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Technology capital and the U.S. current account

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  • Ellen R. McGrattan
  • Edward C. Prescott

Abstract

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates the return on investments of foreign subsidiaries of U.S. multinational companies over the period 1982?2006 averaged 9.4 percent annually after taxes; U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinationals averaged only 3.2 percent. Two factors distort BEA returns: technology capital and plant-specific intangible capital. Technology capital is accumulated know-how from intangible investments in R&D, brands, and organizations that can be used in foreign and domestic locations. Used abroad, it generates profits for foreign subsidiaries with no foreign direct investment (FDI). Plant-specific intangible capital in foreign subsidiaries is expensed abroad, lowering current profits on FDI and increasing future profits. We develop a multicountry general equilibrium model with an essential role for FDI and apply the BEA?s methodology to construct economic statistics for the model economy. We estimate that mismeasurement of intangible investments accounts for over 60 percent of the difference in BEA returns.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 406.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:406

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Keywords: International finance ; Technology - Economic aspects;

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References

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  1. Ricardo J Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2006. "An equilibrum model of "global imbalances" and low interest rates," BIS Working Papers 222, Bank for International Settlements.
  2. McGrattan, Ellen R. & Prescott, Edward C., 2009. "Openness, technology capital, and development," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(6), pages 2454-2476, November.
  3. Carol Corrado & Charles Hulten & Daniel Sichel, 2004. "Measuring capital and technology: an expanded framework," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-65, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  10. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2003. "Average Debt and Equity Returns: Puzzling?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 392-397, May.
  11. Demsetz, Harold, 1979. "Accounting for Advertising as a Barrier to Entry," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 345-60, July.
  12. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2005. "Taxes, Regulations, and the Value of U.S. and U.K. Corporations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 767-796.
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  16. Alessandra Fogli & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "The Great Moderation and the U.S. External Imbalance," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 24(S1), pages 209-225, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Maria Guadalupe & Olga Kuzmina & Catherine Thomas, 2012. "Innovation and Foreign Ownership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3594-3627, December.
  2. Wolfgang Keller & Stephen Ross Yeaple, 2013. "The Gravity of Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1414-44, June.
  3. Veronica Rappoport & Catherine Thomas & Bernard Salanie & Maria Guadalupe, 2013. "The Perfect Match: Assortative Matching in International Acquisitions," 2013 Meeting Papers 1000, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Barry Bosworth & Susan M. Collins & Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, 2007. "Returns on FDI: Does the U.S. Really Do Better?," NBER Working Papers 13313, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ellen McGrattan, 2012. "Transition to FDI Openness: Reconciling Theory and Evidence," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(4), pages 437-458, October.
  6. Roe, Terry L. & Shane, Mathew & Heerman, Kari, 2011. "Macroeconomic Imbalances in the World Economy," Working Papers 109244, University of Minnesota, Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy.
  7. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott & Thomas J. Holmes, 2011. "Technology Capital Transfer," 2011 Meeting Papers 676, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Sáez, Antonio José & Prieto, Faustino & Sarabia, José María, 2012. "A two-tail version of the PPS distribution with application to current account balance data," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 391(21), pages 5160-5171.
  9. Hiroki Arato & Katsunori Yamada, 2010. "Japan's Intangible Capital and Valuation of Corporations in a Neoclassical Framework," ISER Discussion Paper 0772, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University, revised Nov 2011.
  10. Ellen McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2007. "Openness, Technology Capital, and Development," NBER Working Papers 13515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Curcuru, Stephanie E. & Thomas, Charles P. & Warnock, Francis E., 2013. "On returns differentials," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 1-25.
  12. Chen, Kaiji & Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin, 2009. "A quantitative assessment of the decline in the U.S. current account," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1135-1147, November.

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