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Financial centers and the geography of capital flows

  • Francis E. Warnock
  • Chad Cleaver
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    We examine an assumption common in empirical work on bilateral portfolio capital flows that the countries the flows are attributed to are also the countries of the security's issuer, seller, or ultimate buyer. We do this by estimating U.S. investors' holdings of debt and equities in over 40 countries and, for the same countries, foreign investors' holdings of U.S. debt and equities. A comparison of our estimates with data from benchmark surveys provides insight into U.S. data on international debt and equity transactions. We find that, contrary to the common assumption, the data do not track the location of U.S. investment or the location of investors in U.S. assets very well. Because the U.S. portfolio flow data collection system was designed to measure cross-border transactions with foreign counterparties who are often intermediaries, the majority of the flows are attributed to financial centers. By aggregating our country-level estimates, we find that U.S. data accurately portray net inflows into U.S. equities and net outflows into foreign bonds. However, the data substantially overcount net inflows into U.S. bonds and may undercount net outflows into foreign equities. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our findings for research on capital flows.

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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 722.

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    Date of creation: 2002
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:722
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    1. Philip Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "THE EXTERNAL WEALTH OF NATIONS: Measures of Foreign Assets and Liabilities For Industrial and Developing Countries," CEG Working Papers 20012, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    2. Hali J. Edison & Francis E. Warnock, 2006. "Cross-border Listings, Capital Controls, and Equity Flows To Emerging Markets," NBER Working Papers 12589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lois Stekler, 1990. "Adequacy of International Transactions and Position Data for Policy Coordination," NBER Chapters, in: International Policy Coordination and Exchange Rate Fluctuations, pages 347-372 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Gehrig, Thomas, 1998. "Cities and the Geography of Financial Centres," CEPR Discussion Papers 1894, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Brennan, Michael J & Cao, H Henry, 1997. " International Portfolio Investment Flows," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(5), pages 1851-80, December.
    6. Jun-Koo Kang & Rene M. Stulz, 1995. "Why Is There a Home Bias? An Analysis of Foreign Portfolio Equity Ownership in Japan," NBER Working Papers 5166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Massimo Guidolin, 2005. "Home bias and high turnover in an overlapping generations model with learning," Working Papers 2005-012, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    8. Chuhan, Punam & Claessens, Stijn & Mamingi, Nlandu, 1998. "Equity and bond flows to Latin America and Asia: the role of global and country factors," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 439-463, April.
    9. Bekaert, G. & Harvey, C. R. & Lumsdaine, R. L., 2002. "The dynamics of emerging market equity flows," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 295-350, June.
    10. Geert Bekaert & Campbell R. Harvey, 2000. "Capital Flows and the Behavior of Emerging Market Equity Returns," NBER Chapters, in: Capital Flows and the Emerging Economies: Theory, Evidence, and Controversies, pages 159-194 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Tesar, Linda L. & Werner, Ingrid M., 1995. "Home bias and high turnover," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 467-492, August.
    12. Rowland, Patrick F., 1999. "Transaction costs and international portfolio diversification," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 145-170, October.
    13. Hirotaka Inoue, 1999. "The Structure of Government Securities Markets in G10 Countries: Summary of Questionnaire Results," CGFS Papers chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Market Liquidity: Research Findings and Selected Policy Implications, volume 11, pages 1-22 Bank for International Settlements.
    14. 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.
    15. Lois E. Stekler & Edwin M. Truman, 1992. "The adequacy of the data on U.S. international financial transactions: a Federal Reserve perspective," International Finance Discussion Papers 430, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    16. Francis E. Warnock, 2001. "Home bias and high turnover reconsidered," International Finance Discussion Papers 702, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    17. Taylor, Mark P & Sarno, Lucio, 1997. "Capital Flows to Developing Countries: Long- and Short-Term Determinants," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(3), pages 451-70, September.
    18. Froot, Kenneth A. & O'Connell, Paul G. J. & Seasholes, Mark S., 2001. "The portfolio flows of international investors," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 151-193, February.
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