6 Mar 2008

Updates till 5th March

It seems we have bit faltered in our approach to give one day one post (an unwritten rule which we have sought to maintain most time) but then a better coverage of the issues requires us to take time on what we write and inform you. So we thought why not write succinctly and give an exhaustive coverage of the issues than miss out content and quality by being forced to manage one post a day. Yet there are some good habits which we should not miss out on and our regular update section is working as usual to give you a perspective of what is happening the world over in legal circles. And we have quiet a number of articles for rediff this time too.

In an interesting development which has taken place in Liechtenstein has the potential to rock the major investors all of the world. Considered one of the secured tax havens, Liechtenstein has come under lime light in the recent times for infamous reasons. It all started when Heinrich Kieber, a 42-year-old Liechtenstein citizen and former employee of a major Liechtenstein bank was bribed by the German Government to steal the data of the clients of the bank. What resulted in was the unearthing of a lot of incriminating data of citizens from all of the world who had deposited the proceeds of their illegal incomes (as the governments say) in Liechtenstein. The development that took place upon that was that the German government began to take action against all their citizens found to have been involved in hiding their proceeds in Liechtenstein. This also instigated other countries to begin their quest against their citizens involved in the process when they got the shared information from Germany. Thus began the crusade across the world for evaders of tax money. The major suffer in this process has been Liechtenstein which has lost credibility of its financial and banking system and struggling to come with terms with these governments taking action on the basis of these stolen data. [click here for more]

The legal point involved in this action is that across common law (and in some other systems as well), illegally obtained evidence is a valid piece of evidence in a court of law. This has resulted in most countries getting interested in taking action against such evades of tax. The latest one has been UK which has decided to act on the lines of Germany and US. [click here for more]

In continuation with our update on budget, here is this article from rediff which seeks to present in simpler form how tax payers in India would be affected. Speaking of the new scenario under the tax provisions coming into effect from coming 1st April, important for all those filing returns by themselves.

Then another interesting proposition emerging from Geneva, rediff reports that India has rejected the recent proposal arising from the continuing negotiations on agricultural subsidies under the WTO. Citing it as another developed country attempt to make empty promises on the market access front, this rejection will have implications for the further negotiations as the WTO mandate of taking decisions by unanimity comes into play. An interesting development indeed. [click here to read more]

Then this is another interesting piece on rediff. Entitled the 'dark side of internet', this article discusses some key incidents in the recent past on the obnoxious developments going in the cyber space arena. Not much of law but then has interesting developments which will rock the law makers in finding an appropriate manner to deal with them.

And on security markets (which a friend of mine points out that we do not give much space to) we have this update that corporate India is not in favour of the move for 25% mandatory shareholding by public of all listed companies. Based upon the response to the discussion paper floated by the Government of India, this comes in right proposal is placed in the perspective of the market regulator seeking to make Indian capital markets a viable and developed market like their western counterparts. [click here to read more]

This article on IndLaw is an excellent account of the second generation reforms in the field of legal education in India. Written by Priyadarshi Veeresh, while it mostly covers the origin of NLS, still it is a worthwhile read of how things have changed since 1987 when NLS, Bangalore was institutionalized. [click here for the article]

Then I was going across LSE when I found this recently launched student newspaper (The Gateway, as they call it) covering a lot and in simplest of terms on the credit crunch (or the sub-prime mortgage crisis as one may put). Four seemingly related by quiet interesting articles on the issue. (i) Origin of Credit Crunch (ii) Crunch Bites (iii) Ramifications of Crunch, and (iv) Unanswered Questions. A worthwhile read for anyone curious in the issue and yet looking to start from the beginning.

Touching somewhat the Gold Standard regime, this article from rediff gives the facts and figures associated with the gold parity maintained by the Reserve Bank of India. An interesting account of the Indian traverse through the changing variations of the gold standard.

And that after we have written on carbon credits, rediff covers an interesting option on 'Hydrogen Credit'. Seemingly a critical need (given the hydrogen emissions are also on the rise), it is an interesting proposition that we have. However given the lack of consensus on the trading part, especially amongst the developing countries, the viability of this proposed option yet needs to be revisited. In any case a worthwhile read. [click here for the article]

Now its turn for the spammers to face the music. We all have our mailboxes flooded with spam mails (and thanks to the spam filters some of our headache is reduced in clearing up the piles) and unless serious legal action is taken against them, I do not think a worthwhile reducing in the spams can be achieved. The US CAN-SPAM Act not withstanding, spams are continuing to rise and probably this recent conviction of a spammer may make the spammers realize what they do. It is for the first time that a spammer has been convicted (but then not on grounds of spamming but theft of identity data) and therefore atleast some progress has been made on this count. [click here for more]

And then we have some really interesting discussion on Nazi-looted art litigation. Two lawyers discuss the legal validity and other related dimensions of illegal sale of looked art property, as a litigation is going on these issues. Covering the aspects such as 'forced sale' and other legal concepts (my personal favourite as well; no one can pass a better title than he has himself), its an interesting discussion and also an insight into how law evolves from complicated cases. [click here for more]

We are also covering the tussle which the US Federal Reserve is been affixed between; whether to focus on the the raging inflation (i.e. core inflation) or the recession as a natural response to the sub-prime mortgage crisis. This speech given by the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve brings out meaningful insights into the issue and also speaks highly of the proposed changed in the US monetary policy. An intriguing insight indeed.

