James S. Henry

James S. Henry's picture

James S. Henry is a leading economist, attorney, consultant, and investigative journalist, who has written and spoken widely on the problems of tax justice and development finance. He can be found on Twitter at @submergingmkt.

Private Sector

He has served as Director of Economic Research (chief econ), McKinsey & Co.; VP Stretegy, IBM/Lotus Development Corporation; Manager, Business Development, Chairman’s Office (Jack Welch(, GE; and Senior Consultant, Manager, Monitory. Mr Henry is the Founder and Managing Director of Sag Harbor Group, specializing in competetive strategies for tehcnology-based businesssess. His clients have included ABB, AT&T/Bell Labs, Charles Allen & Co., the Calvert Fund, Cemex, ChinaTrust, the Joint Caribbean Task Force (Scotland Yard/FBI), IBM/Lotus, Intel, Global Wireless Inc., the Government of Paraguay, South Africa Telecom, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Swedish Power Board, TransAlta, and Volvo. He has also founded several technology-based private equity start-ups, including a Sao Paulo private equity fund that focused on wireless services, an e-commerce company that provides low-cost web services to developing countries, an e-payments company, and a cable TV channel.

Non-Profit Sector

In the not-for-profit sector, Mr Henry has served as Senior Fellow, Columbia University Center for Sustainable Investment, where he has taught a graduate level workshop on Haiti and Banking for the Poor in the School for International and Public Affairs; Senior Advisor and global board member, Tax Justice Network; founder and steering committee member, TJN-USA; and Interim Chairman, Global Alliance for Tax Justice, a coalition of 81 NGOs in 37 countries. He also served as founder and Managing Partner of the Northern Environmental Law Center, a not-for-profit law firm that represented local environmental organizations and victims of civil rights violations on Long Island; senior advisor, Ashoka’s “ChangeMakers” project; board member, Long Island University’s Global College; Transnational Project Director, The New School’s World Policy Institute; a senior advisor to Oxford GB; and board member and Vice President, New York Civil Liberties Union (Suffolk County chapter).

Investigative Economics

Since the 1970s, Mr Henry’s ground-breaking investigations of First and Third World debt crises, the underground economy, capital flight, and tax havens have been featured in numerous publications, books, conferences, Congressional hearings, and radio and TV interviews. In 2009 He was “the Edward R Murrow Fellow In Investigative Economics” at the Fletcher School of International Diplomacy. He has served as an Investigative Fund reporter for the Nation Institute, a contributing editor for The Real News Network (“The Henry Report”), and for Forbes.com, where he authors a “Real Street Journal” column. As a founder of Tax Justice USA and a board member of TJN International, he has worked hard for the reform of on- and offshore secrecy jurisdictions and corporate taxation.

Mr Henry’s original research on the impact of tax havens on developing countries was featured by Oxfam GB at the April 2009 G20 meetings in London. At the September 2009 G20 meetings in Pittsburgh, he led an NGO panel on development finance and offshore taxation. He is the principal author and lead economic investigator of “The Price of Offshore Revisited” (TJN, July 2012), the first comprehensive estimate of the size and growth of the global offshore industry. It received widespread attention to the issue, including a cover story in The Economist (Feb 2013), features by the London Guardian/Observer, BBC, CNN, ABC News, MSNBC, CNBC, Democracy Now, NPR, Al Jazeera, RT, RTE, and CBC and several documentary films.

His articles have also appeared in many leading publicaitons, including The American InterestBusiness WeekThe Conference BoardThe Financial TimesEl FinancieroForbesFortune MagazineHarpersInternational Development ReviewJornal do BrasilThe Manila ChronicleManhattan Inc.La NacionThe New York TimesThe NationThe New RepublicNewsweekSabahSlateTimeThe Philippines Daily InquirerThe Tax LawyerTax NotesUS NewsThe Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Monthly. Among the recent examples: (1) “Let’s Tax anonymous Wealth!” in Thomas Pogge and Krishna Mehta, ed, Global Tax Fairness (Oxford University Press, December 2015), 31-97; (2) “Let’s Make the Vatican Bank a Bank!“ American Interest, October 2 2015; (3) “Restoring Trust in Our Economy”, Forbes July 21 2010; (4) “Tax Offshore Wealth in First World Banks”, Forbes July 19 2010; (5) “Financial Reform, RIP”, Forbes July 15 2010; (6) “Assault of the Pirate Bankers”, The Nation July 22 2008; (7) “Make Fannie and Freddie Go Green”, The Nation July 24 2008; (8) “Socialism for Bankers, Savage Capitalism for Everyone Else?”, The Nation September 22 2008; (9) “Invest in Innovation” (with Jim Manzl), The Nation, October 30 2008; (10) ”The Pseudo-Stimulus”, The Nation, February 3 2009; (11) “Too Big Not To Fail”, The Nation February 23 2009.

