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Defining and Measuring the Location of FDI Output

  • Robert E. Lipsey

The standard measures of flows and stocks of FDI view FDI as a financial flow and its accumulation as a stock, but most uses of FDI data require measures of employment, payrolls, capital inputs, and output from FDI. Judging by data for the United States, the flow and stock data provide rough approximations to country distributions of FDI sources and destinations, but are poor approximations to industry distributions of FDI and to changes over time in country and industry distributions. One important reason for the poor match between the two types of measures is that more and more of production is the output from intangible and financial assets, the location of which is determined by the firm itself, and not easily subject to outside verification. That development is combined with the increasing use of holding companies and chains of ownership to reduce tax burdens on the firms without necessarily altering the physical location of inputs or production. These developments have drawn the attention of tax authorities and led to some proposals that would reduce firms' ability to manipulate the location of assets and profits. However, these maneuvers also lead to ambiguities in the meaning of economic measures, such as the balance of payments and national product. The effects on economic measurements, which may influence many types of economic policy, have been submerged in the concern for tax revenues.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12996.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12996
Note: ITI
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  1. James R. Markusen, 2004. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262633078, June.
  2. James R. Hines Jr., 2005. "Do Tax Havens Flourish?," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 19, pages 65-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines Jr., 2002. "Chains of Ownership, Regional Tax Competition, and Foreign Direct Investment," NBER Working Papers 9224, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Fuest, Clemens & Hemmelgarn, Thomas & Ramb, Fred, 2006. "How would formula apportionment in the EU affect the distribution and the size of the corporate tax base? An analysis based on German multinationals," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2006,20, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
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