A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.
It has been estimated that 13 million people are employed in financial services jobs in mature industrial economies. In the introduction to this book, mention was made of perceptions that members of the public have about ‘Offshore’. Sadly, many of these perceptions derive (at least in part) from what appears to be relative ignorance about the ‘Offshore’ environment. This is perhaps most acute in respect of statistical information.
What is the problem?
In one sense, the absence of detailed information should not be much of a surprise since ‘confidentiality’ is one of the pillars on which ‘Offshore’ environments are constructed. In another sense, why should there be any gaps in aggregate figures? Is there something to hide?
Some figures are available through the Bank for International Settlements, but these are incomplete because, according to the IMF,
only major OFCs report and, as non-reporting OFCs grow, the absence of their figures is even more important;
the data that are available do not fit the patterns of data already developed;
off-balance sheet activity is not counted; and
relevant data for non-bank financial institutions are excluded. This includes insurance companies, mutual funds, private trusts and international business companies.
Additional information is available through the IMF's Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (see section 2.09 above) and through the Information Framework (see section 2.10 above).