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International Capital Flows and Debt Dynamics

This paper presents a new model for studying international capital flows and debt dynamics. The model emphasizes the role of expectations concerning future trade flows and returns as the determinants of a country's foreign asset and liability positions, and how revisions in these expectations drive gross and net capital flows. I use the model to estimate the drivers of the U.S. external position and capital flows between 1973 and 2008. The estimates show that most of the secular rise in U.S. international indebtedness is attributable to growing optimism about future returns on U.S. holdings of foreign equity and FDI assets. Expectations concerning future returns are also the most important determinant of net capital flows, but the flows themselves are not important drivers of the U.S. external position. My estimates also show that the transformation of world savings into risky assets by the U.S. had little effect on its external position, but the expected real depreciation of the dollar allowed the U.S. to sustain a much higher level of international debt after the 1990s.

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~12-12-04.

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Date of creation: 04 Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~12-12-04
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. Coeurdacier, Nicolas & Kollmann, Robert & Martin, Philippe, 2008. "International Portfolios, Capital Accumulation and Foreign Assets Dynamics," CEPR Discussion Papers 6902, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2005. "Global Current Account Imbalances and Exchange Rate Adjustments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 67-146.
  3. Christopher M. Meissner & Alan M. Taylor, 2006. "Losing our Marbles in the New Century? The Great Rebalancing in Historical Perspective," NBER Working Papers 12580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1986. "Cointegration and Tests of Present Value Models," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 785, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Devereux, Michael B & Sutherland, Alan, 2007. "Country Portfolio Dynamics," CEPR Discussion Papers 6208, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff., 1994. "The Intertemporal Approach to the Current Account," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C94-044, University of California at Berkeley.
  7. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Rey, Hélène, 2005. "From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist: US External Adjustment and the Exorbitant Privilege," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0606, CEPREMAP.
  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. Philip Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferreti, 2005. "A Global Perspective on External Positions," Trinity Economics Papers 2000516, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  10. Nicolas E. Magud & Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2011. "Capital Controls: Myth and Reality - A Portfolio Balance Approach," NBER Working Papers 16805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Tille, Cédric & van Wincoop, Eric, 2008. "International Capital Flows," CEPR Discussion Papers 6705, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Martin D. D. Evans (Georgetown University) and Viktoria Hnatkovska (Georgetown University), 2005. "International Capital Flows, Returns and World Financial Integration," Working Papers gueconwpa~05-05-17, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  13. 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).
  14. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," NBER Working Papers 13768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. repec:tcd:wpaper:tep16 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Hnatkovska, Viktoria, 2010. "Home bias and high turnover: Dynamic portfolio choice with incomplete markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 113-128, January.
  17. Christopher A. Gohrband & Kristy L. Howell, 2013. "U.S. International Financial Flows and the U.S. Net Investment Position: New Perspectives Arising from New International Standards," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Wealth and Financial Intermediation and Their Links to the Real Economy, pages 231-270 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Habib, Maurizio Michael, 2010. "Excess returns on net foreign assets: the exorbitant privilege from a global perspective," Working Paper Series 1158, European Central Bank.
  19. 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.).
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