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The International Dollar Standard and Sustainability of the U.S. Current Account Deficit

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  • Ronald McKinnon
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    Abstract

    April 2001 For more than 20 years, the United States has run current-account deficits with the rest of the world—and is now the world’s largest international debtor. Because the world is on a dollar standard, the United States is unique in having a virtually unlimited international line of credit which is largely denominated in its own currency, i.e., dollars. In contrast, foreign debtor countries must learn to live with currency mismatches where their banks’ and other corporate international liabilities are dollar denominated but their assets are denominated in the domestic currency. As these mismatches cumulate, any foreign country is ultimately forced to repay its debts in order to avoid a run on its currency. But however precarious and over-leveraged the financing of individual American borrowers—including American banks, which intermediate such borrowing internationally—might be, they are invulnerable to dollar devaluation. In effect, America’s collective current-account deficits are sustainable indefinitely. Working Papers Index

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    Paper provided by Stanford University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 01013.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:wop:stanec:01013

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    1. Ronald I. McKinnon, 1996. "The Rules of the Game: International Money and Exchange Rates," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262133180, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Ho-don Yan & Cheng-lang Yang, 2012. "Are there different linkages of foreign capital inflows and the current account between industrial countries and emerging markets?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 25-54, August.
    2. Joshua E. Greene & Magda E. Kandil, 2002. "The Impact of Cyclical Factorson the U.S. Balance of Payments," IMF Working Papers 02/45, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Dimitris K. Christopoulos & Miguel León-Ledesma, 2004. "Current Account Sustainability in the US: What Do We Really Know About It?," Studies in Economics 0412, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
    4. Ogawa, Eiji & Kudo, Takeshi, 2007. "Asymmetric responses of East Asian currencies to the US dollar depreciation for reducing the US current account deficits," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 175-194, February.
    5. Eiji Ogawa & Takeshi Kudo, 2007. "Possible depreciation of the US dollar for unsustainable current account deficit in the United States," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 8(4), pages 24-30, 01.
    6. Matsubayashi, Yoichi, 2005. "Are US current account deficits unsustainable?: Testing for the private and government intertemporal budget constraints," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 223-237, April.
    7. Yan, Ho-don, 2007. "Does capital mobility finance or cause a current account imbalance?," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-25, March.
    8. Cheng, Wenli & Zhang, Dingsheng, 2012. "A monetary model of China–US trade relations," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 233-238.

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