We study a business cycle model of the international monetary system featuring a time-varying demand for safe dollar bonds, greater risk-bearing capacity in the U.S. than the rest of the world, and nominal rigidities. A flight to safety generates a dollar appreciation and decline in global output. Dollar bonds thus command a negative risk premium and the U.S. holds a levered portfolio of capital financed in dollars. We quantify the effects of safety shocks and heterogeneity in risk-bearing capacity for global macroeconomic volatility; U.S. external adjustment; and the international transmission of monetary and
fiscal policies, including dollar swap lines.
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