Printer Friendly

U.S. international transactions, fourth quarter and year 1984.

THE U.S. current-account deficit decreased to $23.7 billion in the fourth quarter from $33.6 billion in the third. The decrease was accounted for by a narrowing of the merchandise trade deficit to $22.9 billion from $32.9 billion. An increase in the services surplus to $3.2 billion from $2.2 billion was offset by an increase in unilateral transfers to $4.0 billion from $2.9 billion.

Merchandise imports decreased $9.4 billion, or 11 percent, to $79.1 billion. Volume decreased 12 percent; prices increased 1 percent. Most of the decrease--$9.0 billion, all in volume--was in nonpetroleum imports. Imports of all major commodity categories decreased from very high third-quarter levels. (Despite these decreases, import levels for all major categories were substantially higher in the second half of the year than in the first half.) The largest fourth-quarter decreases were in capital goods, down $3.0 billion, partly reflecting a decrease in office and business machines and equipment (including computers; in nonfuel industrial supplies, particularly iron and steel products and metals, down $2.0 billion; and in automotive products, down $1.4 billion. Petroleum imports decreased $0.4 billion, or 2 percent, to $14.1 billion. The average number of barrels imported daily decreased to $27.59 from $27.91. Price declines accelerated after October 15, when Norway reduced the prices of its crude oils.

Merchandise exports increased $0.6 billion, or 1 percent, to $56.3 billion; volume increased 2 percent. Agricultural exports increased $0.6 billion, or 7 percent, to $9.7 billion; volume increased 13 percent. The volume of U.S. grain shipments to the U.S.S.R. doubled in the fourth quarter. The increase in the value of exports occurred despite of a large drop in their prices, which was a consequence of record harvests in many parts of the world. Average prices of corn and soybeans decreased about 15 percent each. Average prices of wheat increased 1 percent. Nonagricultural exports were unchanged at $46.6 billion; volume was also unchanged. Substantial decreases in industrial supplies and automotive products were partly offset by a $0.3 billion increase in capital goods, largely electronic compouters and parts, civilian aircraft and parts, and construction machinery.

Net service receipts increased to $3.2 billion from $2.2 billion. Among major components, receipts of income on U.S. direct investment abroad were $6.0 billion compared with $4.6 billion; capital losses (largely exchange-rate related) continued to limit the rise in income. Decreases in receipts and payments of other private income were offsetting. U.S. Government interest payments rose to $5.3 billion from $5.1 billion. Net travel and passenger fare payments wre virtually unchanged. The deficit on military transactions increased to $0.5 billion from $0.3 billion.

Net unilateral transfers were $4.0 billion. The $1.1 billion increase occurred as Israel was paid the full amount of grant funds from fiscal year 1985 economic support appropriations.

U.S. assets abroad increased $17.2 billion, in contrast to a $17.0 billion decrease in the third quarter. U.S. official reserve assets increased $1.1 billion compared with $0.8 billion. Much of the $0.8 billion increase in foreign currency holdings was special credit extended to Argentina until proceeds of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan became available. A small amount of credit was provided to the Central Bank of the Phillipines and was repaid before the quarter's end. Limited intervention purchases of German marks occurred in October.

Claims on foreigners reported by U.S. banks increased $5.6 billion compared with a decrease of $16.9 billion. The low level of outflows reflected the continuation of trends that have been evident over the past 2-1/2 years--reduced external financing requirements in industrial and in some developing countries, more cautious borrowing policies in some developing countries, and a reluctance a U.S. banks to increase their exposure in a number of debtor countries. An increase in claims on public borrowers--mainly in October, as part of IMF-sponsored adjustment programs--accounted for most of the capital outflows. Volatile monthly interbank transactions resulted in substantial yearend outflows to own foreign offices that more than offset large reductions in claims on these offices in October.

Net U.S. purchases of foreign securities were $3.3 billion compared with $1.3 billion. Bonds newly issued in the United States increased to $1.5 billion from $0.9 billion, but remained at a low level because interest rates abroad remained considerably lower than in the United States. U.S. residents were net sellers of outstanding bonds in almost all countries, except the United Kingdom, where they purchased $2.5 billion following $1.2 billion in third-quarter purchases. U.S. residents were net purchasers of $0.7 billion of foreign stocks in the fourth quarter--the same amount as in the third quarter--as markets in many foreign countries continued to rise.

