Yes we can!

2014 was the year when 'Yes, we can' finally became 'No, I couldn't'. It is all over bar the shouting, and Mr Obama is reduced to bumping wedding couples off Hawaiian golf courses so that he can get on with one of the remaining functions of his office. In fairness, it isn't just the President…

And now for something hardly different

The surviving members of the Monty Python team must be cock-a-hoop over the cover of the (just about) current issue of The Economist. Under the headline: 'Europe's Economy', a parrot lies dead receiving an infusion, while Angela Merkel comments, 'It's only resting'. No further explanation required. Forty-five years on, the Parrot Sketch is part of the lingua…

Viva, Barcelona!

'In the beginning was the word' might have been the take on things in the Gospel according to John, but by my calculation, the oldest profession has never had much use for words (other than when haggling over price), and the second oldest profession (mine) has always relied on numbers; in any event, some years…

The Battle Of The BEPS

A hundred years after the countries of Europe drew their battle lines in France and promptly got stuck in the mud, the Paris-based OECD looks like it is facing a long period of trench warfare. Originally predicted to be half-finished by Christmas, the BEPS plan - if it is to be instituted at all - will almost…

The Tax Business

If proof were needed that the Silly Season is upon us, it turned up in our mail box a few days ago. Slowly ripping open the envelope housing last week's Economist, I noticed an 'x' peeping out at me from the partially-revealed cover. Excited by the prospect of 'tax' finally having  hit the headlines of  the world's…

Whole in one

"I said: 'Remember Lot’s wife. Never look back.' I don’t know whether Henry had read the Old Testament or not, but I had, and he got the point." Thus spake that most Nietzschean of US Presidents, Richard Milhous Nixon, to Sir David Frost  back in 1977, mocking his former Secretary of State's qualms about invading…

“Action!”

Eureka! A mere week shy of a century since Charlie Chaplin first stumbled onto the Silver Screen, the world's Tax Supremos  finally discovered the wonders of  Moving Pictures. Watching the  OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration's first webcast on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting  (BEPS) on January 23rd, there were times when I wished the new…

Dallas, Taxus

According to a study in the influential "British Medical Journal", if you are looking for a safe profession (leaving aside Accountant or Lawyer), you would be better advised to plump for Bomb Disposal Expert or Formula 1 Racing Driver than Soap Opera Star. The BMJ informs us that characters in these B-TV sagas have three times the…

Brave New World?

When, at 3 o'clock on the morning of September 30 , I flopped, bleary-eyed, into a chair  in a Berlin hotel room, activated my laptop and started to write about John Le Carre's Cold War Trilogy, it did not occur to me that the ensuing post was to be the beginning of my (first) trilogy. The story so far: A…

Obama, Join The Circus!

I read everything that John Le Carre ever wrote until he, like Paul Simon, went African. His Cold War novels had me chained to the page.  Who could forget the very end of the Quest for Karla Trilogy as Smiley's People, the last in the series, draws to a close? Spoiler Alert - you may be about to…