The detailed estimates by country and industry of the direct investment positions of the United States, which are presented in this article, are prepared only on the basis of historical cost; thus, these estimates reflect prices at the time of investment rather than prices of the current period./1/ In contrast, the estimates of the direct investment positions presented elsewhere in this issue are on a current-cost and a market-value basis; those estimates are conceptually and analytically superior to the historical-cost estimates, but they are available only at an aggregate level./2/ For perspective, table 1 shows the aggregate direct investment positions on all three valuation bases.
On a historical-cost basis, the position for U.S. direct investment abroad (USDIA) grew 11 percent in 1996, and the position for foreign direct investment in the United States (FDIUS) grew 12 percent. The strong growth in both measures was largely attributable to favorable economic conditions in the United States and in a number of foreign countries. Robust earnings by affiliates generated readily available financing in the form of reinvested earnings, and strong earnings by parents reduced the need to draw funds from affiliates andparticularly for FDIUSprovided a source of funds for mergers and acquisitions. In addition, USDIA was spurred by new investment opportunities abroad resulting from privatizations of government-owned enterprises.
As in previous years, the largest component of capital outflows for USDIA was reinvested earnings, which tend to be used mainly to finance the ongoing operations of foreign affiliates./3/ The largest component of capital inflows for FDIUS continued to be equity capital, which includes capital contributions to existing U.S. affiliates and funds used to acquire and establish new U.S. affiliates./4/ To some extent, this difference in composition reflects the greater average maturity of foreign affiliates relative to U.S. affiliates and the relatively greater role of acquisitions in recent growth in FDIUS. Many foreign affiliates of U.S. companies were acquired or established decades ago and can now be sustained largely through the retention of their own earnings. In contrast, U.S. affiliates of foreign companies tend to be of more recent vintage and to rely more heavily on contributions of equity capital from their foreign parents to build their operations.
Benchmark revision of FDIUS estimates.The estimates of the FDIUS position for 1992 have been revised to incorporate data collected in BEA's 1992 benchmark survey of foreign direct investment in the United States, which covered the universe of FDIUS. For years after 1992, the estimates have been revised by extrapolating the 1992 universe data on the basis of data collected in BEA's quarterly sample survey and by incorporating new or adjusted data from that survey. The revisions for all of these years were small1 percent or less for all countries and industries combined. Previously, the estimates for 1992 forward were extrapolated from the 1987 benchmark survey of FDIUS./5/
The U.S. direct investment position abroad valued at historical costthe book value of U.S. direct investors' equity in, and net outstanding loans to, their foreign affiliateswas $796.5 billion at yearend 1996 (table 2 and chart 1). The largest positions by far remained those in the United Kingdom ($142.6 billion, or 18 percent of the total) and in Canada ($91.6 billion, or 11 percent of the total) (table 3 and chart 2).
In 1996, the USDIA position increased $78.9 billion, or 11 percent, compared with an increase of 12 percent in 1995 and an average increase of 10 percent in 198294. The following table shows the change in position in 1996 by the type of capital flow and valuation adjustment:/6/
|Billions of dollars|
|Capital gains and losses||4.1|
Mostnearly two-thirdsof capital outflows in 1996 were accounted for by reinvested earnings, which were up $3.2 billion from 1995. The remainder were accounted for by net equity capital outflows, which were down $15.0 billion from 1995, and intercompany debt flows, which shifted $12.2 billion, to outflows.
Reinvested earnings reflected record affiliate profits and a continued high rate of reinvestment. Affiliate profits in many countries were boosted by the large capital flows that have expanded the earnings base in recent years. In 1996, 60 percent of total earnings were reinvested, slightly below the 61-percent share of 1995 but well above the 36-percent average of 198294. If past relationships between growth in capital spending by affiliates and growth in earnings held in 1996, it seems likely that much of the reinvested earnings were used to finance capacity expansion by existing foreign affiliates.
The decrease in equity capital outflows was primarily due to a sharp drop in equity capital increases, as a number of multibillion-dollar mergers and acquisitions in 1995mainly in pharmaceuticals, but also in utilities and telecommunicationswere not matched by similar-sized transactions in 1996. Also contributing to the decrease in outflows was a rise in equity capital decreases (which are recorded as U.S. capital inflows); these decreases, which were concentrated in finance (except banking), insurance, and real estate ("FIRE") and in petroleum, largely resulted from sales of affiliates by U.S. direct investors.
Merger and acquisition activity by U.S. direct investors, though lower than in 1995, occurred in a number of industries, particularly "other industries," metals, and FIRE. As in 1995, several of the transactions in "other industries" and in FIRE involved acquisitions of energy providers and telephone companies. These acquisitionsin the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, and Brazilwere made in response to opportunities created by recent privatizations.
The shift to outflows in intercompany debt primarily reflected reduced borrowing by parents from their affiliates in FIRE, particularly from affiliates in the United Kingdom, Bermuda, and Japan.
The $78.9 billion increase in the U.S. direct investment position abroad was spread among all major geographic areas. The largest increase by far was in Europe.
The following table shows major changes in the positions in 1996 by area and by country:
|Billions of dollars|
|Latin America and Other Western Hemisphere||16.0|
|Asia and Pacific||14.6|
The position in Europe increased 11 percent and accounted for nearly one-half of the overall increase in the position worldwide. The increase resulted from capital outflows of $45.3 billion that were partly offset by negative valuation adjustments of $6.6 billion. Within Europe, more than one-half of the increase in the position was in the United Kingdom. Outside the United Kingdom, increases were largest in the Netherlands and Ireland.
In the United Kingdom, nearly one-half of the increase was in FIRE, where the increase was about evenly split among reinvested earnings, intercompany debt outflows, and equity capital outflows. Equity capital outflows in FIRE funded the establishment of holding companies for the purpose of acquiring electric utility companies. Also contributing to the increase in position were reinvested earnings of manufacturing affiliates (particularly in industrial machinery and chemicals), loans to affiliates in petroleum and chemicals, and positive currency-translation adjustments (due to the dollar's depreciation against the British pound).
In the Netherlands, most of the increase was in FIRE and mainly reflected the reinvested earnings of holding companies (generated largely by operating affiliates located in other countries) that were partly offset by negative currency-translation adjustments.
The position in Ireland increased 40 percentby far the fastest pace among the European countries. The increase reflected very strong earnings85 percent of which were reinvestedby affiliates that mainly serve markets in other foreign countries. Reinvested earnings were largest in manufacturingparticularly in chemicals and electronic equipmentand in FIRE.
The position in Latin America and Other Western Hemisphere increased 12 percent as a result of capital outflows of $14.3 billion and positive valuation adjustments of $1.7 billion. Within the area, the largest increases were in Bermuda, Mexico, Brazil, and Panama. In Bermuda, the increase was mainly due to reinvested earnings and capital gains by affiliates in FIRE. Most of the increase in Mexico was in manufacturing; it reflected lending to affiliates in food and reinvested earnings by affiliates in chemicals. In Brazil, the increase reflected reinvested earnings of manufacturing affiliates and acquisitions of electric utilities in "other industries." In Panama, the increase reflected capital gains and reinvested earnings among affiliates in FIRE.
The position in Asia and Pacific increased 12 percent as a result of capital outflows of $14.8 billion. Within Asia and Pacific, the largest increase was in Australia and reflected valuation adjustments in banking and acquisitions of electric utility companies in "other industries." Increases were also large in Hong Kong and Singapore. In Hong Kong, the increase was mainly due to reinvested earnings by affiliates in FIRE, wholesale trade, and electronic equipment. In Singapore, almost all of the increase resulted from reinvested earningsparticularly in electronic equipment, FIRE, industrial machinery, and petroleum.
The increase in the position in Canada was the second-largest dollar increase of any country, despite a relatively low growth rate of 7 percent. The increase was more than accounted for by reinvested earnings, which were largest in transportation equipment, FIRE, petroleum, and "other manufacturing." Also contributing to the increase were large acquisitions of mining and waste management businesses in "other industries."
The foreign direct investment position in the United States valued at historical costthe book value of foreign direct investors' equity in, and net outstanding loans to, their U.S. affiliateswas $630.0 billion at the end of 1996 (table 2 and chart 1). More than one-half of the position was accounted for by three countriesthe United Kingdom, Japan, and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom's position remained the largest ($142.6 billion, or 23 percent of the total). Japan's position was the second largest ($118.1 billion, or 19 percent), and the Netherlands position was the third largest ($73.8 billion, or 12 percent) (table 4 and chart 3).
