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The Hidden History of the World’s Top Offshore Cryptocurrency Tax Haven

The Bahamas represents how global capitalism can go very right, and very wrong, at exactly the same time. On Jan. 3, as Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty in New York on charges stemming from the collapse of one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, the FTX debacle became, once again, a U.S. story. The Bahamian backdrop to the last days of FTX has faded into the background. But the torrid affair between what was once touted as the leading edge of financial technology, or fintech, and the Bahamas—a nation of 400,000 people, spread over some 700 islands, 50 miles or so offshore of Florida—is not merely incidental. It highlights the way in which the wider Caribbean region has repeatedly functioned as a Frankenstein laboratory of global capitalism. The Caribbean was the first region of the world to feel the full force of Western conquest and plantation slavery. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Bahamas was a legendary base for piracy and smuggling. The 20th century brought the rise of American power and the struggles

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American hubris

The US is addicted to greatness – and haunted by its loss. Great powers, both past and present, are haunted by three interconnected preoccupations: they are tempted by a sense of national superiority and claims to manifest historic destiny. Those pretensions tend to provoke fears of decline, which then give rise to projects of rebirth. The European empires that once fancied themselves great, most notably the British and French, are extreme examples. As France decolonised after 1945, Charles de Gaulle made “grandeur” a watchword of national policy. For the British elite, despite the increase in standards of living, decline was an obsession throughout the postwar period. Under the sign of “cool Britannia” and Tony Blair’s embrace of Europe in the 1990s, that shadow lifted. But since the banking crisis of 2008 and the Brexit referendum of 2016, the question has returned with ever-greater force. While the Brexiteers promise a “global Britain”, the average standard of living in Britain is declining for the first time in modern history. Nationalist bluster about “Britannia unchained” obfuscates a cool-eyed

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The G-20 Proved It’s Our World Government

At a time of global conflict, world powers showed that cooperation can actually work. Ahead of time, the script for the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, seemed to write itself. A grouping conceived in the heyday of globalization was meeting in person for the first time under the shadow of the new Cold War. China and Russia would clash with the United States and its allies. Ukraine would hog center stage. Indonesia made no secret of the fact that it feared that the interests of the rest of the world—sometimes dubbed the new nonalignment—would take second place. There were moments in Bali that did conform to this script. Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to attend. Russia was at first represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who gave pugnacious press conferences in which he denounced Ukrainian fascists and brandished conspiracy theories about U.S. biolabs. Then Lavrov departed and Russia’s representation was reduced to the finance minister, effectively the junior tier of the G-20. When the missiles landed in Poland, the Indonesian president was obliged to delay

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Chartbook #187: MLK’s economic radicalism & the strange birth of the Fed’s dual mandate

In the last ten years, the familiar boundaries of the political debate on the US have been challenged by a convergence of arguments about racial justice, economics and inequality. This conjunction in its contemporary form dates back to the early 2010s when the ferment in economic debates in the aftermath of 2008 and the differential impact of that crisis on black and latino households, coincided

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Ones & Tooze: Happy Birthday COVID

Three years ago, a new virus wreaked havoc on China and triggered a public health and economic crisis around the world. Today, COVID is still roiling China and destabilizing the world economy. Find more episodes and subscribe at Foreign Policy.

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The European Project Is Now at the Mercy of the Weather

This winter, Europe may be facing a crisis without any clear solution. Right now, the sobering truth is that the future of Europe hinges on the weather. It seems absurd. But whether the winter ahead is cold or warm will determine if Europe gets through the next six months without major economic, political, and social stress. We are in this situation because, thanks to the

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Look out for Adam’s next book, Carbon, out in 2023.

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Discussion with Wolfgang Schäuble

WEF 2020: Why Protests Are An Integral Part Of Democracy

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer – Is a 2nd Great Depression Coming?

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American hubris

The US is addicted to greatness – and haunted by its loss. Great powers, both past and present, are haunted by three interconnected preoccupations: they

Read More »

Chartbook

Sign up below for Adam’s bi-weekly newsletter, which includes economic data, images, & stories that matter.

at the mic
on bookshelves

Look out for Adam’s next book, Carbon, out in 2023.

on air

Discussion with Wolfgang Schäuble

WEF 2020: Why Protests Are An Integral Part Of Democracy

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer – Is a 2nd Great Depression Coming?

on record
on the blog