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The stability of large external imbalances: the role of returns differentials

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Were the U.S. to persistently earn substantially more on its foreign investments (?U.S. claims?) than foreigners earn on their U.S. investments (?U.S. liabilities?), the likelihood that the current environment of sizeable global imbalances will evolve in a benign manner increases. However, utilizing data on the actual foreign equity and bond portfolios of U.S. investors and the U.S. equity and bond portfolios of foreign investors, we find that the returns differential of U.S. claims over U.S. liabilities is essentially zero. Ending our sample in 2005, the differential is positive, whereas through 2004 it is negative; in both cases the differential is statistically indecipherable from zero. Moreover, were it not for the poor timing of investors from developed countries, who tend to shift their U.S. portfolios toward (or away from) equities prior to the subsequent underperformance (or strong performance) of equities, the returns differential would be even lower. Thus, in the context of equity and bond portfolios we find no evidence that the U.S. can count on earning more on its claims than it pays on its liabilities.

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  • Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2007. "The stability of large external imbalances: the role of returns differentials," International Finance Discussion Papers 894, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:894
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    Cited by:

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    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.
    3. Forbes, Kristin J., 2010. "Why do foreigners invest in the United States?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 3-21, January.
    4. Cavallo, Eduardo & Eichengreen, Barry & Panizza, Ugo, 2016. "Can Countries Rely on Foreign Saving for Investment and Economic Development?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11451, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Tarek A. Hassan, 2013. "Country Size, Currency Unions, and International Asset Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(6), pages 2269-2308, December.
    6. Tille, Cédric & van Wincoop, Eric, 2010. "International capital flows," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 157-175, March.
    7. Jochem Axel, 2010. "International Financial Competitiveness and Incentives to Foreign Direct Investment," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 230(1), pages 42-58, February.
    8. Tarek Alexander Hassan, 2010. "Country Size, Currency Areas, and International Asset Returns," 2010 Meeting Papers 365, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Robert Guttmann & Dominique Plihon, 2010. "Consumer debt and financial fragility," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(3), pages 269-283.
    10. Sirsha Chatterjee & Kanda Naknoi, 2010. "The Marginal Product of Capital, Capital Flows, and Convergence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 73-77, May.
    11. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2009. "Where did all the borrowing go? A forensic analysis of the U.S. external position," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-199, June.
    12. Thierry Bracke & Martin Schmitz, 2011. "Channels of international risk-sharing: capital gains versus income flows," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 45-78, April.
    13. Kristin Forbes & Ida Hjortsoe & Tsvetelina Nenova, 2017. "Current Account Deficits During Heightened Risk: Menacing or Mitigating?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(601), pages 571-623, May.
    14. repec:onb:oenbwp:y::i:154:b:1 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Carol C. Bertaut & Steven B. Kamin & Charles P. Thomas, 2008. "How long can the unsustainable U.S. current account deficit be sustained?," International Finance Discussion Papers 935, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    16. Carvalho, Daniel, 2020. "Leverage and valuation effects: How global liquidity shapes sectoral balance sheets," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    17. Bergant, Katharina, 2021. "The role of stock-flow adjustment during the global financial crisis," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 110(C).
    18. Barry Bosworth & Susan Collins & Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, "undated". "Returns on FDI. Does the U.S. Really Do Better?," Working Paper 90801, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    19. Katharina Bergant, 2017. "The Role of Stock-Flow Adjustment during the Global Financial Crisis," Trinity Economics Papers tep1317, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    20. Holinski, N. & Kool, C.J.M. & Muysken, J., 2009. "International Portfolio Balance: Modeling the External Adjustment Process," Research Memorandum 033, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
    21. Philip R. Lane, 2011. "The Dynamics of Ireland?s Net External Position," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp388, IIIS.

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    Keywords

    Investments; Foreign; Balance of payments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance

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