When Two Become One: Foreign Capital and Household Credit Expansion
71 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2021 Last revised: 13 Mar 2023
Date Written: March 12, 2023
Rapid credit expansions predict lower output growth and banking crises, but does it matter who is financing them? We employ data from financial accounts for an unbalanced panel of 33 countries since 1970 to trace the flow of funds through the economy and identify the ultimate counterparties financing credit expansions. Removing the veil of financial intermediation shows that credit is increasingly financed by foreigners. This reflects large gross capital flows, which we find to be the key driver of the cyclical relationship between credit and real activity. Household credit expansions financed from abroad predict lower future GDP growth and higher risk of crises, but domestically financed credit expansions do not. We link these dynamics to foreign capital supply, exploiting an instrumental variable based on decomposed cross-border banking flows. Finally, we study potential channels and find that the macroeconomic risks of foreign-financed household credit are closely associated with reversals in capital supply, and with increases in debt service payments to foreigners.
Keywords: Business cycles, capital flows, debt service, financial crises, global financial cycle, household debt
JEL Classification: E32, E44, F34, G01, G15, G51
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation