Gravity in International Finance
The past decade has witnessed an explosion of papers estimating gravity equations for cross-border financial holdings without much of a theoretical foundation. In this paper we develop a theory for bilateral asset holdings that takes a gravity form. We discuss how to estimate international financial frictions and conduct comparative statics analysis within the context of the theory. We also find though that reasonable extensions of the model no longer generate a gravity form. While this does not significantly complicate estimation and comparative statics analysis, it raises questions about the empirical validity of gravity specifications for cross-border financial holdings that need to be addressed in future work. âº We develop a theory for bilateral asset holdings that takes a gravity form. âº We discuss estimation and comparative statics in the context of the theory. âº We also find that reasonable extensions to the theory no longer deliver gravity. âº This casts a shadow on a rapidly growing empirical gravity literature. âº The lack of gravity does not complicate estimation and comparative statics analysis.