The tax havens that threaten the world
May 11th, 2011
May 11th, 2011
Copied from the Treasure Islands site:
This headline is translated from that of an article in the French newspaper L’Expansion which is in French, with a rough web translation here. It is commenting on a report from the French government’s Centre d’analyse stratégique (Centre for Strategic Analysis.)
The report identifies 50″Offshore Financial Centres (OFCs)” or “prudential havens” as it calls some of them, and the newspaper summarises the report by saying
“These OFCs have played a major role in the production of financial engineering for the rest of the world. Their degree of financial integration with traditional financial centres makes them decisive actors in propagating systemic risk during the crisis.”
This much is incontrovertible – I wonder if they’ve been reading Treasure Islands, or looking at things like this?
The report looks at characteristics of these places: low or zero tax, secrecy, and political stability. Again, look at my definition of a tax haven, or secrecy jurisdiction:
“A place that seeks to attract business by offering politically stable facilities to help people or entities get around the rules, laws and regulations of jurisdictions elsewhere.”
Their definitions aren’t the same as mine – but I’m happy with how they are looking at this issue. Good stuff. But there’s more. The report classifies these places into three categories:
Yes! This isn’t the same three-way classification that I make in Treasure Islands – this one looks more at the functions of the places, rather than their historical and political relationships – but I won’t argue with it.
It takes guts to finger these powerful countries – so many congratulations to this effort. And, as I argue in a recent blog about Ireland – it’s incredibly important not to chicken out of pointing the finger at countries where this is appropriate.
The report makes four key proposals:
For a lot more detail on how and why tax havens, or secrecy jurisdictions, helped cause the global financial crisis, see here.
(Also, the Tax Justice Network blog has a slightly amended version of this, noting how the report uses the opacity scores from TJN’s Financial Secrecy Index as part of its classification system.)