Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Offshore: how big is it?

We have been upgrading our website section called "Magnitudes" which outlines the different estimates of the size of the offshore problem.

The size of the offshore economy is hard to measure precisely, as a result of its fragmented nature, difficulties involved in defining it, and a pervasive culture of secrecy. International efforts to measure it often focus only on narrow aspects of it. For example, much effort is expended on measuring and tackling terrorist finances or (to a lesser extent) international bribery, but little attention is paid to problems on much, much larger scales -- such as commercial transfer mispricing abuses.

We outline a number of different measurements, from several different sources, and we will be adding to it over time. Take a look. Comments and suggestions are welcome: contact info (at) taxjustice.net.

In the longer term, we will be producing much a more detailed overview of the offshore world: how it works, and how big it is, in a project called Mapping the Faultlines, which is being funded by the Ford Foundation and carried out by TJN and Washington-based Global Financial Integrity (hosted at the Center for International Policy, and run by Raymond Baker, author of the landmark book Capitalism's Achilles' Heel - a must-read for anyone wishing to understand the phenomenon of dirty money (see a good review of it here.)

This is a large project, and first results from Mapping the Faultlines will not be available before 2009.

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