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Mapped: International Tax Competitiveness by Country



This infographic is available as a poster.

International Tax Competitiveness

International Tax Competitiveness

This infographic is available as a poster.

Mapped: International Tax Competitiveness by Country

Many multinational companies, such as Google and Facebook, have their European headquarters in Ireland. Why? Ireland has low corporate taxes.

In fact, a country’s tax structure can have a significant impact on its economic performance. Countries with low marginal tax rates encourage business investment, while countries with high taxes may drive investment elsewhere.

This Markets in a Minute from New York life Investments looks at international tax competitiveness among countries within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

How is Tax Competitiveness Measured?

The Tax Foundation measured international tax competitiveness using two aspects of tax policy: competitiveness and neutrality.

Competitiveness measures how low a country’s marginal tax rates are. On the other hand, a neutral tax code raises the most revenue with the fewest economic distortions. This means that it doesn’t favor consumption over savings, which is what happens with investment or wealth taxes. It also means there are few or no tax breaks for specific business or individual activities.

With these two aspects in mind, the Tax Foundation looked at five types of taxes:

  • Corporate taxes
  • Individual income taxes
  • Consumption taxes
  • Property taxes
  • Cross-border taxes

According to research from the OECD, corporate taxes are most harmful for economic growth while taxes on immovable property (real estate) have the smallest impact.

International Tax Competitiveness, Ranked

Here is how the OECD countries rank on their international tax competitiveness. A low score means the country’s taxes are relatively less competitive, while a score of 100 indicates the most competitive tax code among OECD countries.

CountryOverall RankOverall Score
🇪🇪 Estonia1100.0
🇱🇻 Latvia285.1
🇳🇿 New Zealand381.3
🇨🇭 Switzerland478.4
🇱🇺 Luxembourg576.5
🇱🇹 Lithuania676.5
🇨🇿 Czech Republic775.5
🇸🇪 Sweden872.9
🇦🇺 Australia971.3
🇳🇴 Norway1070.6
🇸🇰 Slovak Republic1169.3
🇳🇱 Netherlands1269.2
🇭🇺 Hungary1369.0
🇮🇱 Israel1467.6
🇫🇮 Finland1567.4
🇩🇪 Germany1667.2
🇹🇷 Turkey1766.7
🇦🇹 Austria1865.7
🇮🇪 Ireland1964.7
🇨🇦 Canada2064.6
🇺🇸 United States2162.4
🇬🇧 United Kingdom2261.8
🇧🇪 Belgium2361.6
🇯🇵 Japan2461.5
🇸🇮 Slovenia2561.3
🇰🇷 Korea2660.6
🇨🇱 Chile2758.2
🇩🇰 Denmark2857.9
🇬🇷 Greece2957.5
🇪🇸 Spain3057.1
🇨🇴 Colombia3155.0
🇮🇸 Iceland3253.7
🇲🇽 Mexico3352.5
🇵🇹 Portugal3449.0
🇫🇷 France3548.7
🇵🇱 Poland3645.7
🇮🇹 Italy3744.6

Costa Rica joined the OECD in 2021 and was not included in the ranking due to data availability.

For the eighth year in a row, Estonia has the most competitive taxes. The country has a 20% corporate tax that only applies to profits when they are distributed to shareholders, and property tax that only applies to the land value. Switzerland, one of the world’s biggest tax havens, ranks fourth. It boasts a low, broad-based consumption tax of 7.7% and an individual income tax that partially excludes capital gains from taxation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. falls in the middle of the pack for international tax competitiveness. It allows for full expensing for business investments in machinery. However, a weakness is that the states’ sales taxes apply to only a third of the potential tax base on average. This is largely due to the fact that most personal services are exempt from sales tax.

Italy has the least competitive taxes. The country has a wealth tax on financial assets and real estate assets held abroad, and a financial transaction tax on assets when they are sold. Not only that, it takes businesses an estimated 169 hours to comply with the individual income tax.

Balancing Budget and Competition

While many factors contribute to economic performance, tax structure does play a role. Governments face the task of collecting sufficient revenue to meet their budgetary requirements, while also maximizing their international tax competitiveness. These tax structures are constantly evolving.

Starting in 2023, 137 countries—including Ireland—have agreed to a global minimum tax rate of 15% on large multinational firms. The agreement aims to stop a “race to the bottom” on corporate taxation in order to attract foreign investment. Notably, the OECD estimates this could raise $150 billion in additional global tax revenues every year.

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Markets in a Minute

What is the Success Rate of Actively Managed Funds?

For actively managed funds, the odds of beating the market over the long run are like finding a needle in a haystack.



Actively Managed Funds

What is the Success Rate of Actively Managed Funds?

Over a 20-year period, 95% of large-cap actively managed funds have underperformed their benchmark.

The above graphic shows the performance of actively managed funds across a range of fund types, using data from S&P Global via Charlie Bilello.

Missing the Mark: Actively Managed Funds

Several factors present headwinds to actively managed funds.

  • Trading costs: First, fund managers will trade more often than passive funds. These in turn incur costs, impacting returns.
  • Cash holdings: Additionally, many of these funds hold a cash allocation of about 5% or more to capture market opportunities. Unlike active funds, their passive counterparts are often fully invested. Cash holdings can have the opposite effect than intended—dragging on overall returns.
  • Fees: Active funds can charge up to 1-2% in investment manager fees while funds that tracked an index passively charged just 0.12% on average in 2022. These additional costs add up over time.

Below, we show how active funds increasingly underperform against their benchmark over each time period.

