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Offshore financial centers: parasites or symbionts?

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  • Andrew K. Rose
  • Mark M. Spiegel

Abstract

This paper analyzes the causes and consequences of offshore financial centers (OFCs). Since OFCs are likely to be tax havens and money launderers, they encourage bad behavior in source countries. Nevertheless, OFCs may also have unintended positive consequences for their neighbors, since they act as a competitive fringe for the domestic banking sector. We derive and simulate a model of a home country monopoly bank facing a representative competitive OFC which offers tax advantages attained by moving assets offshore at a cost that is increasing in distance between the OFC and the source. Our model predicts that proximity to an OFC is likely to have pro-competitive implications for the domestic banking sector, although the overall effect on welfare is ambiguous. We test and confirm the predictions empirically. Proximity to an OFC is associated with a more competitive domestic banking system and greater overall financial depth.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2005-05.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2005-05

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Keywords: Banks and banking; International ; Competition ; Bank supervision;

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  1. Beck, T.H.L. & Levine, R. & Loayza, N., 2000. "Financial intermediation and growth: Causality and causes," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125519, Tilburg University.
  2. James R. Barth & Gerard Caprio, Jr. & Ross Levine, 2002. "Bank Regulation and Supervision: What Works Best?," NBER Working Papers 9323, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Harry Huizinga & Søren Bo Nielsen, . "Withholding Taxes or Information Exchange: The Taxation of International Interest Flows," EPRU Working Paper Series 00-19, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  4. Philip Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2005. "International Investment Patterns," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp024, IIIS.
  5. Hines, J.R. & Rice, E.M., 1990. "Fiscal Paradise: Foreign Tax Havens And American Business," Papers 56, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  6. Luca Errico & Alberto Musalem Borrero, 1999. "Offshore Banking," IMF Working Papers 99/5, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Governance matters," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2196, The World Bank.
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