No Man Is An Island 50 Years of Finance on the Isle of Man by Roger Rawcliffe
This book charts the Island's rise as an offshore financial centre. This is not a dry account of banks and insurance companies, but rather, a riveting story of the characters, the ups and downs and the extraordinary events that have taken place over the past fifty years on the Isle of Man.
The story really starts in 1961, when the Island was facing a bleak future with the decline of tourism. In a brilliant move, the Island's government abolished surtax. Soon, rich new residents started to move here, and with them came lawyers, accountants and insurance specialists sensing an opportunity to make money. House building started to take off and a new era in Manx history was born.
Sadly, there was little regulation of what was happening. Stories abounded of people coming over with suitcases loaded with hundreds of thousands of pounds to stash away in the many new banks that were springing up and which offered extremely high interest rates. There was property speculation, dubious business deals, and one accountant who refused to sign the accounts of a Manx company, had a gun held to his head to help persuade him.
The rapid development and speculation wasn't to everyone's taste though. An underground nationalist movement was started, and satirical news sheets, lampooning local politicians and businessmen were circulated. Slogans were daubed on houses and other buildings.
It was boom time, but it couldn't last. Regulation was poor, and in 1982, the Savings and Investment Bank collapsed, wiping out millions of pounds of savings for thousands of depositors. It was a long and painful period for the Island. But it recovered. Very quickly it had to deal with the burning issue of regulation. Banking and insurance authorities were set up and new regimes introduced and as a result of enlightened political decisions and a willingness to work to the highest international standards, the Island now enjoys world-wide recognition as a well-regulated country that can take its place amongst the leaders in the international community.
It is an extraordinary success story that this new book tells in an exciting readable way.