Net capital outlfows for U.S. direct investment abroad were $6.5 billion compared with inflows of $1.9 billion, as the issue of bonds through finance affiliates in the Netherlands Antilles ceased and outstanding debt to these affiliates continued to be repaid. Removal of U.S. withholding taxes on interest payments to foreigners made it possible for U.S. companies to issue Eurobonds directly at the same cost as through these finance affiliates; consequently, U.S. corporations' borrowings shifted to Europe and to the portfolio capital accounts (net foreign purchases of U.S. securities) from the direct investment intercompany accounts, where Netherlands Antilles borrowings were included.

Foreign assets in the United States increased $33.9 billion compared with a $2.8 billion increase. Foreign official assets in the United States increased $7.0 billion compared with a $0.8 billion decrease (table B). In the third quarter, substantial dollar outflows to industrial countries occurred as the dollar appreciated. These outflows were reversed during the fourth quarter, when the dollar temporarily depreciated; assets of industrial countries increased $2.7 billion. Assets of OPEC members increased $0.9 billion, as continued outflows to Middle East and Asian members were more than offset by inflows from Latin American members. Assets of other countries increased $3.3 billion, largely from several newly industrialized countries in the Far East.

Liabilities to private foreigners and international financial institutions reported by U.S. banks, excluding U.S. Treasury securities, increased $3.4 billion compared with a $5.4 billion increase. Large inflows from own foreign offices and unaffiliated banks in November and December more than offset outflows in October, resulting in only a small net inflow of funds for the quarter. Low demand for funds by U.S. banks and rapidly declining U.S. interest rates were major contributing factors. Some capital inflows shifted to purchases of U.S. Treasury securities, which were $9.5 billion compared with $5.1 billion; Treasury bonds, at 11.75 percent, were nearly 3 percentage points above yields on bills and nearly 2.5 percentage points above rates on 90-day bank certificates of deposit (CD's). Also, new Treasury issues were marketed solely to foreigners. The World Bank purchased large amounts of U.S. bonds.

Net foreign purchases of U.S. securities other than U.S. Treasury securities were $9.3 billion compared with $1.6 billion. Most purchases were attributable to $8.6 billion in Eurobonds newly issued abroad by U.S. withholding taxes on interest paid to foreigners on investments in the United States and clarification of registration and certification requirements on new issues abroad in the third quarter paved the way for the surge in new issues. Borrowing in the Eurobond market was significantly cheaper than in the U.S. market, as Eurobond rates declined sharply. foreigners were net sellers of U.S. stocks in the fourt quarter, $0.8 billion compared with $1.0 billion, as the U.S. stock market continued lackluster. Purchases of outstanding bonds by foreigners were $1.5 billion compared with $0.7 billion. High yields and dollar appreciation made those holdings attractive compared with bonds in most foreign markets.

Net inflows on foreign direct investment in the United States were $4.7 billion compared with $5.3 billion. Equity inflows dropped to $1.6 billion from $2.5 billion, and intercompany account debt inflows increased to $1.6 billion from $1.4 billion.

The dollar's appreciation was temporarily interrupted from early October to mid-November, when it declined 2 percent against European Monetary System (EMS) currencies and sterling, partly reflecting heavy intervention in exchange markets by foreign montetary authorities (table C). However, the decline was more than reversed by yearend, and the dollar rose 2.4 percent from the end of September to the end of December against the trade-weighted average of 10 major currencies (chart 3, table C). (The dollar rose further to new highs in the first 2 months of 1985.)

The Year 1984

U.S. dollar in exchange markets

From December 1983 to December 1984, the dollar appreciated 12 percent on a trade-weighted average basis against 10 major currencies. Relatively high U.S. interest rates for most of the year, the strength of the U.S. expansion and success in maintaining low inflation, and U.S. economic and political stability all contributed to the appreciation. Economic and political uncertainties abroad also played a part.

The dollar's appreciation was temporarily interrupted by an 8-percent decline against most EMS currencies and sterling from mid-January through mid-March, when concern arose about the strength of the U.S. economic expansion and about the future course of nominal and real interest rates. Simultaneously, the investment climate abroad appeared to improve as industrial activity strengthened, especially in Germany. Capital flowed out of dollars, mainly into marks, both from other EMS countries and the United States.

