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Determinants of cyclicality in the current account balance: Evidence from advanced and developing countries


  • Magda Kandil


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to study the role of public and private imbalances in the cyclicality of the current account balance in a sample of advanced and developing countries. Within developing countries, the evidence does not establish the dependency of private investment on private savings and private consumption is the main driver of the saving/investment balance. In contrast, private savings seem to be better mobilized to finance private investment and the latter is the main driver of the saving/investment balance in advanced countries. Deterioration in the current account balance in response to higher private consumption could be detrimental to growth and external stability. In contrast, an investment strategy that promotes growth is likely to attract financial flows and reduce the risk of a widening current account deficit on external stability. Design/methodology/approach - The paper studies determinants of the current account deficit. It studies current account fluctuations in the short-run and explains these fluctuations by analyzing movements in the underlying components: public and private savings as well as investments and resulting imbalances. Of particular interest is the interaction between the government budget deficit, the private saving/investment balance, and the current account balance. Findings - Using time-series estimates, co-movements indicate that fluctuations in the current account balance in many advanced countries appear to be driven by private investment that determines cyclicality in imports. In contrast, cyclicality in the current account appears to be driven by private consumption that determines fluctuations in imports in many developing countries. In general, fluctuations in the government budget deficit are mostly driven by government investment and fluctuations in the private saving/investment balance are mostly driven by fluctuations in private investment. Further, fluctuations in the current account balance appear to be mostly driven by fluctuations in the private saving/investment balance. Originality/value - The paper explains the dynamics of the current account in relation to developments in public and private imbalances and its underlying components. It shows the effects of changes in the budget deficit and its underlying components on cyclicality in the current account. Similarly, cyclicality in the current account balance with cyclical movements in private savings and investment is studied, along with which factors affect the components of the current account balance. In particular, the paper establishes which components of the current account significantly respond to the cyclical changes in macroeconomic variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Magda Kandil, 2012. "Determinants of cyclicality in the current account balance: Evidence from advanced and developing countries," International Journal of Development Issues, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 235-258, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijdipp:v:11:y:2012:i:3:p:235-258

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Surabhi Mittal & Deepti Sethi, 2009. "Food Security in South Asia: Issues and Opportunities," Working Papers id:2205, eSocialSciences.
    2. Derek Headey & Shenggen Fan, 2008. "Anatomy of a crisis: the causes and consequences of surging food prices," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 375-391, November.
    3. Cummings, Ralph Jr. & Rashid, Shahidur & Gulati, Ashok, 2006. "Grain price stabilization experiences in Asia: What have we learned?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 302-312, August.
    4. Byerlee, Derek & Jayne, T.S. & Myers, Robert J., 2006. "Managing food price risks and instability in a liberalizing market environment: Overview and policy options," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 275-287, August.
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