Redrawing the Map of Global Capital Flows: The Role of Cross-Border Financing and Tax Havens

Redrawing the Map of Global Capital Flows: The Role of Cross-Border Financing and Tax Havens

By Antonio Coppola, Matteo Maggiori, Brent Neiman, Jesse Schreger
August 2019Working Paper No. 3840

Cross-border capital flows are often opaque. Global firms commonly finance themselves through foreign subsidiaries, including shell companies in tax havens, making it difficult to observe the true economic linkages between investors and borrowers around the world. We associate the universe of traded equity and debt securities with their issuer’s ultimate parent and apply our algorithm to revise bilateral investment positions from commonly used datasets. We find that private capital flows from developed countries like the U.S. and Eurozone to firms in large emerging economies – including Brazil, China, India, and Russia – are substantially larger than previously thought.