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The International Diversification Puzzle Is Not As Bad As You Think

  • Jonathan Heathcote
  • Fabrizio Perri

In simple one-good international macro models, the presence of non-diversifiable labor income risk means that country portfoliosshould be heavily biased toward foreign assets. The fact that theopposite pattern of diversification is observed empirically constitutes the international diversification puzzle. We embed aportfolio choice decision in a frictionless two-country, two-good version of the stochastic growth model. In this environment, which is a workhorse for international business cycle research, we derive a closed-form expression for equilibrium country portfolios. These are biased towards domestic assets, as in the data. Home bias arises because endogenous international relative price fluctuations make domestic stocks a good hedge against non-diversifiable labor income risk. We then use our our theory to link openness to trade to the level of diversification, and find that it offers a quantitatively compelling account for the patterns of international diversification observed across developed economies in recent years.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13483.

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Date of creation: Oct 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri, 2013. "The International Diversification Puzzle Is Not as Bad as You Think," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(6), pages 1108 - 1159.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13483
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