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Tax Havens: How Globalization Really Works

by Ronen Palan, Richard Murphy and Christian Chavagneux Cornell University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 280 pages
AU$59.99 NZ$63.47
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From the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man to the Principality
of Liechtenstein and the state of Delaware, tax havens offer lower tax rates, less stringent regulations and enforcement, and promises of strict secrecy to individuals and corporations alike. In recent years government regulators, hoping to remedy economic
crisis by diverting capital from hidden channels back into taxable
view, have undertaken sustained and serious efforts to force tax
havens into compliance.

In Tax Havens, Ronen Palan, Richard Murphy, and Christian
Chavagneux provide an up-to-date evaluation of the role and
function of tax havens in the global financial system—their history, inner workings, impact, extent, and enforcement. They
make clear that while, individually, tax havens may appear insignificant, together they have a major impact on the global economy. Holding up to $13 trillion of personal wealth—the equivalent of the annual U.S. Gross National Product—and serving as the legal home of two million corporate entities and half of all international lending banks, tax havens also skew the distribution of globalization’s costs and benefits to the detriment of developing economies.

The first comprehensive account of these entities, this book challenges much of the conventional wisdom about tax havens. The authors reveal that, rather than operating at the margins of the world economy, tax havens are integral to it. More than simple
conduits for tax avoidance and evasion, tax havens actually belong to the broad world of finance, to the business of managing
the monetary resources of individuals, organizations, and countries. They have become among the most powerful instruments of globalization, one of the principal causes of global financial instability, and one of the large political i Cornell Studies in Money ssues of our times.


Part I: Tax Havens and Their Uses
1. What is a Tax Haven?
2. Tax Havens: Vital Statistics
3. The Instruments of Tax Havens

Part II: The Evolution of Tax Havens
4. Origins of the Tax Havens
5. The British Empire Strikes Back

Part III: Tax Havens in World Politics
6. Tax Havens and the Developed World
7. Issues in Development

Part IV: The Battle for Hearts And Minds
8. Signs of Discontent
9. Institutional Attacks on Tax Havens
10. Tax Havens in the Twenty-First Century



''Impeccably researched and packed with new insights, this groundbreaking book exposes financial capitalism's best-kept secret.''-John Christensen, Director, Tax Justice Network International Secretariat, London

Ronen Palan is Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of The Offshore World: Sovereign Markets, Virtual Places, and Nomad Millionaires (published by Cornell); the coauthor of Tax Havens: How Globalization Really Works (also from Cornell); The Imagined Economies of Globalisation; and (with Christian Chavagneux) Paradis Fiscaux; and the coeditor of International Political Economy: A Reader and Globalizing Economic Regimes and Institution.

Richard Murphy is CEO of Tax Research, LLP, based in the UK. He is a frequent adviser to the media, NGOs, and politicians, and writes a blog at

Christian Chavagneux, based in Paris, is deputy editor in chief of Alternatives Economiques and editor of L'Economie politique. He is coauthor, with Ronen Palan, of Paradis Fiscaux.