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Finding lost capital: an estimate of undeclared assets held abroad by Italians


  • Valeria Pellegrini

    () (Banca d'Italia)

  • Enrico Tosti

    () (Banca d'Italia)


The substantial amount of undeclared foreign assets reported by disclosure schemes and analyses of international balance of payments statistics suggest that foreign assets held by Italians, as is the case in other countries, are greatly underestimated, in particular in the sector of portfolio investments. The aim of this work is to test this hypothesis and to estimate its magnitude. The approach is based on the comparison of mirror statistics on portfolio assets and liabilities; we have mainly used data coming from the Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS) conducted by the IMF, with further information from several international databases. For the years from 2001 to 2008 the discrepancy is estimated globally to be equal to 7.3% of world GDP on average. Different criteria have been adopted to distribute such under-reporting among investor countries and accordingly to estimate the share to attribute to Italy, which may plausibly range from �124 billion to �194 billion at the end of 2008 (from 7.9% to 12.4% of Italian GDP).

Suggested Citation

  • Valeria Pellegrini & Enrico Tosti, 2011. "Finding lost capital: an estimate of undeclared assets held abroad by Italians," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 97, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:opques:qef_97_11

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    international investment position; portfolio securities; under-reporting;

    JEL classification:

    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements

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