Tuesday, August 11, 2015

China Devalues The Yuan - The Logic?

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China devalued the Yuan today, sending shock waves through the international capital markets and exchanges. Yet, this devaluation should not have come as a surprise to anyone. And, no, it is not because the Chinese economy is slowing down, burning out or anticipating a bubble in any of its domestic investment markets -- China's economy is quite healthy, but will likely experience a slowdown during these next two years due to a decline in the traditionally high marginal propensity to save, increased dependence on leverage, illiquidity in its sovereign investments (Greek bonds, anyone?), and increased competition for inexpensive labor and production from other emerging nations. The Chinese stock exchange is just going though a period of adjustment -- it's not a sign of recession (the recession story is just wishful thinking and propaganda coming out of the West).

The real reasons that the Yuan was deliberately devalued today had everything to do with two factors:

1) China is demonstrating to the world and the IMF that its native currency is no longer tightly tied to the value of the United States Dollar and can be valued separately and independently in its own right. This is because the Chinese government is positioning the Yuan to eventually become one of the preferred and officially accepted reserve currencies in the IMF's monetary basket, which will strengthen the Yuan's standing worldwide, and will consequently weaken the U.S. Dollar's standing worldwide [this re-evaluation of the currencies in the market basket is predicted by many economists and political pundits to occur in mid to late October, this year, although China might not "get in" under the wire and may have to wait to the next market re-evaluation in 2016]; and,

2) China, in lowering the value of its currency vis-a-vis the value of other world currencies, will be able to rapidly strengthen its slightly weakening export competitiveness, and help to reboot and boost its temporarily soft stock market through an improvement in its balance of trade, balance of payments and it penetration of worldwide consumer markets.

For further information about this strategic and premeditated devaluation, you may wish to look at these articles:

https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/china-central-bank-devalues-yuan

http://moneymorning.com/2015/08/11/how-chinas-stock-market-crash-influenced-todays-yuan-devaluation/

https://www.stratfor.com/geopolitical-diary/why-china-devalues-its-currency?login=1

Thank you as always reading me on The Internationalist Page Blog.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Good Or Bad Idea?

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Good Or Bad Idea?
Also: Who Wins And Who Loses??




Everyone from President Obama to trade analysts and economic pundits can speculate on what the Trans-Pacific Partnership will mean for the US economy, but the simple fact remains: no one can predict the future with any level of certainty. Many Americans fear that the pact will further decimate an already-struggling U.S. Economy by exporting more jobs. But are there counterbalancing benefits that could make this hotly-contested pact a good idea? 

The Internationalist Page suspects that the implementation of this massive pact will be a net hindrance and a drain on the U.S. domestic economy, but it is impossible to say so definitively. Additionally, it seems likely that the biggest beneficiaries of this deal's going live would be the largest corporations, while small to medium-sized businesses and employment (inclusive of jobs creation) would be dealt the detriments...

After all the shouting, are we any closer to knowing whether free trade agreements (in general) are good or bad for the country – and for the wallets of the American citizens of Main Street? No, but sentiment is largely negative amongst labor, the shrinking middle class and small to middle-sized businesses.

The attempts to provide answers to those questions have been thrust into the spotlight by President Barack Obama’s futile last-minute efforts to muster his lame duck power to freely, almost single-handedly negotiate what would be the world’s largest free trade pact to date: the Trans-Pacific Partnership ("TPP").

In the eyes of those within his own party, including the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, free trade agreements have been disastrous for ordinary Americans, hurting their wages, eroding the health of entire manufacturing sectors and putting the United States at a disadvantage against countries that engage in underhanded trade practices (or who are simply more efficient producers and suppliers of products and services than the U.S.).

Their success last week managed to strip President Obama of fast-track negotiating authority, pushing him into an unusual and awkward partnership with congressional Republicans in an effort to find a way to rescue the package of legislation by restructuring it in the manner of a typical legislative compromise.

All of the participants in these high-stakes congressional battles argue that they have based their positions on what they believe is in the best interest of "ordinary" Americans. The president pitches TPP as a win-win: US companies will find new export markets, he argues, while export-dependent countries like Vietnam end up paying higher wages than average (the treaty also contains new labor standards that Vietnam and other low-wage countries would have to abide by -- but they will be largely difficult to verify and enforce). It’s also strategically important for the United States to coordinate some kind of free trade zone, seizing the initiative from Asia’s dominant power, China.

Opponents, meanwhile, point to what they argue is a pattern of job losses and wage declines at home following free trade agreements. Those who have read the still-secret document voice concerns about everything from the dispute resolution process to environmental protection rules. A draft version of the trade pact posted by WikiLeaks opened up the prospect that pharmaceutical companies might be able to challenge the prices that national health authorities, including Medicare, pay for drugs.
Meanwhile, the whole debate is complicated by the fact that the TPP draft is a work in progress, and thus is being kept secret. If you want to read it, you’re out of luck. So giving the president fast-track negotiating authority would have been a giant leap of faith on the part of Congress.

Which brings us to the main point. Negotiating a free trade agreement is always going to involve a leap of faith – a leap of faith in the future. There is no way, even if someone took up WikiLeaks’ $100,000 offer for a leaked copy of the full 29 chapters of the draft treaty as it stands today, that it would be possible to gauge just what its impact would be on Americans today, a decade from now, or 25 years down the road. Not, that is, without a fully functional crystal ball. There are simply far too many variables involved, and too many “unknown unknowns”.

