Despite decades of trade deficits (spending more on foreign products than foreigners spend on UK products), the UK’s net liability with the rest of the world remains negligible. How does it pull off that trick? By earning a higher return on its foreign assets than it pays on its foreign liabilities.
Edd Denbee, Carsten Jung and Francesco Paternò.
The global financial safety net (GFSN) is a set of instruments and institutions which act as countries’ insurance for when capital flows suddenly stop or foreign currency markets suddenly freeze. These resources were extremely important during the 2007-08 crisis when investors ran for the exits, threatening the external positions of many advanced and emerging economies. Since then, the GFSN has expanded in size and nature, but was recently described by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde as “fragmented and asymmetric”. We agree on the asymmetry – our recent paper finds that some countries have insufficient access to the GFSN. However, we also find that the GFSN is sufficiently resourced for a severe set of shocks, provided the IMF’s current lending capacity is maintained.