Global Capital Allocation Project


Tax Havens and Global Capital Allocation in Europe

Regulating financial markets, preventing financial contagion, and building equitable financial systems requires banks and policymakers to know how much money from corporations and individuals is flowing across borders and where it is invested. Tax havens obscure that reality and cost governments nearly $600 billion a year in lost corporate tax revenue and trillions of dollars in lost individual tax revenue, according to 2019 estimates from the International Monetary Fund. The size and opacity of financial flows call for a better understanding of the role that tax havens play in the global economy.

This collaboration between the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Global Capital Allocation Project (GCAP) brings together researchers, policymakers and statisticians at the ECB and finance and economics professors from Stanford and Columbia universities to analyze granular data on individual security-level investments of euro area investors. The team will reclassify the location of these investments based on where the true economic activities of firms take place, rather than their places of legal residency. This effort will allow researchers and policymakers to “see through” tax havens to better understand where capital is flowing. Philip Lane — the ECB’s chief economist and a member of the ECB’s executive board — described the proper measurement of these financial exposures and risks as a key issue for macroeconomic statistics.[1]

The lab members and partners will work together to analyze this data and identify ways it can inform central bank and regulatory responses to specific concerns arising from complex financial intermediation chains and distorted capital flows statistics. The lab’s work will also further our understanding of the economic consequences of financial capital flowing through tax havens, and it may inform broader international financial stability regulations, as well as decisions taken by ministries of finance and the central banks of EU member nations.


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