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Understanding the Dynamics of the US External Position

This paper studies the dynamics of the U.S. external position for the past 35 years, and examines alternative paths for future external adjustment. We develop a new present value expression for the external position that embeds the restrictions of international solvency and can be easily empirically evaluated with time series methods. Our empirical model accounts for almost all the variations in the U.S. external position between 1973 and 2008. We estimate that most of the quarter-by-quarter changes in the U.S. external position over this period are due to news about future returns and trade flows, but over long horizons the changes reflect prior expectations about how the U.S. would meet its international financial obligations. Importantly, we identify the expectations embedded in the current U.S. external position that contain relevant information about the future adjustment paths. These expectations indicate that the half-lives for future adjustment paths towards U.S. external balance are at least 13 years and involve a significant real depreciation of the dollar.

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~10-10-05.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~10-10-05
Contact details of provider: Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Phone: 202-687-6074
Fax: 202-687-6102
Web page: http://econ.georgetown.edu/
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Order Information: Postal: Roger Lagunoff Professor of Economics Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Web: http://econ.georgetown.edu/ Email:


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  1. 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.
  2. Campbell, John & Yogo, Motohiro, 2006. "Efficient tests of stock return predictability," Scholarly Articles 3122601, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1495-1530, November.
  4. 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.
  5. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Hélène Rey, 2005. "International Financial Adjustment," International Finance 0505004, EconWPA.
  6. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," NBER Working Papers 13768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Philip R. Lane, 2000. "The Transfer Problem Revisited; Net Foreign Assets and Real Exchange Rates," IMF Working Papers 00/123, International Monetary Fund.
  8. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  9. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Simple, Positive Semi-Definite, Heteroskedasticity and AutocorrelationConsistent Covariance Matrix," NBER Technical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Campbell, John & Shiller, Robert, 1987. "Cointegration and Tests of Present Value Models," Scholarly Articles 3122490, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Campbell, John Y. & Viceira, Luis M., 2002. "Strategic Asset Allocation: Portfolio Choice for Long-Term Investors," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296942, March.
  12. Carol C. Bertaut & Ralph W. Tryon, 2007. "Monthly estimates of U.S. cross-border securities positions," International Finance Discussion Papers 910, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-border returns differentials," International Finance Discussion Papers 921, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. Cedric Tille, 2003. "The impact of exchange rate movements on U.S. foreign debt," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Jan).
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