Global finance is a system that works for the few and against the many.
We need finance – but when finance grows too big it becomes a curse. The City of London is the single biggest drain on our resources; it sucks talent out of every sphere, it siphons wealth and hoovers up government time. Yet to be ‘competitive’, we’re told we must turn a blind eye to money-laundering and appease big business with tax cuts. We are told global finance is about wealth creation; the reality is wealth extraction.
Tracing the curse back through economic history, Shaxson uncovers how we got to this point. He exposes offshore tax havens; the uncontrolled growth of monopolies; the myths around the Celtic Tiger and its low corporate tax rate; the bizarre industry of wealth management; the destructive horrors of private equity; and the sinister ‘Competitiveness Agenda’.
Nicholas Shaxson revealed the dark heart of tax havens long before the Panama and Paradise Papers. Now he tells the explosive story of how finance established a stranglehold on society and points us towards a way out.
This is a book that none of us can afford to ignore.
WITH NEW AND UPDATED MATERIAL
Billionaire Warren Buffet, currently the third wealthiest man in the world, paid the lowest rate of tax among his office staff, including his receptionist.
In 2006 the world's three biggest banana companies did nearly £400 million worth of business in Britain but paid just £128,000 in tax between them.
In January 2009, US law enforcement fined Lloyds TSB $350 million after it admitted secretly channelling Iranian and Sudanese money into the US banking system.
Tax havens are the most important single reason why poor people and poor countries stay poor. They lie at the very heart of the global economy, with over half the world trade processed through them. They have been instrumental in nearly every major economic event, in every big financial scandal, and in every financial crisis since the 1970s, including the latest global economic downturn.
In Treasure Islands, Nicholas Shaxson shows how this happened, and what this means for you.
Nicholas Shaxson is the author of Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World and Poisoned Wells: the Dirty Politics of African Oil. He is a journalist, a campaigner and world expert on both tax havens and financial centres; and on the Resource Curse. His writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Financial Times, The Economist, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and many others. He is part of the organisation the Tax Justice Network.