Imagine you were a fly on the wall, able to go anywhere without being noticed. The amount of information that you could collect would be almost infinite. And if you wanted to focus on one particular phenomenon, you could do so like no other. This is, in short, what Brooke Harrington, research fellow at the Max Planck Institute, managed to do in order to write Capital without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent. Harrington mapped the routes along which money travels in order to be hidden from the eyes of the tax collectors, and she made some surprising discoveries.

When we think of tax havens, images of Caribbean beaches often come to mind. But as Harrington demonstrates, those are not the only kind. In fact, before arriving in exotic locations that evoke images of grand hotels overlooking the sea and cocktails with umbrellas, capital passes through places that are less well-known as tax havens, like Africa. The triangulations can be numerous, and Harrington pursued a specific approach in her research: she studied for two years to become a wealth manager in order to understand how capital could be concealed. As she explains in Capital without Borders, the real engine of this machine for financial dissimulation involves the wealth managers, and it would appear that there is no chance of stopping them. The reason? There’s nothing unexpected or conspiratorial involved. In order to find out why, you will need to finish the book. And it is well worth the read.

“Capital without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent”

Brooke Harrington

Harvard University Press

400 pages

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