DP2231 | The External Wealth of Nations: Measures of Foreign Assets and Liabilities for Industrial and Developing Countries

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Current capital flows are closely monitored, but surprisingly little is known about the stocks of external assets and liabilities held by various countries, especially in the developing world. This paper constructs estimates of foreign assets and liabilities and their equity and debt subcomponents for a sample of 66 industrial and developing countries. It characterizes the stylized facts of estimated stocks and asks whether there are trends in net foreign asset positions and shifts in debt-equity ratios over time. Finally, it explores the sensitivity of estimates of stock positions to the treatment of valuation effects that are not captured in balance of payments data.