This paper provides an analytical overview of the most widely used capital flow datasets. The paper is written as a guide for academics who embark on empirical research projects and for policymakers who need timely information on capital flow developments to inform their decisions. We address common misconceptions about capital flow data and discuss differences between high-frequency proxies for portfolio flows. In a nowcasting “horse race” we show that high-frequency proxies have significant predictive content for portfolio flows from the balance of payments (BoP). We also construct a new dataset for academic use, consisting of monthly portfolio flows broadly consistent with BoP data.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Produced since 2012, the IMF’s annual External Sector Report analyzes global external developments and provides multilaterally consistent assessments of external positions, including current accounts, real exchange rates, external balance sheets, capital flows, and international reserves, of the world’s largest economies, representing over 90 percent of global GDP. Chapter 1 discusses the evolution of global external positions in 2019, external developments during the COVID-19 crisis, and policy priorities for responding to the crisis and for reducing excess imbalances over the medium term. Chapter 2 analyzes the relationship between the structure of external assets and liabilities—the components of the international investment position—and the risk of external stress events. It also assesses how heightened global risk aversion, as during the COVID-19 crisis, amplifies these risks. Chapter 3, “Individual Economy Assessments,” provides details on the different aspects of the overall external assessment and associated policy recommendations for 30 economies. This year’s report and associated external assessments are based on the latest vintage of the External Balance Assessment (EBA) methodology and on data and IMF staff projections as of July 15, 2020.