As we will see shortly, foreign banks’ US branches and subsdiiaries drive the gross capital outflows through the banking sector by raising wholesale funding in the US through money market funds (MMFs) and then shipping it to headquarters. Remember that foreign banks’ branches and subsidiaries in the US are treated as US banks in the balance of payments, as the balance of payments accounts are based on residence, not nationality.
The gross capital inflows to the United States represent lending by foreign (mainly European) banks via the shadow banking system through the purchase of private label mortgage-backed securities and structured products generated by the securitization of claims on US borrowers. In this way, European banks may have played a pivotal role in influencing credit conditions in the United States by providing US dollar intermediation capacity. However, since the eurozone has a roughly balanced current account while the UK is actually a deficit country, their collective net capital flows vis-a-vis the United States do not reflect the influence of their banks in setting overall credit conditions in the US. The distinction between net and gross flows is a classic theme in international finance, but deserves renewed attention given the new patterns of gross capital flows due to global banking.