When the U.S. expansion continued and was accompanied by large private and public demands on the credit markets, U.S. interest rates rose strongly while foreign interest remained virtually unchanged. By the end of June, the interest differential in favor of dollar-denominated assets was the largest since 1982. Capital inflows helped finance U.S. banks' domestic loan expansion, large-scale mergers and acquisitions, and the trade and Federal budget deficits. Foreign investors also participated in the brief stock market rally in late July and August and in the bond market rally that began about a month earlier and continued for the remainder of the year.

The dollar's appreciation was again temporarily interrupted when it declined 2 percent against most EMS currencies and sterling from early October to mid-November. There was substantial intervention in exchange markets by German and, to lesser extent, other foreign monetary authorities, from mid-September through early October, combined with limited U.S. intervention. Despite further declines in U.S. interest rates that virtually elimiated a weighted average of key foreign rates, the dollar's decline was reversed, and by yearend, it reached all-time highs against most European currencies.

The dollar appreciated 21 percent against the British pound in 1984. In the first half of the year, large interest differentials favored capital flows ot the United States. During the second half, petroleum prices weakened rapidly, and the long coal strike held down the rise in industrial production.

The dollar appreciated less against the Japanese yen--6 percent--as anticipated output and inflation performance in Japan was better than in many others countries. Relatively high interest rates on U.S. short- and longterm investments and the U.S. Treasury's foreign-targeted issues attracted a large part of record capital outflows from Japan. In addition, large-scale diversification of asset holdings by Japanese insurance companies and other institutions followed recent easing of restrictions on capital outflows and deregulations of capital markets.

The dollar appreciated 6 percent against the Canadian dollar. Increases in Canadian interest rates in line with U.S. rates falied to stop the especially rapid decline of the Canadian dollar from March through mid-July. Canadian monetary authorities borrowed heavily from Canadian and U.S. banks, from other foreign banks, and in the Eurobond market to prevent further decreases in Canada's international reserves. The Canadian dollar stabilized from August through December, and, with the pickup in capital inflows toward yearend, the Canadian authorities repaid borrowings from banks on its standby credit facilities. also at yearend, the new Canadian Government was considering removal of some restrictions on inflows of foreign capital to finance direct investment.

Merchandise trade

The U.S. merchandise trade deficit increased to $107.4 billion in 1984 from $61.1 billion in 1983 (tables D, E). Imports increased $66.5 billion, or 25 percent, to $327.8 billion; volume increased 26 percent. Nonpetroleum imports accounted for most of the increase. Exports increased $20.1 billion, or 10 percent, to $220.3 billion; volume increased 8 percent. Nonagricultural exports accounted for most of the increase.

Cumulative dollar appreciation since late 1980 was a major factor increasing the deficit in 1984. Appreciation substantially decreased the competitiveness of U.S. goods in export markets, especially for the large capital goods and industrial supply categories, as the foreign currency cost of U.S. manufactured goods exports rose much faster than producer prices in major industrial countries abroad. In contrast, the relative costs of imports and U.S.-produced goods changed little, as the dollar cost of U.S. manufactured goods imports rose only slightly faster than U.S. producer prices (chart X).

Relative growth rates also had an important influence on trade patterns in 1984. Since 1981, real growth in the United States had exceeded that of its industrialized trading partners by about two-thirds of a percentage point on average. In 1984, the gap in growth rates was more than four times as large. As the U.S. expansion substantially outpaced the recovery abroad, U.S. imports increased by record amounts from industrial countries (especially Japan and Canada) and from non-OPEN developing countries. Export growth was mostly restricted to selected industrial countries--Canada, where there was a record increase, and Japan and some countries in Western Europe, where there were limited increases. Exports to Mexico were also up strongly.

Financing constraints in most debt-burdened developing countries--and currency devaluations in some--continued to limit U.S. export expansion, particularly to Latin America (which has been an important market for U.S. machinery and capital goods). Some developing countries in Latin America experienced strong real output expansion and export growth to the United States. Exports to the United States from the newly industrialized countries in the Far East (Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan) increased by record amounts.

Reflecting the strength of U.S. import demand and limited export expansion, the trade balance with Western Europe shifted to a deficit of $13.9 billion from a surplus of $1.0 billion in 1983, and the deficit with Japan increased to $34.0 billion from $19.6 billion. The deficit with Canada increased much less, to $15.5 billion from $10.5 billion, because a record $9.3 billion increase in exports offset much of the record $14.3 billion increase in imports. Among the developing countries, the surge in imports from the newly industrialized countries in the Far East increased the deficit to $19.1 billion from $11.4 billion. In contrast, the rise in imports from Latin America, including several major debtor countries, increased the deficit only to $16.0 billion from $13.4 billion. The exception within this group was Mexico, where the deficit decreased to $6.0 billion with $7.7 billion (Table F).

