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Current Account Imbalances and Income Inequality: Theory and Evidence

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  • Fares Al-Hussami
  • Álvaro Martín Remesal
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    Abstract

    In this paper we analyze theoretically and empirically the impact of an increase in income inequality on the current account balance. We develop a model with consumption externalities and heterogeneous agents which explains how an increase in income inequality can affect negatively or positively the current account balance. The relationship is exacerbated by the level of financial liberalization represented by changes in the borrowing constraints. Panel data regressions for a sample of developed and developing economies confirm that an increase in income inequality is mostly linked to a decrease in the current account balance. Moreover, we also and that relatively higher levels of financial liberalization interact with the level of income inequality so that the previous effect is amplifed. These results are robust to different specifications

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Kiel Advanced Studies Working Papers with number 459.

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    Length: 38 pages
    Date of creation: Jul 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:kie:kieasw:459

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    Keywords: Current account; income inequality; global imbalances; financial liberalization; consumption externalities; heterogeneity;

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    1. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    2. Bussière, Matthieu & Fratzscher, Marcel & Müller, Gernot J., 2004. "Current accounts dynamics in OECD and EU acceding countries - an intertemporal approach," Working Paper Series 0311, European Central Bank.
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    4. Azzimonti, Marina & de Francisco, Eva & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2012. "Financial Globalization, Inequality, and the Raising of Public Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 8893, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Van Long, Ngo, 2011. "The relative income hypothesis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1489-1501, September.
    6. Harbaugh, Richmond, 1996. "Falling behind the Joneses: relative consumption and the growth-savings paradox," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 297-304, December.
    7. Christian Ghiglino & Sanjeev Goyal, 2010. "Keeping Up with the Neighbors: Social Interaction in a Market Economy," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(1), pages 90-119, 03.
    8. Romain Ranciere & Nathaniel A. Throckmorton & Michael Kumhof & Claire Lebarz & Alexander W. Richter, 2012. "Income Inequality and Current Account Imbalances," IMF Working Papers 12/8, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Edward N. Wolff, 2007. "Recent Trends in Household Wealth in the United States: Rising Debt and the Middle-Class Squeeze," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_502, Levy Economics Institute.
    10. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128, February.
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