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Financial turmoil and global imbalances: the end of Bretton Woods II?

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  • Chris Hunt

    (Reserve Bank of New Zealand)

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    Abstract

    Since August 2007, the global economy has been subject to a sharp and adverse financial shock, with re-pricing of risk and higher cost of funds. This article argues that this shock is a consequence of an unsustainable period of global economic growth involving very large external imbalances. These imbalances – large current account surpluses in many emerging markets matched by current account deficits (CADs) in a number of advanced economies – contributed to an unsustainable cheapening of credit and increased risk-seeking behaviour by financial markets. The development of the imbalances can be explained by financial underdevelopment in many emerging markets, together with particular savings and investment dynamics across the surplus and deficit countries. These factors established ‘Bretton Woods II’, a global macro-financial dynamic that tied the deficit and surplus economies together in a co-dependent relationship. The current credit crisis appears to mark the limits of this relationship. However, the precise nature of any subsequent adjustment in global imbalances is not immediately clear.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Reserve Bank of New Zealand in its journal Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin.

    Volume (Year): 71 (2008)
    Issue (Month): (September)
    Pages:

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    Handle: RePEc:nzb:nzbbul:september2008:6

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    1. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter M. Garber, 2009. "Will Sub-Prime be a Twin Crisis for the United States?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(4), pages 655-666, 09.
    2. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter M. Garber, 2004. "The US Current Account Deficit and Economic Development: Collateral for a Total Return Swap," NBER Working Papers 10727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sebastian Edwards, 2005. "The End of Large Current Account Deficits, 1970-2002: Are There Lessons for the United States?," NBER Working Papers 11669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Martin Feldstein, 2008. "Resolving the Global Imbalance: The Dollar and the U.S. Saving Rate," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 113-25, Summer.
    5. Michael Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
    6. Joshua Aizenman & Yi Sun, 2008. "Globalization and the Sustainability of Large Current Account Imbalances: Size Matters," NBER Working Papers 13734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Miller, Marcus & Zhang, Lei, 2006. "Fear and Market Failure: Global Imbalances and 'Self-insurance'," CEPR Discussion Papers 6000, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Jesmin Rahman, 2008. "Current Account Developments in New Member States of the European Union: Equilibrium, Excess, and EU-Phoria," IMF Working Papers 08/92, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Sebastian Edwards, 2007. "On Current Account Surpluses and the Correction of Global Imbalances," NBER Working Papers 12904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Anella Munro & Rishab Sethi, 2007. "Understanding the New Zealand current account: A structural approach," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Discussion Paper Series DP2007/10, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    11. Thierry Bracke & Matthieu Bussière & Michael Fidora & Roland Straub, 2008. "A framework for assessing global imbalances," Occasional Paper Series 78, European Central Bank.
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    Cited by:
    1. Paul Bedford, 2008. "The global financial crisis and its transmission to New Zealand – an external balance sheet analysis," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 71, December.
    2. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter M. Garber, 2009. "Bretton Woods II Still Defines the International Monetary System," NBER Working Papers 14731, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Òscar Jordà & Moritz Schularick & Alan M. Taylor, 2010. "Financial Crises, Credit Booms, and External Imbalances: 140 Years of Lessons," NBER Working Papers 16567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jean-Pierre Andre, 2011. "Economic Imbalances: New Zealand's Structural Challenge," Treasury Working Paper Series 11/03, New Zealand Treasury.
    5. Kenc, Turalay & Dibooglu, Sel, 2010. "The 2007-2009 financial crisis, global imbalances and capital flows: Implications for reform," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 3-21, March.

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