The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
In recent decades, the foreign assets and liabilities of advanced economies have grown rapidly relative to GDP, with the increase in gross cross-holdings far exceeding changes in the size of net positions. Moreover, the portfolio equity and FDI categories have grown in importance relative to international debt stocks. This paper describes the broad trends in international financial integration for a sample of industrial countries and seeks to explain the cross-country and time-series variation in the size of international balance sheets. It also examines the behavior of the rates of return on foreign assets and liabilities, relating them to "market" returns.