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Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable? And If Not, How Costly is Adjustment Likely To Be?

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  • Sebastian Edwards

Abstract

In this paper I analyze the relationship between the U.S. dollar and the U.S. current account. I deal with issues of sustainability, and I discuss the mechanics of current account adjustment. The analysis presented in this paper differs from other work in several respects: First, I emphasis the dynamics of the current account adjustment, going beyond computations of the "required" real depreciation of the dollar to achieve sustainability. I show that even if foreigners' (net) demand for U.S. assets continues to increase significantly, the current account deficit is likely to experience a large decline in the (not too distant) future. Second, I rely on international evidence to explore the likelihood of an abrupt decline in capital flows into the U.S. And third, I analyze the international evidence on current account reversals, to investigate the potential consequences of a (possible) sudden stop of capital flows into the U.S. This analysis suggests that the future adjustment of the U.S. external accounts is likely to result in a significant reduction in growth.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11541.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
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Publication status: published as Edwards, Sebvastian. "Is The U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable? If Not, How Costly Is Adjustment Likely To Be?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2005, v2005(1), 211-288.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11541

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  1. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2004. "International Investment Patterns," CEPR Discussion Papers 4499, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Caroline L. Freund, 2000. "Current account adjustment in industrialized countries," International Finance Discussion Papers 692, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Alan M. Taylor, 2002. "A Century of Current Account Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 8927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Pascale Duran-Vigneron & Amina Lahrèche-Revil & Mignon, Valerie, 2004. "Burden Sharing and Exchange-Rate Misalignments within the Group of Twenty," Working Papers 2004-13, CEPII research center.
  6. Sebastian Edwards & Eduardo Levy Yeyati, 2004. "Flexible Exchange Rates as Shock Absorbers," Business School Working Papers exchangerates, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
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  17. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
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  19. Cedric Tille, 2003. "The impact of exchange rate movements on U.S. foreign debt," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Jan).
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  22. Catherine L. Mann, 2004. "The US Current Account, New Economy Services, and Implications for Sustainability," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 262-276, 05.
  23. Sebastian Edwards, 2003. "Debt Relief and the Current Account: An Analysis of the HIPC Initiative," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 513-531, 04.
  24. Blanchard, Olivier & Giavazzi, Francesco & Sa, Filipa, 2005. "The US Current Account and the Dollar," CEPR Discussion Papers 4888, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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