Foreign Investment in U.S. Securities [Updated October 19, 2007]   [open pdf - 149KB]

"Foreign capital inflows are playing an important role in the U.S. economy by bridging the gap between domestic supplies of and demand for capital. Foreign investors now hold more than 50% of the publicly held and traded U.S. Treasury securities. The large foreign accumulation of U.S. securities has spurred some observers to argue that this large foreign presence in U.S. financial markets increases the risk of a financial crisis, whether as a result of the uncoordinated actions of market participants or by a coordinated withdrawal from U.S. financial markets by foreign investors for economic or political reasons. Congress likely would find itself embroiled in any such financial crisis through its direct role in conducting fiscal policy and in its indirect role in the conduct of monetary policy through its supervisory responsibility over the Federal Reserve. Such a coordinated withdrawal seems highly unlikely, particularly since the vast majority of the investors are private entities that presumably would find it difficult to coordinate a withdrawal. It is uncertain, though, what types of events could provoke a coordinated withdrawal from U.S. securities markets. Short of a financial crisis, events that cause foreign investors to curtail or limit their purchases of U.S. securities likely would complicate efforts to finance budget deficits in the current environment […]. This report analyzes the extent of foreign portfolio investment in the U.S. economy and assesses the economic conditions that are attracting such investment and the impact such investments are having on the economy."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32462
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