April 11th, 2013
10:48 AM ET

What we're reading

By Fareed Zakaria

With the emergence of cheap natural gas from shale, coal is no longer the most competitive energy technology in America, write Matthew Stepp and Alex Trembath on Bloomberg.

“Crippled, too, by increased production costs and more stringent federal regulations on pollution, coal is being used less and less in the U.S., even as the rest of the world uses more. Today, just 38 percent of U.S. electricity comes from coal, down from 50 percent in 2007. And shale emits far less pollution and carbon than coal does. By using more electricity from plants powered by natural gas, Pennsylvania, for instance, has been able to drastically reduce air pollution.”

A “global shadow realm” has been created over the last few decades, “with bases on all continents, a parallel economy that escapes all democratic scrutiny, and from which many profit,” according to an article in Der Spiegel.

“The number of tax havens has gone from a handful only a few decades ago to 60, 70 or even more today. Years ago the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Belize, the Cayman Islands, Cyprus and the Marshall Islands were, in some cases, dirt-poor – until they decided to charge no or almost no taxes on money brought into the country, as well as guarantee the owners of the asset anonymity through company and foundation structures. In return, they collected fees from the offshore companies.”

Targeted sanctions could be Washington’s secret weapon against Chinese hackers, argues Zachary Goldman in Foreign Affairs.

One reason that “targeted financial sanctions would work well in the cyber context is that, unlike reciprocal attacks in cyberspace or the use of military force, they are proportionate in scale to cyberinfiltrations, such as the discreet theft of intellectual property from U.S. businesses, and can be carefully calibrated to produce their desired effect,” Goldman writes. “Sanctions could therefore act as a brake on escalation and add leverage to diplomatic negotiations on cyber issues, which the United States and China both appear to welcome. Finally, if Washington imposed targeted financial sanctions on cybercriminals, the effect of the sanctions would likely reverberate beyond U.S. borders, because financial institutions around the world often refuse to do business with sanctioned entities.”

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soundoff (One Response)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Fareed, no doubt you'd agree that Gérad Depardieu deserves more honour than many others, who have their assets hidden behind offshore accounts in tax-havens. In protest against tax hikes – up to 75% – on the rich in France, he publicly renounced his French citizenship and got a Russian passport handed over to him personally by Vladimir Putin, as you said in return for a "bearhug". You also said Depardieu would have to give up his "dolce vita" in Paris and live 6 months a year in Russia, in order to benefit from the 13% tax rate, something you wouldn't do personally.
    You have to admit that he's more honest than others, who still hang on to their luxury in Manhattan or London, while paying little tax there, because their assets are hidden offshore.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:49 am | Reply

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