Push vs. Pull Factors of Capital Flows Revisited: A Cross-country Analysis

40 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2019

See all articles by Tae Soo Kang

Tae Soo Kang

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy

Kyunghun Kim

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy

Date Written: February 20, 2019


Capital market integration contributes to economic growth and it can be more beneficial for emerging market economies (EMEs, hereafter) at their early stages of development where the capital is relatively insufficient. An open capital market also enables investor to share the country-specific risks by holding foreign assets. However, there are also some negative side effects of capital market integration. Financial shocks originating in the center country can be quickly propagated through the integrated financial market. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC, hereafter) is a good example of the contagion of the financial crisis. Volatile cross-border capital inflows and outflows negatively affect financial stability, which eventually lowers economic growth by causing financial crises.

Despite of these negative side effects, capital market integration has been an inevitable long-term trend for many EMEs over the past few decades (Aizenman et al. 2010). There have been continuous capital flows to EMEs, which started even before GFC and this trend has been more pronounced during the U.S. zero-interest rate period (Ahmed and Zlate 2014). Though some monetary authorities in EMEs tried to moderate the procyclicality of credit flows by implementing policy instruments such as capital controls or macro-prudential policy measures after GFC (Kim and Mehrotra 2018), the common factors in the global financial market still play a crucial role in determining capital inflows to EMEs.

The relationship between the global financial condition and its impact on capital inflows to EMEs, has been a long-debated issue. This issue concerns whether push or pull factors are the major determinant of capital flows. The push factor represents the common factor that exists in the global financial market or center countries, which influences capital inflows to peripheral countries. These factors are interest rates and GDP growth rates of advanced economies (AEs, hereafter), global risk factors such as VIX (S&P 500 Volatility Index), and the commodity price index. The pull factor denotes domestic factors that attract funds from the global financial market to domestic financial markets. These factors are domestic interest rates, domestic GDP growth rates, and other country-specific characteristics such as exchange rate regime, degree of the capital account openness, institutional quality, and stages of economic development.

In previous literature, many scholars have found strong evidence for push factors being the major determinant of capital movement. The interest rates of mature economies and VIX are significant determinants of capital inflows to EMEs. However, there is only some evidence that higher domestic interest rates and higher domestic GDP growth rates pull capital from the center countries to individual EMEs (Koepke 2015).

Related to this long-debated issue in academia, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome H. Powell recently stated, "... I will argue that, while global factors play an important role in influencing domestic financial conditions, the role of U.S. monetary policy is often exaggerated." With this statement, he also pointed out that the slowdown in capital inflows to EMEs which has been happening ever since 2011 has been mainly due to the narrowing of GDP gaps between AEs and EMEs, i.e., the recent decrease in capital in-flows to EMEs can be attributed to the decline in EMEs' GDP growth rates given the fact that the U.S. GDP growth rate has picked up.

In this paper, we revisit this issue of push and pull factors of capital inflows. To this end, we consider the heterogeneity that exists in EMEs by dividing them into four subgroups. We investigate which is the main driver of capital inflows between push and pull factors across country groups. Categorizing subgroups is important for two reasons. First, EMEs are so heterogeneous that we make subgroups which share similar economic fundamentals by regions. Second, making subgroups across EMEs is an effective way to indirectly consider the regional contagion effect. With this cross-country analysis, we can figure out the differing effects of push and pull factors across country groups, and this can eventually lead to the development and implementation of appropriate policy instruments.

Our empirical finding shows that the push and pull factors play a different role in determining capital inflows to AEs and EMEs. The major drivers of capital inflows to AEs are both push and pull factors, but push factors turn out to be the main determinant of capital inflows to EMEs. When EMEs are divided into four subgroups, we find sizable heterogeneity across subgroups. In Asian countries, both push and pull factors are significant, which is similar to AEs, but only U.S. interest rate plays a major role in Eastern Europe. Some pull factors are important in Latin American countries and other EMEs, but these are not robust to alternative empirical models and measures.

Keywords: capital flows, push factor, pull factor

JEL Classification: F3, E5

Suggested Citation

Kang, Tae Soo and KIim, Kyunghun, Push vs. Pull Factors of Capital Flows Revisited: A Cross-country Analysis (February 20, 2019). KIEP Research Paper. Working paper 19-01, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3407229 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3407229

Tae Soo Kang (Contact Author)

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy ( email )

[30147] Building C, Sejong National Research Compl
Seoul, 370
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Kyunghun KIim

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy ( email )

[30147] Building C, Sejong National Research Compl
Seoul, 370
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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