NIIP It In the Bud

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I learned about a new economic data series available in SlopeCharts called Net International Investment Position (NIIP). The simplest way to think of this clumsily-named creature is as a balance sheet for a country. If a country owns a trillion dollars worth of overseas assets and owes half a trillion dollars to overseas creditors, then it has a positive NIIP of half a trillion dollars. If the figures were reversed (a mere half trillion assets but a trillion debt), then would have a negative NIIP. The first would be a creditor nation and the latter a debtor nation.

Below is a chart of the United States NIIP since 1976. Hard as it may be to believe, in the mid 1970s the U.S. was a creditor nation, Since then, if you look very, very carefully, you can see there has been a slight downturn.

slopechart FR IIPUSNETIA

Looking at a more finely-grained data series (again, from good ol’ SlopeCharts), the pitiable plunge of the U.S. from proud creditor nation to pathetic debtor nation can be plainly seen. This, in a glance, pretty much tells you all you need to know about the wealth and standing of our once-great republic vis a vis the rest of the world.

slopechart FR IIPUSNETIQ