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"Fool Me Once . . . " Did U.S. investors play it safer in the European debt crisis?

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  • Carol C. Bertaut
  • Fang Cai
  • Nyssa Kim

Abstract

This paper examines U.S. investors’ portfolio investment patterns since the global financial crisis, particularly since the European debt crisis that began in late 2009. The global financial crisis during 2007-2009 was accompanied by an increase in U.S. investors’ home bias. U.S. investors experienced significant valuation losses and pulled back notably from their foreign investment, especially from foreign debt. In contrast, while they have also incurred sizable losses on cross-border investment during the European debt crisis, U.S. investors so far have not shown any increase in home bias, and they have not even pulled back from their long-term investments in Europe. Holdings data show that U.S. investors have continued to invest in European securities, particularly in government debt, but have made little new investment in the financial sector. This continued interest in European securities could owe to the fact that most of U.S. holdings of European debt have been concentrated in dollar-denominated debt issued by core euro area countries and the United Kingdom, which are deemed relatively safe. Changes in the composition of holdings over the past couple years suggest that U.S. investors have behaved in a way that reflects their diversity and differing objectives: while investors reached for higher yields in government debt, there also appears to be some shift toward safer investment in the financial sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol C. Bertaut & Fang Cai & Nyssa Kim, 2013. ""Fool Me Once . . . " Did U.S. investors play it safer in the European debt crisis?," International Finance Discussion Papers 1088, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1088
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hyuk Choe & Bong-Chan Kho & René M. Stulz, 2005. "Do Domestic Investors Have an Edge? The Trading Experience of Foreign Investors in Korea," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(3), pages 795-829.
    2. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Rey, Hélène & Truempler, Kai, 2012. "The financial crisis and the geography of wealth transfers," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 266-283.
    3. Gary Gorton, 2009. "Information, Liquidity, and the (Ongoing) Panic of 2007," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 567-572, May.
    4. Ahearne, Alan G. & Griever, William L. & Warnock, Francis E., 2004. "Information costs and home bias: an analysis of US holdings of foreign equities," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 313-336, March.
    5. Bertaut, Carol & DeMarco, Laurie Pounder & Kamin, Steven & Tryon, Ralph, 2012. "ABS inflows to the United States and the global financial crisis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 219-234.
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