Russian wealth is hidden in Western offshore zones

The Russians have as much money in offshore zones as in Russia. Every year, Russia loses from 15 to 50 billion dollars.
The wealth that Russians have taken offshore since 1990, by 2015, accounted for about 75% of the country's national income. The same amount is made up of "official" financial assets of all Russian households, analysts of the National Bureau of Economic Research of the United States (NBER) have estimated. In fact, rich Russians keep abroad the same financial condition as all Russians - inside the country.

The national wealth of Russia has grown during these years not very much and not at the expense of financial assets that depreciated as a result of hyperinflation in the 1990s. And have not yet been fully restored (accounting for slightly more than 70% of the national income), but primarily due to the growth in real estate prices.

 Since 1990, wealth has not grown, but flowed from one group to another, the authors of the report write: its share under the control of 10% of the wealthiest Russians has grown rapidly and now amounts to 45-50% of the national income, the share under the control of 1% of the richest - 20 -25%, more than in the USA. The share of the most unsecured Russians - pensioners and low-paid workers - fell to 18% of the national income. Credit Suisse assessed the inequality even higher: 10% of the richest Russians own 89% of the total welfare of all Russian households.

From 1989 to 2016, the national income attributable to an adult Russian grew by 40%: in 1989-1990, It was 60-65% of the West European, now - 70-75%. But the growth occurred at the expense of the richest people, the authors of the report write. Inequality in Russia is higher than in Eastern Europe, where 1% of the richest have 10-14% of national income and billionaires, according to Forbes, much less. Experts estimate the state of Russian billionaires in 25-30% of the national income against 5-15% in the US, Germany and France (see chart).

But the Russian government, households and companies should have been richer, the report says. From the beginning of the 1990s, thanks to oil and gas exports, Russia's trade balance was surplus from year to year and provided an average of 9.8% of the national income, its authors write, but Russia's official net international assets by 2015 accounted for only 25% of the national income. Some Russians have appropriated a part of the revenues from international trade, taking money to offshore, the authors come to the conclusion: if you summarize the surplus of the trade balance for 1990-2015, the outflow amounted to about 200% of the national income, if you take into account the accumulated accumulated income from foreign assets - 300% .

The withdrawal of capital from Russia is colossal, the main analyst of the Savings Bank, Mikhail Matovnikov, agrees: in a year, capital flight is $ 15-20 billion, and in some years it reached $ 30-50 billion. In 2013-2015, Due to fictitious export-import operations from Russia, 1.2 trillion rubles were illegally exported, the Accounting Chamber estimated. And according to estimates of Boston Consulting Group, almost one third of $ 2 trillion of private money Russians were in 2013-2014. In the offshore. According to their forecasts, by 2019 this share will change little. Only in 2014 more than $ 30 billion, or 8% of the total amount on bank deposits for the year, was exported abroad, Matovnikov estimates. But it is difficult to assess the withdrawal of funds from the balance of payments data, he believes: the main withdrawal of capital is carried out in such a way that the connection between the beneficiary and the recipient of funds is broken and Russian residents of foreign assets are not formed.

 When assessing the state of offshore, as a rule, capital outflow is analyzed, if you add to it the unrecorded income from investing these funds, the NBER score does not seem fantastic, argues Alfa Bank's chief economist Natalia Orlova. If you summarize the deposits of the population, pension savings, insurance and other savings, the financial assets of Russians in the amount can be about 32 trillion rubles, or $ 500 billion, she believes. At the same time, the authors estimate the withdrawal of capital in 75% of the national income, that is, about $ 700 billion.

Inequality should stimulate economic growth, but in Russia this does not happen: a significant part of wealth is not invested in the economy, does not create new jobs and does not expand the middle class, but is taken out of the country, argues the director of the Institute of Social Policy HSE Lilia Ovcharova. With the tightening of sanctions, it is possible that the withdrawn capitals may return to Russia, Orlova believes, but the conditions for investment are still poor. Export of capital - including a consequence of the poor economic conditions created in the country for savings and investment, Matovnikov agrees: often in Russia they have nowhere to go, and it's terrible to invest.