Consider the US-South Korea free trade agreement, completed in 2010 and in effect from 2012. Far from helping US exports to South Korea to climb, they have fallen as imports from South Korea have risen, causing the trade deficit to widen.

The problem with those who try to draw conclusions about free trade agreements in general from this example, however, is twofold. Firstly, it covers the experience of only about two years: an absurdly short time frame. Secondly, economic growth rates in South Korea peaked in 2010, the year the free trade pact was negotiated and all those rosy forecasts about US exports were drawn up. Right now, however, the economic picture looks bleak, and it’s probably fair to say that few expected that would happen.

Trade volumes look fine, but the value of that trade isn’t what it should be; the country’s central bank is slashing interest rates to weaken the value of the Korean won, making those exports cheaper and bolstering domestic demand. Even before the Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) crisis hit the country, taking (at last count) 15 lives and proving a further drag on the economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had already cut its estimates for Korea’s 2015 growth. It’s fairly hard to realize the full benefits of an agreement with a trading partner whose economy has just run into a wall.

The picture gets even more confusing if you try to look at the father of all U.S.- structured free trade agreements, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta. Signed by Canada, the US and Mexico in 1992, Nafta served as a prototype for many of the large trade agreements that followed, including TPP; it also was one of the first free trade pacts between economies with varying standards of living, labor standards and other business and environmental rules. But how good was it for the citizenry of the United States?

Critics argue that by 2010, a total of 682,900 jobs had been lost to Mexico, on a net basis. Of these, 415,000 were manufacturing jobs, many of which paid healthy living wages. Meanwhile, a small trade surplus with Mexico had become a deficit by 2000.

Except … it wasn’t all that simple. Had those jobs not gone to Mexico, would they have stayed in the United States? Not necessarily, suggested Mauro Guillén, a management professor at the Wharton School of Business; they might well have ended up in China. Meanwhile, some of the products made in Mexico are still being designed in the United States, he has noted.

In 1995, the year after Nafta took effect, Mexico had its own financial crisis, causing the value of the peso to nosedive and triggering a recession. As is the case with South Korea today, events that had nothing to do with the free trade agreement itself ended up causing a big drop in Mexican imports from the United States. The timing, however, made it appear as if the trade deficit was tied to free trade – but correlation isn’t causation. More recently, US demand for crude oil produced by Mexico, and the high prices for crude, sent that trade deficit higher again. Once again, that imbalance had nothing to do with free trade and everything to do with a supply/demand imbalance for crude oil within the United States.

There’s a real source of concern here – the fact that American incomes have continued to stagnate in the period since Nafta kicked off the negotiation of free trade agreements. Again, however, correlation isn’t causation. The biggest culprits may include technology that has made it easier for workers in low-wage countries like China to do jobs that were once done here in the United States – or the policies of companies with respect to how they treat their work force. Apple already can choose to make its products in China, Vietnam or the United States. Their choice is clear.

David Autor, an economist at MIT, argues that it is the spike in global trade, not free trade agreements, that has led to this result; he calculates that imports from China (not party to any free trade agreement with the United States) are responsible for 21% of the plunge in American manufacturing.

None of this means that the TPP is certain to be a great idea – or a bad one. Folks like the president and David Autor may argue all they like in favor of the pact, suggesting that it will give us an edge against China and, by protecting our intellectual property, help us expand our exports of computer services. Critics can charge that it will be a disaster, costing millions of jobs, accelerating climate change and doing untold damage to everything from our access to healthcare to worker’s rights.

The fact remains that even if we opened the vaults, distributed copies of the draft treaty and settled down to a great national debate about what it means, we simply wouldn’t know for certain. Yes, we could indulge in some scenario analyses, but given the squabbling among economists over which models to use and how to calculate the benefits and losses, and the difficulty in reaching a consensus on Nafta’s impact 23 years after it came into effect, I’m not sure that would prove all that helpful.
The fact of the matter is that regardless of all speculation, conjecture and analysis, the ultimate net cost or benefit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain.

For the purposes of The Internationalist Page, if asked to weigh in, our suspicion is that the pact will cause a further erosion of the United States' economy, despite the appealing concept, in theory, of opening up more channels to international trade.

With or without the enactment of the TPP, the globalization of the world economy by businesses will move economies, wealth, wages, employment, jobs creation, the balance of trade and the balance of payments for the United States by its own momentum, without the need to legislate forced change.

At the risk of sounding arrogant, it would appear, at least for the present, that TPP (which sounds a bit reminiscent of a toilet paper brand) is a weakened U.S. comeback (or attempted comeback) against economic domination by China through the ordinary market forces that govern the geopolitical universe.  And perhaps, the only way in which the U.S. is going to stand up to the perils of a dominant China would be to increase domestic production efficiency.

Also, it would seem (history being what it is) that this cautiously-closeted deal stands to benefit the largest of U.S. corporations (due to cheap labor and supply-chain benefits), and would stand to hurt smaller businesses and domestic employment and jobs creation. This broad stroke of government rule-making would likely widen the already increasing divide between the extremely wealthy and the working poor.

While I am an ardent Internationalist, I am not in favor of increased government intervention (via international treaty) to solve this nation's economic problems.

Thank you, as always, for reading me.

