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The Role of Foreign Direct Investment in International Capital Flows


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  • Robert E. Lipsey


Direct investment has accounted for about a quarter of total international capital outflows in the 1990s and appears to have grown, relative to other forms of international investment, since the 1970s. The United States was by far the major source of direct investment outflows in the early 1970s, but Europe caught up to the United States in the 1980s and Japan almost did, before fading in the 1990s. The United States shifted from being the largest net supplier of direct investment to absorbing much of the world's supply, especially in the late 1980s, and then reverted to its earlier net supplier role. Direct Investment flows have been the least volatile source of international investment for most countries, the chief exception being the United States, which has flipped back and forth from dominant net supplier to dominant net recipient, and back to dominant net supplier. Particularly for developing countries, direct investment has been the most dependable source of foreign investment.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7094.

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Date of creation: Jun 2000
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Publication status: published as International Capital Flows, Martin Feldstein, ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, pp. 307-331.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7094

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