Some of the language of international finance can be a little confusing, and we have arrived at a case in point. In macroeconomics, investment refers to the purchase by business of a structure or piece of equipment. The business obtains funding for the purchase by issuing a financial liability to someone. It can borrow, in which case the lender receives a bond from the business. This is a liability for the business. It can bring in more owners by selling more equity. Another option to the business is to borrow from the existing equity holders by suppressing dividend payments. This does not involve explicitly issuing a liability. However, in practice what happens is that traders who are aware that the business has increased its future earnings potential by investing, bid up the value of the outstanding equity. So, when a business finances an investment by suppressing dividends, this causes the value of equity to rise.

In ordinary language, and in the language of international finance, the word investment means not just what it means in macroeconomics, but it is used to mean something else as well. There, the purchase of an asset like a bond or equity by a trader is also called an investment. As the previous paragraph hopefully showed, there is a logical distinction between this notion of investment and the macroeconomist's notion. If  Mr. Smith buys a share of IBM stock this may or may not correspond to investment in the macroeconomist's sense. If Mr. Smith buys it from Ms. Jones, then this is just a transfer of an asset from one person to another and has no implication whatsoever for investment in the macroeconomist's sense. If, on the other hand, Mr. Smith buys a share of IBM stock from a batch of freshly minted IBM stock sold by IBM then the funds I use to buy the share may well be used for investment. But, even if it is, it should be clear that the act of investment (IBM's acquisition of new plant and/or equipment) and Mr. Smith's act of acquiring IBM stock are distinct things.

Despite these logical distinctions, it is the case that in international finance, the word investment is used in these two different ways. Moreover, in my discussion of the New York Times article, I am also using the word in these two distinct ways. You have to figure out from the context, what the meaning is. Actually, that's not so hard once you think about it. In my discussion I am referring to 'foreign investors'. The foreign investors are not necessarily investors in the macroeconomic sense. In many cases, they acquire financial liabilities (i.e., bonds, equity) issued by firms in the domestic economy. Those firms then use the funds acquired in this way to finance investment in the macroeconomist's sense. As it happens, sometimes foreign investors actually are doing investment in the sense that macroeconomists have in mind. This happens with what is called foreign direct investment. In this case, the foreigner actually owns the domestic company and the foreign investor directly purchases the expansion of plant or equipment in that company.

Sometimes, when a writer wants to use the word investment, but there is risk that the reader may not know which meaning the author has in mind, an adjective will be added to clarify things. When investment means the acquisition of a financial asset, like a bond or a share of equity, writers sometimes say financial investment.