The Savings or Borrowing of Foreigners

Households will generally respond to an increase in the real interest rate by reducing current consumption relative to future consumption. Households that are saving will save more; households that are borrowing will borrow less. Higher interest rates also encourage foreigners to send funds to the domestic economy. Government saving or borrowing is little affected by interest rates. National savings are defined as private savings plus government savings (or, equivalently, private saving minus the government deficit). The total supply of savings is therefore equal to national savings plus the savings of foreigners (that is, borrowing from other countries). The matching of savings and investment in the aggregate economy is described as follows: investment = national savings + borrowing from other countries or investment = national savings − lending to other countries. This is the same thing as saying that the flows in and out of the financial sector in the circular flow must balance. The demand for loans comes from firms who borrow to finance investment. As the real interest rate increases, investment spending decreases. For firms, a high interest rate represents a high cost of funding investment expenditures. This is evident if the firm borrows to purchase capital. It is also true if the firm uses internal funds (retained earnings) to finance investment since the firm could always put those funds in an interest-bearing asset instead. Toolkit: Section 16.16 “The Circular Flow of Income” The toolkit provides more detail on the flows in and out of the financial sector. Arbitrage with Assets and Currencies: Uncovered Interest Parity If you are like most people, you do not own assets in another country. You may own multiple assets—a savings account that pays you some interest every month, perhaps a certificate of deposit, or shares of some company—but the chances are that all your financial assets are denominated in a single currency. In fact, there is no reason why you should not own assets denominated in other currencies, such as euros, or pesos, or British pounds. You might consider opening a bank account in another country. Or you might even consider other financial investments in another country, such as purchasing a share in an international mutual fund, buying shares of a foreign company, or buying the debt of a foreign government. Most of us do not know exactly how to go about making such investments. In fact, they are easy to carry out if you make use of the services of professional financial advisers. In any case, we are not really interested in the mechanics of foreign investment here. We want to answer a more fundamental question: how do you know if buying foreign assets would be a good idea?

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