Douglas E. Castle

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Monday, March 02, 2015

Global Meltdown: China And IMF? - Douglas E. Castle

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At present, the Chinese Yuan is not one of the key international currencies. It is not incorporated in the IMF's basket of key international currencies, but there is much discussion in the international economic community regarding this possibility. If the Yuan were to become a key international currency, banks and other financial intermediaries and institutions would likely increase their reserves and portfolio holding percentages of the Yuan, driving its exchange value upward. Some additional effects associated with this legitimization and full acceptance of the Yuan would be a reduction in the international exchange value of the U.S. dollar (versus many currencies), a substantial increase in the cost of goods manufactured in China (these goods are currently very competitively-priced in the global marketplace, and give China a tremendous advantage over other countries in terms of the economic viability of exports) which would have the effect of severely disrupting the Chinese balance of trade and balance of payments. The effect of this swing could have catastrophic effects on the entire global economy. More about the IMF and the SDR follows:

The SDR ("Special Drawing Right") is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF ("International Monetary Fund") in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves. Its value is currently based upon a "basket" of four key international currencies, and SDRs can be exchanged for freely usable currencies. With a general SDR allocation that took effect on August 28, 2009 and a special allocation on September 9, 2009, the amount of SDRs increased from SDR 21.4 billion to approximately SDR 204 billion (equivalent to about $309 billion, converted using the rate of September 4, 2014).

The role of the SDR

The SDR was created by the IMF in 1969 to support the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system. A country participating in this system needed official reserves—government or central bank holdings of gold and widely accepted foreign currencies—that could be used to purchase the domestic currency in foreign exchange markets, as required to maintain its exchange rate. But the international supply of two key reserve assets—gold and the U.S. dollar—proved inadequate for supporting the expansion of world trade and financial development that was taking place. Therefore, the international community decided to create a new international reserve asset under the auspices of the IMF.

However, only a few years later, the Bretton Woods system collapsed and the major currencies shifted to a floating exchange rate regime. In addition, the growth in international capital markets facilitated borrowing by creditworthy governments. Both of these developments lessened the need for SDRs. But more recently, the 2009 SDR allocations totaling SDR 182.6 billion have played a critical role in providing liquidity to the global economic system and supplementing member countries’ official reserves amid the global financial crisis.

The SDR is neither a currency, nor a claim on the IMF. Rather, it is a potential claim on the freely usable currencies of IMF members. Holders of SDRs can obtain these currencies in exchange for their SDRs in two ways: first, through the arrangement of voluntary exchanges between members; and second, by the IMF designating members with strong external positions to purchase SDRs from members with weak external positions. In addition to its role as a supplementary reserve asset, the SDR serves as the unit of account of the IMF and some other international organizations.

Basket of currencies determines the value of the SDR

The value of the SDR was initially defined as equivalent to 0.888671 grams of fine gold—which, at the time, was also equivalent to one U.S. dollar. After the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1973, however, the SDR was redefined as a basket of currencies. Today the SDR basket consists of the euro, Japanese yen, pound sterling, and U.S. dollar. The value of the SDR in terms of the U.S. dollar is determined daily and posted on the IMF’s website. It is calculated as the sum of specific amounts of the four basket currencies valued in U.S. dollars, on the basis of exchange rates quoted at noon each day in the London market.

The basket composition is reviewed every five years by the Executive Board, or earlier if the IMF finds changed circumstances warrant an earlier review, to ensure that it reflects the relative importance of currencies in the world’s trading and financial systems. In the most recent review (in November 2010), the weights of the currencies in the SDR basket were revised based on the value of the exports of goods and services and the amount of reserves denominated in the respective currencies that were held by other members of the IMF. These changes became effective on January 1, 2011.

In October 2011, the IMF Executive Board discussed possible options for broadening the SDR currency basket. Most directors held the view that the current criteria for SDR basket selection remained appropriate. The next review will take place by 2015.

The SDR interest rate

The SDR interest rate provides the basis for calculating the interest charged to members on regular (non-concessional) IMF loans, the interest paid to members on their SDR holdings and charged on their SDR allocation, and the interest paid to members on a portion of their quota subscriptions. The SDR interest rate is determined weekly and is based on a weighted average of representative interest rates on short-term debt instruments in the money markets of the SDR basket currencies.

SDR allocations to IMF members

Under its Articles of Agreement (Article XV, Section 1, and Article XVIII), the IMF may allocate SDRs to member countries in proportion to their IMF quotas. Such an allocation provides each member with a costless, unconditional international reserve asset. The SDR mechanism is self-financing and levies charges on allocations which are then used to pay interest on SDR holdings. If a member does not use any of its allocated SDR holdings, the charges are equal to the interest received. However, if a member's SDR holdings rise above its allocation, it effectively earns interest on the excess. Conversely, if it holds fewer SDRs than allocated, it pays interest on the shortfall. The Articles of Agreement also allow for cancellations of SDRs, but this provision has never been used. The IMF cannot allocate SDRs to itself or to other prescribed holders.

General allocations of SDRs have to be based on a long-term global need to supplement existing reserve assets. Decisions on general allocations are made for successive basic periods of up to five years, although general SDR allocations have been made only three times. The first allocation was for a total amount of SDR 9.3 billion, distributed in 1970-72, and the second allocated SDR 12.1 billion, distributed in 1979-81. These two allocations resulted in cumulative SDR allocations of SDR 21.4 billion. To help mitigate the effects of the financial crisis, a third general SDR allocation of SDR 161.2 billion was made on August 28, 2009.

Separately, the Fourth Amendment to the Articles of Agreement became effective August 10, 2009 and provided for a special one-time allocation of SDR 21.5 billion. The purpose of the Fourth Amendment was to enable all members of the IMF to participate in the SDR system on an equitable basis and rectify the fact that countries that joined the IMF after 1981—more than one fifth of the current IMF membership—never received an SDR allocation until 2009. The 2009 general and special SDR allocations together raised total cumulative SDR allocations to SDR 204 billion.

