Tuesday, September 19, 2017

City of London: Capital of an invisible empire

The British Empire still persists – in the guise of the City of London. This is where the real power lies. In their documentary "The Spider´s Web" filmmaker Michael Oswald and producer and insider John Christensen take a closer look at the gravitational centre of the financial world and it´s influence on politics worldwide.

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten: You´ve produced and directed a documentary on the City of London, titled „The Spider´s Web“. What motivated you to do it and what is the title alluding to?

Michael Oswald: I was reading Nicholas Shaxson’s book „Treasure Islands“, which contained a number of quotes to the effect that London’s position as a capital of international finance had its roots in the Empire and was in a sense a continuation of empire. I wanted to understand this relationship between finance during empire and how the City of London functions in the present day.

The Spider’s Web is a term coined by Nicholas Shaxson that refers to the City of London as being at the centre of a global web of international finance, a hub on which many smaller financial centres around the world depend on.

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten: Many consider finance to be a dry subject. Which cinematic means did you use and how did you turn it into a filmic narration?

Michael Oswald: We used the BMPC Camera, we did not have privileged access to venues or events, but since the film was created over the space of a number of years we had plenty of opportunity to document events in London and the City. The aim was to create a film with a strong narrative thread and reveal this in a manner that would encourage the viewers‘ participation.

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten: Which sources did you use while researching for your documentary?

Michael Oswald: In addition to Nicholas Shaxson’s „Treasure Islands“, I read „British Imperialism“ by Cain and Hopkins and „The Great Tax Robbery“ by former tax inspector Richard Brooks. I came across a recording of a talk John Christensen had given at the London School of Economics, which was very much in line with the angle I saw for The Spider’s Web, so I contacted John and asked him if he would be interested in collaborating on the film.

John Christensen: I started researching this subject in 1978, and spent almost fourteen years working in the offshore financial world in Jersey (a British Channel Island), so I have considerable professional experience in this area. During the course of my research I spoke with many senior officials and politicians around the world, and they are broadly agreed that London has been central to the creation and operation of the Euromarket and the global tax haven economy. Successive British governments have placed the City of London’s tax haven role at the core of Britain’s development strategy since the 1950s.  (more...)

H/T to Tax Justice Network


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