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The return on U.S. direct investment at home and abroad

  • Stephanie E. Curcuru
  • Charles P. Thomas
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    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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    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/ifdp/2012/1057/ifdp1057.pdf
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    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 1057.

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    Date of creation: 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1057
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    1. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines Jr., 2001. "Repatriation Taxes and Dividend Distortions," NBER Working Papers 8507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kristin J. Forbes, 2008. "Why Do Foreigners Invest in the United States?," 2008 Meeting Papers 387, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2005. "A Global Perspective on External Positions," CEPR Discussion Papers 5234, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. 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.
    5. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," NBER Working Papers 13768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Philip R. Lane and Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2008. "Where Did All The Borrowing Go? A Forensic Analysis of the U.S. External Position," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp239, IIIS.
    7. Hines Jr., J.R., 1991. "Dividends And Profits: Some Unsubtle Foreign Influences," Papers 77, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - John M. Olin Program.
    8. 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.
    9. José L. Fillat & Stefania Garetto, 2010. "Risk, returns, and multinational production," Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper QAU10-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Grubert, Harry, 1998. "Taxes and the division of foreign operating income among royalties, interest, dividends and retained earnings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 269-290, May.
    13. Hausmann, Ricardo & Sturzenegger, Federico, 2006. "Global Imbalances or Bad Accounting? The Missing Dark Matter in the Wealth of Nations," Working Paper Series rwp06-003, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    14. John Kitchen, 2007. "Sharecroppers or Shrewd Capitalists? Projections of the US Current Account, International Income Flows, and Net International Debt," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 1036-1061, November.
    15. Meissner, Christopher M & Taylor, Alan M., 2006. "Losing our Marbles in the New Century? The Great Rebalancing in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 5917, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1495-1530, November.
    17. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-border returns differentials," International Finance Discussion Papers 921, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    18. repec:tcd:wpaper:tep16 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. 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.
    20. Martin Feldstein, 1994. "Taxes, Leverage and the National Return on Outbound Foreign Direct Investment," NBER Working Papers 4689, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Jorion, Philippe, 1996. "Returns to Japanese investors from US investments," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 229-241, September.
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