Download publication

Working Paper

Returns on foreign assets and liabilities: exorbitant privileges and stabilising adjustments

Large stock of foreign assets and liabilities could foster international risk diversification. US, British and Japanese investors earn high yields on FDI assets, which might also relate to tax, intellectual property and financial sophistication issues. Valuation changes on net foreign assets had a stabilising impact.

By: and Date: November 29, 2017 Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation

Financial globalisation has led to large increases in foreign assets and liabilities in recent decades, increasing the scope for valuation changes that are potentially greater than trade or financial flows.

We confirm that the United States enjoys an ‘exorbitant privilege’ on flow income from foreign assets, which is primarily related to foreign direct investment (FDI). The geographical allocation of FDI assets explains only a small part of the US yield advantage. The key reason is that US, and also British and Japanese, investors were able to outperform the average yield earned in the countries of their FDI destinations, while most continental European investors earn the average. Further research should explore if large FDI investment in ‘tax optimisation’ countries, the improper consideration of intellectual property, or financial sophistication contributed to these high yields.

For several countries, valuation changes were larger than current account and financial transactions, highlighting the importance of such changes. In the European Union, the generally negative international investment positions of a number of central and southern European countries were greatly supported by EU transfers.

Valuation changes on net foreign assets do not look random and played an important role in the sustainability of international investment positions before and after the 2008 crisis. Countries with negative net international investment positions tend to have positive revaluation gains, while countries with large net foreign assets tend to suffer from revaluation losses. Large net foreign asset holders including China, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Japan and Germany, suffered significant losses in 2007-16, helping the sustainability of the negative positions of other countries. Risk sharing was also fostered by losses suffered by the US since 2007. There is no uniform tendency in relation to the asset classes from which these losses arose. Future research should aim to better understand the drivers of these valuation changes.

View comments
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

EU budget post 2020: the next MFF

This is a closed-door event where we will discuss the EU budget post-2020.

Speakers: Barbara Balke, Giacomo Benedetto, Grégory Claeys, Zsolt Darvas, Marcin Kwasowski, Stefan Lehner, Antoine Quero-Mussot, Esperanza Samblas Quintana, Salvatore Serravalle and Laurent Zylberberg Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 16, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Trade war: How tensions have risen between China, the EU and the US

The multilateral trading system has been challenged by unilateralist measures and subsequent threats of retaliation. We collect the main events that have shaped the current situation and show which trade flows have been and will potentially be affected by the various measures. We end by discussing possible scenarios moving forward for the EU.

By: Francesco Chiacchio Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 15, 2018
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Protecting EU firms without protectionism

Do we need more effective support for EU companies, more targeted to threatened sectors of strategic importance to the EU? Do we need to revise our competition policy rules on state aid to allow for a more strategic industrial policy support? Do we need new policy approaches to prepare for a changing global environment?

Speakers: Vincent Aussilloux, Tomas Baert, Paolo Casini, Gert-Jan Koopman, André Sapir, Reinhilde Veugelers and Focco Vijselaar Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: May 3, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

Making a reality of Europe’s Capital Markets Union

It is high time to make the CMU project real.The authors of this publication suggest that capital markets will only transform with concrete action and that ESMA reform should be a priority but cannot be the only one. Policymakers need to set priorities that will move the project forward.

By: André Sapir, Nicolas Véron and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 27, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Opinion

Why this round of U.S. protectionism is different

Although it is not the first time that the world has been caught in the China-U.S. crossfire, this round of U.S. protectionist moves against China is very different, and more worrisome than past ones. They involve a much larger number of products and in that they also target the global competition for U.S. companies and not only the U.S. market. It is in no way just a poker game launched by the U.S. to reduce its bilateral trade deficit with China, but the herald of an era of China-U.S. strategical competition.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Jianwei Xu Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 24, 2018
Read article More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Director's Cut: EU risks US tariff pain in standing by the WTO

As global trade war continues to unfold, Bruegel director Guntram Wolff is joined for this Director's Cut of 'The Sound of Economics' podcast by Bernd Lange MEP, chair of the Committee on International Trade (INTA), to discuss Europe's options.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: April 18, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Time for a reset

It is only in the last decade that the EU has had an active policy to reintegrate workers who lost their jobs as a result of globalisation, through the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). In this blog, the authors assess the performance of the Fund and make three recommendations to improve its effectiveness. To be more successful, the Fund should improve its monitoring and widen the scope of its usage.

By: Grégory Claeys and André Sapir Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 11, 2018
Read article More by this author

Opinion

How Should the EU Position Itself in a Global Trade War?

It is high time for the EU to work on more than just wishful thinking in response to the US challenge to global trade. With the first cracks appearing in the multilateral system, it will be difficult for the EU to maintain a middle course between the US and China.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: April 5, 2018
Read article More on this topic

External Publication

Europe in a new world order

The EU is a relatively open economy and has benefited from the multilateral system. We argue that the EU should defend its strategic interests. The Singapore ruling has offered a useful clarification on trade policy. Addressing internal imbalances would also increase external credibility. Finally, strengthening Europe's social model would provide a counter-model to protectionist temptations.

By: Maria Demertzis, Guntram B. Wolff and André Sapir Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 26, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Greece must capitalise on its growth momentum

Better-than-expected growth performance reflects the underlying positive changes in the Greek economy – but net investment is in fact negative, while Greece has various institutional weaknesses. Further improvements must be made regarding Greece’s attractiveness to foreign direct investment. A new (at least precautionary) financial assistance programme would improve trust in continued reforms and also address eventual public debt financing difficulties.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 26, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Will U.S. tax reform lure U.S. companies away from China?

What will be the results of the changes to the U.S. tax system in China? Will the new U.S. corporate tax rate cause Chinese firms to shift their operations to the U.S. to enjoy the new tax benefits? Read Alicia García-Herrero's opinion on President Donald Trump’s tax reform.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 26, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Easing the pain from trade?

With the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), the EU now has an instrument to help workers negatively affected by trade find new jobs. However, only a small proportion of EU workers affected by globalisation receive EGF financing. How to improve the EGF? Revising the eligibility criteria to qualify for EGF assistance, enlarging the scope of the programme beyond globalisation and collecting more and better data to enable a proper evaluation of the programme.

By: Grégory Claeys and André Sapir Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 22, 2018
Load more posts