Apr 06 2011

New reviews, me in the FT, and some hogwash

Posted by: Nicholas Shaxson in: Thoughts

I’ve got a new comment article in the Financial Times, and there are some new reviews in Le Monde, on the Seeking Alpha financial site, and in the New York Times online with a great endorsement from Nancy Folbre, a regular writer for the NYT Economix blog. As she says:

Mr. Shaxson provides a fascinating narrative that is both analytically compelling and rich in institutional detail.

I’d agree, of course. And hers is an interesting article in its own right. Le Monde calls this a “livre édifiant” which means an edifying or uplifting book, and its article is complemented by an interview with Stuart Fraser of the City of London Corporation. The interview is kind of fun: a description of Fraser’s genial approach which changes when Treasure Islands and its themes are mentioned:

The broad, sympathetic smile disappears. The rose petals suddenly stop falling from the sky. [Le sourire large et sympathique disparaît. Les pétales de rose cessent brutalement de tomber du ciel. ]

Fraser does nothing to disabuse the Le Monde journalist of my explanation that British tax havens are feeding huge amounts of business to the City of London, “this bastion of capitalism upon which the sun never sets” as the article so effectively puts it. Fraser merely argues that this feeder role is a good thing. That is where he and I, of course, differ.

Seeking Alpha provides a nice overall review, though it’s hard to pull a particlar quote out. I’m going to go with

an easily digestible overview of the labyrinthine nature of the world of offshore finance.

The Financial Times article is one that I’ve co-authored with John Christensen, and it’s entitled Time to black-list the tax haven whitewash. It probes the appalling track record of the OECD and how it seems to have defended a system which gives the appearance of robust action against the havens, following a G20 statement in April 2009 that “the era of banking secrecy is over” – while doing nothing of the sort. As the article ends:

“A trickle of extra information is now flowing. But a new dawn of global financial transparency? Hogwash. Or perhaps we should say whitewash.”

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[…] my appearance in the Financial Times and NY Times online, now David Runciman has written a long review in the London Review of Books, and judging from the […]

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