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Foreign capital and economic growth

By Eswar Prasad, Raghuram Rajan and Arvind Subramanian


Contrary to the predictions of standard theoretical models, non-industrial countries that have relied more on foreign finance have not grown faster in the long run. By contrast, growth and the extent of foreign financing are positively correlated in industrial countries. We argue that the reason for this difference may lie in the limited ability of non-industrial countries to absorb foreign capital. Our paper suggests that the current anomaly of poor countries financing rich countries may not really hurt the former’s growth, at least conditional on their existing institutional and financial structures. Our results do not imply that there is no role for foreign finance in the process of economic development or that it is natural for all types of capital to flow "uphill". Indeed, the patterns of foreign direct investment flows have generally been more in line with the predictions of theory. However, there is no evidence that providing additional financing in excess of domestic savings is the channel through which financial integration delivers its benefits. 1 We are grateful to Menzie Chinn, Josh Felman, Olivier Jeanne, and Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti for helpful comments and discussions, and to Manzoor Gill, Ioannis Tokatlidis and Junko Sekine for excellent research assistance. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF, its management, or its Board. 1 I

Year: 2006
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