April 16, 2016

Tett, get it! What is stashed away in offshore centers, is mostly titles of ownership to onshore assets

Sir, Gillian Tett writes: “Four years ago, activists’ group… claimed that some $21tn-$32tn was being stashed in offshore centres, but it had no real way of verifying the numbers. With the Panama Papers being studied, more precise figures could emerge — and with that the ability to compare them with the overall picture of global banking.” “Our mental map of the banking world may be about to flip” April 16. 

Does Tett really think that $21tn-$32tn could be stashed in offshore centers? Has she ever heard of banks in offshore centers to be jointly as large than perhaps all the 15 largest non-Chinese banks put together? Does she not realize that Mossack Fonseca is just a big law firm?

In truth, save perhaps one apartment here, or some yacht there, nothing real is stashed away in Panama or other offshore centers. What is stashed away there though, are titles of ownership over assets stashed away primarily in the developed world. It could be deposits at Citibank, a title over a flat in London, stock certificates or whatever.

The whole affair reminds me of the confusion about Eurodollars that made many sudden-experts believe in the existence of some autonomous dollars traded in Europe. What was traded, were all dollar deposited in the USA. That had started in the late 50s when Russia, scared of the possibilities of having their dollars confiscated, had a British chartered bank take over its dollar deposits in the USA, against a “Eurodollar” deposit of Russia in the British bank.

But does it all not sound nice? Over there are $21tn-$32tn stashed away, and so if only we got it back, we would all be so much better off. Sir, Tett is unknowingly helping to feed that cheap populism that has all redistribution profiteers salivating. I truly think we all deserve better.

PS. Does this mean I condone less than anyone else those criminal activities that might often be behind the hiding of the real ownership of assets? Of course not! And you know it!

@PerKurowski ©