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The United States as a Net Debtor Nation: Overview of the International Investment Position

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Publication Date: July 2008

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL32964

Topic: Banking and finance (International banking and finance)

Abstract:

The international investment position of the United States is an annual measure of the assets Americans own abroad and the assets foreigners own in the United States. The net position, or the difference between the two, sometimes is referred to as a measure of U.S. international indebtedness. Although this designation is not strictly correct, the net international investment position does reveal the difference between the total assets Americans own abroad and total amount of assets foreigners own in the United States. These assets generate flows of capital into and out of the economy that have important implications for the value of the dollar in international exchange markets. Some Members of Congress and some in the public have expressed concerns about the U.S. net international investment position because of the role foreign investors are playing in U.S. capital markets and the potential for large outflows of income and services payments. Some observers also argue that the U.S. reliance on foreign capital inflows leaves the economy vulnerable to financial crises. This report will be updated as events warrant.