Buying and selling SDRs

IMF members often need to buy SDRs to discharge obligations to the IMF, or they may wish to sell SDRs in order to adjust the composition of their reserves. The IMF may act as an intermediary between members and prescribed holders to ensure that SDRs can be exchanged for freely usable currencies. For more than two decades, the SDR market has functioned through voluntary trading arrangements. Under these arrangements a number of members and one prescribed holder have volunteered to buy or sell SDRs within limits defined by their respective arrangements.

Following the 2009 SDR allocations, the number and size of the voluntary arrangements has been expanded to ensure continued liquidity of the voluntary SDR market. The number of voluntary SDR trading arrangements now stands at 32, including 19 new arrangements since the 2009 SDR allocations.

In the event that there is insufficient capacity under the voluntary trading arrangements, the IMF can activate the designation mechanism. Under this mechanism, members with sufficiently strong external positions are designated by the IMF to buy SDRs with freely usable currencies up to certain amounts from members with weak external positions. This arrangement serves as a backstop to guarantee the liquidity and the reserve asset character of the SDR.

---------------
At present, the IMF is a political and economic powerhouse, operating behind the scenes to "regulate" and stabilize the global economy. The IMF has become infamous for attaching political obligations to its issuance of funds to developing nations and countries in economic crisis. It is, unquestionably, a powerhouse, and in the event that it elects to include the Chinese Yuan in its "basket" of key international currencies, the entire world might suffer another economic meltdown (recalling 2008-2009) as a result. The only beneficiaries in this scenario would be those investors and money managers who 1) bought and held the Yuan in their portfolios and 2) sold off their holdings during the period of the Yuan's "initiation" into the basket of key international currencies.

As always, thank you for reading me.

Douglas E. Castle For The Internationalist Page Blog

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NOTE: THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED BY THE READER AS BEING LEGAL, FINANCIAL, TAX, ACCOUNTING, ECONOMIC OR INVESTMENT ADVICE. NO OFFERING OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY IS MADE HEREBY, NOR IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY MADE HEREBY. THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND REPRESENTS THE VIEW OF THE AUTHOR ONLY.

THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHT 2015 BY DOUGLAS E. CASTLE, WITH ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, TRANSMITTAL OR DISTRIBUTION OF THIS ARTICLE, EITHER IN WHOLE OR PART, IS UNAUTHORIZED AND MAY BE UNLAWFUL, UNLESS FULL ATTRIBUTION IS GIVEN TO THE AUTHOR AND ALL IMAGES AND LINKS IN THE ARTICLE REMAIN INCLUDED AND “LIVE.”


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A discussion of international business, events, markets, joint ventures, currencies, outsourcing, offshoring and financing, importing and exporting, as well as global sources of goods, services, labor, capital, trade guarantees, credit insurance and emerging markets.

Key Terms: international, global, business, trends, prediction, foreign exchange, outsourcing, supply chain, offshoring, import and export, emerging markets, the world economy, trade balance, trade finance, foreign direct investment, joint ventures, sovereignty, cultural sensitivity, diversity, emerging markets, INCOTERMS, tariffs, International Business Companies, asset protection trusts

Friday, February 27, 2015

FATCA: International Assets And Accounts

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FATCA: YOUR INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS AND ASSETS

What You Absolutely Need To Know
Related Article Published In: The Global Futurist Blog




The provisions commonly known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) became law in March 2010. If you are a U.S.-domiciled individual or entity with assets or accounts outside of the U.S., or if you are a non-U.S. individual or entity with assets or accounts in the U.S., you must be in compliance with FATCA or risk the imposition of civil and potentially criminal penalties. The Internal Revenue Service is charged with enforcing compliance and its (the IRS') reach is international by fiat. While FATCA purports to target individual taxpayers, entities are affected (based upon their ownership by individuals subject to FATCA), and the author believes that the issuance of actual regulatory reporting requirements for non-financial entities will be required in the near future.


Here are the stated objectives of FATCA:
  • FATCA targets tax non-compliance by U.S. taxpayers with foreign accounts
  • FATCA focuses on reporting:

  • By U.S. taxpayers about certain foreign financial accounts and offshore assets

  • By foreign financial institutions about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers or foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest
  • The objective of FATCA is the reporting of foreign financial assets; withholding is the cost of not reporting. The term “witholding” can be a euphemism for de facto forfeiture or extensive, expensive delays in transacting business or transferring balances.

If you are an individual:


  • U.S. citizens, U.S. individual residents, and a very limited number of nonresident individuals who own certain foreign financial accounts or other offshore assets (specified foreign financial assets) must report those assets
  • Use Form 8938 to report these assets

  • Attach Form 8938 to the annual income tax return (usually Form 1040)
  • Taxpayers with a total value of specified foreign financial assets below a certain threshold do not have to file Form 8938

  • If the total value is at or below $50,000 at the end of the tax year, there is no reporting requirement for the year, unless the total value was more than $75,000 at any time during the tax year

  • The threshold is higher for individuals who live outside the United States

  • Thresholds are different for married and single taxpayers
  • Taxpayers who do not have to file an income tax return for the tax year do not have to file Form 8938, regardless of the value of their specified foreign financial assets.
  • Penalties apply for failure to file accurately
Alert: The reporting requirement for Form 8938 is separate from the reporting requirement for the FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”) (formerly TD F 90-22.1). An individual may have to file both forms and separate penalties may apply for failure to file each form.  See the Comparison of filing requirements for further information.
Third-party reporting: Foreign financial institutions may provide to the IRS third-party information reporting about financial accounts, including the identity and certain financial information associated with the account, which they maintain offshore on behalf of U.S. individual account holders.
Application to domestic entities: The IRS anticipates issuing regulations that will require a domestic entity to file Form 8938 if the entity is formed or used to hold specified foreign financial assets and the total asset value exceeds the appropriate reporting threshold. Until the IRS issues such regulations, only individuals must file Form 8938. For more information about domestic entity filing, see Notice 2013-10.

