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Symbolic or Substantive? Financial Sanctions Against Russia
March 21st, 2014
I’ve noted before that sanctions, while certainly well-intentioned, are often meaningless in practice. In large part, this occurs because of many of the opacity issues in the international financial system. As a result of these flaws, whether intentionally or not, sanctions are often (although not always) purely symbolic. So in the case of Russia, which is now on the receiving end of the so-called “toughest sanctions since the Cold War,” are financial sanctions symbolic or substantive? Given the current dynamics in Russia and abroad, are they likely to work? If you’ve been reading the news at all,...
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The "Irony" of Public Registries in the United States
March 13th, 2014
As someone who loves to obsess over grammar rules of all kinds, I’m careful when using the word “irony.” It’s a notoriously difficult word to use. That’s why, as I was pondering the U.S. policy position on beneficial ownership and the word “ironic” lingered in the edges of my mind, I pushed it away. No,
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The U.S. Needs Parity on Anti-Money Laundering and Beneficial Ownership
January 10th, 2014
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Justice Department has indicated it will step up its enforcement of anti-money laundering (AML) rules among financial institutions and boost its efforts to safeguard U.S. banks from illicit financial flows. As the article points out, this comes as no surprise to those of us who have watched this issue—prosecutors in the United States have been bringing more cases against banks using the Banking Secrecy Act and DOJ has aggressively pursued both domestic and international banks for deficient money laundering controls. The DOJ’s efforts are laudable, but unfortunately they expose a...
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Closing Tax Loopholes: A Political Compromise for the Budget Conference Committee
November 7th, 2013
With the government running again, the joint Senate and House Budget Conference Committee has begun meeting to hammer out, if not a grand bargain, at least a small one. The Committee must deliver a report by December 15 and, to avert another shutdown, Congress must extend government funding by January 15. It’s difficult to overstate the political importance of a compromise, but the economics are important here, as well. The federal deficit has been declining since it hit a high of 10.1% of GDP in 2009 (though most American’s don’t know it). The deficit today is about 7% of GDP...
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