Illuminating Dark Corners of the Global Economy
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
September 3, 2019
This issue of Finance & Development reminds me of a Sufi parable. A woman sees a mystic searching for something outside his door. “What have you lost?” she asks. “My key,” he responds. So they both kneel down to look for it. “Where exactly did you drop it?” she asks after a few minutes. “In my house,” he replies. “Then why are you looking here?” “Because there is more light.”
The lesson: we all search for answers where it is easiest to look.
That is why we decided to shine a spotlight on the dark web of secret transactions that enable tax evasion and avoidance, money laundering, illicit financial flows, and corruption.
Consider these estimates: bribes to the tune of $1.5–$2 trillion change hands every year. Tax evasion costs governments more than $3 trillion a year, and countless more is lost through other illicit activities. This is money that could go for health care, education, and infrastructure for millions worldwide. But the cost to society is far greater: corruption distorts incentives and undermines public trust in institutions. It is the root of many economic injustices young women and men also suffer every day.