The relationship between international payments and the real exchange rate-the transfer problem—is a classic question in international economics. We use cross-country data on real exchange rates and a newly constructed data set on countries' net external positions to shed new light on this question. We present a simple theoretical framework that leads to testable implications for the long-run comovements of real exchange rates, net foreign assets, relative GDP and terms of trade, and cross-country and time series evidence on the subject. We show that on average countries with net external liabilities have more depreciated real exchange rates, and that the main channel of transmission seems to be the relative price of nontraded goods, rather than the relative price of traded goods, across countries.

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