Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Literature Review: how banks help capital flee Africa

Norway's development organisation Norad has commissioned the respected Chr. Michelsen Institute to produce a new literature review entitled How banks assist capital flight from Africa - A literature review. Its first sentence notes something we've long been aware of:

"Systematic studies of the banking sector’s involvement in facilitating capital flight from developing countries are limited."

Now we don't like the term "capital flight" at all (see why here) but this report is most welcome, not least for statements such as:

"The review shows that banks should not be disregarded as passive players when analysing capital flight. Banks play an active role in facilitating capital flight from Africa."

And we're interested to note that the report endorses an approach TJN has taken with respect to terminology, notably with respect to the term "secrecy jurisdiction" (an alternative to the more popular "tax haven" - this SJ term is believed to have originated in the U.S. in the late 1990s, and possibly from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations - though TJN would be interested to learn of earlier uses of the term.) The CMI report argues:

" 'Secrecy jurisdiction’ is the term most frequently used in this report since it points to the legal space which he banks operate within. This term has a better explanatory value to the phenomenon of regulatory vacuums created by secrecy jurisdictions than alternative expressions."

But there's plenty more in here. We welcome the emerging debate and discussion.


Blogger Physiocrat said...

So what is actually leaving Africa by the container-load? Factories, mines, and the machinery that is in them? Logs? Wild game? Rhinoceros horns? Land? Paper claims on wealth?

I ask the question because capital is such a vague term that nobody seems to be able to define it any more.

1:44 am  

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