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The Elusive Banker: Using Hurricanes to Uncover (Non-)Activity in Offshore Financial Centers


  • Jakob Miethe


This paper studies financial service provision booked through offshore financial centers (OFCs). Based on several novel data sources and recent advances in event study methodology, I exploit the natural experiment of re-occurring hurricanes hitting small islands and compare local reactions to reactions in financial service activity. I find that local conditions, captured by monthly satellite data on nightlight intensity, deteriorate significantly for nine months. However, in OFCs, the international bank sector does not react. Non-OFC islands on the other hand do show strong negative reactions. Similar (non-)reactions are visible in equity prices. Additionally, a link of OFC service provision to activity in London, Tokyo, and New York is visible in leaked data. Finally, a long term relationship between offshore finance and local development is absent, but only on OFCs. These results indicate that international regulation attempts that aim at forcing OCFs to provide information on financial service activity could be targeted better, they show that we mis-allocate financial risk to OFCs, and they cast doubt on offshore finance as a valid development strategy.

Suggested Citation

  • Jakob Miethe, 2020. "The Elusive Banker: Using Hurricanes to Uncover (Non-)Activity in Offshore Financial Centers," CESifo Working Paper Series 8625, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_8625

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    1. Elisa Casi & Mohammed Mardan & Rohit Reddy Muddasani, 2022. "So close and yet so far: the ability of mandatory disclosure rules to crack down on offshore tax evasion," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2022-116, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Hoang Ha Nguyen Thi & Alfons Weichenrieder, 2023. "Tax Haven Welfare and the Crackdown on Secrecy: Evidence from Night Light Emissions," CESifo Working Paper Series 10721, CESifo.
    3. David R. Agrawal & Ronald B. Davies & Sara LaLumia & Nadine Riedel & Kimberley Scharf, 2021. "A snapshot of public finance research from immediately prior to the pandemic: IIPF 2020," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 28(5), pages 1276-1297, October.
    4. Dutt, Verena K. & Nicolay, Katharina & Vay, Heiko & Voget, Johannes, 2019. "Can European banks' country-by-country reports reveal profit shifting? An analysis of the information content of EU banks' disclosures," ZEW Discussion Papers 19-042, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.

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    More about this item


    offshore finance; international bank claims; nightlights; hurricane impacts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access

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