Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Second Department


Reader 1

Hilary Appel

Rights Information

© 2019 Natalie A Coffin


The way that countries engage in conflict with each other has dramatically changed over the past decade. Countries are more frequently clashing on the economic front than in violent direct conflict. The United States’ weakened position in the global economy after the 2008 financial crisis places the country at a disadvantage in this new era of hybrid warfare. Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), which are created to achieve both the political and economic goals, are becoming a prominent player in the international arena. This thesis assesses the risk SWFs pose to the US by examining the Russian, Chinese, and Saudi Arabian SWFs.

Past examinations of SWFs before the 2008 financial crisis determined SWFs did not act geopolitically. However, the three case studies demonstrate that some SWFs have been increasingly pursuing both global economic and political objectives because they lack independence from government. Moreover, each SWF poses a different level to the US depending on whether the home country is an ally or adversary. Additionally, regulations of SWFs are inadequate to address the growing threat to the US; international law lacks an enforcement mechanism and domestic regulation depends on the president for action. These findings imply that while SWFs can benefit the US economy by providing capital to US companies, the US needs more effective regulation to address the risks they pose to US national and economic security. This thesis recommends amendments to domestic and international regulation in order to mitigate the risks that SWFs pose without creating additional barriers to foreign investment in the US.