The US current account deficit : how did it come about and what are the policy implications
AbstractOne of the most remarkable characteristics of the world economy today is the enormous, ever worsening US balance of payments current account deficit, which reached a record level of 5.7 p.c. of GDP in 2004. This has given rise to concerns in academic and political circles regarding the sustainability of the current situation and the potential dangers for the global economy of a sudden, disorderly adjustment. The size of the US current account deficit is not only unprecedented in American post-war history, but it also seems to be exceptional from an international perspective. Moreover, the US deficit contrasts with a surplus in virtually every other region and the problem has consequently taken on a global dimension. The increase in the US current account deficit recorded in the nineties reflects an internal American shortfall in savings. Whereas the private savings-investment equilibrium was restored in 2002 and 2003, the same period saw a huge deficit in the public sector budget. The start of the new millennium brought notable changes in the way the US current account deficit was financed since investments by Asian public authorities in American government debt instruments largely took over the position previously occupied by European private foreign direct investments and investments in equities. It is sometimes put forward that the US, unlike other countries facing similar circumstances, is safeguarded from an attack on its currency because of its prominent role in the international financial system. According to an influential school of thought in economic literature, the current international system can even be seen as a “revived” Bretton Woods system. Indeed, a number of East-Asian countries, including China, use a fixed or quasi-fixed exchange rate against the dollar, which brings to mind an informal dollar standard. Although this set of circumstances has undoubtedly offered various regions in the world a number of mutual benefits during recent years, these exchange rate relations may nevertheless have caused some distortions in US spending, whereas Asian countries have to deal with a growing exchange rate risk on their official reserves. Different scenarios are conceivable to deal with the global imbalances. The results of model simulations show the huge effort required to significantly reduce the US current account deficit which highlights the scale of the problem, emphasising the need for simultaneous economic policy measures in the different economies involved. The concern over global imbalances and the development of exchange rates also feature prominently on the agenda of international forums such as the G7 or G20 meetings. In the statements issued at those meetings, the need for a common approach to tackle the global imbalances is given priority and the belief that excessive exchange rate volatility is not desirable is underlined.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by National Bank of Belgium in its journal Economic Review.
Volume (Year): (2005)
Issue (Month): II (June)
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Boulevard de Berlaimont 14, B-1000 Bruxelles
Phone: (+ 32) (0) 2 221 25 34
Fax: (+ 32) (0) 2 221 31 62
Web page: http://www.nbb.be/
More information through EDIRC
current account imbalances; United States current account; financial flows into the United States; international monetary system;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- F0 - International Economics - - General
- F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
- F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
- F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
- F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.