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Illicit, Offshore, Shadow, Invisible: Financial Thrillers and Global Capital

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...The cum-ex technicalities present just one example among many of the obscene fortunes available to those who exploit financial loopholes, in a global system riddled with mechanisms that allow for enormous secrecy. Call it “dark money” or “illicit financial flows,” “offshore finance” or “money laundering,” tax avoidance or tax evasion—however you refer to it—these things warp democracies. The dollar damage from cum-ex dwarfs California’s budget deficit this year. It’s not legal, and in the United States it’s even more outlawed than before, but in systems that reward and create vast flows of secret funds, the line between legal and illegal loopholes becomes not only blurry but somewhat meaningless. In many ways, loopholes define the lacy patterns of the entire fabric. Financial secrecy is woven so tightly into the texture of global capitalism today that pulling at any one thread tugs on every aspect of financial power...

Underlying all of this is the fundamental question: how do you get people to care about something ubiquitous but invisible, something that’s everywhere and nowhere all at once?


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...The problem is hard to name. “Offshore” sounds like something peripheral and distant. It no longer captures the way that South Dakota and Wyoming have become centers of secrecy. “Illicit financial flows” is precise but a bit Latinate. “Secrecy world” and “invisible trillions” are mysterious but, like “flows,” can make the thing seem diffuse, impossible to pin down...

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