In 1996, the FDIUS position increased $69.2 billion, or 12 percent, following an increase of 13 percent in 1995 and an average increase of 12 percent in 198294. The increase in the position in 1996 was mainly due to the continued strength of the U.S. economy, which attracted new investments from abroad and which expanded the earnings existing U.S. affiliates could draw on to finance growth. In addition, continued economic expansion in certain major investor countries, such as the United Kingdom and Japan, may have increased the ability of parent companies in those countries to make new acquisitions and contribute additional capital to their existing U.S. affiliates and may have reduced their need to draw funds from their affiliates.
Factors specific to particular industries and to corporate restructuring in the United States also contributed to the increase in the position. Rapid market growth in high technology and information-related industries encouraged acquisitions in these industries. Corporate restructuring has led many companies to shed units that were either unprofitable or unrelated to their main lines of business, thereby creating new investment opportunities for foreign investors. These last two factors had an even more pronounced effect on foreign investors' total outlays to acquire or establish U.S. businesses than on the position: In 1996, these outlays, including those financed by capital inflows from foreign parents, rose 41 percent, following a 25-percent increase in 1995./7/
The following table shows the change in position in 1996 by type of capital flow and valuation adjustment:
|Billions of dollars|
|Capital gains and losses||-2.0|
Capital inflows for foreign direct investment in the United States were at a record $78.8 billion in 1996, up from $69.4 billion in 1995. More than two-thirds of the 1996 total was accounted for by equity capital inflows, which were $8.0 billion higher than in 1995. These inflows were at their highest level since the peak year of 1990. The high level of equity capital inflows reflected both capital contributions to existing U.S. affiliates and continued growth in acquisitions of U.S. businesses by foreigners.
For the third consecutive year, the position was boosted by reinvested earnings; in contrast, in 198993, growth in the position was reduced by negative reinvested earnings (negative reinvested earnings occur when affiliates incur losses or distribute earnings to their foreign parents in excess of their current earnings). Reinvested earnings were at a record $14.1 billion in 1996, $2.3 billion higher than the previous record in 1995. All industries except real estate, services, and banking had positive reinvested earnings. The high level of reinvested earnings reflected a $2.1 billion increase in earnings and a reinvestment rate of 54 percent, up from 49 percent in 1995. By industry, the increase in earnings was more than accounted for by "other manufacturing," petroleum, and insurance; however, it was partly offset by a large decrease in the earnings of banking affiliates. The two industries that continued to show lossesalbeit small oneswere real estate and services.
Intercompany debt inflows were $11.7 billion, down from $12.6 billion.
The $69.2 billion increase in the foreign direct investment position in the United States in 1996 was concentrated among parents located in Europe. Outside Europe, the largest increases were by parents in Japan and Canada.
The following table shows the major changes in the positions in 1996 by area and by country:
|Billions of dollars|
The position of European investors increased 15 percenta faster pace than that for any other major areaand accounted for more than three-quarters of the overall increase in 1996. The increase resulted from capital inflows of $59.8 billion that were partly offset by negative valuation adjustments of $6.6 billion. Within Europe, parents in the United Kingdom had by far the largest dollar increase, followed by parents in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Ireland.
The largest increase in the position of British parents was in "finance, except depository institutions" ("finance") and resulted from lending by foreign parents. Acquisitions in other manufacturing, services, and wholesale trade also contributed to the increase.
The increase in the position of German parents was more than accounted for by equity capital inflows, which were the largest from any country. The largest equity capital inflows were in services, insurance, petroleum, and "other industries." In insurance and services, the equity capital inflows reflected acquisitions; in petroleum and "other industries," they reflected capital contributions to existing affiliates.
The largest increases in the position of French parents were in finance, metals, and "other industries." In finance, the increase reflected loans to affiliates; in metals, it reflected acquisitions and loans to affiliates; and in "other industries," it reflected capital contributions to existing affiliates.
The largest increases in the position of Netherlands parents were in finance, manufacturingparticularly in chemicals and "other manufacturing"and petroleum. The increase in finance reflected parents' loans to their affiliates and valuation adjustments. The increases in chemicals and in petroleum mostly resulted from reinvested earnings. The increase in "other manufacturing" reflected lending by parents.