If you are a financial institution, or if you are simply an entity (either within or outside of the U.S.) which issues payments to individuals or other entities internationally, it might be advisable for you to “play it safe” - conduct a Google search [ https://www.google.com/#q=us+withholding+agents+fatca ]
for some basic background information regarding any reporting or other compliance requirements to which you may be subject (especially if you may be deemed a “U.S. Withholding Agent”) and follow your initial research with a consultation with competent legal and tax counsel in order to be certain that you are in compliance with the law.

Some additional informational resources follow. While these resources may indeed be helpful, they may be outdated (in some cases, as the regulations and interpretations are constantly changing) and cannot be used or construed as a substitute for professional legal and tax advice. The author does not endorse any of the firms providing the information which follows:




As always, thank you for reading me.


Labels, Tags, Categories, Keywords And Search Terms For This Article:
FATCA, Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, international business, import/export, international trade, the Internal Revenue Service, offshore and overseas accounts and assets, U.S. Withholding Agents, regulatory compliance, The Global Futurist Blog, The Internationalist Page Blog, Douglas E. Castle


NOTE: THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED BY THE READER AS BEING LEGAL, FINANCIAL, TAX, ACCOUNTING, ECONOMIC OR INVESTMENT ADVICE. NO OFFERING OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY IS MADE HEREBY, NOR IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY MADE HEREBY. THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND REPRESENTS THE VIEW OF THE AUTHOR ONLY.

THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHT 2015 BY DOUGLAS E. CASTLE, WITH ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, TRANSMITTAL OR DISTRIBUTION OF THIS ARTICLE, EITHER IN WHOLE OR PART, IS UNAUTHORIZED AND MAY BE UNLAWFUL, UNLESS FULL ATTRIBUTION IS GIVEN TO THE AUTHOR AND ALL IMAGES AND LINKS IN THE ARTICLE REMAIN INCLUDED AND “LIVE.”



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A discussion of international business, events, markets, joint ventures, currencies, outsourcing, offshoring and financing, importing and exporting, as well as global sources of goods, services, labor, capital, trade guarantees, credit insurance and emerging markets.

Key Terms: international, global, business, trends, prediction, foreign exchange, outsourcing, supply chain, offshoring, import and export, emerging markets, the world economy, trade balance, trade finance, foreign direct investment, joint ventures, sovereignty, cultural sensitivity, diversity, emerging markets, INCOTERMS, tariffs, International Business Companies, asset protection trusts

Thursday, February 26, 2015

International Business And The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [FCPA] - Douglas E. Castle

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If you are a U.S. - based company and you conduct business overseas, or if you are planning to conduct business internationally in the interest or expanding your company's market reach, you should be certain that you are familiar with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The essence of this law is summarized below:


























This article [which appears courtesy of the Chief Executive Newsletter] addresses the direction that enforcement of FCPA is taking as of the date of this writing. In sum, we're seeing fewer cases being prosecuted, but staggeringly increasing penalties for 1) failure to obey the law, and 2) failure to enforce the law where your company or its employees are concerned. The Department Of Justice (DOJ) not only demands compliance with the law; they are outright demanding that you see to it that all of your employees obey the law as well. Your responsibility and liability are personal. Please read further:

The SEC and DOJ Aim to Stop Mid-Market Firm Corruption
Two members of national law firm Dykema Gossett LLC report that the federal government plans to increase its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations into mid-market companies.

Posted by: Chief Executive February 24, 2015

Watching the handling of Fortune 500 firm cases, Jonathan S. Feld and Kara B. Murphy have posted a few lessons that mid-market firms can learn from these examples on the Association of Corporate Council website. In fact, the authors note that in announcing the settlement with Smith & Wesson, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s FCPA Unit chief, Kara Brockmeyer, warned: “This is a wake-up call for small and medium-size businesses that want to enter into high-risk markets and expand their international sales.”

In light of this increased risk, the first lesson is not to let your guard down. While the number of overall cases has declined, the average fines, Feld and Murphy report, have actually gone up dramatically. Between 2012 and 2014, they say the average penalty increased sevenfold.
Second, ignorance of the law will not get you out of trouble. In fact, it could make things worse, as failure to detect and stop a misconduct will trigger increased penalties. Merely having a compliance program, they say, is not enough. More than ever the authors report, the DOJ looks behind the “paper” compliance program to determine how it is being implemented and monitored by senior management.

Finally, they are going after individuals. If the buck stops at your desk, you could be held liable for criminal wrongdoing. 
###

Here's some insight into the relative positions of specific multinational industry sectors with respect to which ones spend the greatest amount (purportedly) on bribery:


























The take away? Do not, in any way, shape, manner or form, ever even attempt to bribe any official of any foreign government. And going further, don't encourage a foreign entity or its employees or representatives act as your company's proxy in engaging in an attempt to bribe an official at any level of any foreign government.

As always, thank you for reading me.
 
