Book: Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson
Economy, International finance
Book Review: Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson
5.0 out of 5 stars
Sturdy and Brave Journalism
20 Feb 2011
By Conjunction (Amazon Reviewer)
Shocking, a word that many reviewers have used, is a good one for this book. Terrifying might be another.
I am not an economist by a long shot but am lately reading books like this to understand what is going on.
Shaxson’s book is basically about the modern structure of finance capitalism, and he suggests that the foundation stone of the edifice is the offshore system.
The basis of offshore banking is that a global corporation sidles up to some tiny country and offers it some nice little kickbacks in return for an agreement that they will have to pay little or no tax.
The corporation then presents its accounts in such a way as to make it look that all its profits are generated in Jersey, or the Cayman Islands or wherever it may be.
Hence we get headlines like the one the other day where Barclays Bank declared 11.6 billion pounds in profits and paid 113 million in tax.
According to Shaxson this would not be in the least out of the ordinary, more like normal for any really large company.
Because of this these companies grow like Topsy, and generate staggering wealth.
Additionally they venerate at the shrine of banking secrecy which means no-one can ever find out what is really going on with these guys.
Offshore banking started to mushroom around 1960 and although Shaxson doesn’t quite say this, it sounds like when the Brits lost their empire they started to look for other ways of making a nuisance of themselves.
Under the influence of these companies, in the last thirty years many large countries especially Britain and the US have effectively deregulated their internal financial systems so that it is much easier for these large corporations to find more and more ways of dodging tax.
So what we have is money laundering on a massive scale, where `legitimate’ businesses are cheek by jowl with international criminal syndicates.
The recent financial crash is just a blip, and so far has only had a minimal effect on the way things operate.
The most amazing thing is that there is very little awareness of all this, and that most politicians – especially in this country – of all parties are in it up to their necks.
Check it out.