Police have raided the home of an Australian tech entrepreneur identified by two US publications as one of the early developers of the digital currency bitcoin.
On Wednesday afternoon, police gained entry to a home belonging to Craig Wright, who had hours earlier been identified in investigations by Gizmodo and Wired, based on leaked transcripts of legal interviews and files. Both publications have indicated that they believe Wright to have been involved in the creation of the cryptocurrency.
Other people who say they knew Wright have expressed strong doubts about his alleged role, with some saying privately they believe the publications have been the victims of an elaborate hoax.
More than 10 police personnel arrived at the house in the Sydney suburb of Gordon at about 1.30pm. Two police staff wearing white gloves could be seen from the street searching the cupboards and surfaces of the garage. At least three more were seen from the front door.
The Australian Federal police said in a statement that the raids were not related to the bitcoin claims. “The AFP can confirm it has conducted search warrants to assist the Australian Taxation Office at a residence in Gordon and a business premises in Ryde, Sydney. This matter is unrelated to recent media reporting regarding the digital currency bitcoin.”
One officer told Reuters they were “clearing the house”. Reuters reporter Jane Wardell said Wright’s offices were also being raided.
The house was the only one on the street with a rubbish bin still outside, six days after the weekly Thursday collection, and the letterbox was full, indicating that the house may have been empty recently.
Garry Hayres, the owner of the property, now based in Maroochydore, Queensland, told Guardian Australia that Wright and his wife Ramona Watts had leased the property in November 2012.
He only met Watts, “a lovely lady”, but said the couple were “typical tenants. They didn’t look after the place fantastically, but it wasn’t their home. They didn’t seem bad.”
He said they switched to from a full lease to month-by-month about six months ago, before informing him in the first week of December of their intention to leave.
Wright told him they were moving to London; he would go first, then Watts would follow. Read the rest of this entry »
Brett Arends reports:
…There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: We’re no longer No. 1. Today, we’re No. 2. Yes, it’s official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet.
It just happened — and almost nobody noticed.
The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in “real” terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion — compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.
“Make no mistake. This is a geopolitical earthquake with a high reading on the Richter scale.”
As recently as 2000, we produced nearly three times as much as the Chinese.
To put the numbers slightly differently, China now accounts for 16.5% of the global economy when measured in real purchasing-power terms, compared with 16.3% for the U.S.
This latest economic earthquake follows the development last year when China surpassed the U.S. for the first time in terms of global trade. Read the rest of this entry »
…And Paul Ryan is Still Right To Fix It
I selected this article not because of the Paul Ryan budget, but because it has this chart (see below) produced by Veronique de Rugy for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, that reveals which countries pay what in corporate taxes. We knew the U.S. had among the highest, but like most, I didn’t know the U.S. has the #1 highest. And right behind us are France, Belgium, and Mexico.
I didn’t know that Canada, Iceland, and Switzerland have the lowest. I suspect those countries have fewer rigged policies and armored truck-sized loopholes (managed by corrupt legislators dispensing favors and punishments) and probably enjoy better tax revenues, too, as corporations have far less motive to either move their operations somewhere else, or try to shelter their profits from punitive taxation. Capitol tends to flee high tax regions, and seek lower tax regions. Are Iceland and Canada radical ‘anti-tax’ Tea Party countries? Hardly. The best reason to have an abnormally high corporate tax rate is to insure opportunities for graft and corruption. If a corporation wants tax relief, well, it just needs to know which campaigns to contribute money to.
Veronique de Rugy writes: Chairman Paul Ryan put out the blueprint for his FY2015 budget on Tuesday. I will have more to say about it in the next few days, but first I’ll focus on one idea in his budget: reforming our tax system and, specifically, reducing the U.S. corporate-tax rate from 35 to 25 percent and shifting from a worldwide tax system to a territorial system. These are very good policy proposals.
The extremes of that chart, reflecting 2013 rates, haven’t changed since 2011: National statutory corporate-tax rates among the 34 members of the OECD range from 8.5 percent in Switzerland to 35 percent in the United States.
Despite having the highest national statutory rate, the United States raises less revenue from its corporate tax than the other members of the OECD on average. In fact, the federal corporate-income tax raised just (roughly) 10 percent of total federal tax revenues in 2013.
To make matters worse, yesterday marked a sad anniversary: the second year in a row where the U.S. not only has the highest statutory rate but also has the highest combined rate (39.2 percent) when both the federal and average state rates are added. Japan used to hold the record for combined rates (39.8 percent), until it lowered its combined rate to 36.8 percent in April 2012. Read the rest of this entry »
The U.S.’s economic future may not be as bright as its past.
Michael Barone writes: Some bad news for America, not on the political front this time, but in what corporate executives call human resources.
It’s from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report on adult skills, based on 166,000 interviews in 24 economically advanced countries in 2011 and 2012.
The verdict on the United States: “weak in literacy, very poor in numeracy, but only slightly below average in problem-solving in technology-rich environments.”
On literacy, just 12 percent of U.S. adults score at the top two levels, significantly lower than the 22 percent in largely monoethnic and culturally cohesive Japan and Finland. American average scores are below those in our Anglosphere cousins Australia, Canada, England, and Northern Ireland.
One-sixth of Americans score at the bottom two levels, compared with 5 percent in Japan and Finland.
On numeracy the United States does even worse — only 8 percent at the top levels and one-third in the lowest.