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From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist: US External Adjustment and the Exorbitant Privilege

  • Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas
  • Hélène Rey

Does the center country of the International Monetary System enjoy an "exorbitant privilege" that significantly weakens its external constraint as has been asserted in some European quarters? Using a newly constructed dataset, we perform a detailed analysis of the historical evolution of US external assets and liabilities at market value since 1952. We find strong evidence of a sizeable excess return of gross assets over gross liabilities. Interestingly, this excess return increased after the collapse of the BrettonWoods fixed exchange rate system. It is mainly due to a "return discount": within each class of assets, the total return (yields and capital gains) that the US has to pay to foreigners is smaller than the total return the US gets on its foreign assets. We also find evidence of a "composition effect": the US tends to borrow short and lend long. As financial globalization accelerated its pace, the US transformed itself from a World Banker into a World Venture Capitalist, investing greater amounts in high yield assets such as equity and FDI. We use these findings to cast some light on the sustainability of the current global imbalances.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11563.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
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Publication status: published as From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist: U.S. External Adjustment and the Exorbitant Privilege , Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Hélène Rey. in G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment , Clarida. 2007
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11563
Note: EFG IFM
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  1. Barry Eichengreen, 2004. "Global Imbalances and the Lessons of Bretton Woods," NBER Working Papers 10497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Sarah A. Hooker & John F. Wilson, 1989. "A reconciliation of flow of funds and Commerce Department statistics on U.S. international transactions and foreign investment position," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 84, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Helene Rey, 2005. "International Financial Adjustment," NBER Working Papers 11155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Muge Adalet & Barry Eichengreen, 2007. "Current Account Reversals: Always a Problem?," NBER Chapters, in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 205-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alogoskoufis, George & Portes, Richard & Rey, Hélène, 1997. "The Emergence of the Euro as an International Currency," CEPR Discussion Papers 1741, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Campbell, John Y., 1999. "Asset prices, consumption, and the business cycle," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 19, pages 1231-1303 Elsevier.
  7. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2001. "The external wealth of nations: measures of foreign assets and liabilities for industrial and developing countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 263-294, December.
  8. Michael Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
  9. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi & Filipa Sa, 2005. "International Investors, the U.S. Current Account, and the Dollar," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 1-66.
  10. Chinn, Menzie & Frankel, Jeffrey, 2005. "Will the Euro Eventually Surpass the Dollar as Leading International Reserve Currency?," Working Paper Series rwp05-064, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  11. 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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