What’s New January 2013

This page lists changes to this site for January 2013.

See below for other updates and to get notified of changes to the site.

It seems the world is awash with money, even though most governments are facing economic pressures. Trillions are being hidden away by a very few global super elite in offshore bank accounts, avoiding billions in taxes such that constrained governments turn to austerity and other measures, inflicting more hardship on people who are typically already victims of the global financial crisis. Furthermore, it turns out that many of the banks we have all bailed out help with these offshore practices in various ways.

Tax avoidance by the super rich results in lost revenues in the order of hundreds of billions a year, which would (in theory at least) benefit most of society. But if you can afford an army of ingenious lawyers and accountants, it seems you can play by a different set of rules.

Recent high profile cases of companies and individuals avoiding taxes in recent years has resulted in governments claiming they will address this issue thoroughly. But that is as far as it seems to go.

This update includes additional figures and examples of recent tax avoidance issues that have come to light.

The latest data covering global arms sales shows that sale of arms in 2011 increased to around $85 billion, 84% of which went to developing countries. This was almost double the arms sales compared to 2010 which was the lowest since 2004.

One major factor for the increase was the US sales of arms to Saudi Arabia. Most other major arms sellers otherwise saw a decrease in sales and the trend in recent years had been declining sales.

The global financial crisis has affected many countries, and many developing countries started to see a decrease in purchases in the last few years. However, just 10 developing countries account for some 85% of all sales to developing countries in the period 2004 to 2011, which the data covers. Saudi Arabia tops that list followed by India and the United Arab Emirates. (As well as concerns about some of the regimes in the top buyers, some of this spending is also said to be due to modernizing efforts.)

Updated graphs and charts on arms sales data are provided here.

The arms trade is big business. The 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, Russia, France, United Kingdom and China), together with Germany and Italy, account for approximately 85% of all arms sold between 2004 and 2011.

Some of the arms sold go to regimes where human rights violations will occur. Corruption often accompanies arms sales due to the large sums of money involved.

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