How Big was the Paradise Papers Leak? (Data)

How Big was the Paradise Papers Leak? (Data)

Statista shows us how profound and wide was the leakage of 1.4 Terabytes of financial data from the so-called “Paradise Papers” by Niall McCarthy:

The tax activities of prominent figures in the world of business, politics, entertainment and sport have been revealed in a massive leak called the Paradise Papers. 1.4 terabytes in size, the trove contains 13.4 million files and it was made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The leak focuses on a law firm called Appleby which has offices in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The list of those exposed includes the Queen’s private estate, an aide of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Irish rock star Bono, to name just a few. The leak has illustrated how the offshore financial system is tightly connected to global politics, corporate giants and notable individuals holding vast levels of private wealth.

The Paradise Papers comes hot on the heels of other notable data leaks. The most famous is still last year’s Panama Papers which was absolutely massive by comparison with 11.5 million documents and a 2.6 terabyte data size. Just to put that into perspective: that’s 1,500 times more data than Wikileaks’ dump of U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010. The Paradise Papers are the second-largest data leak to date at 1.4 terabytes. The company at the centre of the storm, Appleby, has denied any wrongdoing by itself and any of its clients.

Statista / NK

Initial illustration: Composition by Neorika.

The Atlantic: Why Does the Stock Market Keep Going Up?

The Atlantic: Why Does the Stock Market Keep Going Up?

This is an underestimated question: Why on Earth Wall Street keeps scoring points no matter the actual ups and downs of the economy?

The Atlantic tries to respond with a host of interesting points, in an article written by Derek Thompson, that we summarize.

Two things have been true so far in 2017: The news cycle keeps spiraling downward, and the stock market keeps going up.

(…) Washington’s legislative machine is even more broken than normal, (…)  President Donald Trump (…) has oscillated between sympathy for white nationalists and recklessness toward North Korea. A series of historic natural disasters have ravaged Houston, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and northern California. Abroad, the U.K. is sleepwalking toward divorce with Europe, a crisis with a Middle East ally is brewing, and a missile flew over Japan.

But what observable effect has this cavalcade of chaos had on the stock market? None, really. The S&P 500 is in the middle of one of the strongest bull runs since World War II. The Dow passed 23,000 this week for the first time ever. “I cannot for the life of me understand why the market keeps going up,” Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday in an interview with CBS News.

So, what’s going on? Here are three theories.

1. It’s simple: Corporations everywhere are making a bunch of money.

(…) The stock market is a collective daily wager on the future performance of the nation’s public companies. And they are, to employ a technical term, making a boatload of money right now. In the first quarter of this year, corporate profits reached an all-time high.

2. A1 chaos doesn’t drive the business cycle.

“The unbelievably low volatility in a time of massive global uncertainty seems mysterious to me,” Nobel Prize–winning economist Richard Thaler recently said. Indeed, when people like Thaler and Bloomberg express astonishment at the resilience of the stock market in the face of political chaos, they’re suggesting that front-page stories—political crises, geopolitical uncertainty, and natural disasters—ought to move markets.

3. There aren’t many obvious signs of bubbles, or causes for imminent corrections.

Unlike the mid-2000s, when GDP growth was buffeted by an unsustainable rise in mortgage debt, this boomlet doesn’t seem to be driven by aberrant debt or ahistorical trade imbalances. Unemployment is low, and so is inflation. The housing market has bounced back, but new home construction is still far below the pre-crisis high. Commercial real-estate borrowing is significantly below its levels during the real-estate bubbles of the mid-1980s and mid-2000s. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be much fear that the Fed will panic and suddenly raise rates or sell off assets in a hurried bid to combat inflation.

 Complete article in The Atlantic

Source: The Atlantic / Image: Composition with pictures from Pixabay.

Tax Bill Sparks More Doubts than Hopes (Dossier)

Tax Bill Sparks More Doubts than Hopes (Dossier)

In the picture: Rep. Kevin Brady, surrounded by Republican Party leadership said: “This is our year to chart a new course”. GOP Congress people believe “Main Street America needs a tax code that works in their favor.”

Republican in Congress promised a Tax Bill for December, basically in response to President Trump′s urges.

The topic has been trending throughout October, as we can see in Google Trends. In October Google searches related to tax bill, tax reform, tax plan and the like, peaked duplicating the highest percentage in May.

We gathered some references, analysis and opinions about it.

NK/Sources. Photo: House Republicans Facebook Page.

Robots and Code are Replacing Human Workers

Robots and Code are Replacing Human Workers

By 2030 close to 50% of actual jobs could be undertaken by robots and computerized systems. This brings serious considerations to our society in a multitud of areas, among them, education, social security, job creation and generational gaps.

Statista shows in a recent report that:

How Many Jobs Could Fall Victim to Automatization? Predicting the future is a precarious task, with or without a crystal ball. However, this shouldn’t stop people from preparing for what there is to come by all available means. Automation is here to stay and most experts predict that a big chunk of human work will soon be done by robots, because the economic system’s logic is built on cost cutting and efficiency.

Different researchers make differring predictions as to how many jobs could be at risk from automation. While professors and authors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne quote pretty high figures in their publications, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) thinks far fewer jobs are at risk.

