Thursday, May 24, 2018

Tax Havens Still Very Much Alive & Well!

According to National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) there is over ARS220 billion in offshore accounts, the equivalent of almost 40 percent of Argentina’s GDP. The country ranks 5th globally for offshore account deposits, behind Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and the UAE.

Drawing on newly published macroeconomic statistics, the National Bureau of Economic Research  estimates the amount of household wealth owned by each country in offshore tax havens.

The equivalent of 10% of world GDP is held in tax havens globally, but this average masks a great deal of heterogeneity, from a few percent of GDP in Scandinavia, to about 15% in Continental Europe, and 60% in Gulf countries and some Latin American economies.

NBER used these estimates to construct revised series of top wealth shares in ten countries, which account for close to half of world GDP.

Because offshore wealth is very concentrated at the top, accounting for it increases the top
0.01% wealth share substantially, even in countries, such as Norway or Denmark, that do not
use tax havens extensively. Offshore wealth has a larger effect on inequality in the U.K., Spain,
and France, where, by our estimates, 30%–40% of all the wealth of the 0.01% richest households
is held abroad.

It has dramatic implications in Russia, where the majority of wealth at the top is held outside of the country. In the United States, offshore wealth also increases inequality, but the effect is more muted than in Europe, because U.S. top wealth shares are already very high even disregarding tax havens. In all cases, taking offshore wealth into account increases the rise in inequality seen in tax data markedly. This result highlights the importance of looking beyond tax data to study wealth accumulation among the very rich in a globalized world.


These results highlight the importance of looking beyond tax and survey data to study wealth accumulation among the very rich in a globalized world.


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