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Are Asian countries' current accounts sustainable? Deficits, even when associated with high investment, are not costless

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  • Kim, Bong-Han
  • Min, Hong-Ghi
  • Hwang, Young-Soon
  • McDonald, Judith A.

Abstract

Determining whether a country's current account is "sustainable" is not an easy task, as the notion of sustainability is related to complex macroeconomic and political-economy issues, but it is critical. Whether or not one finds empirical support for sustainability is related to the econometric technique employed: conventional unit-root tests typically fail to reject the existence of a unit root in the current-account imbalances of our sample of five crisis-affected Asian countries. However, using nonlinear unit-root tests we reject the existence of a unit root in favour of nonlinear mean reversion. Thus, contrary to what some others have claimed, the Asian crisis was not caused by these countries' current-account deficits, as their current accounts were on sustainable paths. We thus reject the existence of any threshold in current-account adjustment. These results also provide support for the intertemporal approach to the current account. In addition, we find that dramatic improvements in these countries' current-account deficits around 1998 were caused by sharp real depreciations of their currencies. Finally, we provide some policy implications and recommendations.

Suggested Citation

  • Kim, Bong-Han & Min, Hong-Ghi & Hwang, Young-Soon & McDonald, Judith A., 2009. "Are Asian countries' current accounts sustainable? Deficits, even when associated with high investment, are not costless," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 163-179.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jpolmo:v:31:y:2009:i:2:p:163-179
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