(4) Best-guess estimates of offshore assets held by the world's top 50 private banks.
Familiar Wall Street, European, and other global financial institutions comprise them.
Current data gotten from global central banks, the World Bank, IMF, UN, and national accounts were used. Other evidence includes:
(1) "Transfer mispricing" data.
(2) Demand for cross-border liquid "mattress money" data.
(3) Current research data on the offshore private banking market's size.
TJN believes its work comprises the "most rigorous and comprehensive" data ever produced. It challenges anyone to contest it.
In overall size through 2010, it estimates hidden global wealth at from $21 - $32 trillion. It's invested "virtually tax-free" through a still-expanding black hole of more than 80 secret jurisdictions. It calls estimates conservative.
Developed countries don't face debt problems. They've got huge offshore tax evasion ones. Repatriation would reduce debt substantially. Doing so would bring it well within tolerable levels.
Only financial wealth is included. Much else isn't measured. It includes real estate, yachts, racehorses, gold, art, and other categories not easily quantified.
The offshore economy alone has an enormous negative impact on the domestic tax bases of affected countries. They've had significant private capital outflows for years, decades or longer.
TJN focused on 139 countries. They're mainly "low-middle income" ones. The World Bank and IMF maintain data on them.
Since the 1970s, private bankers let rich elites accumulate trillions in hidden wealth. At the same time, these nations experienced structural adjustment harshness.
They became debt-entrapped. Some borrowed themselves into insolvency. They sold off public assets at fire sale prices. They impoverished their people. They colluded with big money interests at their expense.
Through 2010, they accumulated over $4 trillion in debt. Minus foreign reserves invested in First World securities, it's $2.8 trillion. Including hidden wealth, they're net lenders.
Key is that assets of these countries are held by wealthy elites. Ordinary people bear the burden of debts.