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The Replacement of Safe Assets: Evidence from the U.S. Bond Portfolio

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Abstract

The expansion in financial sector \"safe\" assets, largely in the form of structured products from the U.S. and the Caribbean, in the lead-up to the global financial crisis has by now been fairly well documented. Using a unique dataset derived from security-level data on U.S. portfolio holdings of foreign securities, we show that since the crisis, it is mostly the foreign financial sector that appears to have met U.S. demand for safe and liquid investment assets by expanding its supply of debt securities. We also find a strong negative correlation between the foreign share of the U.S. financial bond portfolio and measures of U.S. safe assets availability: providing evidence on the importance of foreign-issued financial sector debt as a substitute when U.S. issued \"safe\" assets are scarce. Furthermore, although U.S. investors continue to tap foreign financial markets for \"safe\" assets, we show that the type of foreign financial debt that fills this portfolio niche post-crisis is quite different than pre-crisis. Post-crisis, we find that U.S. investors have replaced offshore-issued structured securities with high-grade U.S. dollar-denominated financial debt issued from a small group of OECD countries (most notably Australia and Canada). Lastly, these developments have led to a decline in home bias in the U.S. financial bond portfolio that we are able to document for the first time.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol C. Bertaut & Alexandra M. Tabova & Vivian Wong, 2014. "The Replacement of Safe Assets: Evidence from the U.S. Bond Portfolio," International Finance Discussion Papers 1123, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:1123
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Burger, John D. & Warnock, Francis E., 2007. "Foreign participation in local currency bond markets," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 291-304.
    2. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Burger, John D. & Warnock, Francis E. & Warnock, Veronica Cacdac, 2018. "Currency matters: Analyzing international bond portfolios," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 376-388.
    2. Huber, Florian & Punzi, Maria Teresa, 2017. "The shortage of safe assets in the US investment portfolio: Some international evidence," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 318-336.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    safe assets; international portfolio choice; financial sector debt; home bias;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General

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