As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out this week in the Washington Post and on CNN GPS, we now have a Trump foreign policy doctrine, and it is not reassuring for the World. Obviously heavily influenced by Bannon, who many had thought had been relegated to backseat status by McMaster, we have been fooled again. As Trump demonstrates his RealPolitik admiration for authoritarians like Putin, Xi Jinping, Erdogan, and Duterte, more sinister scenarios begin to crystallize. Trump’s speech justifying the withdrawal of the United States from the COP21 Paris Climate Change Agreement is a frightening exposition of this new Trump Doctrine. It is Trump thumbing his nose at the World. It is the United States against the World, led by a coterie of plutocrats and their money. The reality is that the evidence points to an ongoing seizure of executive power by Trump that destroys our Constitution in the name of our national security. The question is what we can do about it.
Wall Street is currently basking in a vigorous “Trump rally,” with the Dow rising more than 1000 points since the election. The rally is driven by analysts who are salivating over the future prospect of sweeping deregulation of many markets. But there is also chorus of concern from dozens of financial experts, that the global financial markets are “whistling in the graveyard,” acting in a classicly irrational manner. Experts cite a host of issues both financial and geopolitical, among them Trump’s intention to exit TPP, NAFTA, and the COP21 Climate Agreement. Combined with rising geopolitical tensions with China, North Korea, and Iran, a perfect storm of global uncertainty and instability is forming.
Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said on Monday that its founder Julian Assange’s internet was shut down by the government of Ecuador, deflecting blame from the U.S. or British governments which have sparred with Assange for releasing sensitive material. My earlier predictions that Assange has worn out his welcome at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge, appears to be playing out. Assange and Wikileaks, originally portrayed themselves as an “international, non-profit, journalistic organization” with no political bias, that releases confidential information form anonymous sources for the benefit of the public. This image has been severely tarnished by Assange’s own statements, and numerous allegations of bias favoring Russia going back to 2011, and Assange’s own statements of a bias against the United States for seeking his prosecution.
Lost today in the extraordinary news frenzy surrounding the release of a video tape of Donald Trump making unprecedented lewd and obscene comments about women, was Barak Obama’s announcement that the United States officially and publicly accuses Russia of espionage in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, and stealing documents, now in the possession of Wikileaks. Some may recall Julian Assange’s video interview with Bill Maher on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher about a month ago on this topic. It seems clear from the Bill Maher interview that Assange is on a jihad against the DNC because Clinton wanted to prosecute him. Assange has no altruistic motives — it is personal. We have a foreigner trying to influence U.S elections using documents stolen by Russia.
I am sharing this because of its particular relevance to the ongoing revelations about connections between global tax evasion shell companies and real estate markets: London, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Vancouver.
The release of the Panama Papers is of such potential significance and magnitude that it is difficult to know where to begin. I have decided that I will begin with the most interesting and relevant topic for me, the Canadian angle: possible links from Mossack Fonseca’s tax haven shell companies to the Vancouver BC real estate market, the current Canada Revenue Agency investigation of KPMG’s Canadian offshore tax haven scheme, and potential conflicts of interest within CRA. The KPMG and CRA issues have been extensively investigated and reported by CBC News, and also discussed on this site.
Global Financial Contagion, is a well-understood phenomenon among economists, but less so among the general public. Financial contagion refers to “the spread of market disturbances — mostly on the downside — from one country to the other, a process observed through co-movements in exchange rates, stock prices, sovereign spreads, and capital flows.” Financial contagion can be a potential risk for countries who are trying to integrate their financial system with international financial markets and institutions. It helps explain an economic crisis extending across neighboring countries, regions, or in the worst case, the entire global economy.