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The geography of capital flows: what we can learn from benchmark surveys of foreign equity holdings

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  • Francis E. Warnock
  • Molly Mason

Abstract

To provide insight into the accuracy of U.S. data on international equity transactions, we compare estimates of U.S. holdings of equities in over 40 countries with actual holdings given by comprehensive U.S. benchmark surveys. If the rate of return used to revalue U.S. holdings in a given country is accurate, accurate holdings estimates imply accurate transactions data. For some countries, such as Canada and much of Latin America, the holdings estimates are quite accurate. For the majority of countries, however, there is a great disparity between our estimates and actual amounts, likely because U.S. data on international equity transactions record the country of the transactor, not the country of the issuer. Our estimates are far too high for financial centers--because many U.S. transactions that go through these countries involve securities issued in other countries--and far too low in most other countries, particularly in Europe and Asia. To illustrate the potential pitfalls of using estimated country-specific holdings data, we briefly present two cases in which the use of actual data leads to different conclusions. One case examines the determinants of U.S. equity holdings across countries; the other concerns the turnover rate of foreign equity portfolios.

Suggested Citation

  • Francis E. Warnock & Molly Mason, 2000. "The geography of capital flows: what we can learn from benchmark surveys of foreign equity holdings," International Finance Discussion Papers 688, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:688
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

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    Keywords

    International finance ; Capital movements;

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