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Technology Capital and the US Current Account

Listed author(s):
  • Ellen R. McGrattan
  • Edward C. Prescott

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates that the return on investments of foreign subsidiaries of US multinational companies over the period 1982-2006 averaged 9.4 percent annually after taxes; US subsidiaries of foreign multinationals averaged only 3.2 percent. BEA returns on foreign direct investment (FDI) are distorted because most intangible investments made by multinationals are expensed. 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. (JEL F23, F32)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.100.4.1493
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/sept2010/20080414_data.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1493-1522

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:4:p:1493-1522
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.4.1493
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  1. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2004. "The Unsustainable US Current Account Position Revisited," NBER Working Papers 10869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Ayanian, Robert, 1975. "Advertising and Rate of Return," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 479-506, October.
  4. Ricardo Hausmann and Federico Sturzenegger, 2006. "Global imbalances or bad accounting? The missing dark matter in the wealth of nations," Business School Working Papers globalimbal, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
  5. Fabrizio Perri & Alessandra Fogli, 2007. "The "great moderation'' and the US external imbalance," 2007 Meeting Papers 41, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2007. "Technology capital and the U.S. current account," Working Papers 646, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Bloch, Harry, 1974. "Advertising and Profitability: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 267-286, Part I, M.
  8. Carol Corrado & Charles Hulten & Daniel Sichel, 2005. "Measuring Capital and Technology: An Expanded Framework," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Capital in the New Economy, pages 11-46 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Carol Corrado & John Haltiwanger & Dan Sichel, 2005. "Measuring Capital in the New Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number corr05-1, September.
  10. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1495-1530.
  11. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2003. "Average debt and equity returns: puzzling?," Staff Report 313, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Bridgman, Benjamin, 2014. "Do intangible assets explain high U.S. foreign direct investment returns?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 159-171.
  13. David Backus & Espen Henriksen & Frederic Lambert & Chris Telmer, 2005. "Current Account Fact and Fiction," 2005 Meeting Papers 115, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. 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.
  15. Edward Prescott & Ellen McGrattan, 2008. "Openness, Technology Capital, and Development," 2008 Meeting Papers 111, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Rey, Hélène, 2005. "From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist: US External Adjustment and The Exorbitant Privilege," CEPR Discussion Papers 5220, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Demsetz, Harold, 1979. "Accounting for Advertising as a Barrier to Entry," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 345-360, July.
  18. Carol Corrado & John Haltiwanger & Daniel Sichel, 2005. "Introduction to "Measuring Capital in the New Economy"," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Capital in the New Economy, pages 1-10 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Enrique G. Mendoza & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2007. "Financial Integration, Financial Deepness and Global Imbalances," NBER Working Papers 12909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Andrew Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter Schott, 2008. "Transfer Pricing by U.S.-Based Multinational Firms," Working Papers 08-29, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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