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From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist: US External Adjustment and the Exorbitant Privilege

  • Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier
  • Rey, Hélène

Does the center country of the International Monetary System enjoy an “exorbitant privilege” that significantly weakens its external constraint as has been asserted in some European quarters? Using a newly constructed dataset, we perform a detailed analysis of the historical evolution of US external assets and liabilities at market value since 1952. We find strong evidence of a sizeable excess return of gross assets over gross liabilities. Interestingly, this excess return increased after the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system. It is mainly due to a “return discount”: within each class of assets, the total return (yields and capital gains) that the US has to pay to foreigners is smaller than the total return the US gets on its foreign assets. We also find evidence of a “composition effect”: the US tends to borrow short and lend long. As financial globalization accelerated its pace, the US transformed itself from a World Banker into a World Venture Capitalist, investing greater amounts in high yield assets such as equity and FDI. We use these findings to cast some light on the sustainability of the current global imbalances.

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Paper provided by CEPREMAP in its series CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) with number 0606.

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Length: 63 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpm:docweb:0606
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  1. G Alogoskoufis & R Portes & H Rey, 1998. "The Emergence of the Euro as an International Currency," CEP Discussion Papers dp0388, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Barry Eichengreen, 2005. "Global imbalances and the lessons of Bretton Woods," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
  3. Helene Rey & Pierre Olivier Gourinchas, 2005. "International Financial Adjustment," 2005 Meeting Papers 169, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Chinn, Menzie David & Frankel, Jeffrey A., 2005. "Will the Euro Eventually Surpass the Dollar as Leading International Reserve Currency?," Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series qt6p4215w1, Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz.
  5. Philip Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "THE EXTERNAL WEALTH OF NATIONS: Measures of Foreign Assets and Liabilities For Industrial and Developing Countries," Trinity Economics Papers 20014, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  6. Cedric Tille, 2003. "The impact of exchange rate movements on U.S. foreign debt," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Jan).
  7. Michael Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
  8. John Y. Campbell, 1998. "Asset Prices, Consumption, and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 6485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Sarah A. Hooker & John F. Wilson, 1989. "A reconciliation of flow of funds and Commerce Department statistics on U.S. international transactions and foreign investment position," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 84, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Barry Eichengreen & Muge Adalet, 2005. "Current Account Reversals: Always a Problem?," NBER Working Papers 11634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi & Filipa Sa, 2005. "International Investors, the U.S. Current Account, and the Dollar," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 1-66.
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