Mr Henry’s books include (1) with Pulitzer Prize winners Paul Starr and Raymond Bonner: The Discarded Army - A Study of the Veterans Administration and Vietnam Veterans (NY: Charterhouse, 1976); (2) Banqueros y Lavadolares​ (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo, 1996); (3) The Internet’s Impact on Financial Services (NY: ATKearney, 1999); (4) with Prof. Richard Caves, ed., The Economics of Competition (Boston: Prentice Hall, 1988); (5) The Blood Bankers (NY: Basic Books, 2005); the first detailed audit of where the money went that was loaned to eight Third World countries; (6) The Price of Offshore Revisited (July 2012, Tax Justice Network); and (7) Pirate Bankers (Columbia University Press, forthcoming, 2016), on havens, private banks, and money laundering.

His essay on Third World debt relief (Steve Hiatt, ed. A Game As Old as Empire (SF: Barrett-Koehler, 2007), V: “The Mythology of Debt Relief”) was the first attempt to measure the total amount of external debt relief provided to developing countries. 

Mr Henry’s first-person approach to investigative economics, and his expertise in global and “offshore” banking, have taken him to more than 50 developing countries, including Argentina, Antigua, Anguilla, Aruba/Bonaire, the Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guadalupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Swaziland, the Sudan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.

His on-the-ground investigations produced documentary evidence of international drug deals that proved to be instrumental in the 1992 conviction of Panama’s Manuel Noriega. He assisted the Government of Paraguay in recovering hundreds of millions of dollars of assets stolen by General Alfredo Stroessner and his cronies. Mr Henry was present in Tiananmen Square in May 1989, helping to publish an English-language newspaper. He has pursued first-hand investigations of the Mexican drug cartel, corruption in the Russian privatization program, the Central American mafia de la madera, drug trafficking in Brazil, R. Allen Stanford’s Bank o Antigua, “Angolagate”, and the use of offshore havens like the Isle of Man to shelter big-ticket US tax evaders. Mr Henry succeeded in exposing the crucial role of the Philippines Central Bank and First World banks in enriching former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family; and in breaking up a major Brazilian cocaine smuggling ring that had bribed a Brazilian President, leading to the first Brazilian Parliamentary Commission (CPI) on drug trafficking.

Mr Henry has testified several times before the US Senate on economic policy issues, and is a frequent speaker at forums on international development. In February-March 2012 he was a featured speaker on a panel “Transnational Corruption” sponsored by the Harvard International Law Journal, and another panel on “Beyond Awareness - Compelling Action Through Film”, sponsored by the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Gleitsman Center for Public Leadership.

Mr Henry has also served as a reporter, producer, and on-camera presenter for several documentary films, including “Land Famine in Honduras” (1984), “Noriega” (ABC News 1991); “UnBoliviable/ Cocalero” (2007), a documentary about Evo Morales by Donald Ranvaud, producer of “City of God” and “Constant Gardener”; “Cuba Libre” (2008), a film by Alessandra Silvestri; “We’re Not Broke”, a film about corporate tax evasion that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in January 2012, and is available on Netflix; and “The Price We Pay”, a feature-length documentary on tax havens by the Canadian filmmaker Harold Crooks that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in October 2014 and is available on iTunes.


Mr Henry is an honors graduate of Harvard College (Magna Cum Laude, Social Studies ‘72; Detur prize; Phi Beta Kappa, National Merit Scholar, Chairman, Institute of Politics, Student Advisory Committee); Harvard Law School (J.D., Honors, 1976); Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (M.S. ABD, Economics, 1978); Danforth Fellow; “Nader Raider”; and a member of the New York Bar since 1978. He has a working knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese, German and French. He is an Adirondack 46R and an avid tennis player, scuba diver, and photographer. Born and raised in Minnesota, he and his two children make their homes in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.