Why the DC Forum?
Democracy is under attack, and among the factors fueling the flames — undermining democracy from within and promoting autocracy — financial secrecy plays a huge role, a role that is underestimated and not really “on the radar.”
Capitalism operating in secrecy and democracy operating with transparency cannot coexist. Rising economic inequality driven by secretive capitalism and faltering political democracy drifting toward authoritarianism could end the democratic-capitalist system. This is an existential threat to humanity in the 21st century, paralleling the importance of climate change.
That is not a capitalism functioning within democratic government. We have gotten glimpses of this phenomenon with the Pandora Papers and the like, and with the current and critical focus on anti-corruption, but much of secrecy’s pernicious modus operandi upon democracy remains unaddressed. And if we do not tackle financial secrecy, our democracy will suffer. Capitalism needs to have its secrecy element vastly curtailed if it is to be a friend and ally of democracy. As currently practiced, Capitalism is not a friend, but an enemy of democracy and its associated freedoms.
This forum will bring together leading experts on financial secrecy and democracy, and seek to alert the policy community and the fourth estate to this major challenge threatening our democracy and freedom. We hope to spread an understanding of this challenge among policy experts in and outside of government and infect the fourth estate and academia with a broader awareness of this critical issue. If we can help nudge this issue into the Overton window, we’ll have achieved our goal.
How has capitalism’s financial secrecy eroded democracy? That is the question that will be explored and answered. To renew our shared commitments, both capitalism and democracy must function with greatly strengthened levels of transparency and accountability. Effective measures to reach these goals are readily available, given the political will to act.