Last year, 10,000 millionaires fled France. Paris alone lost 7,000. That represents 3 percent of the nation’s millionaires and 6 percent of the capital city’s.

The reasons for the exodus, according to a report from research firm New World Wealth, include rising religious tensions between Christians and Muslims, and an overall lack of opportunities.

The situation is similar in Italy and Greece. About 5,000 millionaires moved out of Rome (7 percent of the city’s total), and 2,000 left Athens (9 percent) — in just one year. The causes cited, again, include “lack of opportunities” and slumping economies, as well as the Syrian migrant crisis.

In the global economy, one country’s loss is usually another country’s gain. Sure enough, the largest beneficiaries of this transfer of the wealthy, and their wealth, were Australia, the United States, Canada and Israel. (The U.K. just about broke even.)

That’s interesting. But what does Paris have to do with the Cayman Islands?


At minimum, the data on the movement of millionaires demonstrate that millionaires will and do, in fact, move. Because they have the means (i.e. the money) to relocate when they feel the need, they can be seen as “canaries in the coal mine” who warn of toxic atmospheres. According to the report, “Millionaires are often the first people to leave” … but not the last.

The report, which was compiled from government statistics, interviews and media reports, also points out that millionaires tend to be employers, spend a lot of money, pay a lot of taxes and bring innovations to local markets. When they leave, they take their jobs, money and ideas with them, leaving their erstwhile homes poorer in several different ways.

Here in Cayman, we shouldn’t need a report to learn those lessons. Consider, for instance, our country’s largest investor Ken Dart, who, we would assume, expatriated from the U.S. and settled here, at least partially motivated by the desire to escape confiscatory tax and inheritance policies.

For examples of people who have packed up their bags in search of better lives, we needn’t look to the upper class, but can cast our gaze in nearly any direction around our islands. Consider our expatriate community, many who are members of the Jamaican and Filipino diasporas, who have left their homelands to take up residence in Cayman.

Or, reflect upon the generations of Caymanians who went off to sea and saw the world from the decks of ships. Many returned, but many others settled elsewhere. Or even, think about the Caymanian children who grew up here but now are studying or working in Florida, New York, Canada, London or other points across the globe.

In the second half of the last millennium, economic migrants populated the New World and settled the Western Hemisphere — not without considerable conflict, violence and bloodshed. Some were driven by lust for gold, and many more motivated by “opportunity.”

Geographic mobility, perhaps even transience, has long been an aspect of Cayman society. Now that our country has developed to the point where our domestic economy can support entire families, we must never forget that if we don’t make our residents feel “at home,” then there are myriads of options elsewhere in competition for our monetary and human resources.

Many times, when government is considering new initiatives that will hinder businesses, officials are toying around with regulations that will make immigration more difficult, or people are spewing anti-“foreigner” rhetoric in other media, the response we hear from some residents boils down to, “Well, if you don’t like the way we do things in Cayman, then leave.”

We must be careful what we wish for. In a moment, Cayman’s “immigration problem” could evolve into something infinitely more serious: an “emigration problem.”

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  1. One thing that will set a Caymanian off is to threaten him. You might as well pull a gun and shoot, saying this is to say you will have people who are accustomed to a certain way of life being filthy rich and want to change every thing about where they settle and in so doing will threaten to the point of “I can go else where with my money and get it better” If you do not want a fall out with a Caymanian don’t do that ; they are a feisty set of people, who will set off if they have to.
    The Cayman Islands are bursting at the seams with Millionaires and Billionaires, The rich. nearly rich and soon get rich. ” So what”, it is their money . The should know whether they want to enjoy and spend every dime here on this little flat rock.
    Over Fifty years ago Cayman used the password ” If you do not like the way we live then leave” Many who hear those words expressed would feel not goo good about it, I would too, however take a step back and see how you would feel being a minority in your own country and the persons whom we welcome with open arms are stuck up, selfish and uncaring . It just going to work,
    Take for instance The man they call ” Dart ” very few people including locals do not even know what he looks like. But isn’t he a real man; He is one of the best things ever happen to Cayman Islands since thatch rope and steam engine. Do we want to see him leave “Hell no” The man came here settled here with his wealth, made Cayman beautiful, made roads out of swamp and allowing Locals to enjoy a better Cayman. I like his style, and he is filthy rich, and does not walk around with his nose up in the air, and has accepted much pressure from many locals which was pushed in the back ground by jealous other foreign rich,
    So there is nothing wrong with the Rich and famous enjoying Cayman, it is their money, just be considerate their approach not because money supposed to buy everything. Flight of Millionaires. From Cayman, Naw!! don’t think it should even be thought about.

  2. I applaud the Cayman Compass Editor for writing such a good editorial to open our eyes to what is going on in the world today .
    I think that every politician and every civil servant in the Cayman Islands Government should read and understand this editorial , because these are the people that can help and prevent future problems from happening in the Cayman Islands .

  3. The beautiful thing about Globalization and the ability to travel with relative ease is that people may vote with their feet. Every country is in competition to secure talent, jobs, employers, educational foundations, etc. and it’s success or failure is usually determined by its governance.

  4. Twyla, I think you have not quite understood the point the editor is making. No one is threatening anything, just stating facts.

    Grand Cayman has been my home for over 34 years. I have spent more than half my life here.
    I have never worked here or “taken anyone’s job”.

    I have never heard of secretaries being told not to associate with Caymanian co-workers. Or the other dreadful things you claim.

    When I arrived in 1982 there were about 18,000 people living in Grand Cayman. Including about 4,000 ex-pats.

    Why did I come to this under-populated island with no TV but lots of mosquitoes?
    Of course the lack of direct taxation was a draw, but other countries offer the same. Why not the Bahamas?

    The reason I chose Grand Cayman was the lack of crime and welcoming people. I had heard that the Bahamas had a high crime level and did not welcome foreigners.
    I came from London, England, where you only had to leave your possessions unguarded for a minute to find them gone. It was exhilarating to live somewhere you could safely leave your front door unlocked.

    We now set our alarm every evening and every time we leave our home and we are having electric gates installed. We never use ATMs or buy gas after dark.

    The days of feeling safe are sadly gone.

    I well understand your genuine concern about being a minority in your own country. However there are many nationalities living here. The largest foreigner group being Jamaican.

    I hope the day will never come when I feel so unsafe and so unwelcome that I would have to leave my HOME for good.

  5. Norman I think you need to read my comments again, and then revisit paragraph three of your comments.
    Let me state I am an artisan/Author. I will paint a picture, and you will see it through your eyes and see what you want to see, different from someone else; that does not mean that the way you see the picture is limited “For your eyes only”
    So you are NOT correct in saying that I do not understand the point the Editor is making. That is your version, seeing through your eyes only, not mine or the editors. That is why there is always three sides to a story. Your side, My side and the other side..

  6. Twyla. I really don’t want to argue. I was referring more to your comments on April 17th where you said it was “sickening ” that secretaries were told not to associate with their Caymanian co-workers. Has this ever happened? Perhaps although I doubt it.

    Is it general practice? I am certain it is not.

    No disrespect intended to the remarkable Caymanian people who have survived amid very tough conditions.