New book: The Political Economy of Offshore Jurisdictions

This new book adds further insights into the political economy of offshore, raising questions about why offshore has been off-limits for serious zpolitical discussion for so many decades and opening up discussion around offshore secrecy.  A welcome addition to the emerging debate.


Trying to understand the financial crisis since 2008 economists have learned that large parts of the economy are hardly known and little explored. This is especially true for the area of the so-called shadow banks. Here – and not in the traditional banks – the crisis has manifested and they were saved from collapse by the central banks. But behind the shadow banks is the even more unknown zone of the offshore economy, since many shadow banks are legally settled in “tax and regulatory havens”. They can be called secrecy jurisdictions as well. Their aim is to establish a high level of financial opacity, e.g. by banking secrecy laws, by establishing trusts and foundations whose ownership and purpose is difficult to identify, or by a lack in serious due diligence or no records and statistics on transactions.

The book provides first information about a little-studied area. What is the importance of the offshore economy? Is online Gambling a Game Changer to Money Laundering? What is the rationale behind the Secrecy Index of Tax Justice Network? How does Automatic Tax Information Exchange function? Is Austria a tax haven? With which ideology and with which narratives was it possible to avoid public discussions about the offshore economy? Which were the effects of “offshore leaks” in the spring 2013?

Table of contents


Michaela Schmidt and Walter Otto Oetsch – The Political Economy of Offshore Jurisdictions

Theories and Discourses

Laura Seelkopf – Tax Competition and National Welfare

Silke Oetsch – Our Banking Secrecy is a Strong Castle. Assessing the State of Regulation by Analysing Metaphors and Narratives of the Offshore Economy

Walter Otto Oetsch – How to Hide Secrecy Jurisdictions. The Role of the Concept of “The Market”


Ingo Fiedler
Online Gambling as a Game Changer to Money Laundering?

Markus Meinzer
Current Practice of Automatic Tax Information Exchange in Selected Countries

Petr Janský – Illicit Financial Flows and Financial Secrecy

Karl M. Beyer and Lars Braeutigam – Offshore Aspects of Shadow Banking. With Considerations on the Recent Financial Crisis

Country Examples

Martina Neuwirth – Austria: A Tax Haven? The Era of Austria’s Banking Secrecy is not (yet) over

Otto Farny – Is Austria a Tax Haven?

Brigitte Unger – Is the Netherlands a Tax Haven?


Peter Hornung – Global Investigations: The International Journalists’ Project Offshore-Leaks

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About The Author

John Christensen

Trained as a forensic auditor and economist, he has worked in many countries around the world, including a period of working in offshore financial services with Touche Ross & Co. For 11 years he was economic adviser to the government of the British Channel Island of Jersey. In 2003 he became what the Guardian has described as “the unlikely figurehead of a worldwide campaign against tax avoidance.” His research on offshore finance has been widely published in books and academic journals, and John has taken part in many films, television documentaries and radio programmes.
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