching international mechanism that would resolve sovereign debt crises in a fair, transparent, and consistent manner. Such a mechanism would assist poor countries that often suffocate under unsustainable levels of (sometimes odious) debt, lacking the political power and legal rights to negotiate with their creditors in an impartial and efficient forum. It would make handling sovereign debt problems less messy, more predictable, and the burden sharing simpler and fairer. It would also provide incentives to curtail irresponsible lending policies on behalf of creditors.
Please click below to see an archived webcast of the European Parliament Testimony of Re-Define Managing Director Sony Kapoor on Financial Transaction Taxes. This hearing was conducted by the full ECON committee on the 2nd of December 2009.
Re-Define Managing Director Sony Kapoor sat down with the Real News Network on one of his visits to Washington DC and gave a series of wide-ranging interviews on the difficulty of getting the right financial regulation, the extreme fragility of the economic recovery, the sheer scale of the problem of rising unemployment and stagnating wages, the problems of collective action faced by institutions and governments and a number of other topical issues including the question of what should be done with institutions such as Goldman Sachs.