The Offshore World: Sovereign Markets, Virtual Places, and Nomad Millionaires

Overview

The atlas of contemporary capitalism is curious indeed. A desperately poor and civil-war-wracked nation, Liberia, is the world's shipping superpower; the Cayman Islands the fifth-largest financial center in the world; land-locked Zurich a venerable "offshore" banking center. Indeed, it is estimated that half of the global stock of money passes through tax havens. The logic of the offshore world, where millionaires and corporations roam in search of financial advantage, is slippery. It challenges many conventional...
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Overview

The atlas of contemporary capitalism is curious indeed. A desperately poor and civil-war-wracked nation, Liberia, is the world's shipping superpower; the Cayman Islands the fifth-largest financial center in the world; land-locked Zurich a venerable "offshore" banking center. Indeed, it is estimated that half of the global stock of money passes through tax havens. The logic of the offshore world, where millionaires and corporations roam in search of financial advantage, is slippery. It challenges many conventional assumptions about power and economics. In the single most comprehensive account of the offshore economy, Ronen Palan investigates the legal spaces, unregulated and yet maintained and supported by the state system, that have emerged for purposes of international finance, tax havens, export processing zones, flags of convenience, and e-commerce. The offshore economy had its beginnings in the late nineteenth century, saw early development after the First World War, and metastasized in the 1970s. Palan believes that a rapidly expanding offshore economy is now producing a new market in sovereignty; states have discovered that their authority to create law may be used as a commercial asset. This commercialization of sovereignty, he asserts, undermines the legitimacy of the nation-state and supports a form of nomadic capitalism.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"What is the offshore world? When and why did it develop? Who supported its development? Where and how does it operate? How important is it in international commerce and finance today? To find answers to those questions, Palan (International relations and politics, Univ. of Sussex, UK) examines the offshore phenomenon in a broad sense of social and economic change. . . . Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate and Research Collections."—Choice, Dec. 2003.

"This practice of sovereign bifurcation, by which states divide their sovereign space into heavily and lightly regulated realms, suggests a radical redrawing of state boundaries and an important transformation in the nature of sovereignty and the relationship between state and capitalism. Offshore may be at the very heart of the transformation of modern politics: is it the beginning of 'postglobalization?'"—Future Survey 26:1, January 2004

"Ronen Palan asks bold, provocative questions regarding the relationship between sovereignty and the offshore economy and its relevance to state formation, globalization, and the fate of the nation-state. The 'commercialization of sovereignty' is a very effective underlying theme."—Peter Andreas, Brown University

"The Offshore World explores the important concept of 'offshore' with a high level of detail and theoretical sophistication. Ronen Palan illuminates aspects of state sovereignty that have not been fully described elsewhere. This book will extend our understanding of how contemporary international society emerged over the last century, while providing insight into how concepts like 'offshore' reshape our thinking about economic phenomena."—Peter Dombrowski, The Naval War College

"The Offshore World is a subtle and intriguing look at one of the global economy's most prominent features."—Debora Spar, Harvard Business School

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801472954
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Edition description: ANN
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronen Palan is Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of The Offshore World: Sovereign Markets, Virtual Places, and Nomad Millionaires (published by Cornell); the coauthor of Tax Havens: How Globalization Really Works (also from Cornell); The Imagined Economies of Globalisation; and (with Christian Chavagneux) Paradis Fiscaux; and the coeditor of International Political Economy: A Reader and Globalizing Economic Regimes and Institution.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 The Offshore Economy in Its Contemporary Settings 17
2 State, Capital, and the Production of Offshore 63
3 The Emergence of Embryonic Forms of Offshore 83
4 The Growth of an Offshore Economy 111
5 Offshore and the Internationalization of the State 130
6 Offshore and the Demise of the Nation-State 147
7 Numerical Organizations, Nomadic Spaces, and Modern Capitalism 162
Conclusion 181
Notes 193
References 203
Index 221
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