Nonpetroleum imports increased $63.0 billion, or 30 percent, to $270.5 billion; volume increased 27 percent. Imports of all major nonpetroleum commodity categories increased by substantial amounts; many exceeded record annual increases that occurred in 1976-80, the last period of strong import growth. The largest increase was in capital goods, which increased $19.2 billion, or 47 percent. As in 1983, growth was paced by electrical machinery, business and office machines (including computers), and scientific, professional, and service industry equipment. Consumer goods increased $14.9 billion, or 32 percent; both manufactured durable and nondurable goods--including textiles, radio and TV equipment and components--increased. Nonfuel industrial supplies and materials increased $12.7 billion, or 27 percent, in spite of several voluntary agreements with Brazil, Western European countries, and Japan to limit shipments of certain types of steel products. Automotive products from areas other than Canada (mainly Japan) increased $7.0 billion, or 28 percent. Much of the increase in passenger cars was due to higher average prices, which increased 10 percent following an 8-percent increase in 1983; the number of units imported increased 8 percent. The share of Japanese autos in U.S. sales slipped to 19 percent from 21 percent. Automotive products from Canada increased $6.1 billion, or 36 percent, reflecting a substantial increase in the number of domestic (U.S.) units sold.

Petroleum imports increased $3.5 billion, or 6 percent, to $57.3 billion. The aveage price per barrel decreased to $27.95 from $28.37 in 1983. The average number of barrels imported daily increased to 5.60 million from 5.20 million, reflecting a 4-percent increase in consumption in 1984. Imports from OPEC members increased 5 percent to $23.5 billion; combined imports from Canada, Western Europe, and Mexico increased 9 percent to $21.7 billion. Throughout the year, but particularly in the last half, spot prices of crude were well below prices posted by OPEC members.

Nonagricultural exports increased $18.3 billion, or 11 percent, all in volume, to $181.9 billion. Among the largest advances, automotive exports to Canada increased $3.3 billion, or 27 percent; electronic computers and parts, $3.4 billion, or 25 percent; chemicals, $2.4 billion, or 14 percent; electrical machinery, $1.7 billion, or 13 percent, and broadcasting and communications equipment, $1.0 billion, or 15 percent. Most increases were related to trade with Canada and Mexico, which together accounted for two-thirds of the increase in nonagricultural exports. Exports to Canada increased $9.1 billion, or 22 percent, and exports to Mexico increased $2.9 billion, or 40 percent.

Agricultural exports increased $1.8 billion, or 5 percent, to $38.4 billion; volume was unchanged. The volume of soybean shipments declined a record amount--more than 23 percent. However, the tight supplies in the wake of the 1983 drought led to sharply higher prices for soybeans through mid-1984, limiting the decline in value to slightly more than 8 percent. Prices dropped sharply in the last half of the year. In contrast, the volume of wheat exports rose substantially in both value and volume, despite somewhat lower prices. The volume of corn exports was virtually unchanged from the previous year's low level, despite a 10-percent price decline in the last half of the year.

Service transactions

Net service receipts were $17.0 billion compared with $28.1 billion (table G). Declines in net income receipts, direct and portfolio, were $1.7 billion and $3.7 billion, respectively. Other services shifted to a deficit of $1.1 billion from a $4.6 billion surplus, mostly due to an increase in the deficit on travel and passenger fare transactions and a shift to a deficit on military transactions.

Receipts of income on U.S. direct investment abroad were $23.6 billion, up from $20.8 billion. The pickup reflected moderate expansion abroad, although, as in 1983, the rise in earnings was centered in nonpetroleum affiliates in a few European countries and Japan. Continued strength in earnings of automotive affiliates in Canada was associated with the second consecutive year of strong U.S. auto sales. Two factors limited the increase in earnings. First, capital losses, mostly reflecting dollar appreciation against both European and Latin American currencies, remained large--about $7.3 billion--for the second consecutive year. Second, net interest payments increased, although not by as much as in 1983. Distributed earnings increased to $15.2 billion from $14.9 billion. Reinvested earnings were $12.8 billion compared with $9.1 billion.

