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Determinants of Foreign Security Investment: Focusing on Interest Rates and Exchange Rates Financial policy, Exchange Rate

Author Deok Ryong Yoon, Wonho Song, and Jinhee Lee Series 20-28 Language Korean Date 2020.12.30

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   As the linkage between domestic and foreign financial markets grows stronger, concerns have been raised about the inflow and outflow of foreign investment capital as a source of financial instability whenever the financial market becomes unstable. This is because, as the volume of capital inflows and outflows increases and volatility rises in the market, the financial system becomes more vulnerable and financial market price variables and macroeconomic uncertainty are increasing. Considering that opening the capital market is not an option, it becomes essential to examine the determinants of foreign investment to maximize the benefits of foreign capital inflows and outflows for sound growth in the real sector as well as the financial sector. Accordingly, this study attempts to produce evidence-based policy implications by empirically analyzing the determinants of the inflow and outflow of foreign investment funds.
   Chapter 2 examines the trends of foreign investment-related systems and capital flows. Regulations in the system for foreign securities investment began to ease after the late 1990s, increasing the volume of foreign funds flowing into the stock and bond markets (Table 1). In particular, it has been observed that index funds have increased due to a decrease in active investment and increase in passive investment in the stock market. Also, the turnover rate of foreign stock investment is rising. In the bond market, foreign investment is continuously increasing, and due to the increase in duration and diversification of investors, changes are being detected both in quantitative and qualitative terms. From this, three policy implications can be drawn. First, the increase in passive funds in equity investment implies that the importance of risk management for financial market stability increases. Second, since the movement of bond funds is often determined by the volatility of the exchange rate, management of volatility in the foreign exchange market may be an important condition for the stable maintenance of foreign bond investment. Third, it is necessary to improve the investment environment to increase the inflow of foreign investment funds into the Korean financial market and maintain a long-term growth trend. To this end, it is necessary to consider enhancing the stability of the foreign exchange market by strengthening the global financial safety net and strengthening the transparency of foreign investment-related systems.
   Chapter 3 analyzes the determinants of foreign investors’ stock investment, and the main results and implications derived from them are as follows. First, when foreigners invest in domestic stocks, they consider the foreign interest rate (push factor) as a more important decision-making factor than the domestic interest rate (pull factor). This suggests that Korea’s monetary policy may have a limited impact on the inflow and outflow of foreign investment funds. Second, foreigners’ selling and buying of stocks were affected by different rates of return. When purchases and sales of stocks were at low levels, the Dow Jones yields was an important factor in buying stocks, but the KOSPI return was an important factor in selling stocks. Third, depending on the policy target and the market phase, different policy measures should be selected. For example, there was a difference between a model well-suited to explain the net buying of stocks and another to explain the buying and selling of stocks. Net buying of stocks was best explained by global liquidity, while buying and selling of stocks were better explained by risk indicators. In addition, since the effective determinants differ between the two phases and the sign (direction) of the effect on the variables is different, this implies that the policy authorities can achieve the intended policy objectives by considering different policy measures according to the phases. Fourth, when the outflow of foreign stock investment is high, volatility is high as well. In general, the ripple effect caused by the outflow of foreign funds occurs in the short term, and given that policy responses are difficult, it poses a huge policy challenge for policy authorities. Foreign capital outflows are highly volatile, and the effects of foreign capital outflows can occur in the very short term and disrupt the financial market, as experienced in the Asian foreign exchange crisis and global financial crisis.
   Chapter 4 analyzes the determinants of foreign investors’ bond investment, and four main points can be derived from this. First, foreign bond investment is sensitive to interest rates and exchange rates. Interest rate was a significant determinant not only for the total amount of net purchase, but also for each maturity and phase. The effects of interest rates on long-term bonds were particularly significant in the case of bond purchases. As the proportion of long-term bond investment is likely to increase gradually in the future, it is necessary to understand the impact of interest rate variables on bond purchases. Won-euro and won-dollar exchange rates had a significant effect on both short- and long-term bonds when the level of foreign investment was high. Therefore, when the size of foreign investment is large, attention should be paid to the effect of exchange rates on foreign investment. Second, foreign stock investment and bond investment are related to each other. Therefore, when implementing a policy related to foreign investment, it is necessary to clarify the object of the policy implementation. In addition, bond investment within three years of maturity and net purchase of stocks mainly had a complementary relationship. This points to the need to also closely observe foreigners’ investment trends in the stock market when analyzing foreign investment trends in the bond market. Third, for foreign bond investment, variables related to developed markets are more significant than those related to emerging markets. Therefore, in order to predict foreign bond investment trends, it is necessary to closely examine the situation in the stock markets of developed countries. Fourth, macroeconomic variables have a significant impact on foreigners’ bond investment, and are particularly important determinants when foreigners invest in long-term bonds. Therefore, it is important to increase the stability of macroeconomic variables in order to maintain stable levels in foreign bond investment in the future.
   Chapter 5 proposes three policy implications based on the current status of foreign stock investment and empirical results. First, it was proposed to consider the qualitative aspects of expanded foreign securities investment funds to develop the financial market and mitigate volatility in securities prices and foreign exchange markets. Next, it is necessary to reinforce monitoring of securities investment in order to accurately grasp the policy environment and design policies accordingly. Lastly, there is a need to improve the governance structure for external soundness to enable integrated management and supervision of the foreign stock and bond markets and foreign exchange markets that are linked to each other although they are different markets.

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