Gross Capital Flows by Banks, Corporates, and Sovereigns

Stefan Avdjiev, Bryan Hardy, Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Luis Serven, Journal of the European Economic Association 20(5), 2098-2135, July .


We construct a new quarterly data set of international capital flows broken down by sector—banks, corporates, and sovereigns—and demonstrate the importance of distinguishing capital flows by the sector of domestic borrowers and lenders. We document four new sets of facts. First, banks account for the largest part of the external debt (stocks and flows) in advanced economies, whereas in emerging markets, banks, corporates, and sovereigns have roughly equal shares. Second, the high correlation between total capital inflows and outflows documented in the literature is driven by banking sector flows; that is, domestic banks’ borrowing from foreigners is highly correlated with domestic banks’ lending to foreigners. Third, sovereign flows behave very differently from and often act as a countervailing force to private sector (banking and corporate) flows, especially in emerging markets. Fourth, different shocks (global financial cycles versus domestic business cycles; banking versus currency versus sovereign crises) generate very distinct patterns of capital inflows and outflows by sector. The stylized facts we document deepen our understanding of the dynamics and behavior of capital flows and have important implications for open economy models.

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