Payments of income on foreign direct investment in the United States were $11.2 billion, up from $6.7 billion. Earnings of nonpetroleum affiliates accounted for most of the increase. Reinvested earnings were $4.5 billion compared with $1.4 billion. Distributed earnings were $3.6 billion compared with $3.0 billion. Net interest payments were $3.1 billion compared with $2.3 billion; the increase was largely due to stepped-up borrowing to finance the acquisition of a large U.S. company.

Receipts of income on other private investment were $58.9 billion, up from $51.4 billion, reflecting a small increase in bank-reported claims and higher average interest rates. Reduced external financing requirements and U.S. banks' concern about their exposure abroad limited the increase in claims. Receipts of income on U.S. Government assets abroad were $5.2 billion, up from $4.8 billion. Payments of income on other private investment were $38.4 billion compared with $29.1 billion. Higher average interest rates more than offset a smaller increase in bank-reported liabilities. Payments of income on U.S. Government liabilities increased to $19.8 billion from $17.7 billion.

Net international travel and passenger fare payments increased to $7.8 billion from $5.1 billion. As in 1983, the large increase in payments relative to receipts was attributable to substantial dollar appreciation and expansion of the U.S. economy in 1984. Travel payments to overseas areas were $9.8 billion, up 18 percent, following a 16-percent increase in 1983. The 1984 increase was largely due to an increase in the number of U.S. travelers, particularly to Western Europe; departures were up 14 percent. Travel receipts from overseas areas were $6.4 billion, up 2 percent, as dollar appreciation contributed to a 5-percent drop in the number of visitors. Most of the drop was in visitors from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom, partly offset by an increase from the Far East. Receipts from Mexico fell 4 percent to $1.9 billion; payments to Mexico increased 3 percent. Travel receipts from Canada fell 2 percent to $3.1 billion; expenditures in Canada increased 9 percent to $2.4 billion, as average expenditures of travelers to Canada increased strongly.

U.S. military transactions with foreigners resulted in net payments of ,1.6 billion, a shift from net receipts of $0.5 billion. Transfers under U.S. military agency sales contracts decreased $2.5 billion to $10.2 billion, mainly due to large delivery reductions to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Reduced construction activity and the absence of aircraft deliveries led to a $2.2 billion reduction in transfers to Saudi Arabia. No aircraft deliveries and lower armored vehicle deliveries were reflected in a $0.5 billion reduction in transfers to Egypt. U.S. direct defense expenditures abroad were $11.9 billion, down $0.4 billion--the first decrease since 1975. Pay to U.S. military personnel abroad increased $0.9 billion, mostly in Germany. Pertroleum purchases declined $0.6 billion to $1.1 billion, the lowest level since 1978. Construction in Saudi Arabia by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under military sales contracts declined $0.5 billion to $1.4 billion, as current projects neared completion and projects in the planning stage were postponed.

Other net transportation payments were $1.0 billion, a shift from net receipts of $0.5 billion in 1983. Receipts were $13.7 billion, an increase of 7 percent. Payments were $14.7 billion, an increase of 19 percent. Both increases reflected the strength of U.S. imports--on the receipts side in ocean port service receipts from foreign flag vessels in U.S. ports, and on the payments side from import charges for cargoes carried on foreign flag vessels.

Net unilateral transfers were $11.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion. Some of the rise reflected revisions in U.S. Government procedures under which appropriated grant funds remaining from earlier fiscal years (1982 and 1983) were made available to foreign military sales customers. Thus, grants financing military purchases more than doubled, and other grants increased strongly.

U.S. assets abroad

U.S. assets abroad increased $21.2 billion in 1984 compared with a $49.5 billion increase in 1983.

U.S. official reserve assets increased $3.1 billion compared with $1.2 billion. U.S. authorities acquired small amounts of German marks in intervention operations in the first, third, and fourth quarters. In the fourth quarter, a small amount of short-term financing was provided to the Central Bank of the Philippines until IMF financing could be arranged; it was repaid in the same quarter. ABout one-half of the increase in U.S. holdings of foreign currencies was special credit to Argentina, created by purchases of $0.5 billion equivalent in pesos, until proceeds of an IMF loan, approved in September, became available. IMF disbursement was contingent upon commercial banks in the United States and abroad providing new credits. Agreement with commercial banks was reached at the end of December. (Argentina's borrowing from the United STates was repaid in mid-January.)

