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Offshore: The Dark Side of the Global Economy Paperback – 13 Jun 2006

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Offshore: The Dark Side of the Global Economy + Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World + The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became a Tax Haven for Fat Cats and Big Business
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA (13 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312425589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312425586
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 888,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Offshore A revealing and chilling expose on the hidden side of global wealth and power shows how tax havens have become central to global finance. The author asserts that offshore practices put capitalism and freedom in grave danger. Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A reader on 5 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
You could summarize the factual information provided by this book in a few pages - the rest of the book consists of the author's ruminations about the subject, which I found uninteresting and irrelevant.
The writing style is very wordy. I'll give you an example from the book:
"The task of transfer pricing is to alter prices within the corporation as a global whole to where they will be most beneficial in terms of tax. At that maximal point, a price is set. This practice is designed to break any actual correspondence between costs, income, and production in any particular location."
Sentences like that, vague and insubstantial, fill the whole book.
Another example. Chapter 3 is dedicated to the Enron story, but the offshore-related content consists of just about half a page. The rest is just a summary of what happened at Enron, which dozens of other books already have covered in more detail. This lack of focus made this book a frustrating read for me.
In summary, there is some interesting information about offshore tax havens in this book, but most of it is filler content with no informational value.
A much better book on offshore tax havens and corporate tax dodging is The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became A Tax Haven For Fat Cats And Big Business.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Some Good Information, but Too Long and Divergent 26 Dec. 2005
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Brittain-Catlin begins by observing that the Cayman Islands are the 5th largest banking center in the world, with over $700 billion in assets.

These assets, however, are largely not physically held on the island - simply notations in accounting books for the purposes of reducing or eliminating taxes. Corporations taking advantage of this include GM, ExxonMobil, Ford, IBM, Wal-Mart, G.E. (reduced its 27% '99 tax rate to 16% in '03), Citigroup (saved $778 million in '03 taxes), Apple, Enron, Halliburton, Tyco, Global Crossing, Long Term Capital Management, Global Crossing, and Enron.

"Transfer-pricing" manipulation is the main tax-avoidance mechanism afforded by offshoring. This involves corporations maximizing overseas production profits in a non-taxable offshore subsidiary.

Unfortunately, Brittain-Catlin seeming dwells forever on his basic facts, and even spends considerable time exploring the philosophy of Kant. (I tried reading Kant long ago - Brittain-Catlin's version was no more interesting.)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Tax Haven History 26 Nov. 2008
By J.L. Populist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Offshore" focuses on Cayman and it's major role in offshore finances.
Mr. Brittain-Catlin does a good job of explaining how corporations are viewed on the island in relation to individual citizens. Transfer Pricing is also defined. The biggest lure to Cayman for businesses was to evade taxes in their home country.

The author also examines Delaware as another popular base for multinational holding companies and subsidiaries.

Their was a memorable quote from Willaim Greider on the subject of the S&L bailout of the past- "The government's regulatory system was perversely diverted to a different purpose-'socializing' the losses accumulating by freewheeling bankers and developers by making every taxpayer pay for them." The same scenario as the Wall Street bailout of this year, bailout financial institutions with working peoples' taxes.
The saving of LTCM is a similar story that the author brought up.

One gem from the author was found on page 172 while discussing acclaimed "economic growth".
"That economic growth had been brought about by letting corporations out of their obligation to pay taxes on their earnings. That growth was, in effect, their taxes, simply retained as profits and parked offshore."

This book had some meaningful information as a result of research done by the author.
What detracts from an otherwise very good book is the author's foray into mytholgy and related characters. It grew old for me personally.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Subject, Frustratingly Boring Presentation 7 Feb. 2009
By dschwabe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Several years ago I saw Mr. Brittain-Catlin on Charlie Rose and was intrigued enough with the interview to buy his book.

I have to assume that he has presented a factual depiction of how offshore banking works, the extent of it use, and its ramification in the the global economy.

However, his presentation was so wordy, scattered, and often times boring that I found it sheer drudgery to read. I cannot believe it was edited very carefully.

One well written part of the book is his description of how Enron used offshore accounts to hide its losses. Very informative.

It's a shame this book isn't better written and edited. Offshore banking is a compelling subject.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Prescient 20 Jan. 2009
By Mr. David Wurtzel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Published in 2005, William Brittain-Catlin nevertheless had the foresight to challenge the received wisdom of his day: 'In both the neoliberal and reformist positions there is a strong element of naive idealism: in the former that a world of unrestrained economic liberalism would not bring about such catastrophe that the state would need to step in and sort out the mess'. Although we are indeed living in such a time, this is still an excellent analysis of how we got to where we are, mixing case studies, history and philosophy in a highly intelligent way
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A flawed gem 3 Oct. 2005
By Michael Bryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Offshore is a solid attempt to explain the fact that modern capitalism has become dependant upon the offshore, largely unregulated, international financial system. The cost of making tax-rate shopping a profit center in a corporation's strategic plan when revenues land back 'onshore' is paid by all of us. Essentially multi-nationals are competing to see who can pay the least tax. In the end, this behavior is to an economy what eating your seed corn is to farming. Brittain-Catlin is sounding an alarm hoping public policy makers and the public will heed.

The author's prose is sometimes purple and his discursions into tangental topics is somewhat distracting, but on the whole, the book is worth reading for the very approachable manner in which it explains the history of offshore banking and how it ties into subjects such as BCCI, terrorism finance, drug money laundering, the 'private' bail out of the hedge fund LTCM, the capital flight that hammered Indonesia and other developing nations, and the collapse or corruption of companies such as Eron, Tyco, and Global Crossing.

After reading this book, the business news achormen chattering about the 'mood' of international capital will begin to make some sense to you.
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