Let us take a look at Statista′s chart:


Mocked in Miami, Attacked in Madrid: Chavistas’ New Expat Life (Bloomberg)

Mocked in Miami, Attacked in Madrid: Chavistas’ New Expat Life (Bloomberg)

In this article, published on May 30, 2017, journalist Fabiola Zerpa writes about the practice of mocking and exposing beneficiaries of cleptoregimes and dictatorships in and out of their country. Case in point: Venezuela. I′m consulted briefly on social media use for this so-called “escreche” practice.

Fabiola Zerpa

  • Public shaming of Maduro regime confederates goes viral on web
  • Opposition warns about taking controversial tactic too far

Venezuelans’ fury is global. Roy Chaderton, a senior member of the country’s diplomatic service, discovered this when he was pelted with garbage on a street in Madrid.

A video flew around social-media sites. So did a clip of Eugenio Vasquez Orellana, president of the Bank of Venezuela under the late Hugo Chavez, fleeing a bakery in Miami to chants of “Get Out!” Expatriates shouted “assassin” at former Chavez minister Maripili Hernandez in Barcelona and chased the daughter of Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodriguez down Bondi Beach in Sydney, the incidents captured on smartphones.

This is escrache, a Spanish word for what roughly translates to public shaming, in this case of people connected to the government of President Nicolas Maduro or his predecessor and mentor, Chavez.

Venezuelans watching from afar as their homeland is wrenched by daily demonstrations, which have claimed at least 54 lives, are using the tactic to rail against the country’s misery of widespread hunger and soaring crime after 18 years of socialist rule. The Chavistas have driven the country into an economic collapse unprecedented in its modern history, and many in and connected to the Maduro regime have been accused by the U.S. of criminal activities including drug-running and money laundering.

The escrache activists have a rapt audience on Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp feeds around the world, including Nillson Castillo, a 26-year-old lawyer who left Caracas in September for Santiago, Chile. “I feel good when I see people pointing out those who have robbed Venezuela,” he said. If he has moments of doubt about it or guilt over watching someone being shamed, he said he reminds himself of the mess the country is in.

Back home, social media has been ablaze with #escrache posts and images. There was the ambassador to Switzerland being insulted in a supermarket, and a leader of Chavez’s Fifth Republic Movement being heckled at a human-rights conference in Lebanon. A Google map purporting to show where relatives of Maduro-administration members live around the world circulated at warp speed in chat rooms.

Going Too Far?

That’s one of the scale-tippers where escrache becomes controversial — with the targeting of people unconnected to the Chavistas except by blood or friendship. Freddy Guevara, an opposition lawmaker, warned against taking things too far.

“This will generate controversy, but I should say this with clarity: It’s not correct or moral to harass the children of officials,” he said on Twitter. He made the comment after video of the daughter of the Caracas mayor, a Maduro supporter, was posted; one woman chasing her shouted, “It must be nice to live here while they’re killing students. Answer me! There are people dying because of your father!”

There’s a fair amount of criticism of escrache in general. Some detractors complain it doesn’t accomplish much beyond giving a little satisfaction to “people who have all this inner rage,” in the words of Alex Yllarramendy, a Venezuelan sound engineer living in Barcelona and a regular critic of the Maduro regime on Twitter. He said expats should put their energy toward documenting how grandly some Chavistas are living overseas and sharing that with Maduro supporters. “That message would be more effective.”

Venezuelan officials and business executives with close ties to the government are believed to have pulled billions of dollars out of the country that were generated during an oil boom a decade ago. That wealth is particularly evident in the mansions they own in cities like Miami and Panama City.

Trending Hashtag

It’s unclear whether any escrache practitioners have landed in hot water. Venezuela Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez recently claimed that two “fascist” expats were detained by Australian authorities after they tried to throw paint on a vice-minister who was in the country for a conference. The pair denied her claim, posting a video they said showed they’d simply tried to ask the man a question during an anti-Maduro demonstration. (More routine protest methods are raising some hackles abroad, though: In Panama, President Juan Carlos Valera threatened to deport Venezuelans after a group tried to crash a pro-Maduro rally at the University of Panama.)

The tag #escrache began to appear on Twitter late last year. It’s been trending steadily, according to an analysis of a curated list of around 30,000 handles tracked by Bloomberg. It reached an all-time high on May 15, the day the opposition held sit-ins around the country.

It’s not gone unnoticed by Maduro, who in a speech on May 19 called the strategy “part of a fascist escalation” of persecution and declared, “We’re the new Jews of the 21st Century.”

Trying to humiliate public figures isn’t a new maneuver in opposition politics. It’s been popular in Argentina, where videos circulate of people insulting ministers who served under Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who has been indicted on corruption charges. A former aide was heckled on the way into a bank in Santa Cruz province and a former commerce secretary was harassed while walking toward the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires recently. In 2013, then-Finance Minister Axel Kicillof was insulted during a ferry ride with his family by passengers who yelled “thief” and “shameless.” The power of the Internet gave the episode wide distribution.

For Venezuelans far from home, the web’s social networks are “a dream come true,” said Fernando Nunez-Noda, a social-media consultant in Miami and former professor at Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas. “They’re crowdsourcing locations, identifications, logistics. Those who want to hide have it harder than ever.”

Published in Bloomberg, on May 30, 2017.