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The U.S. Current Account Deficit Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for The U.S. Current Account Deficit case study


At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. The U.S. Current Account Deficit case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Laura Alfaro, Rafael Di Tella, Ingrid Vogel, Renee Kim. The The U.S. Current Account Deficit (referred as “Deficit Account” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Global Business. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Global strategy, Globalization, Government.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment




Case Description of The U.S. Current Account Deficit Case Study


Investors and policymakers throughout the world were confronted with the risk of painful economic consequences arising from the large U.S. current account deficit. In 2007, the U.S. current account deficit was $731 billion, equivalent to 5.3% of GDP. The implications of the deficit were debated with intensity. At one extreme, it was argued that large deficits would eventually resolve themselves smoothly, even if they persisted for many more years. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was among those expecting a "benign resolution to the U.S. current account imbalance." Other analysts, such as economists at the World Bank, believed the large deficits raised the risk of a sharp and disorderly fall of the dollar and that necessary macroeconomic adjustment could be painful, for the United States as well as for the rest of the world. The Financial Times asked: "How long will foreigners be prepared to make such generous 'gifts' to the US?" In this environment, Berkshire Hathaway, run by legendary investor Warren Buffett, postulated that current account imbalances would lead to "some chaotic markets in which currency adjustments play a part" and announced to shareholders a plan to increase investment in overseas companies to protect against this risk. It remained to be seen what the short- and long-term implications of the current account deficit would ultimately yield.


Case Authors : Laura Alfaro, Rafael Di Tella, Ingrid Vogel, Renee Kim

Topic : Global Business

Related Areas : Economics, Entrepreneurship, Global strategy, Globalization, Government




Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for The U.S. Current Account Deficit Case Study


Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10020841) -10020841 - -
Year 1 3466269 -6554572 3466269 0.9434 3270065
Year 2 3964446 -2590126 7430715 0.89 3528343
Year 3 3957134 1367008 11387849 0.8396 3322486
Year 4 3239265 4606273 14627114 0.7921 2565801
TOTAL 14627114 12686695


The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2665854

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting


What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.




Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting


There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Net Present Value
2. Internal Rate of Return
3. Payback Period
4. Profitability Index

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Deficit Account shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Deficit Account have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.




Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of The U.S. Current Account Deficit

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Global Business Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Deficit Account often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Deficit Account needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10020841) -10020841 - -
Year 1 3466269 -6554572 3466269 0.8696 3014147
Year 2 3964446 -2590126 7430715 0.7561 2997691
Year 3 3957134 1367008 11387849 0.6575 2601880
Year 4 3239265 4606273 14627114 0.5718 1852060
TOTAL 10465778


The Net NPV after 4 years is 444937

(10465778 - 10020841 )






Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%


If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10020841) -10020841 - -
Year 1 3466269 -6554572 3466269 0.8333 2888558
Year 2 3964446 -2590126 7430715 0.6944 2753088
Year 3 3957134 1367008 11387849 0.5787 2290008
Year 4 3239265 4606273 14627114 0.4823 1562146
TOTAL 9493799


The Net NPV after 4 years is -527042

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9493799 - 10020841 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Deficit Account to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.



Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Deficit Account has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Deficit Account can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Deficit Account, then the stock price of the Deficit Account should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Deficit Account should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.




References & Further Readings

Laura Alfaro, Rafael Di Tella, Ingrid Vogel, Renee Kim (2018), "The U.S. Current Account Deficit Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.