Claims on foreigners reported by U.S. banks increased $7.3 billion compared with $25.4 billion (tables H, I). Despite moderate expansion in industrial countries abroad, international demand for U.S. bank credit was weak, because credit demands were largely met from other sources--especially the Eurobond markets where interests rates declined sharply in the second half of the year. In addition, improved external payments positions, as well as more cautious borrowing policies, in some developing countries somewhat lessened credit needs. On the supply side, U.S. banks were generally hesitant to increase their foreign exposure in the face of continuing financial difficulties in a number od developing countries. Also, U.S. supervisory authorities continued to pressure banks, especially in the second half of the year, to improve the quality of their loan portfolios, to tighten accounting standards applied to substandard loans, and to increase capital-asset ratios.

Much of the second-quarter increase in claims was related to the financing of mergers in the United States. U.S. companies borrowed large amounts from foreign banks, who in turn satisfied some of the demand for funds through interbank borrowing from U.S. banks. Much of the merger-related borrowing began to be repaid by the end of the quarter, as borrowers substituted funds from the U.S. commercial paper and the Eurobond markets for relatively costly bank funds.

Also in the second quarter, large withdrawals from the banks abroad--particularly from foreign offices of U.S. banks--temporarily reflected concerns over actual and potential losses from substandard loans at a few large banks in the United States. To offset these withdrawals, unaffiliated foreign banks borrowed heavily from U.S. banks, and U.S. parent banks deposited funds in their foreign offices. In the third quarter, as those concerns abated, the process was reversed. In addition, lage credits to foreign banks dropped sharply, as merger-related corporate borrowing subsided.

Banks' own claims on their own foreign offices increased $9.3 billion, compared with $16.7 billion; in particular, branches in the Caribbean, United Kingdom, and the Far East required less funding as their loan demand dropped sharply. Claims on foreign public borrowers increasd ,3.5 billion compared with $11.8 billion; the increase mainly reflected credits established by agreements between private banks, the IMF, and several debtor countries in Latin America to refinance portions of overdue public debt principal and interest.

Banks' claims for domestic customers' accounts decreased $3.4 billion, compared with a $6.0 billion decrease. Money market mutual funds sold off a smaller amount of Eurodollar CD's than in the preceding year.

Although funds supplied by U.S. banks to foreigners decreased sharply in 1984, funds raised by U.S. banks from abroad decreased by about the same amount. Thus, the net funds (inflows) raised from abroad were $20.2 billion, down only slightly from the $23.7 billion raised in 1983 (chart 6).

Net U.S. purchases of foreign securities were $4.8 billion compared with $7.7 billion. The decrease was mainly attributable to purchases of foreign stocks, which declined to $1.1 billion from $4.0 billion. Major foreign stock markets rose little in the first half of 1984 (in contrast to their strong rise throughout 1983), and U.S. residents were net sellers on balance. However, when stock prices resumed their rise in the second half--especially in markets in the Netherlands, Germany, and Hong Kong--net purchases were moderately strong. (The U.S. market, by comparison, was only slightly higher in the second half than in the first half of the year.) Despite the strong rise in the Japanese market throughout the year, U.S. residents were net sellers of Japanese stocks, as they were of Canadian stocks, which declined in price.

Foreign new bond issues in the United States were $5.4 billion, compared with $5.1 billion. Of the 1984 amount, $1.5 billion was in long-term floating rate issues by the Swedish Government to refinance its bank borrowings. High U.S. interest rates relative to Eurobond rates and limited demand by Canadian borrowers restrained new issues. Canadian new issues dipped from $2.3 billion in 1983 to $1.1 billion in 1984. In both years, Canadians relied heavily on borrowings from the Eurobond market, partly because U.S. rates were not much lower than Canadian rates and partly because the Canadian dollar declined against the U.S. dollar.

Trading in outstanding bonds, up sharply to $1.3 billion, was marked by a substantial increase in purchases from the United Kingdom to $4.7 billion. Purchases of British Treasury gilt securities, guaranteed against foreign exchange risk by U.S. investment and brokerage houses, and purchases of outstanding (seasoned) Eurobonds, probably accounted for much of the increase. Net sales were registered against nearly all other areas. Redemptions increased to $3.0 billion from $2.1 billion.

