Investor's wiki

Capital Flight

Capital Flight

What is Capital Flight?

Capital flight is a large-scale departure of financial assets and capital from a nation due to events, for example, political or economic unsteadiness, currency devaluation or the burden of capital controls. Capital flight might be legal, just like the case when foreign investors localize capital back to their nation of origin, or illegal, which happens in economies with capital controls that limit the transfer of assets out of the country. Capital flight can impose an extreme burden on more unfortunate nations since the lack of capital hinders economic growth and may lead to lower expectations for everyday comforts. Strangely, the most open economies are the least defenseless against capital flight, since transparency and receptiveness work on investors' confidence in the long-term possibilities for such economies.

Grasping Capital Flight

The term "capital flight" incorporates a number of circumstances. It can allude to a departure of capital either from one nation, from a whole region or a group of countries with comparable fundamentals. It tends to be triggered by a country-explicit event, or by a macroeconomic development that causes a large-scale shift in investor inclinations. It can likewise be short-lived or carry on for a really long time.

Currency devaluation is in many cases the trigger for large-scale - and legal - capital flight, as foreign investors escape from such nations before their assets lose too much value. This phenomenon was apparent in the Asian crisis of 1997, albeit foreign investors returned to these countries before long as their currencies settled and economic growth continued.

In light of the phantom of capital flight, most nations favor foreign direct investment (FDI) as opposed to foreign portfolio investment (FPI). After all, FDI includes long-term investments in plants and enterprises in a country, and can be really challenging to liquidate at short notice. Then again, portfolio investments can be liquidated and the proceeds localized in no time flat, leading to this capital source frequently being viewed as "hot money."

Capital flight can likewise be affected by resident investors unfortunate of government policies that will cut down the economy. For instance, they could start investing in foreign markets, in the event that a libertarian leader with very much worn manner of speaking about protectionism is chosen, or on the other hand assuming the nearby currency is at risk for being devalued unexpectedly. Dissimilar to the previous case, wherein foreign capital finds its direction back when the economy opens up once more, this type of flight might bring about capital excess abroad for prolonged extends. Outflows of the Chinese yuan, when the government devalued its currency, happened several times after 2015.

In a low-interest rate environment, "carry trades" - which include borrowing in low-interest rate currencies and investing in possibly higher-return assets, for example, emerging market equities and junk bonds - can likewise trigger capital flight. This would happen on the off chance that interest rates seem as though they might head higher, which makes examiners participate in large-scale selling of emerging market and other speculative assets, as was found in the late spring of 2013.

During periods of market volatility, it is entirely expected to see the articulations capital endlessly flight to quality utilized reciprocally. Though capital flight could best address the outright withdrawal of capital, flight to quality generally addresses investors shifting from higher yielding hazardous assets to safer and safer alternatives.

How do Governments Deal With Capital Flight

The effects of capital flight can fluctuate in light of the level and type of dependency that governments have on foreign capital. The Asian crisis of 1997 is an illustration of a more extreme effect due to capital flight. During the crisis, fast currency devaluations by the Asian tigers triggered a capital flight which, thusly, brought about a cascading type of influence of imploding stock prices across the world.

As per a few accounts, international stocks fell by as much as 60 percent due to the crisis. The IMF interceded and gave bridge loans to the impacted economies. To support their economies, the countries likewise purchased US treasuries. As opposed to the Asian financial crisis, the implied effect of a 2015 devaluation in the Chinese yuan that brought about capital outflows was moderately milder, with a reported decline of just 8 percent at the Shanghai stock market.

Governments utilize different strategies to deal with the aftermath of capital flight. For instance, they institute capital controls confining the flow of their currency outside the country. In any case, this may not generally be an optimal solution as it could additionally push down the economy and result in greater panic about the state of affairs. Other than this, the development of supranational mechanical innovations, for example, bitcoin, may assist with avoiding such controls.

The other normally utilized strategy by governments is signing of tax deals with different wards. One of the fundamental justifications for why capital flight is an alluring option is on the grounds that transferring funds doesn't bring about tax punishments. By making it costly to transfer large amounts of cash across borders, countries can remove a portion of the benefits acquired from such transactions.

Governments likewise raise interest rates to make neighborhood currency alluring for investors. The overall effect is an increase in the currency's valuation. Be that as it may, a rise in interest rates likewise makes imports costly and siphons up the overall cost of carrying on with work. Another thump on effect of higher interest rates is more inflation.

Illustration of Illegal Capital Flight

Illegal capital flight generally happens in nations that have severe capital and currency controls. For instance, India's capital flight added up to billions of dollars during the 1970s and 1980s due to severe currency controls. The country changed its economy during the 1990s, turning around this capital flight as foreign capital overflowed into the resurgent economy.

Capital flight can likewise happen in more modest nations assailed by political unrest or economic issues. Argentina, for example, has gotten through capital flight for a really long time due to a high inflation rate and a sliding domestic currency.


  • Capital flight is the outflow of capital from a country due to negative monetary policies, like currency depreciation, or carry trades in which low interest rate currencies are traded for higher-bring assets back.
  • Governments embrace different strategies, from raising interest rates to signing tax arrangements, to deal with capital flight.