Universität Bonn

Department of Economics

Andrew Atkeson - UCLA

“The End of Privilege: A Reexamination of the Net Foreign Asset Position of the United States” together with Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri


The U.S. net foreign asset position has deteriorated sharply in the years following the Global Financial Crisis and is currently negative 65 percent of US GDP. This deterioration primarily reflects changes in the relative values of large gross international equity positions, as opposed to net new borrowing. In particular, a sharp increase in equity prices that has been U.S. specific has inflated the value of U.S. foreign liabilities. We develop an international macro finance model to interpret these trends, and argue that the rise in equity prices in the United States likely reflects rising profitability of domestic firms rather than a substantial accumulation of unmeasured capital by those firms. Under that interpretation, the revaluation effects that have driven down the U.S. net foreign asset position are associated with large unanticipated transfers of US output to foreign investors.

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