Net outflows of capital for U.S. direct investment abroad were $6.0 billion compared with $4.9 billion. An increase in reinvested earnings, which resulted from the pickup in economic activity abroad, was partly offset by a decrease in equity investments abroad and a small decrease in intercompany debt inflows.

Several large-scale mergers and acquisitions dominated intercompany account debt and related equity capital transactions, especially in the second quarter. There were large borrowings through Netherlands Antilles finance affiliates, with over one-half of the $3.5 billion total associated with a single large merger-related transaction. In another large transaction, a U.S. company borrowed to purchase a petroleum company's European mining and marketing operations. A third transaction resulted in an equity inflow from a U.S. company's sale of most of its interests in Australian mining properties to an Australian company and a partly offsetting outflow from the U.S. company's subsequent purchase of a share in the Australian company. (Related transactions appear in the capital account for foreign direct investment in the United States.)

Another factor affecting intercompany debt flows in the fourth quarter was the cessation of inflows through finance affiliates in the Netherlands Antilles. The cessation occurred because removal of U.S. withholding taxes on interest payments to foreigners made it possible for U.S. companies to borrow directly from foreign sources at the same cost as through these finances affiliates. In the first three quarters, intercompany debt inflows from these finance affiliates had been substantial, averaging over $2.0 billion per quarter (table J). (U.S. corporations' direct borrowing is recorded in the portfolio capital accounts.)

For the year, equity outflows, at $1.1 billion, were about one-quarter of the annual outflows in 1983. Intercompany account debt inflows dropped to $7.9 billion from $9.0 billion. Reinvested earnings were $12.8 billion compared with $9.1 billion.

Foreign assets in the United States

Foreign assets in the United States increased $92.8 billion in 1984 compared with an $81.7 billion increase in 1983.

Foreign official assets in the United States increased $3.0 billion, following an increase of $5.3 billion. Dollar assets of industrial countries increased only $0.2 billion compared with $10.2 billion. Small reductions in assets (outflows) of most Wesern European countries in the first quarter were reversed early in the second, when the dollar's appreciation resumed. Outflows in the third quarter were more than offset by inflows in the fourth, reflecting substantial exchange market intervention by foreign monetary authorities. There was a net decrease in dollar assets of other leading countries.

Dollar assets of OPEC members decreased $4.2 billion compared with $8.6 billion, although there was virtually no net decrease in the last half of the year.

Dollar assets of other countries increased $7.0 billion compared with $3.8 billion. The increase was mainly concentrated in the assets of several newly industrialized countries in the Far East. The dollar assets of a few countries in Latin America increased much less, mainly reflecting deposits of proceeds of IMF- and commercial bank-sponsored financial packages in the United States.

Liabilities to foreigners and international financial institutions reported by U.S. banks, excluding U.S. Treasury securities, increased $27.6 billion, compared with $49.1 billion. In the first half of the year, strong demand for funds from abroad was related to the U.S. economic expansion and U.S. Treasury financing needs, and resulted in a sharp rise in interest rates and further dollar appreciation. A substantial part of these inflows represented proceeds of earlier commercial paper borrowing by U.S. bank holding companies that were deposited abroad and subsequently drawn upon by the U.S. parent bank. Another factor contributing to the strong rise in liabilities was the previously mentioned large-scale merger financing.

With the flattening of domestic loan demand at midyear, a large decline in U.S. interest rates, and rapidly diminishing financing needs for mergers, dollar inflows dropped rapidly in the second half of the year. Also, asset preferences of foreign investors shifted when attractive investment opportunities in U.S. Treasury securities became available as a result of U.S. tax law changes and as long-term rates on Treasury securities fell less rapidly than short-term rates on bank CD's.

Reflecting the flattening U.S. loan demand after midyear, banks' own liabilities to their own foreign offices increased $2.0 billion in 1984, compared with $25.6 billion increase in 1983. Partly offsetting was a pickup in liabilities to unaffiliated foreign banks (mainly foreign-owned banks) to an increase of $14.4 billion, compared with an increase of $9.9 billion. These inflows remained relatively strong, even toward yearend, despite the decline in U.S. interest rates.

