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Global Current Account Imbalances: American Fiscal Policy versus East Asian Savings

  • Menzie D. Chinn
  • Hiro Ito

We consider the origins of global current account imbalances. We first discuss how the expansion of the US current account deficit and the decrease in global real interest rates can be reconciled with the widespread view that American expansionary fiscal policy is partly the source of current trends. We then investigate empirically the medium-term determinants of the current account using a model that controls for factors related to institutional development. In addition to the conventional macroeconomic factors, we examine a series of environmental factors, including the degree of financial openness and the extent of legal development. We find that for industrial countries, the government budget balance is an important determinant of the current account balance; the budget balance coefficient is 0.10 to 0.49 depending on model specifications. These varying estimates lead us to conclude that fiscal factors might be as important as excess savings arising from East Asia. Copyright � 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation � 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 16 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
Pages: 479-498

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Handle: RePEc:bla:reviec:v:16:y:2008:i:3:p:479-498
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  1. Chinn, Menzie David & Ito, Hiro, 2005. "What Matters for Financial Development? Capital Controls, Institutions, and Interactions," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5pv1j341, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  2. Thorsten Beck & Ross Levine, 2004. "Legal Institutions and Financial Development," NBER Working Papers 10417, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Menzie David Chinn & Eswar Prasad, 2000. "Medium-Term Determinants of Current Accounts in Industrial and Developing Countries; An Empirical Exploration," IMF Working Papers 00/46, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Christopher Erceg & Luca Guerrieri, 2005. "Expansionary Fiscal Shocks and the Trade Deficit," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 128, Society for Computational Economics.
  5. Roubini, Nouriel, 1991. "Economic and political determinants of budget deficits in developing countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 10(1, Supple), pages S49-S72, March.
  6. Masson, Paul R & Bayoumi, Tamim & Samiei, Hossein, 1998. "International Evidence on the Determinants of Private Saving," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(3), pages 483-501, September.
  7. 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.
  8. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
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