Similar to the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England has also issued the 'State of Economy' report on the current position of the UK economy and how they think to proceed on the critical phase in the economic outlook. This summary speech is also a worthwhile read.

Then we have the official update on NAFTA by the United States Trade Representative (one of the most feared body in international trade) which comes out with its report to clear some of the controversial and vague areas surrounding NAFTA. An interesting insight.

And also we have something for the financial buffs. This recent Working Paper by the European Central Bank titled 'How arbitrage free is Nelson-Siegel Model' is a really interesting insight into the issue. For non-starters, this model is one of the most commonly used model in financial segments to determine the prices of various instruments across time. This working paper comes out within interesting parameters in the models, which seek to dealienate some seemingly improper assumptions about the model.

Then this Harvard Professor has come out with this humorous side of economics (seriously, no kidding). Entitled 'Economic Humour', the Concurring Opinions blog brings up the video of this presentation which discusses some in the lighter side ten principles of economics. Worth watching ...

I believe all those interested in criminology would love this article. Speaking of the prison infrastructure and the money spent of them needs a rethinking as to the way it is spent. Looking with an eye for reform, this is an really intriguing perspective on the role prisons play and the way they can be changed to reform the prisoners.

Then we cover a topic which sociologists will describe as a non-state-law. Creative Commons license has come up really well in the past. Deriding short from the hassles of getting copyright registration and coming up in the legal regime, this CC regime has been adopted with curiosity and support from world over and has been come the buzz of the day in blog worlds. In this background, this post explaining the meaning and various dimensions of Creative Commons comes in the right sphere. Hope you will really feel enlightened with this.

And when as have already written a post on Magna Carta and its importance, the sale of this seven hundred year old copy of Magna Carta has revived the excitement about it. Interesting post.

For those who were beginning to wonder, we have not missed the Law-and-other-Things-blog. We have three posts from them to report. First is this curious investigation into the proposition 'How activist is the Indian Supreme Court'. Based upon an article in EPW (which I truly call as a left-biased journal), it takes into account the work done on select issues handled by the court and seeks to put them in a frame of their own. Second is this post on 'free speech and its limits' wherein a discussion of a recent spate of curbs on free speech (referring to the Taslima Nasreen case) has been in vogue. The third and the saddest one I would say, is the news of passing away of Justice H.R. Khanna.; the doyen of fundamental rights, having the courage to go against the majority of the Supreme Court at a time when the ruling government's word was the order of the day. His words will remain to guide the Indian legal system.

I will not call this as an economics article but rather than one of general interest for its in the simplest of words and also calls forth for implementation by all of us investing in the stock markets. Entitled 'How to make your portfolio recession free', this post comes in the right perspective with the investors the world over fazed by the ensuing worries of recession in the light of the sub-prime crisis.
On a similar footing, but slightly technical, is this report from the Congressional Research Service as to 'What is recession, who decides when to start and what do they do?'. A researched article and an interesting reading.

Then we have the 'Economic Report of the President of the United States'; the annual stocktaking of the year gone by on the economic front and looking forward for continuing monitoring of the national and international economic outlook. As to why it matters for us, because it is widely believed that when US sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. Therefore how US is looking forward to deal with this, what Alan Greenspan describes as 'turbulent times', will affect us all.

While most of us would not admit any association with a gambling activity, yet I feel that we got to take into this advisory piece of note which speaks of the legal issues involved with winning a lottery. An interesting insight into how law deals with the situation.

Then this is something which I would not have expected to be on a blog, no matter how legal content oriented. Nonetheless that we have it, its nice to report it. LLRX.com has got on it an exhaustive post on the hitherto unexplored Mexican legal system. Covering from issues such as the form of government and source of law etc. in Mexico, it goes on to describe the setting of the judicial system and also gives a list of resources on Mexico's legal system. A worthwhile collector's item.

Then we have the Wall Street Journal article from a Tax export who seeks to piece common tax-law related myths. A nicely written and good coverage oriented blog, I would suggest this one to be read by all those into interaction with tax system at some point or the other.

Then on the news we reported earlier about the declaration of independence by Kosovo, the matter has been brought to the International Court of Justice wherein the legality of this declaration has been challenged before the ICJ. The outcome of this decision may turn out to be prominent for various reasons, which besides the actual legal status of Kosovo itself, has interesting dimensions in the international law concepts of 'recognition' and 'sovereignty' etc. [click here to read more]

Then we have come to notice that the Reserve Bank of India has sought the comments of India Inc. on 'interest rate futures'. We hope our enlightened readers would surely contribute to this.

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