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The missing dark matter in the wealth of nations and its implications for global imbalances


  • Ricardo Hausmann
  • Federico Sturzenegger


"Current account statistics may not be good indicators of the evolution of a country's net foreign assets and of its external position's sustainability. The value of existing assets may vary independently of current account flows, so-called 'return privileges' may allow some countries to obtain abnormal returns, and mismeasurement of FDI, unreported trade of insurance or liquidity services, and debt relief may also play a role. We analyse the relevant evidence in a large set of countries and periods, and examine measures of net foreign assets obtained by capitalizing the net investment income and then estimating the current account from the changes in this stock of foreign assets. We call dark matter the difference between our measure of net foreign assets and that measured by official statistics. We find it to be important for many countries, analyse its relationship with theoretically relevant factors, and note that the resulting perspective tends to make global net asset positions appear relatively stable." Copyright (c) CEPR, CES, MSH, 2007.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo Hausmann & Federico Sturzenegger, 2007. "The missing dark matter in the wealth of nations and its implications for global imbalances," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 22, pages 469-518, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecpoli:v:22:y:2007:i::p:469-518

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Charles P. Thomas & Francis E. Warnock, 2009. "Current Account Sustainability and Relative Reliability," NBER Chapters,in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2008, pages 67-109 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Rabah Arezki & Klaus Deininger & Harris Selod, 2015. "What Drives the Global "Land Rush"?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 207-233.
    3. repec:onb:oenbwp:y::i:154:b:1 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ca’ Zorzi, Michele & Chudik, Alexander & Dieppe, Alistair, 2012. "Thousands of models, one story: Current account imbalances in the global economy," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1319-1338.
    5. Karunaratne, Neil Dias, 2010. "The sustainability of Australia's current account deficits--A reappraisal after the global financial crisis," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 81-97, January.
    6. 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.
    7. Tarek A. Hassan, 2013. "Country Size, Currency Unions, and International Asset Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(6), pages 2269-2308, December.
    8. Jürgen von Hagen & Haiping Zhang, 2014. "International Capital Flows in the Model with Limited Commitment and Incomplete Markets," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 195-224, February.
    9. Maria Siranova & Menbere Workie Tiruneh, 2016. "The determinants of errors and omissions in a small and open economy: The case of Slovakia," Working Papers wp73, Institute of Economic Research, SAS, revised 08 Apr 2016.
    10. Tarek Alexander Hassan, 2010. "Country Size, Currency Areas, and International Asset Returns," 2010 Meeting Papers 365, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Ugo Panizza, 2015. "Billions on the Sidewalk: Improving Savings by Reducing Investment Mistakes," IHEID Working Papers 18-2015, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    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. Yeh, Kuo-chun & Ho, Tai-kuang, 2012. "Magnitude and volatility of Taiwan's net foreign assets against Mainland China: 1981–2009," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 720-728.
    14. Rabah Arezki & Klaus Deininger & Harris Selod, 2015. "What Drives the Global "Land Rush"?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 207-233.

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