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经济学人双语:埋藏的财富


笔译、口译、同声传译Tax havens

避税天堂

 

Buried treasure

埋藏的财富

 

Vast wealth is salted away offshore. But whose? And where?

离岸财富数额巨大。但这些财富属于谁?藏在哪里?

 

SWITZERLAND, which developed cross-border wealth-management in the 1920s, was once in a league of its own as a tax haven. Since the 1980s, however, tax-dodgers have been spoilt for choice: they can hide assets anywhere from the Bahamas to Hong Kong. The percentage of global wealth held offshore has increased dramatically. But it has been hard to say how much that is, and who owns it.

瑞士在上世纪20年代就 发展起了跨境财富管理业务。作为避税天堂,它曾一度独步天下。然而,到了80年代之后,避税者 拥有了太多的选择:从巴哈马到香港,他们可 以在任何地方隐藏资产。全球离 岸财富的比例急剧上升,但很难 说清楚这些财富有多少、为谁所有。

 

Few offshore centres used to disclose such data. But in 2016 many authorised the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to make banking statistics publicly available. Using these data, a new study by Annette Alstadsaeter, Niels Johannesen and Gabriel Zucman, three economists, concludes that tax havens hoard wealth equivalent to about 10% of global GDP. This average masks big variations. Russian assets worth 50% of GDP are held offshore; countries such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates climb into the 60-70% range. Britain and continental Europe come in at 15%, but Scandinavia at only a few per cent.

过去,离岸中 心很少披露此类数据。但在2016年,许多离 岸中心准许国际清算银行(BIS)公开其银行统计数据。利用这些数据,安妮特·阿斯特达塔(Annette Alstadsaeter)、尼尔斯·约翰尼森(Niels Johannesen)和加布里埃尔·祖克曼(Gabriel Zucman)这三位 经济学家在一项新研究中得出结论称,避税天 堂囤积的财富大约相当于全球GDP的10%。这个平 均值掩盖了各国之间的巨大差异。俄罗斯 存放在海外的资产相当于该国GDP的50%;在委内瑞拉、沙特阿 拉伯和阿联酋等国,这个数字攀升至60%至70%。英国和 欧洲大陆国家的数字为15%,而斯堪 的纳维亚地区只有几个百分点。

 

One conclusion is that high tax rates, like those in Denmark or Sweden, do not drive people offshore. Rather, higher offshore wealth is correlated with factors such as political and economic instability and an abundance of natural resources.

一个结论是,像丹麦 或瑞典那样的高税率并不会让人们把财富转移到离岸中心。相反,更高比 例的离岸财富与政治和经济的不稳定以及自然资源丰富等因素有关。

 

Proximity to Switzerland also remains a good indicator. But assets held there have declined since the financial crisis (see chart), whereas those in Hong Kong grew sixfold from 2007 to 2015. The territory now ranks second behind Switzerland. Mr Zucman attributes this to foreign pressure on Swiss banks following recent scandals, coupled with a surge of wealth in Asia.

邻近瑞 士依然是一个很好的指标。但自金融危机以来,存放在 瑞士的资产已经减少(见图表),而存放 在香港的资产在2007年至2015年间增长了六倍。目前香 港的排名仅次于瑞士。祖克曼认为,这是因 为在近年的丑闻之后外国对瑞士的银行施加了压力,而亚洲 财富猛涨也是一个原因。

 

 

Accounting for offshore holdings suggests wealth inequality is even greater than was thought. In Britain, France, and Spain the top 0.01% of households stash 30-40% of their wealth in tax havens. In Russia, most of it goes there. In America, the share of wealth held by the richest 0.01% is as high today as in early 20th-century Europe. Including offshore data increases the wealth share of the super-rich.

若把离 岸财富考虑在内,则财富 的不平等比人们以为的还要严重。在英国、法国和西班牙,最富有的0.01%的家庭把自己30%至40%的财富 藏匿到了避税天堂。在俄罗斯,大部分 财富都转移到了那些地方。在美国,如今最富有的0.01%的人口 拥有的财富比例和上世纪初欧洲的一样高。算上离岸数据,超级富 人的财富占比还会更高。

 

Yet plenty of data are still missing. A few big centres, including Panama and Singapore, still do not disclose these statistics. The BIS data also cover only bank deposits, not the securities in which most offshore wealth is held. Researchers made estimates to plug the gap, but their figures are likely to be conservative.

然而仍 有大量数据缺失。巴拿马 和新加坡等几个大离岸中心仍不披露这些统计数字。国际清 算银行的数据也只包括银行存款,不包括证券,而大多 数离岸财富都以证券持有。研究人 员用估计数字填补了这块缺失,但他们 的数字可能较为保守。

 

Mr Zucman thinks tax havens should be forced to be more transparent, and that institutions that facilitate tax evasion should face stiffer penalties. Fines are often seen as the cost of doing business and are small compared with profits. Threatening to withdraw banking licences would be a stronger deterrent. “There’s a strong demand from all over the world for tax-evasion services,” he says. “Without large enough sanctions, there will always be a supply to meet that demand.”

祖克曼 认为应该迫使避税天堂变得更透明,而为逃 税提供便利的机构应该面临更严厉的处罚。但罚款 往往被视为做生意的成本,而且相 比利润只是一小部分,因此威 胁撤销银行牌照会更有威慑力。“世界各 地对避税服务都有强烈的需求,”他说,“没有足够严厉的制裁,就总会 有供给来满足这种需求。”




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