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Offshore Profit Shifting and Aggregate Measurement: Balance of Payments, Foreign Investment, Productivity, and the Labor Share

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  • Fatih Guvenen
  • Raymond J. Mataloni, Jr.
  • Dylan G. Rassier
  • Kim J. Ruhl

Abstract

We show how offshore profit shifting by U.S. multinational enterprises affects several key measures of the U.S. economy. Profits shifted out of the United States grew rapidly from the mid-1990s to 2010 and have since waned. From 1982–2016, on average, 38 percent of income attributed to U.S. direct investment abroad is reattributable to the United States. We find that adjusting for profit shifting shrinks the trade deficit, decreases the return on U.S. foreign direct investment abroad, boosts productivity growth rates in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and lowers labor’s share of income.

Suggested Citation

  • Fatih Guvenen & Raymond J. Mataloni, Jr. & Dylan G. Rassier & Kim J. Ruhl, 2017. "Offshore Profit Shifting and Aggregate Measurement: Balance of Payments, Foreign Investment, Productivity, and the Labor Share," NBER Working Papers 23324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23324
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    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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