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Why are Switzerland's foreign assets so low? The growing financial exposure of a small open economy

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  • Nicolas Stoffels
  • Cédric Tille

Abstract

Switzerland's international investment position shows a puzzling feature since 1999: Large and persistent current account surpluses have failed to boost the value of Swiss foreign assets. In this paper, we link this pattern to the substantial increase in the leveraging of Switzerland's international assets and liabilities over the last twenty years, which we document in detail. We estimate the impact of exchange rate and asset prices movements on Swiss net foreign assets, and show that they led to substantial valuations losses since 1999, accounting for between one-quarter and one-half of the gap between the net foreign assets and cumulated current account flows. We show how these adverse valuation effects have erased Switzerland's advantage in terms of the yield on its net foreign asset position.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 283.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:283

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Related research

Keywords: Capital movements ; International finance ; International economic integration ; Switzerland ; Assets (Accounting);

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References

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  1. Tille, Cédric, 2008. "Financial integration and the wealth effect of exchange rate fluctuations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 283-294, July.
  2. Philip Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferreti, 2005. "A Global Perspective on External Positions," Trinity Economics Papers tep16, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  3. Obstfeld, Maurice, 2004. "External Adjustment," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt7bw468wx, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Philip R. Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2007. "Europe and Global Imbalances," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp226, IIIS.
  5. Peter Kugler & Beatrice Weder, 2004. "International Portfolio Holdings and Swiss Franc Asset Returns," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 140(III), pages 301-325, September.
  6. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Hélène Rey, 2007. "From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist: U.S. External Adjustment and the Exorbitant Privilege," NBER Chapters, in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 11-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Alexandra Heath, 2007. "What explains the US net income balance?," BIS Working Papers 223, Bank for International Settlements.
  8. Kugler, Peter & Weder di Mauro, Beatrice, 2005. "Why Are Returns on Swiss Franc Assets So Low? Rare Events May Solve the Puzzle," CEPR Discussion Papers 5181, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Matthew Higgins & Thomas Klitgaard & Cedric Tille, 2005. "The income implications of rising U.S. international liabilities," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 11(Dec).
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