Offshore: The Dark Side of the Global Economy

William Brittain-Catlin, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-25698-2

In this ambitious meditation on the soul of capitalism, "offshore" means places like the Cayman Islands, where shadowy holding companies process vast sums of money on behalf of corporate behemoths eager to evade taxes and government scrutiny. But it's also an almost metaphysical realm where finance capital seeks to detach itself entirely from economic and social realities in the "onshore" world, but finds itself inevitably undone by that very impulse, à la Enron. Brittain-Catlin, a BBC producer and corporate investigator, blends muckraking exposé with dense philosophical rumination in a way that suggests what Hannah Arendt might have accomplished as a business reporter. He delves into the details of epic malfeasances, such as the byzantine scams Enron concocted with its 692 Cayman Island subsidiaries and partnerships, and interprets these frauds in light of Kant's views on the necessity of individual moral autonomy and Walter Benjamin's dissection of the role of secrecy in the bourgeois psyche. Unfortunately, his explanations often fall just short of really clarifying the murky financial shenanigans he investigates, crowded as they are by his grand but ill-digested musings on capitalism, the state and human nature. His promising critique of the global economy would have been more effective had he simply followed the money. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/16/2005
Release date: 07/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-374-70795-8
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-312-42558-6
Show other formats
Discover what to read next