“Bank secrecy will no longer apply.” With these words German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble declared on 27th October 2014 in front of four European daily newspapers (“Les Echos”, “El País”, “The Times” and “Corriere della Sera”) the international will to face up to the fisca evasion l.
His words are part of a global agreement on the automatic exchange of tax information that took place this past Wednesday, October 29, in Berlin. This will aim, by 2017, to solve tax evasion towards tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. Although it is considered an important step to curb corruption, and we do not doubt it, it is only a façade that covers other structures to carry out tax evasion. In this article we will try to outline what represents a common practice in times of crisis : a regulation that serves as a social pretext towards a growing deregulation of these illicit activities.
Financial capitalism is globalization. “Globalization is, in fact, driven by the profit of banks, speculators and traffickers of multinational firms (American) and under the multiform domination of the hyperpower of the United States “. The type of capitalism that is being imposed, especially that which appears after the Cold War, is a model that is globalized, deregulated and “financialized ” in an excessive way. Of these three characteristics, the last one is the most outstanding. The “financialization” represents a ” process by which financial services, solidly implanted, appropriate the dominant role in matters of economy, culture and politics within a national  and world economy l”. For finance to become established as such, the opening up of certain borders ( globalisation ) and the deregulation (or in other words liberalisation) of the economy of states are necessary. All this is accompanied by the development of new communication technologies (such as the Internet) and large multinational companies.
The financial capitalism works on multiple levels but it is on the supranational – or global – scale where it is most guaranteed to progress, since financial capitals escape state control, and therefore campaign at will. Since the State should be the regulator of the economy (the ideological foundations of the nation-state have yet to be laid), capital should remain within them, assuming their laws and regulations. The search for extreme profitability on a global scale, at levels far from social reality, can cause imbalances given the “de-territorialization” of the economy, and causing periods of economic crisis.
The Economic Crisis of 2008: Context for Reforming the Criminal Underpinnings of Financial Capitalism
It is commonly understood that the current economic crisis began in 2008 with the collapse of the American Lehman Brothers bank. But such blame on the aforementioned bank masks a deeper, more structural reality, the responsibility for which has gone unnoticed in many households. We refer to a criminal reality of the speculative practices of banks, especially the excess of credit (taking of large risks) and the covert sale of toxic financial products . This reality appeals to the white-collar criminals at the heart of the high finance movements.
These financial “scams” occur at times of economic euphoria, when control of the economy is overshadowed by market optimism. When the “speculative bubble” bursts – due to the inability of certain economic sectors or society to repay their debts – the bad practices of the banks are exposed, as we saw with the case of Bankia in Spain. In reality, what happens is a collapse in the productive structure. The large number of competitors within the financial sector leads to a progressive decrease in the profit rate of financial monopolies, and forces them to change their strategy in order to perpetuate their monopolistic/oligopolistic dominance . Thus, the financial monopolies/oligopolies are aimed at restructuring the productive system legitimized by social urgency.
It is there where they try to regulate those “defects” of capitalism or , with the aim of avoiding other relapses of the system and political and social upheaval. Capital evasion in tax havens would be one of the major problems. In Spain, just entering the economic crisis (2009), large companies evaded 42,710 million euros  (remember the 22,000 million euros injected into Bankia by the State). However, parallel to the regulation of these structural defects, another monopolistic model of global fraud is being generated.
The “High Frequency Trading”, New Criminal Structure?
The agreement on the exchange of tax information, instigated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)  and signed by 49 countries in Berlin on 29 October 2014, aims to provide confidence in society and the markets. It seems that, at least from the outset, this is good news.
But this new regulation is nothing more than a new mask for the criminal nature of capitalism. In other words, the construction of new structural bases of the productive system that will serve to perpetuate the power of the monopolies/oligopolies in the production of new mechanisms of capital evasion.
High frequency trading is a trading technique that uses sophisticated computers capable of executing orders at high speed in order to take advantage of and make a profit by automatically trading when they find price differences on securities . It is a form of trading algorithm that acts on a much larger time scale than humans. Thus, the human brain is replaced by algorithmic calculations and supercomputers, making the human increasingly expendable.
We are faced with a new technological paradigm , based on artificial intelligence, which is nothing more than a new financial engineering structure that favours a few people who own large capitals. The regulation of tax havens , as we have been saying, will be no more than a make-up service for tax fraud worldwide if these new speculative practices are not regulated. The autonomous capacity of these big computers, the possibility of obtaining ultra-fast profits and even of evading capitals (since it is impossible to follow the speed of these mechanisms) contrasts with the global political turn against fraud.
The tax evasion , the economic crises , corruption … represent a hidden side of the reality of crime. The media focus on highlighting the most visible acts but not those with the most social repercussions. Rodrigo Rato is an example of the impunity of white-collar criminals whose actions have a greater impact on society.
- 1] Yves Lacoste, Mondialisation et géopolitique, Hérodote. Revue de géographie et géopolitique, La Découverte, 2003, Paris.
- 2] Gayraut, Jean-François, Le nouveau Capitalisme criminel (“The New Criminal Capitalism”), Odile Jacob, 2014, Paris
-  Union of Tax Technicians.
- 4] Exactly, it was the Global Forum on Taxation, branch of the OECD, that organized the international agreement.
- 5] Gayraut, Jean-François, Le nouveau Capitalisme criminel (“The New Criminal Capitalism”), Odile Jacob, 2014, Paris