Harrington notes that governments and organizations have put out a handful of fixes in recent years, but in general she finds them lacking. There is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which kicked in a few years ago and requires foreign banks to tell the IRS about accounts they have that are held by Americans. There is an initiative by the OECD, an organization of developed countries, that asks its members to share information from their financial institutions with each other. And after the Panama Papers, there was talk of requiring American banks to determine the true owners of shell companies, but little headway has been made on that.
The problem, Harrington says, is that wealth-management firms “have 24/7/365 to do nothing but find ways around whatever laws you think up.” (Indeed, Harrington, who trained as a wealth manager as part of her academic study of