Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens [NOOK Book]

Overview

A thrilling ride inside the world of tax havens and corporate masterminds


While the United States experiences recession and economic stagnation and European countries face bankruptcy, experts struggle to make sense of the crisis. Nicholas Shaxson, a former correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economist, argues that tax havens are a central cause of all these disasters.


In this hard hitting investigation he uncovers how offshore tax ...

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Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens

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Overview

A thrilling ride inside the world of tax havens and corporate masterminds


While the United States experiences recession and economic stagnation and European countries face bankruptcy, experts struggle to make sense of the crisis. Nicholas Shaxson, a former correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economist, argues that tax havens are a central cause of all these disasters.


In this hard hitting investigation he uncovers how offshore tax evasion, which has cost the U.S. 100 billion dollars in lost revenue each year, is just one item on a long rap sheet outlining the damage that offshoring wreaks on our societies. In a riveting journey from Moscow to London to Switzerland to Delaware, Shaxson dives deep into a vast and secret playground where bankers and multinational corporations operate side by side with nefarious tax evaders, organized criminals and the world's wealthiest citizens. Tax havens are where all these players get to maximize their own rewards and leave the middle class to pick up the bill.


With eye opening revelations, Treasure Islands exposes the culprits and its victims, and shows how:


*Over half of world trade is routed through tax havens


*The rampant practices that precipitated the latest financial crisis can be traced back to Wall Street's offshoring practices


*For every dollar of aid we send to developing countries, ten dollars leave again by the backdoor

The offshore system sits much closer to home than the pristine tropical islands of the popular imagination. In fact, it all starts on a tiny island called Manhattan. In this fast paced narrative, Treasure Islands at last explains how the system works and how it's contributing to our ever deepening economic divide.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“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

Kirkus Reviews

An attempt to uncover the dirty secrets of offshore banking.

Under the aegis of secrecy, the profits of some of the world's most prominent corporations currently mingle with the dirty money of gangsters, despots and terrorists. Largely indifferent to the origin of this capital, most low-tax jurisdictions are instead keenly interested in getting a "cut of the action." Shaxson's (Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil,2008) 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. While the author does an admirable job of both arguing the consequences of offshore banking and providing a succinct history of the practice, his tone and style often work against his intentions. Overt declarations of outrage and heavy-handed moralizing suggest that readers may not be up to inferring the "right" conclusions on their own. Shaxson also too easily reduces the players in the drama to simple victims and villains. There is little nuance to his presentation, a fact underscored by his reluctance or refusal to acknowledge a position counter to his own—as tenuous as such a position may be.

A potentially compelling look at a pernicious financial practice ultimately undone by the author's tendency to condescend.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230120228
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/12/2011
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 657,104
  • File size: 442 KB

Meet 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.


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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Table of Contents

Prologue: An offshore awakening * Welcome to Nowhere * Technically Abroad * The Opposite of Offshore * The Great Escape * Construction of a Spiderweb * The Fall of America * The Drain * Resistance * The Life Offshore * Ratchet * Conclusion

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2011

    Muito bom!

    Livro que instiga interessantes reflexoes. Vale a pena ler.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2011

    Terrific reading

    A must buy.

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  • Posted May 3, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Fine study of our current economy

    Journalist Nicholas Shaxson has written a most important book, which proves that "tax havens undermine the rules, systems and institutions that promote the public good." Offshore finance is centred on Britain, the EU and the USA. The City of London runs half the world's tax havens and holds more than $3.2 trillion in offshore bank deposits, half the world total. The City's web stretches to the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. When the Labour government signed the UN Convention against Corruption in 2000, it exempted all of these. Shaxson notes, "More than half of world trade passes, at least on paper, through tax havens. Over half of all banking assets and a third of foreign direct investment by multinational corporations are routed offshore. . The IMF estimated in 2010 that the balance sheets of small island financial centres alone added up to $18 trillion - a sum equivalent to about a third of the world's GDP. . 83 of the USA's biggest 100 corporations had subsidiaries in tax havens. . 99 of Europe's hundred largest companies used offshore subsidiaries." US law allows US banks to profit from the proceeds of foreign crime, making the USA the world's largest receiver of stolen goods. Miami is Latin America's Wall Street - a haven for terrorists, the Mafia, the CIA, drug-runners, arms dealers, big corporations and all too many of its politicians. Terrorists and drug smugglers use the same offshore system that corporations use. Crime and finance capital go hand in hand. The City of London and Wall Street are financial pimps for the world's crooks. He observes, "US corporations paid about two-fifths of all US income taxes in the 1950s; that share has now fallen to a fifth. The top 0.1 per cent of US taxpayers saw their effective tax rate fall from 60 per cent in 1960 to 33 per cent in 2007, as their income soared. Had the top thousandth paid the 1960 rate, the Federal Government would have received over $281 billion more in 2007." British corporations do even better: a third of Britain's 700 biggest businesses paid no tax at all in Britain in 2006. Only 3 per cent of banks' lending goes to manufacturing. Most investment goes not into industry but into unproductive assets, blowing up property bubbles. Capital no longer flows into the most productive investment, but to where it can best evade laws and taxes. Freeing capital benefits only finance capital. The more dependent a country is on foreign capital, the less it grows. Globalisation has not increased investment or production. The countries that have grown most relied the least on capital inflows. Specifically, foreign capital hurts the growth of industry more than it helps. It increases the availability of credit and creates brief stock market booms. The growth of credit leads to consumption booms. But with little or no investment in industry, freeing capital always leads to crashes. The losers are the taxpayers, the workers who produce the wealth that is then stolen from them. As Shaxson urges, we must 'confront the British spider's web, the most important and most aggressive single element in the global offshore system'. But proposals for reform come up against finance capital. Crime is integral to offshore. Offshore is integral to finance capital. Finance capital is integral to capitalism. To survive, we must defeat finance capital.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

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