Viewing the current account deficit as a capital inflow
With the 1998 current account deficit approaching $225 billion, attention is again focusing on the deficit's impact on U.S. jobs. Although a high deficit does adversely affect employment in export- and import-competing industries, it also means that considerable foreign capital is flowing into the United States, supporting domestic investment spending that stimulates growth and creates jobs.
The income implications of rising U.S. international liabilities
Although the United States has seen its net liabilities surge in recent years, its investment income balance has remained positive-largely because U.S. firms operating abroad earn a higher rate of return than do foreign firms operating here. The continuing buildup in liabilities, however, should soon push the U.S. income balance below zero. In that event, net income flows will begin to boost the nation's current account deficit instead of reducing it.
Asia's trade performance after the currency crisis
The Asian countries hit by the 1997-98 currency crisis experienced a sharp reversal of capital flows that forced their current account balances to move from deficit to surplus. This study of the trade flows of Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand finds that steep declines in imports, measured in dollar terms, accounted for almost all of the improvements in current account balances. However, a fuller picture emerges when the authors analyze the trade flows according to the volume of goods being shipped and the prices of these goods. The analysis shows that several factors contributed ...
Would a Stronger Renminbi Narrow the U.S.-China Trade Imbalance?
The United States buys much more from China than it sells to China—an imbalance that accounts for almost half of our overall merchandise trade deficit. China’s policy of keeping its exchange rate low is often cited as a key driver of that country’s large overall trade surplus and of its bilateral surplus with the United States. The argument is that a stronger renminbi (the official currency of China) would help reduce that country’s trade imbalance with the United States by lowering the prices of U.S. goods relative to those made in China. In this post, we examine the thinking behind ...
Central Bank Imbalances in the Euro Area
The euro area sovereign debt crisis sparked an outflow of bank deposits from countries in the periphery to commercial banks in Germany and other core countries. The outflow highlighted a key aspect of the payments system linking national central banks in euro area countries. In particular, net outflows from private commercial banks in a given country are matched by credits to that county’s central bank, with those credits extended by central banks elsewhere in the euro area. In this post, we explain how the credits affected the adjustment pressures faced by countries in the euro area during ...
Euro Area Spending Imbalances and the Sovereign Debt Crisis
Euro area periphery countries borrowed heavily from abroad in the run-up to the sovereign debt crisis. How were these funds used? In this post, we recap our recent Current Issues study, showing that pre-crisis borrowing by the periphery countries (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain) went mainly to finance private consumption or housing booms rather than productivity-enhancing investments. Most analysis of the crisis has focused on the need for fiscal adjustment in the periphery. A look at the drivers of the run-up in foreign borrowing, however, suggests that private spending in the ...
Income Flows from U.S. Foreign Assets and Liabilities
Foreign investors placed roughly $1.0 trillion in U.S. assets in 2011, pushing the total value of their claims on the United States to $20.6 trillion. Over the same period, U.S. investors placed $0.5 trillion abroad, bringing total U.S. holdings of foreign assets to $16.4 trillion. One might expect that the large gap of -$4.2 trillion between U.S. assets and liabilities would come with a substantial servicing burden. Yet U.S. income receipts easily exceed payments abroad. As we explain in this post, a key reason is that foreign investments in the United States are weighted toward ...
Foreign Borrowing in the Euro Area Periphery: The End Is Near
Current account deficits in euro area periphery countries have now largely disappeared. This represents a substantial adjustment. Only two years ago, deficits stood at nearly 10 percent of GDP in Greece and Portugal and 5 percent in Spain and Italy (see chart below). This sharp narrowing means that spending has been brought in line with income, largely righting an imbalance that had left these countries dependent on heavy foreign borrowing. However, adjustment has come at a sizable cost to growth, with lower domestic spending only partly offset by higher export sales. Downward pressure on ...
Capital Flight inside the Euro Area: Cooling Off a Fire Sale
Countries in the euro area periphery such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain saw large-scale capital flight in 2011 and the first half of 2012. While events unfolded much like a balance of payments crisis, the contraction in domestic credit was less severe than would ordinarily be caused by capital flight of this scale. Why was that? An important reason is that much of the capital flight was financed by credits to deficit countries? central banks, with those credits extended collectively by other central banks in the euro area. This balance of payments financing was paired with policies to ...
Tax Reform and U.S. Effective Profit Taxes: From Low to Lower
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reduced the federal corporate profit tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Adding in state profit taxes, the overall U.S. tax rate went from 39 percent, one of the highest rates in the world, to 26 percent, about the average rate abroad. The implications of the new law for U.S. competitiveness depend on how these statutory tax rates compare with the actual rates faced by U.S. and foreign companies. To address this question, this post presents new evidence on tax payments as a share of profits, as well as analytical measures of tax impacts on profitability. ...