The increase in the position of Japanese parents was more than accounted for by equity capital inflows, almost all of which were capital contributions to existing affiliates. By industry, the largest increases in the position were in services and "other manufacturing."
The largest increases in the position of Canadian parents were in manufacturingparticularly chemicals and "other manufacturing"and insurance. In chemicals, the increase reflected borrowing from parents; in "other manufacturing," it reflected equity capital inflows and reinvested earnings. The increase in insurance reflected repayment by parents of loans from affiliates.
1. Historical cost is the basis used for valuation in company accounting records in the United States, and it is the only basis on which companies can report data in the direct investment surveys conducted by BEA. For consistency, the estimates of earnings and reinvested earnings used in analyzing changes in the historical-cost positions are also on this basis and are not adjusted to current cost; country and industry detail for these items, like the positions, is not available with such an adjustment.
2. See "The International Investment Position of the United States in 1996" in this issue.
3. A foreign affiliate is a foreign business enterprise in which a single U.S. investor owns at least 10 percent of the voting securities, or the equivalent.
4. A U.S. affiliate is a U.S. business enterprise in which a single foreign investor owns at least 10 percent of the voting securities, or the equivalent.
5. For additional information, see "U.S. International Transactions, Revised Estimates for 197496" in this issue. A more complete explanation of these revisions will accompany the presentation of the detailed estimates of the FDIUS position scheduled to be published in the September 1997 SURVEY OF CURRENT BUSINESS.
6. Valuation adjustments to the historical-cost position are made to reflect differences between changes in the position, measured at book value, and capital flows, measured at transactions value. Unlike the positions on a current-cost and market-value basis, no adjustment is made to reflect changes in the replacement cost of the tangible assets of affiliates or in the market value of parent companies' equity in affiliates. (However, as explained below, adjustments are made for realized capital gains and losses of affiliates, such as gains or losses on partial sales of affiliate assets.)
Currency-translation adjustments to the position are made to reflect changes in the exchange rates that are used to translate affiliates' foreign-currency-denominated assets and liabilities into U.S. dollars. The precise effects of currency fluctuations on translation adjustments depend on the value and currency composition of affiliates' assets and liabilities. Depreciation of foreign currencies against the dollar usually results in negative translation adjustments, because it tends to lower the dollar value of foreign-currency-denominated net assets. Similarly, appreciation of foreign currencies usually results in positive adjustments, because it tends to raise the dollar value of foreign-currency-denominated net assets.
"Other" valuation adjustments includes adjustments for differences between the proceeds from the sale or liquidation of affiliates by U.S. parents and the book values of the affiliates that are sold or liquidated, for differences between the purchase prices and the book values of affiliates that are acquired by U.S. parents, for writeoffs resulting from uncompensated expropriations of affiliates, and for capital gains and losses. Capital gains and losses represent the revaluation of the assets of ongoing affiliates for reasons other than exchange-rate changes, such as the partial sale of those assets for an amount different from their historical cost.
7. See "Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: New Investment in 1996 and Affiliate Operations in 1995," SURVEY 77 (June 1997): 4269. Preliminary data from BEA's survey of new foreign direct investments, summarized in that article, indicate that total outlays to acquire or establish U.S. businesses were $80.5 billion in 1996, up from $57.2 billion in 1995. Unlike the changes in the foreign direct investment position presented in this article, these figures cover only transactions involving U.S. businesses newly acquired or established by foreign direct investors and include financing other than that from the foreign parent, such as local borrowing by existing U.S. affiliates. In contrast, changes in the position reflect transactions of both new and existing U.S. affiliatesbut only transactions with the foreign parent or other members of the foreign parent groupand valuation adjustments.
Notwithstanding these differences, the two types of data are related. Any outlays to acquire or establish U.S. businesses that are funded by foreign parents (or other members of the foreign parent group) are part of capital inflows, a component of the change in the position. Data from the new investments survey indicate that foreign parent groups funded $58.4 billion, or 73 percent, of outlays to acquire or establish new U.S. affiliates in 1996, compared with $30.8 billion, or 54 percent, in 1995.