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Returns on FDI. Does the U.S. Really Do Better?

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  • Barry Bosworth
  • Susan Collins
  • Gabriel Chodorow-Reich

Abstract

According to the U.S. external accounts, U.S. investors earn a significantly higher rate of return on their foreign investments than foreigners earn in the United States. This continued strong performance has produced a positive net investment income balance despite the deterioration in the U.S. net asset position in recent years. We examine the major competing explanations for the apparent differential between the rates of return. In particular, almost the entire difference occurs in FDI, where American firms operating abroad appear to earn a persistently higher return than that earned by foreign firms operating in the U.S. We first review a number of explanations in the literature for this differential. We then offer some new evidence on the role of income shifting between jurisdictions with varying rates of taxation. Using country-specific income and tax data, we find that about one-third of the excess return earned by U.S. corporations abroad can be explained by firms reporting "extra" income in low tax jurisdictions of their affiliates.
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Suggested Citation

  • Barry Bosworth & Susan Collins & Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, "undated". "Returns on FDI. Does the U.S. Really Do Better?," Working Paper 90801, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  • Handle: RePEc:qsh:wpaper:90801
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    File URL: http://scholar.harvard.edu/chodorow-reich/node/90801
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1495-1530.
    2. Tarek A. Hassan, 2013. "Country Size, Currency Unions, and International Asset Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(6), pages 2269-2308, December.
    3. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Charles P. Thomas, 2014. "The Return on U.S. Direct Investment at Home and Abroad," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Wealth and Financial Intermediation and Their Links to the Real Economy, pages 205-230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Tarek Alexander Hassan, 2010. "Country Size, Currency Areas, and International Asset Returns," 2010 Meeting Papers 365, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Curcuru, Stephanie E. & Thomas, Charles P. & Warnock, Francis E., 2013. "On returns differentials," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 1-25.
    6. Bichler, Shimshon & Nitzan, Jonathan, 2012. "The Asymptotes of Power," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 18-53.
    7. repec:onb:oenbwp:y::i:154:b:1 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. McCauley, Robert N., 2015. "Does the US dollar confer an exorbitant privilege?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 1-14.
    9. Habib, Maurizio Michael, 2010. "Excess returns on net foreign assets: the exorbitant privilege from a global perspective," Working Paper Series 1158, European Central Bank.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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