Capitalist firms invest outside their own countries for the same reasons that they invest at home—to obtain profits. Nonetheless, not all investments are the same. There are different ways that firms make their profits, different types of investments, focusing on different sorts of activities and having different sorts of long-run implications. The purpose of these notes is to examine some of the aggregate trends in U.S. foreign investment—changes in the ways that investors based in the United States are obtaining profits from international operations—in order to establish some basis for beginning to understand ways in which that investment might have its impacts on recipient countries, particularly countries in Latin America and elsewhere in the so-called developing world.
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