DP6870 Relative Factor Endowments and International Portfolio Choice

Author(s): Alejandro Cuñat, Christian Fons-Rosen
Publication Date: June 2008
Keyword(s): factor endowments, gravity equation, International portfolio choice
JEL(s): F21, F34, G11
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=6870

This paper presents a model of international portfolio choice based on the pattern of comparative advantage in goods trade. Countries have varying degrees of similarity in their factor endowment ratios, and are subject to aggregate productivity shocks. Risk averse consumers can insure against these shocks by investing their wealth at home and abroad. The change in relative prices after a positive shock in a particular country provides insurance to countries that have dissimilar factor endowment ratios, but is bad news for countries with similar factor endowment ratios, since their incomes will worsen. Therefore countries with similar comparative advantages have a stronger incentive to invest in one another for insurance purposes than countries with dissimilar comparative advantages. Empirical evidence linking bilateral international investment positions to a proxy for relative factor endowments supports our theory: the similarity of host and source countries in their relative capital-labor ratios has a positive effect on the source country's investment position in the host country. The effect of similarity is enhanced by the size of host countries as predicted by the theory.