2008: a year in retrospect

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I wrote 2008 – a year in prospect a year ago. I won’t dwell on most outcomes. I think we can agree I got this right though:

I think there is one reality we all expect in 2008. The economy will have a difficult year, and the financial sector will have the worst year it has had for a long time. Much of this will be because of its own past abuse. It will be a tough time, but it does provide the opportunity for building a better future. That’s what we have to grab in 2008.

Maybe I understated my case, but I was a lot closer than most, because it has turned out much as I predicted.

There were seriously good things to highlight though:

1) The Tax Gap is on the agenda

2) The domicile rule is on its way out – the current state of the rule cannot survive

3) Barack Obama got elected and with that the future of tax havens is in doubt

4) Liechtenstein has been blown open

5) Swiss bank secrecy is falling apart

6) The reality of offshore abuse is now widely known and governments around the world are united in attacking it

7) The OECD is back in the anti-tax haven game

8 ) The EU STD is up for reform

9) Country by country reporting has got widespread support

10) The Doha summit on development did not deliver all we wanted – but it may have been batter than we expected a year ago

11) The Green New Deal is rolling

12) The prospect of bank reform is real

13) New forms of banking are likely

14) Pension reform will follow

15) Innovative finance will now mean more money going to innovative projects – not into financial abuse

16) The NGO world is wholeheartedly backing tax justice

17) So are many unions

18) Accountants are slowly seeing the need for reform

I could go on. But the message is clear: people appreciate the causes of the crisis we are facing, and are showing the willing to tackle them at their root. This is an enormous advance in the cause of social, economic and tax justice.

In the midst of the current crisis there is a lot to be pleased about: the chances of it happening again are being reduced as a result of the action that is happening. That’s very good news.

Now, on to 2009.