Douglas E. Castle for The Internationalist Page Blog
 
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NOTE: THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED BY THE READER AS BEING LEGAL, FINANCIAL, TAX, ACCOUNTING, ECONOMIC OR INVESTMENT ADVICE. NO OFFERING OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY IS MADE HEREBY, NOR IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY MADE HEREBY. THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND REPRESENTS THE VIEW OF THE AUTHOR ONLY.

THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHT 2015 BY DOUGLAS E. CASTLE, WITH ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, TRANSMITTAL OR DISTRIBUTION OF THIS ARTICLE, EITHER IN WHOLE OR PART, IS UNAUTHORIZED AND MAY BE UNLAWFUL, UNLESS FULL ATTRIBUTION IS GIVEN TO THE AUTHOR AND ALL IMAGES AND LINKS IN THE ARTICLE REMAIN INCLUDED AND “LIVE.”

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A discussion of international business, events, markets, joint ventures, currencies, outsourcing, offshoring and financing, importing and exporting, as well as global sources of goods, services, labor, capital, trade guarantees, credit insurance and emerging markets.

Key Terms: international, global, business, trends, prediction, foreign exchange, outsourcing, supply chain, offshoring, import and export, emerging markets, the world economy, trade balance, trade finance, foreign direct investment, joint ventures, sovereignty, cultural sensitivity, diversity, emerging markets, INCOTERMS, tariffs, International Business Companies, asset protection trusts

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Three Greatest Global Crises - Douglas E. Castle

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The present-day dynamics of the geo-political economy (and indeed the underpinnings of civilization and basic civility as we have come to know them) are frightfully unstable and are only tenuously held together by diplomatic hyperactivity globally. It is my opinion that these diplomatic efforts will ultimately fail, and that the result will be a world 1) very much at war [in a situation where military might and mobilization will be the ultimate determining factors] and 2) in the throes of another significant global economic recession within the next twelve to twenty four months. The Stratfor international intelligence newsletter had this to say about the interconnection and possible convergence of three primary crises:

Within the past two weeks, a temporary deal to keep Greece in the eurozone was reached in Brussels, a cease-fire roadmap was agreed to in Minsk and Iranian negotiators advanced a potential nuclear deal in Geneva. Squadrons of diplomats have forestalled one geopolitical crisis after another. Yet it would be premature, even reckless, to assume that the fault lines defining these issues are effectively stable. Understanding how these crises are inextricably linked is the first step toward assessing when and where the next flare-up is likely to occur.

Germany and the Eurozone Crisis

Germany has once again become the victim of its own power. As Europe's largest creditor, it has considerable political leverage over debtor nations such as Greece, whose entire livelihood now depends on whether German Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to sign another bailout check. Lest we forget, Germany is exporting more than half of its GDP, and most of those exports are consumed within Europe. Thus, the institutions Germany relies on to protect its export markets are the very institutions Berlin must battle to protect Germany's national wealth.

Many have characterized the recent Brussels deal as a victory for Berlin over Athens as eurozone finance ministers, including the Portuguese, Spanish and French, stood behind Germany in refusing Greece the right to circumvent its debt obligations. But Merkel is also not about to gamble an unlimited amount of German taxpayer funds on flimsy Greek pledges to cut costs and impose structural reforms on a population that, for now, still views the ruling Syriza party as its savior from austerity. Within four months, Greece and Germany will be at loggerheads again, and Greece will likely still lack the austerity credentials that Berlin needs to convince its own Euroskeptics that it has the institutional heft and credibility to impose Germanic thriftiness on the rest of Europe. The more time Germany buys, the more inflexible the German and Greek negotiating positions become, and the more seriously traders, businessmen and politicians alike will have to take the threat of a so-called Grexit, the first in a chain of events that could shatter the eurozone.

The Role of the Crisis in Ukraine

In order to steer Germany through an escalating eurozone crisis, Merkel needs to calm her eastern front. It is no wonder, then, that she committed herself to multiple sleepless nights and an incessant travel schedule to put another Minsk agreement with Russia on paper. The deal was flawed from the start because it avoided recognizing the ongoing attempts by Russian-backed separatists to smooth out the demarcation line by bringing the pocket of Debaltseve under their zone of control. After several more days of scuffling, the Germans (again leveraging their creditor status — this time, against Ukraine) quietly pushed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to accept the battlefield reality and move along with the cease-fire agreement. But even if Germany on one side and Russia on the other were able to bring about a relative calm in eastern Ukraine, it would do little in the end to de-escalate the standoff between the United States and Russia.

The Connection Between Ukraine and Iran

Contrary to popular opinion in the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin is not driven by crazed territorial ambitions. He is looking at the map, just as his predecessors have for centuries, and grappling with the task of securing the Russian underbelly from a borderland state coming under the wing of a much more formidable military power in the West. As the United States has reminded Moscow repeatedly over the past several days, the White House retains the option to send lethal aid to Ukraine. With heavier equipment comes trainers, and with trainers come boots on the ground.
From his perspective, Putin can already see the United States stretching beyond NATO bounds to recruit and shore up allies along the Russian periphery. Even as short-term truces are struck in eastern Ukraine, there is nothing precluding a much deeper U.S. probe in the region. That is the assumption that will drive Russian actions in the coming months as Putin reviews his military options, which include establishing a land bridge to Crimea (a move that would still, in effect, leave Russia's border with Ukraine exposed), a more ambitious push westward to anchor at the Dnieper River and probing actions in the Baltic states to test NATO's credibility.

