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Income Inequality and Current Account Imbalances

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Author Info

  • Romain Ranciere
  • Nathaniel A. Throckmorton
  • Michael Kumhof
  • Claire Lebarz
  • Alexander W. Richter

Abstract

This paper studies the empirical and theoretical link between increases in income inequality and increases in current account deficits. Cross-sectional econometric evidence shows that higher top income shares, and also financial liberalization, which is a common policy response to increases in income inequality, are associated with substantially larger external deficits. To study this mechanism we develop a DSGE model that features workers whose income share declines at the expense of investors. Loans to workers from domestic and foreign investors support aggregate demand and result in current account deficits. Financial liberalization helps workers smooth consumption, but at the cost of higher household debt and larger current account deficits. In emerging markets, workers cannot borrow from investors, who instead deploy their surplus funds abroad, leading to current account surpluses instead of deficits.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 12/8.

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Length: 44
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:12/8

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Related research

Keywords: Credit demand; Domestic debt; Economic models; Income distribution;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Fares Al-Hussami & Álvaro Martín Remesal, 2012. "Current Account Imbalances and Income Inequality: Theory and Evidence," Kiel Advanced Studies Working Papers 459, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  2. Moritz Drechsel-Grau & Kai Daniel Schmid, 2013. "Consumption-Savings Decisions under Upward Looking Comparisons: Evidence from Germany, 2002-2011," IMK Working Paper 118-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
  3. Vanda Almeida & Gabriela Lopes de Castro & Ricardo Mourinho Félix & José R. Maria, 2011. "Fiscal consolidation in a small euro area economy," Economic Bulletin and Financial Stability Report Articles, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  4. Thomas Goda, 2013. "The role of income inequality in crisis theories and in the subprime crisis," Working Papers PKWP1305, Post Keynesian Economics Study Group (PKSG).
  5. Till van Treeck, 2012. "Did inequality cause the U.S. financial crisis?," IMK Working Paper 91-2012, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
  6. Hein, Eckhard & Dodig, Nina, 2014. "Financialisation, distribution, growth and crises: Long-run tendencies," IPE Working Papers 35/2014, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
  7. Jan Behringer & Till van Treeck, 2013. "Income Distribution and the Current Account: A Sectoral Perspective," INET Research Notes 35, Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).
  8. Perugini, Cristiano & Hölscher, Jens & Collie, Simon, 2013. "Inequality, credit expansion and financial crises," MPRA Paper 51336, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Michael Kumhof & Romain Ranciere & Pablo Winant, 2013. "Inequality, Leverage and Crises: The Case of Endogenous Default," IMF Working Papers 13/249, International Monetary Fund.
  10. Michael Kumhof & Jaromir Benes, 2012. "The Chicago Plan Revisited," IMF Working Papers 12/202, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Gu, Xinhua & Tam, Pui Sun, 2013. "The saving–growth–inequality triangle in China," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 850-857.
  12. Jan Behringer & Till van Treeck, 2013. "Income distribution and current account: A sectoral perspective," IMK Working Paper 125-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
  13. Christian A. Belabed & Thomas Theobald & Till van Treeck, 2013. "Income Distribution and Current Account Imbalances," IMK Working Paper 126-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
  14. Osberg, Lars, 2013. "Instability implications of increasing inequality: Evidence from North America," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 918-930.
  15. European Commission, 2013. "Tax reforms in EU Member States - Tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability – 2013 Report," Taxation Papers 38, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
  16. Jakob Kapeller & Bernhard Schütz, 2012. "Debt, Boom, Bust: A Theory of Minsky-Veblen Cycles," Economics working papers 2012-14, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.

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