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Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens Hardcover – April 12, 2011
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“This book is a vigorous and well researched polemic against financial deregulation…” ―Richard Cooper, Foreign Affairs
“Shaxson's story of offshore banking is nothing short of Shakespearean, a drama full of secrecy, treachery and corruption in which wealthy countries, companies and individuals collude to horde wealth in a complex global network of largely unregulated tax havens. To realize this end, they install corrupt leaders, exploit indigenous populations and, ultimately, deny both developed and developing nations of vital tax dollars. There is much here that should generate outrage…An admirable job of both arguing the consequences of offshore banking and providing a succinct history of the practice.” ―Kirkus
“A blistering account of the role that tax havens play in international finance. . . brilliant.” ―London Review of Books
“Perhaps the most important book published in the UK so far this year.” ―George Monbiot, The Guardian
“Shaxson provides a fascinating narrative that is both analytically compelling and rich in institutional detail.” ―New York Times Economix blog
“A useful critique.” ―Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
“Treasure Islands, Nicholas Shaxson's excellent book on the global offshore tax system.” ―FT Alphaville
“Treasure Islands has prised the lid off an important and terrifying can of worms.” ―Literary Review
“Shaxson shows us that the global financial machine is broken and that very few of us have noticed.” ―New Statesman
“In this riveting, well-written expose, Shaxson goes deep into the largely unexamined realm of offshore money. In the process, he reveals that this shadow world is no mere sideshow, but is troublingly central to modern finance, with the US and the UK as leaders. The resulting abuses are widespread, ranging from tax revenue stripping from African nations to individuals and corporations escaping enforcement and accountability. A must read for anyone who wants to understand the hidden reasons why financial services firms have become so powerful and impossible to reform.” ―Yves Smith, creator of Naked Capitalism and author of Econned
“Treasure Islands shines the light on some very dark places. It reads like a thriller. The shocking thing is its all true.” ―Richard Murphy, co-author of Tax Havens: How Globalization Really Works
“At last, a readable – indeed gripping – book which explains the nuts and bolts of tax havens. More importantly, it lays bare the mechanism that financial capital has been using to stay in charge: capturing government policy-making around the world, shaking off such irritants as democracy and the rule of law, and making sure that suckers like you and me pay for its operators' opulent lifestyles.” ―Misha Glenny, author of McMafia: A Journey through the Global Criminal Underworld
“Trade and investments can play a profoundly productive role on the world economy. But so much of the capital flows that we see are associated with money laundering, tax evasion, and the wholesale larsony (sic) of assets often of very poor countries. These thefts are greatly facilitated by special tax and accounting rules or designed to "attract capital" and embodying obscure and opaque mechanisms. Shaxson does an outstanding and socially valuable job in penetrating the impenetrable and finds a deeply shocking world.” ―Nicholas Stern, former Chief Economist for The World Bank
“The real challenge to America's economy comes not from China – but from the Caymans, the Bahamas, and a whole hot-money archipelago loosely under the control of the City of London. If only as a civics lesson, read this astonishing book to find out the true political constitution of the world.” ―Thomas Geoghegan, author of Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?
“Far more than an exposé, Treasure Islands is a brilliantly illuminating, forensic analysis of where economic power really lies, and the shockingly corrupt way in which it behaves. If you're wondering how ordinary people ended up paying for a crisis caused by the reckless greed of the banking industry, this compellingly readable book provides the answers.” ―David Wearing, School of Public Policy, UCL, London's Global University
“An absolute gem that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the way contemporary globalization is undermining social justice. Give it to your sons, daughters, families, favorite legislators and anyone else needing stimulation of their thought buds. This masterpiece illuminates the dark places and shows the visible hand of governments, corporations, banks, accountants, lawyers and other pirates in creating fictitious offshore transactions and structures and picking our pockets. This financial engineering has enabled companies and the wealthy elites to dodge taxes. The result is poverty, erosion of social infrastructure and hard won welfare rights and higher taxes for ordinary people. Tax will be the decisive battleground of the twenty-first century as no democracy can function without it, or provide people with adequate educations, healthcare, security, housing, transport or pensions. Nicholas Shaxson has done a wonderful job in lifting the lid off the inbuilt corruption that has become so naturalized in the western world.” ―Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting, University of Essex, UK
“Over my holiday last week, I read Nick Shaxson's book – Treasure Islands. I would go as far as saying this book is the No Logo for a new century” ―Sunny Hundal, Liberal Conspiracy
“Shaxson has undertaken a big task with the book Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World. But the task is well worthy of examination, as it is so vital to the shadowy infrastructure of the global financial system… provides an easily digestible overview of the labyrinthine nature of the world of offshore finance.” ―Seeking Alpha
About the Author
Nicholas Shaxson is a journalist who has written for the Financial Times, The Economist Group, African Energy, and the insider newsletter Africa Confidential. He is the author of the highly acclaimed Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil and an associate fellow with the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.
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It illustrates regulation, and legislative, arbitrage, at a country level. It also highlights the strategic struggle for economic dominance by nations, most notably the United Kingdom and the US, in the text.
In the UK case, I was astonished to read about the roles, and apparent involvement, of the City of London Corporation and the Bank of England. The focus of this activity appears to be a little more diverse in the US, but with equally damaging effects.
This is not a happy story. And it is not easy to envisage sufficient international cooperation, amongst nations, to halt, or turn back, these developments.
Countries are now making public announcements about getting tough on off-shore tax evasion, which is part of this story, But given the depth and volume of this activity, and the powerful players involved, one could be forgiven for thinking such
announcements are just so much window dressing.
I am glad I read the book. But it does not inspire much hope for any fairness in our economic plight.
The escape from legitimate regulation and taxation - via the global offshoring & tax havens system - of such a huge amount of individual and corporate money is staggering. The malign power of those who benefit from such escape exerted upon national and international politics and law is horrifying. The realization that we, "the little people," are truly being forced to pay far more than our fair share is crushing. And to have a British author actually state that his country and its former British Empire colonies handle nearly one half of these global escapes is arresting, as is his exposure of how our nation (via Wall Street and U.S. states like Delaware and Wyoming) functions as a major tax haven, and why. While some "expert" reviewers may find fault with this book, we two ordinary folk - with degrees in Economics and Public Policy - found the book fascinating, informative and well worth reading. Recommended.
My only complaint from the book (other than the minor fact that sometimes it gets a bit repetitive - but obviously, Mr Shaxson is trying to make a point and gets over-excited sometimes) is that it deals with things broadly. There are a few examples, but not enough to substantiate some of the claims. For example, A good deal of time is spent in describing how the 'City of Londons' Tax haven status and laws convert it into one of the biggest offshore centres in the world - but there are no examples of which laws or regulations (or lack thereof) in the city of London actually makes things possible.
However, until something better comes along, I would highly recommend this book.
Five Stars for effort and structure.
Shaxson quotes the Law Justice Network, which examines how wealthy individuals spend their money in the so-called tax havens. $ 11.5 trillion is hidden from the tax authorities of the countries where this money is earned.
Treasure Island is an impressive book. Well written and provide the necessary juicy stories. It is particularly illuminating how the world of big money is designed and how they deal with the payment of tax.
It was quite diverse too as many aspects of secrecy jurisdictions were taken into account. Due to the natire of the product; one never knows whether it is 100% current as it changes sue to Government's legislating and making various laws retro-active to suit themselves.
But one big consistency came through and that was advising the big players and their history through precedent and ongoing marketing to this sector. An enjoyable read using the author's own experiences too to validate his presentation.