In This Review

The Finance Curse: How Global Finance Is Making Us All Poorer
The Finance Curse: How Global Finance Is Making Us All Poorer
By Nicholas Shaxson
384 pp, Grove Press, 2019

This well-researched but somewhat intemperate book argues that the financial sector in all modern economies is much too large. Shaxson angrily decries the overweening influence of banks and investment companies, which he believes lord over the economy to the detriment of other kinds of businesses. He laments how the financial sector absorbs bright college graduates, extracting human capital from the rest of the economy. In the United Kingdom and the United States, all political parties are to blame for the financial sector’s dominance. Shaxson criticizes the former Democratic U.S. president Bill Clinton and the former Labour British prime minister Tony Blair as much as he berates Republicans and Tories. A British journalist, Shaxson reserves particular ire for the City of London—home to the British financial sector—and for the role of British dependencies such as Bermuda in facilitating tax avoidance and many other forms of financial malfeasance. He urges a future post-Trump United States to not only clean up its own act but also pressure the United Kingdom to reckon with the culture of tax avoidance it has created over the years.