Governing Global Capital: Professions and Regional Competition In Offshore Finance

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:50 AM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Brooke HARRINGTON , Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
How do professions affect the configuration of political economies worldwide? This study addresses the question through interviews with members of a new trans-national profession—wealth management—whose innovations are reshaping the balance of power in global finance. Wealth managers specialize in helping elites avoid taxes and other forms of regulation. The study documents how the means through which they achieve this objective—shifting billions in private capital wealth between Asia, Africa, India and Europe—and how this affects the balance of regional economic power. Drawing from an institutionalist perspective, the paper examines three ways in which wealth managers, both individually and through their professional society, influence regional competition for power and wealth: 1) by finding loopholes in existing policies that limit the global flow of capital; 2) by lobbying national and international policy-making bodies to advance the interests of the profession and its wealthy clients; and 3) by writing the fiscal legislation of some jurisdictions. Through these mechanisms, the profession has reconfigured political and economic power trans-nationally, shifting the world’s financial center of gravity eastward, from traditional centers like Zurich and London, to Singapore, Johannesburg and the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.