The United States does not have the luxury of precluding any one of these possibilities, so it must prepare accordingly. But focusing on the Eurasian theater entails first tying up loose ends in the Middle East, starting with Iran. And so we come to Geneva, where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met again Feb. 22 to work out the remaining points of a nuclear deal before March 31, the date by which U.S. President Barack Obama is supposed to demonstrate enough progress in negotiations to hold Congress back from imposing additional sanctions on Iran. If the United States is to realistically game out scenarios in which U.S. military forces confront Russia in Europe, it needs to be able to rapidly redeploy forces that have spent the past dozen years putting out fires ignited by sprouting jihadist emirates and preparing for a potential conflict in the Persian Gulf. To lighten its load in the Middle East, the United States will look to regional powers with vested and often competing interests to shoulder more of the burden.

A U.S.-Iranian understanding goes well beyond agreeing on how much uranium Iran is allowed to enrich and stockpile and how much sanctions relief Iran gets for limiting its nuclear program. It will draw the regional contours of an Iranian sphere of influence and allow room for Washington and Tehran to cooperate in areas where their interests align. We can already see this in effect in Iraq and Syria, where the threat of the Islamic State has compelled the United States and Iran to coordinate efforts to contain jihadist ambitions. Though the United States will understandably be more cautious in its public statements while it tries to limit Israeli anxiety, U.S. officials have allegedly made positive remarks about Hezbollah's role in fighting terrorism when speaking privately with their Lebanese interlocutors in recent meetings. This may seem like a minor detail on the surface, but Iran sees a rapprochement with the United States as an opportunity to seek recognition for Hezbollah as a legitimate political actor.

A U.S.-Iranian rapprochement will not be complete by March, June or any other deadline Washington sets for this year. Framework agreements on the nuclear issue and sanctions relief will necessarily be implemented in phases to effectively extend the negotiations into 2016, when Congress could allow the core sanctions act against Iran to expire after several months of testing Iranian compliance and after Iran gets past its parliamentary elections. Arrestors could arise along the way, such as the death of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but they will not deter the White House from setting a course toward normalizing relations with Iran. The United States, regardless of which party is controlling the White House, will rank the threat of a growing Eurasian conflict well ahead of de-escalating the conflict with Iran. Even as a nuclear agreement establishes the foundation for a U.S.-Iranian understanding, Washington will rely on regional powers like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to eat away at the edges of Iran's sphere of influence, encouraging the natural rivalries in the region to mold a relative balance of power over time.

Circling Back

Germany needs a deal with Russia to be able to manage an existential crisis for the eurozone; Russia needs a deal with the United States to limit U.S. encroachment on its sphere of influence; and the United States needs a deal with Iran to refocus its attention on Russia. No conflict is divorced from the other, though each may be of a different scale. Germany and Russia can find ways to settle their differences, as can Iran and the United States. But a prolonged eurozone crisis cannot be avoided, nor can a deep Russian mistrust of U.S. intentions for its periphery.

Both issues bring the United States back to Eurasia. A distracted Germany will compel the United States to go beyond NATO boundaries to encircle Russia. Rest assured, Russia — even under severe economic stress — will find the means to respond.

The Intersection of Three Crises is republished with permission of Stratfor.

---------------

While the U.S. populace is busily listening to news about either the mounting ISIL crisis or about the partisan power play and tug-of-war between Congress and an increasingly isolated presidential administration under Mr. Barack Obama, they are not focused upon what the effects of world events will be on the US economy. These effects will likely be disastrous, as indicated in the first paragraph of this article.

As a side note, the relationship between the US administration and the State of Israel is becoming increasingly strained - This may hurt both nations in the war on terrorism in general, and more specifically, on the effort to stop the advancement of ISIL.

As always, thank you for reading me.

Douglas E. Castle For The Internationalist Page Blog

Labels, Tags, Categories, Keywords And Search Terms For This Article: eurozone, ISIL, Islamic State, international, economy, Barack Obama, Ukraine, Iran, crisis, Douglas E. Castle



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A discussion of international business, events, markets, joint ventures, currencies, outsourcing, offshoring and financing, importing and exporting, as well as global sources of goods, services, labor, capital, trade guarantees, credit insurance and emerging markets.

Key Terms: international, global, business, trends, prediction, foreign exchange, outsourcing, supply chain, offshoring, import and export, emerging markets, the world economy, trade balance, trade finance, foreign direct investment, joint ventures, sovereignty, cultural sensitivity, diversity, emerging markets, INCOTERMS, tariffs, International Business Companies, asset protection trusts

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Exporting Business Made Simple - Douglas E. Castle

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The export of goods and services overseas has never been as profitable or as possible as it is right now. With a slightly deflated dollar and an ever-increasing overseas demand for products made in the United States due to increasing consumerism amongst the emerging economies, creating an export channel or division to your business is a wise choice in terms of broadening your customer base and diversifying your sources of revenue in a tempestuous domestic economy.

With a computer (I like to utilize Skype), a telephone and a comfortable chair, many companies in the United States can create virtual export divisions at minimal cost -- without ever taking a single plane trip. To learn more about this please feel free to contact me at http://bit.ly/CASTLEDIRECT . You'll receive the help that you'll need. This is the easy way to get started if you're not already in the export business, or if you've just gotten started but need a bit of confidence bolstering and guidance.

If you prefer to engage in the business yourself, remember that as an exporter you face risks that most businesses never have to consider. When most banks hear the term "export," they usually become hesitant to lend, or to issue any type of loan or credit guarantee (remember Letters Of Credit? That's almost nostalgic nowadays). The good news here is that the Export-Import Bank of the United States currently has a program which guarantees up to 95% of exporter financing - externalizing your risks associated with both trade transactions and larger international projects.