Purchases of U.S. Treasury securities by private foreigners and international financial institutions were a record $22.5 billion in 1984, nearly triple 1983 purchases. With interest rates on bonds averaging more than 2.5 to 3.0 percentage points above yields on bills and bank CD's, purchases of bonds rose substantially in the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, purchases increased more, following the previously mentioned changes in the U.S. tax law and the clarification of registration and certification requirements. Some U.S. investment firms repackaged Federal agency and U.S. Treasury securities in the form of stripped interest coupons, which were sold separately as zero-coupon securities in bearer form to foreigners. The U.S. Treasury directly sold $2.0 billion of foreign-targeted securities to foreigners. These securities were priced 30 basis points less than comparable U.S. Treasury securities (thus lowering the Treasury's cost of borrowing), were marketed only abroad in special registered form, and were not eligible for resale to U.S. residents for 90 days.

Due to large U.S. corporate bond issues overseas, net foreign purchases of U.S. securities other than U.S. Treasury securities increased to a record $13.0 billion, compared with $8.6 billion in 1983. Foreigners purchased $13.6 billion in bonds, up from $2.2 billion, and sold $0.6 billion in U.S. stocks, a shift from record stock purchases of $6.4 billion. The strong demand for funds by U.S. corporations, as well as by businesses worldwide, resulted in record issues of Eurodollar and other bonds estimated at $108 billion, up from $77 billion, in international markets. In contrast, worldwide international bank credits dropped to an estimated $52 billion from $60 billion.

An unprecedented volume of funds was raised by U.S. corporations in overseas markets. In addition to $10.7 billion issued directly in the Eurobond markets from the United States, U.S. corporations also tapped the Eurobond market for $9.9 billion through their finance affiliates in the Netherlands Antilles. The combined amount was triple the 1983 total.

In the first half of the year, much of the borrowing was to finance large-scale mergers and acquisitions either directly, or indirectly, by replacing the short-term bank debt that had initially been used. In the second half of the year, rapidly declining long-term rates and dollar appreciation favored foreign placement and spurred investor demand.

After being net purchasers of stocks in the first quarter, foreigners became net sellers by midsummer. In the second half of the year, when the stock market was essentially flat--in contrast to its record breaking advance from mid-1982 to mid-1983--foreigners sold $1.8 billion in stocks. Western Europeans, who had been net purchasers of $4.0 billion in 1983, were net sellers of $2.8 billion in 1984. Canadians continued as net purchasers of stocks; including record purchases in the first quarter, the total for the year was $1.7 billion, up from $1.2 billion.

Net foreign purchases of outstanding bonds were $2.9 billion, compared with $1.9 billion; most purchases were concentrated in the last half of the year. Yields on U.S. bonds exceeded those available in national markets in Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom by considerable amounts. In addition, the dollar appreciated against all three currencies.

Net inflows of capital for foreign direct investment in the United States increased to $21.2 billion from $11.3 billion. Equity and intercompany account debt inflows were substantially higher than a year ago. Record quarterly inflows occurred in the second quarter when intercompany account debt inflows increased $3.6 billion to $4.4 billion. That quarter's increase largely reflected a loan from a British affiliate to a U.S. subsidiary to purchase by a tender offer the remaining shares of a petroleum company. Also, equity capital inflows increased $2.6 billion to $3.3 billion, largely because a foreign company established a new U.S. holding company to acquire the U.S. and foreign properties of a U.S. company (referred to in the section on U.S. direct investment capital flows). For the year, intercompany account debt inflows were $8.4 billion compared with $4.0 billion, and equity inflows were $8.2 billion compared with $5.9 billion. Reinvested earnings increased to $4.5 billion from $1.4 billion.

The statistical discrepancy (errors and omissions in reported transactions) increased to an unrecorded net inflow of $30.0 billion from $9.3 billion.
COPYRIGHT 1985 U.S. Government Printing Office
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Bach, Christopher L.
Publication:Survey of Current Business
Date:Mar 1, 1985
Words:6514
Previous Article:Capital expenditures by majority-owned foreign affiliates of U.S. companies, 1985.
Next Article:An introduction to national economic accounting.
Topics:


Related Articles
The business situation.
U.S. international transactions, first quarter 1985.
U.S. international transactions, second quarter 1985.
U.S. international transactions, fourth quarter and year 1985.
The international investment position of the United States in 1985.
U.S. international transactions, first quarter 1986.
U.S. international transactions, fourth quarter and year 1986.
U.S. international transactions, first quarter 1987.
U.S. international transactions, first quarter 1989.
U.S. international transactions, first quarter 1989.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters