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U.S. current account debate with Japan then, with China now

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  • Ito, Hiro

Abstract

This paper examines two U.S. current account deficit episodes, one in the 1980s and the other in the current 2000s, in which Japan and China, respectively, are the current account surplus countries that are criticized for contributing to the deficits. In both periods, U.S. policy makers pointed out the underdeveloped and closed financial markets of the current account surplus countries and advocated for these countries to fix the deficiencies, a position akin to the current "saving glut" argument. In both episodes, the current account surplus countries have criticized the United States for its low saving, especially public saving (the "Twin Deficit" argument). This paper presents empirical findings that are consistent with the Twin Deficit hypothesis; A one percentage point increase in the budget balance raises the current account balance by 0.10-0.49 percentage point for industrialized countries. The saving glut argument seems to be applicable only for countries with highly developed legal systems and open financial markets. While the United States has been experiencing a savings drought in both episodes, the Japanese current account surplus was driven by underinvestment in the 1980s and by over-saving during the 2000s. Furthermore, although the current Chinese current account surplus is driven by its over-saving, there is no evidence of excess domestic saving in the Asian emerging market countries; rather, they seem to have suffered from depressed investment in the wake of the 1997 financial crises.

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  • Ito, Hiro, 2009. "U.S. current account debate with Japan then, with China now," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 294-313, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:asieco:v:20:y:2009:i:3:p:294-313
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    Cited by:

    1. Tyers, Rod, 2015. "International effects of China's rise and transition: Neoclassical and Keynesian perspectives," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-19.
    2. Rod Tyers, 2015. "Financial Integration and China's Global Impact," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 15-02, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    3. Rod Tyers, 2016. "China and Global Macroeconomic Interdependence," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(11), pages 1674-1702, November.
    4. Paul De Grauwe & Zhaoyong Zhang & Rod Tyers, 2016. "Slower Growth and Vulnerability to Recession: Updating China's Global Impact," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 63(1), pages 66-88, February.
    5. Rod Tyers & Ying Zhang, 2014. "Real exchange rate determination and the China puzzle," Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, vol. 28(2), pages 1-32, November.
    6. repec:taf:oaefxx:v:3:y:2015:i:1:p:1045213 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jane Golley & Rod Tyers & Yixiao Zhou, 2016. "Contractions in Chinese Fertility and Savings: Long-run Domestic and Global Implications," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Iris Day & John Simon (ed.), Structural Change in China: Implications for Australia and the World Reserve Bank of Australia.
    8. Andrea Fracasso, 2015. "Economic Rebalancing and Growth: the Japanese experience and China’s prospects," DEM Discussion Papers 2015/07, Department of Economics and Management.
    9. Vipin Arora & Rod Tyers & Ying Zhang, 2014. "Reconstructing the Savings Glut: The Global Implications of Asian Excess Saving," CAMA Working Papers 2014-20, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    10. Bown, Chad P. & McCulloch, Rachel, 2009. "U.S.-Japan and U.S.-China trade conflict: Export growth, reciprocity, and the international trading system," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 669-687, November.

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