Fund Type1 Year
% Underperformed
5 Year
% Underperformed
10 Year
% Underperformed
20 Year
% Underperformed
All Large-Cap 51879195
All Small-Cap 57718994
Large-Cap Growth 74869698
Large-Cap Value 59698587
Small-Cap Growth 80598597
Small-Cap Value 41819192
Real Estate 88627487

As we can see, 51% of all large-cap active mutual funds underperformed in a one-year period. That compares to 41% of small-cap value funds, which had the best chance of outperforming the benchmark annually. Also, an eye-opening 88% of real estate funds underperformed.

For context, Warren Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway has beat the S&P 500 two-thirds of the time. Even the world’s top stock pickers have a hard time beating the market’s returns.

2020 Market Crash: A Case Study

How about active funds’ performance during a crisis?

While the case for actively managed funds is often stronger during a market downturn, a 2020 study shows how they continued to underperform the index.

Overall, 74% of over 3,600 active funds with $4.9 trillion in assets did worse than the S&P 500 during the 2020 market plunge.

Stage of 2020 CycleTime Period% Underperforming S&P 500
CrisisFeb 20 - Apr 30, 202074.2
CrashFeb 20 - Mar 23, 202063.5
RecoveryMar 24 - Apr 30, 202055.8
Pre-CrisisOct 1 2019 - Jan 31, 202067.1

Source: NBER

In better news, roughly half underperformed through the recovery, the best out of any market condition that was studied.

The Bigger Impact

Of course, some actively managed funds outperform.

Still, choosing the top funds year after year can be challenging. Also note that active fund managers typically only run a portfolio for four and a half years on average before someone new takes over, making it difficult to stick with a star manager for very long.

As lower returns accumulate over time, the impact of investing in active mutual funds can be striking. If an investor had a $100,000 portfolio and paid 2% in costs every year for 25 years, they would lose about $170,000 to fees if it earned 6% annually.

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Markets in a Minute

Ranked: The Largest Bond Markets in the World

The global bond market stands at $133 trillion in value. Here are the major players in bond markets worldwide.



The Largest Bond Markets in the World

The Largest Bond Markets in the World

In 2022, the global bond market totaled $133 trillion.

As one of the world’s largest capital markets, debt securities have grown sevenfold over the last 40 years. Fueling this growth are government and corporate debt sales across major economies and emerging markets. Over the last three years, China’s bond market has grown 13% annually.

Based on estimates from the Bank for International Statements, this graphic shows the largest bond markets in the world.

ℹ️ Total debt numbers here include both domestic and international debt securities in each particular country or region. BIS notes that international debt securities are issued outside the local market of the country where the borrower resides and cover eurobonds as well as foreign bonds, but exclude negotiable loans.

Ranked: The World’s Top Bond Markets

Valued at over $51 trillion, the U.S. has the largest bond market globally.

Government bonds made up the majority of its debt market, with over $26 trillion in securities outstanding. In 2022, the Federal government paid $534 billion in interest on this debt.

China is second, at 16% of the global total. Local commercial banks hold the greatest share of its outstanding bonds, while foreign ownership remains fairly low. Foreign interest in China’s bonds slowed in 2022 amid geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and lower yields.

Bond Market RankCountry / RegionTotal Debt OutstandingShare of Total Bond Market
1🇺🇸 U.S.$51.3T39%
2🇨🇳 China$20.9T16%
3🇯🇵 Japan$11.0T8%
4🇫🇷 France$4.4T3%
5🇬🇧 United Kingdom$4.3T3%
6🇨🇦 Canada$4.0T3%
7🇩🇪 Germany$3.7T3%
8🇮🇹 Italy$2.9T2%
9🇰🇾 Cayman Islands*$2.7T2%
10🇧🇷 Brazil*$2.4T2%
11🇰🇷 South Korea*$2.2T2%
12🇦🇺 Australia$2.2T2%
13🇳🇱 Netherlands$1.9T1%
14🇪🇸 Spain$1.9T1%
15🇮🇳 India*$1.3T1%
16🇮🇪 Ireland$1.0T1%
17🇲🇽 Mexico*$1.0T1%
18🇱🇺 Luxembourg$0.9T1%
19🇧🇪 Belgium$0.7T>1%
20🇷🇺 Russia*$0.7T>1%

*Represent countries where total debt securities were not reported by national authorities. These figures are the sum of domestic debt securities reported by national authorities and/or international debt securities compiled by BIS.
Data as of Q3 2022.

As the above table shows, Japan has the third biggest debt market. Japan’s central bank owns a massive share of its government bonds. Central bank ownership hit a record 50% as it tweaked its yield curve control policy that was introduced in 2016. The policy was designed to help boost inflation and prevent interest rates from falling. As inflation began to rise in 2022 and bond investors began selling, it had to increase its yield to spur demand and liquidity. The adjustment sent shockwaves through financial markets.

In Europe, France is home to the largest bond market at $4.4 trillion in total debt, surpassing the United Kingdom by roughly $150 billion.

Banks: A Major Buyer in Bond Markets

Like central banks around the world, commercial banks are key players in bond markets.

In fact, commercial banks are among the top three buyers of U.S. government debt. This is because commercial banks will reinvest client deposits into interest-bearing securities. These often include U.S. Treasuries, which are highly liquid and one of the safest assets globally.

As we can see in the chart below, the banking sector often surpasses an economy’s total GDP.

Banking Sector

As interest rates have risen sharply since 2022, the price of bonds has been pushed down, given their inverse relationship. This has raised questions about what type of bonds banks hold.

In the U.S., commercial banks hold $4.2 trillion in Treasury bonds and other government securities. For large U.S. banks, these holdings account for almost 24% of assets on average. They make up an average 15% of assets for small banks in 2023. Since mid-2022, small banks have reduced their bond holdings due to interest rate increases.

As higher rates reverberate across the banking system and wider economy, it may expose further strains on global bond markets which have expanded rapidly in an era of dovish monetary policy and ultra-low interest rates.

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