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The Return on U.S. Direct Investment at Home and Abroad

In: Measuring Wealth and Financial Intermediation and Their Links to the Real Economy

Listed author(s):
  • Stephanie E. Curcuru
  • Charles P. Thomas

A longstanding puzzle is that the United States is a net borrower from the rest of the world, yet continues to receive income on its external position. A large difference between the yields on direct investment at home and abroad is responsible and this paper examines potential explanations for this differential. We find that most of the differential disappears after one adjusts for the U.S. taxes owed by the parent on foreign earnings, the sovereign risk and sunk costs associated with investing abroad, and the age of foreign direct investment in the U.S.. Taken together, our results suggest most of the difference in yields should remain as long as there is a difference in tax rates between the United States and the countries in which U.S. firms invest, and U.S. investments are perceived as relatively safe. This has implications for the long-run sustainability of the U.S. current account deficit which will depend, in part, on the long-run behavior of this income.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Charles R. Hulten & Marshall B. Reinsdorf, 2015. "Measuring Wealth and Financial Intermediation and Their Links to the Real Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number hult10-1, December.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12538.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12538
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    2. repec:tcd:wpaper:tep16 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2005. "Global Current Account Imbalances and Exchange Rate Adjustments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 67-146.
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    17. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Charles P. Thomas & Francis E. Warnock, 2009. "Appendix to "NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2008"," NBER Chapters,in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2008 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
    19. Harry Grubert & Timothy Goodspeed & Deborah L. Swenson, 1993. "Explaining the Low Taxable Income of Foreign-Controlled Companies in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Studies in International Taxation, pages 237-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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