There have been some great stories and columns from the Guardian/Observer news operation over the last few days – on trillions of pounds lost to secrecy jurisdictions, drug money laundering by global banks such as HSBC and the way banks write loans by magicking money out of thin air.
The big shame, for me, is that the newspaper group doesn’t join the dots between them all, or give the deeper context that would help people see their ways through to the fundamental failures of governance underlying all the stories.
Take just the offshore trillions story, there was no reference in the piece to Nicholas Shaxson’s excellent Treasure Islands.
The book blows the lid on tax havens, or secrecy jurisdictions as Shaxson calls them, making clear how the City of London and places such as the US state of Delaware are part of a global spider’s web whose effect is to entrench the divide between a tiny, wealthy super elite and ordinary mortals. This is the essential link between the abstract billions and trillions in the Observer story and real, physical people and places.
Similarly for the drugs cartels story – there are reasons it’s fine to be part of a white-collar corporate criminal entity but not to spill green custard on a London street as part of a protest about corporate sponsors of the London Olympics. Our legal frameworks are totally out of whack.
Failing to join the dots keeps us all stupid – we have to do better. Following stories through from the bare facts to the deeper failures of governance that underpin the stories is a critical part of that – essentially the argument I lay out in Fraudcast News.