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Do Differences in Financial Development Explain the Global Pattern of Current Account Imbalances?

  • Joseph Gruber
  • Steven Kamin
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    Building on the panel-regression approach of Chinn and Prasad (2003 ) and Gruber and Kamin (2007 ), we assess whether differences in financial development can explain the large developing-country surpluses or large US deficits. We find little evidence to support these hypotheses. We also assess whether differences in asset returns, an alternative measure of the attractiveness of financial assets, can explain the international pattern of capital flows. Lower bond yields have been generally associated with larger current account deficits in industrial countries. However, US bond yields have not been significantly lower than those in other industrial economies, suggesting that US financial assets have not been unusually attractive. We consider an alternative hypothesis that spending in the United States was uniquely responsive to lower costs of capital. However, we found this hypothesis also to be weak, as household saving rates have declined throughout the industrial economies. Copyright Published 2009. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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

    Volume (Year): 17 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 4 (09)
    Pages: 667-688

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:reviec:v:17:y:2009:i:4:p:667-688
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    1. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2004. "Direct Investment, Rising Real Wages and the Absorption of Excess Labor in the Periphery," NBER Working Papers 10626, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    3. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2003. "An Essay on the Revived Bretton Woods System," NBER Working Papers 9971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Mastruzzi, Massimo, 2005. "Governance matters IV : governance indicators for 1996-2004," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3630, The World Bank.
    5. Reuven Glick & Kenneth Rogoff, 1992. "Global Versus Country-Specific Productivity Shocks and the Current Account," NBER Working Papers 4140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Sebastian Edwards, 2005. "Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable? And If Not, How Costly is Adjustment Likely To Be?," NBER Working Papers 11541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Philip Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "THE EXTERNAL WEALTH OF NATIONS: Measures of Foreign Assets and Liabilities For Industrial and Developing Countries," CEG Working Papers 20012, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    8. Menzie D. Chinn & Eswar S. Prasad, 2000. "Medium-Term Determinants of Current Accounts in Industrial and Developing Countries: An Empirical Exploration," NBER Working Papers 7581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Gruber, Joseph W., 2004. "A present value test of habits and the current account," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 1495-1507, October.
    10. Blanchard, Olivier & Giavazzi, Francesco & Sá, Filipa, 2005. "The US Current Account and the Dollar," CEPR Discussion Papers 4888, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Sebastian Edwards, 2005. "Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable? If Not, How Costly Is Adjustment Likely to Be?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 211-288.
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