Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent

In This Review

Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent
By Brooke Harrington
Harvard University Press, 2016
400 pp.

In carrying out this highly informative study, Harrington—an intrepid sociologist—became a certified wealth manager and, over seven years, interviewed 65 people who manage wealth in 18 different jurisdictions. She details how they set up far-flung networks of trusts, shell corporations, and foundations to protect the wealth of high-net-worth individuals—and to conceal it from tax authorities, creditors, and potentially acquisitive family members. Wealth managers not only exploit gaps in legal systems but also seek to influence legislation, especially in offshore tax havens, to the benefit of their clients. In doing so, they preserve and even increase wealth inequality and help undermine the legitimacy of governments that tolerate their wealthy citizens’ evasion or avoidance of the financial responsibilities that everyone else must meet—a form of shirking made easier by modern communications technology. Harrington advises governments seeking to address inequality to focus not only on the rich but also on the professionals who help them game the system.

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