Last trip in Europe I made a point to swing through a couple of its tax haven/money hideaway places. What struck me was that these barons of banking hang out in very subtle cities. Somehow they hide away billions of international dollars, but don't create a big splash. Let's take a look at how low-key four of Europe's money centres are:
OK the trip started in Frankfurt, so let's go there first.
As you can see, Frankfurt is pretty low key, although there is a larger business area (not pictured because it's too boring). So let's go to three more subtle hideaways of the World's money.
This place is surprisingly understated. I walked from Switzerland into Lichtenstein along this river (they call it the Rhine). The main city is Vaduz, but nobody cares about that. When there, I had no idea how they stash away so many international billions: still don't know. Check out this money hideaway:
That's the Prince's castle on the hillside. He is the grand ruler of this fiefdom.
Cunning plan, really, to hide a bunch of money in this sort of context.
But they named a beer after the concept of money laundering:
Once you've walked into Luxembourg, you realize that it's a natural fortress. There's huge cliffs surrounding most of the old city. Thus, it was a natural place for folks to settle and to protect each other. That evolved into a place to protect other people's money.
Those are a few European Union buildings in the background.
Subtle, but I bet there's a few billion stashed in that high rise office tower just in the background.
Part of the Luxembourg concept of embracing the cliff fortress:
I thought, perhaps, this building was caught as part of a money laundering scheme and thus sentenced to some time “behind bars.”
Like everything in Luxembourg, much is hidden away:
And yet the city square is as any in Europe: lively and fun.
SWITZERLAND: Zurich and Luzern
These are both beautiful cities that share space with a lake. And in both cases, the lakes are remarkably clear and even swimmable. But behind all that is the classic, cliche and even lauded concept of a Swiss Bank Account.
And just to leave this piece with HOPE and FAITH and BEAUTY, I give you some photos from an amazing one week train trip around Switzerland. It really is a fine country to explore.
Of course, I must start with the MATTERHORN.
This is the Interlaken region.
And St. Moritz is an all too blatant playground for those rich folks stashing money into Swiss bank accounts.
But, after all, the only point I'd like to make is that Europe is still a beautiful place with lots of fine people.
And one bad dog