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Why are Switzerland's foreign assets so low? The growing financial exposure of a small open economy

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  • Nicolas Stoffels
  • Cédric Tille

Abstract

Switzerland's international investment position shows a puzzling feature since 1999: Large and persistent current account surpluses have failed to boost the value of Swiss foreign assets. In this paper, we link this pattern to the substantial increase in the leveraging of Switzerland's international assets and liabilities over the last twenty years, which we document in detail. We estimate the impact of exchange rate and asset prices movements on Swiss net foreign assets, and show that they led to substantial valuations losses since 1999, accounting for between one-quarter and one-half of the gap between the net foreign assets and cumulated current account flows. We show how these adverse valuation effects have erased Switzerland's advantage in terms of the yield on its net foreign asset position.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Stoffels & Cédric Tille, 2007. "Why are Switzerland's foreign assets so low? The growing financial exposure of a small open economy," Staff Reports 283, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:283
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peter Kugler & Beatrice Weder, 2004. "International Portfolio Holdings and Swiss Franc Asset Returns," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 140(III), pages 301-325, September.
    2. Philip R. Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2007. "Europe and global imbalances," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 22, pages 519-573, July.
    3. Kugler, Peter & Weder di Mauro, Beatrice, 2005. "Why Are Returns on Swiss Franc Assets So Low? Rare Events May Solve the Puzzle," CEPR Discussion Papers 5181, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Maurico Obstfeld, 2004. "External adjustment," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 140(4), pages 541-568, December.
    5. Philip R. Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2007. "A Global Perspective on External Positions," NBER Chapters,in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 67-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Tille, Cédric, 2008. "Financial integration and the wealth effect of exchange rate fluctuations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 283-294, July.
    7. Matthew Higgins & Thomas Klitgaard & Cedric Tille, 2005. "The income implications of rising U.S. international liabilities," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 11(Dec).
    8. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Hélène Rey, 2007. "From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist: U.S. External Adjustment and the Exorbitant Privilege," NBER Chapters,in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 11-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Alexandra Heath, 2007. "What explains the US net income balance?," BIS Working Papers 223, Bank for International Settlements.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Grisse & Thomas Nitschka, 2016. "Exchange Rate Returns and External Adjustment: Evidence from Switzerland," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 317-339, April.
    2. International Monetary Fund, 2012. "Switzerland; 2012 Article IV Consultation: Staff Report; Public Information Notice on the Executive Board Discussion; Statement by the Executive Director for Switzerland," IMF Staff Country Reports 12/106, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Irineu Carvalho Filho, 2015. "Risk-Off Episodes and Swiss Franc Appreciation: The Role of Capital Flows," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 16(4), pages 439-463, November.
    4. Holinski Nils & Kool Clemens & Muysken Joan, 2009. "International Portfolio Balance – Modeling the External Adjustment Process," Research Memorandum 033, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capital movements ; International finance ; International economic integration ; Switzerland ; Assets (Accounting);

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