Feb 17, 2012

Book review: Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson

Treasure Islands is a book about tax havens by a journalist who’s written for the FT and The Economist. It claims that tax havens and the whole offshore finance system is the reason behind all of the world’s ills including rising inequalities (the rich don’t pay taxes), the financial crisis, and poverty in Africa (oil, mineral and foreign aid money is welcomed with open arms in Geneva and the City of London which can hide it using its web of offshore satellites (Jersey, Cayman Islands, Bahamas etc…)). While the book can sometimes be vague and repetitive, it is full of interesting anecdotes, historical facts, and is a fresh reminder that something is rotten with the world economy. We no longer live in democracies but rather in plutocracies where money determines policies. This explains why offshore finance is “legal” and rich people pay no taxes while governments try to suck as much as possible out of the average joe. Tackling tax havens should be a priority, and it’s a much better idea than cutting pensions to reduce the debt burden of Greece. According to the book, 99% of deposits from Greece in Switzerland are undeclared to tax authorities.

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