The Globalization of U.S. Business Investment

by Don Boudreaux on May 1, 2008

in Balance of Payments, Trade

In this very careful, data-rich, and important new paper from the Dallas Fed — entitled "The Globalization of U.S. Business Investment" — economists Mark Wynne and Erasmus Kersting document recent trends in U.S. FDI (both incoming and outgoing).  Here’s the abstract:

This paper documents some key facts about foreign direct investment flows by U.S. businesses overseas and foreign businesses in the United States. We show how the pattern of flows has evolved, examine the sources and destination of these flows, document associated employment and productivity gains, and show how investment-related sales compare with traditional exports. While the United States is a net debtor to the rest of the world, direct overseas by U.S. businesses exceeds direct investment in the U.S. by foreign businesses. Furthermore, U.S. businesses seem to earn more on their foreign investments than foreign firms earn on their U.S. investments. The globalization of business investment is a long-standing phenomenon, but it has accelerated in recent years and become a source of concern for some, as it is intimately related to the debate on offshore outsourcing. Yet contrary to what some think, the bulk of U.S. investment overseas is in other high-income countries. And foreign investment in the U.S. has been an important source of employment growth in recent years. [emphasis added]

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