If you'd like to learn more about this exporting program, you can receive a download about export and exporting guarantees from EX-IM by clicking on https://www.mediafire.com/?bo01q35e3so0etm .
The export business is only getting better ... and the time to begin (if you haven't started already) is today.

Douglas E. Castle

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A discussion of international business, events, markets, joint ventures, currencies, outsourcing, offshoring and financing, importing and exporting, as well as global sources of goods, services, labor, capital, trade guarantees, credit insurance and emerging markets.

Key Terms: international, global, business, trends, prediction, foreign exchange, outsourcing, supply chain, offshoring, import and export, emerging markets, the world economy, trade balance, trade finance, foreign direct investment, joint ventures, sovereignty, cultural sensitivity, diversity, emerging markets, INCOTERMS, tariffs, International Business Companies, asset protection trusts

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Marketing Appeal: "Made In America"

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U.S. Exports Month-By-Month, Commencing 2008 -- Douglas E. Castle -- The Internationalist Page


Marketing Appeal: “Made In America”
Once “Made In America” Was Simply An 'Inside' Patriotic Slogan;
But Today The Cachet Of “Made In The USA” Has become Very Magnetic For Attracting Foreign Consumers.
Originally Published In The Internationalist Page Blog


Increasingly, the “Made In U.S.A.” label is moving more foreign consumers (particularly wealthier consumers in emerging nations) to purchase American exports, especially fashion and luxury items. And this appeal is starting to drive foreign sales of other types of American-manufactured goods as well. The underlying motivation is status, and this status is associated with the overseas perception that Americans are a very wealthy people who spend a great deal on everything, without regard to cost. This bodes well for the U.S. Balance Of Trade, and for U.S. small- to medium-sized businesses who are in, or who are moving into, the export business.

The following is excerpted From a U.S. EX-IM Bank press release dated November 4th, 2014:
Washington, D.C. – Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg issued the following statement with respect to September’s export data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Commerce Department. According to BEA, the United States exported $195.6 billion of goods and services in September 2014.

“These numbers clearly demonstrate that products stamped ‘made in America’ are sought after in markets around the globe,”
said Hochberg. “Ex-Im Bank is proud to support U.S. exporters and their workers as they expand their sales in the global marketplace, and create quality, middle class jobs here at home.”

Exports of goods and services over the last twelve months totaled $2.3 trillion, which is 47.5 percent above 2009 levels, and have been growing at an annualized rate of 8.5 percent over the last five years.”
There has never been a better time to enter the export business (especially for durable goods and services) than at present. While there are excellent government guarantee, financing and informational programs available through the SBA, the Department Of Commerce and the U.S. EX-IM Bank, it is generally worth the relatively minimal expense of retaining a consulting firm or solo consultant who can assist you in navigating these government programs and positioning yourself with international representatives, agents, distributors, logistics services, customs guidance and the like.

Interestingly, while the cost of market entry into global business is very small, the widespread perception among many business owners is that moving into export is an expensive and time-consuming proposition requiring a great deal of travel and large credit facilities. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is quite any easy matter for virtually any producer of durable goods or non-geographically-centered services to establish a virtual export division. And both the credit facilities and the payment guarantees are easy to obtain if you utilize the services of a professional to get you started, systematized and running.

If more eligible businesses were to open virtual export portals, the private sector of the United States would be generating even more full-time jobs and contracting opportunities than it currently is. This is highly desirable.

Instead of merely looking toward overseas markets to source materials and to outsource labor, many U.S. Small- to medium-sized enterprises would be better served by selling their domestically-produced or generated products or services overseas at the market premium that emerging economic countries' consumers are more than willing to pay for the “Made In America” cachet.

If you or your company would like to get more information regarding the setting up of a virtual export division, please feel at liberty to contact the author by going to http://DouglasECastleConsultancy.com, or by clicking directly on http://bit.ly/CASTLEDIRECT. The time could not be better.



NOTE: THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED BY THE READER AS BEING LEGAL, FINANCIAL, TAX, ACCOUNTING, ECONOMIC OR INVESTMENT ADVICE. NO OFFERING OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY IS MADE HEREBY, NOR IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY MADE HEREBY. THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND REPRESENTS THE VIEW OF THE AUTHOR ONLY.

THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHT 2014 BY DOUGLAS E. CASTLE, WITH ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, TRANSMITTAL OR DISTRIBUTION OF THIS ARTICLE, EITHER IN WHOLE OR PART, IS UNAUTHORIZED AND MAY BE UNLAWFUL, UNLESS FULL ATTRIBUTION IS GIVEN TO THE AUTHOR AND ALL IMAGES AND LINKS IN THE ARTICLE REMAIN INCLUDED AND “LIVE.”


Respond To Douglas E Castle
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THE INTERNATIONALIST PAGE - Douglas E Castle

http://theinternationalistpage.blogspot.com

A discussion of international business, events, markets, joint ventures, currencies, outsourcing, offshoring and financing, importing and exporting, as well as global sources of goods, services, labor, capital, trade guarantees, credit insurance and emerging markets.

Key Terms: international, global, business, trends, prediction, foreign exchange, outsourcing, supply chain, offshoring, import and export, emerging markets, the world economy, trade balance, trade finance, foreign direct investment, joint ventures, sovereignty, cultural sensitivity, diversity, emerging markets, INCOTERMS, tariffs, International Business Companies, asset protection trusts

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