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Public Debts and Private Assets:Explaining Capital Flight from Sub-Saharan African Countries

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  • Léonce Ndikumana

Abstract

We investigate the determinants of capital flight from 30 sub-Saharan African countries, including 24 countries classified as severely indebted low-income countries, for the period 1970-1996. The econometric analysis reveals that external borrowing is positively and significantly related to capital flight, suggesting that to a large extent capital flight is debt-fueled. We estimate that for every dollar of external borrowing in the region, roughly 80 cents flowed back as capital flight in the same year. Capital flight also exhibits a high degree of persistence in the sense that past capital flight is correlated with current and future capital flight. The growth rate differential between the African country and its OECD trading partners is negatively related to capital flight. We also explore the effects of several other factors – inflation, fiscal policy indicators, the interest rate differential, exchange rate appreciation, financial development, and indicators of the political environment and governance. We discuss the implications of the results for debt relief and for policies aimed at preventing capital flight and attracting private capital held abroad.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst in its series Working Papers with number wp32.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp32

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Keywords: capital flight; debt; sub-Saharan Africa; debt relief; capital control;

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  1. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
  2. J. K. Boyce & L. Ndikumana, 2001. "Is Africa a Net Creditor? New Estimates of Capital Flight from Severely Indebted Sub-Saharan African Countries, 1970-96," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(2), pages 27-56.
  3. Ethan Kaplan & Dani Rodrik, 2001. "Did the Malaysian Capital Controls Work?," NBER Working Papers 8142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Governance matters," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2196, The World Bank.
  8. Hermes, Niels & Lensink, Robert, 2001. "Capital flight and the uncertainty of government policies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 377-381, June.
  9. G. A. Mackenzie, 1989. "Are All Summary Indicators of the Stance of Fiscal Policy Misleading?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 36(4), pages 743-770, December.
  10. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 1989. "External debt, capital flight and political risk," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3-4), pages 199-220, November.
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  16. Mohsin S. Khan & Nadeem Ul Haque, 1985. "Foreign Borrowing and Capital Flight: A Formal Analysis (Emprunt extérieur et évasion de capitaux: analyse mathématique) (Endeudamiento externo y fuga de capitales: Un análisis formal)," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 32(4), pages 606-628, December.
  17. Lensink, Robert & Hermes, Niels & Murinde, Victor, 1998. "Capital flight and political risk," Research Report 98C34, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  18. Michael P. Dooley, 1988. "Capital Flight: A Response to Differences in Financial Risks," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 35(3), pages 422-436, September.
  19. Sebastian Edwards, 1999. "How Effective are Capital Controls?," NBER Working Papers 7413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  22. Simeon Inidayo Ajayi, 1997. "An Analysis of External Debt and Capital Flight in the Severely Indebted Low Income Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa," IMF Working Papers 97/68, International Monetary Fund.
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