Capitalism's Achilles heel: dirty money and how to renew the free-market system

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John Wiley & Sons, Aug 5, 2005 - Business & Economics - 438 pages
Throughout his career, Raymond Baker--a tough-as-nails businessman turned scholar --has been thoroughly committed to capitalism. He has seen it all, and now he offers careful analysis and gripping examples that illustrate the serious problems besetting the global free-market system. With this book, Baker provides a fascinating insider's look at the way criminals, terrorists, and businesspeople move dirty money around the world, impoverishing billions and corrupting capitalism's ideals of fair play. In this highly readable account, he links banking, commerce, law, economics, and philosophy with passionate advocacy of steps that must be taken to renew capitalism's mandate for the spread of global prosperity.

For over forty years in more than sixty countries, Baker has witnessed the free-market system operating illicitly and corruptly, with devastating consequences for scores of fragile nations. Now, in Capitalism's Achilles Heel, Baker--the internationally respected authority on money laundering, corruption, and development issues--takes you on a fascinating journey that winds its way across the global free-market system and reveals how dirty money, poverty, and inequality are inextricably intertwined.

You'll discover how small illicit transactions lead to massive illegalities used by drug kingpins, racketeers, terrorist masterminds, and multinational corporations. You'll learn how staggering global income disparities are worsened by the illegalities that have come to permeate international capitalism. And, you'll see how distorted philosophical underpinnings appear to justify flaws in the practice of capitalism.

Drawing on his experiences throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, Baker shows how Western banks and businesses use secret transactions and ignore laws while handling some $1 trillion in illicit proceeds each year. He also illustrates how businesspeople, criminals, and kleptocrats perfect the same techniques to shift funds--through transfer pricing, false documentation, fake corporations, tax havens, secrecy jurisdictions, and other tricks of the trade--and how these tactics negatively affect individuals, institutions, and countries.

Can anything be done? For capitalism to succeed on a global scale, we must fight rampant lawlessness, reduce inequality, and recast the free market's supporting structures around principles of global justice. Capitalism's Achilles Heel provides a place for us to start.

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About the author (2005)

Raymond W. Baker, after a long career in international business, is a guest scholar at The Brookings Institution and a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy, both located in Washington, D.C. He appears often on television and radio in the United States and overseas and often testifies before House and Senate committees. Baker has an MBA from Harvard, lived in Africa for many years, and has done business across much of the developing world.

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