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Globalization and imbalances in historical perspective


  • Michael D. Bordo


Global imbalances associated with the U.S. current account deficit have given rise to speculation about the nature of the impending adjustment: Will it be smooth and gradual, or will it be sudden and costly? This paper summarizes the two views and then considers three historical periods with similar pressures--an earlier era of globalization from 1870 to 1914, the interwar gold standard, and Bretton Woods. A comparison of the periods and their outcomes suggests current global imbalances might resolve themselves quietly.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo, 2006. "Globalization and imbalances in historical perspective," Policy Discussion Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Jan.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcpd:y:2006:i:jan:n:13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Bordo & Barry Eichengreen & Daniela Klingebiel & Maria Soledad Martinez-Peria, 2001. "Is the crisis problem growing more severe?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 51-82, April.
    2. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2007. "The Unsustainable U.S. Current Account Position Revisited," NBER Chapters,in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 339-376 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter M. Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
    4. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Hélène Rey, 2007. "International Financial Adjustment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(4), pages 665-703, August.
    5. Bordo, Michael D. & Choudhri, Ehsan U. & Schwartz, Anna J., 2002. "Was Expansionary Monetary Policy Feasible during the Great Contraction? An Examination of the Gold Standard Constraint," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-28, January.
    6. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2004. "Financial globalization and exchange rates," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19926, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Barry Eichengreen, 2010. "Global Imbalances and the Lessons of Bretton Woods," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262514141, January.
    8. Maurico Obstfeld, 2004. "External adjustment," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 140(4), pages 541-568, December.
    9. Michael D. Bordo & Antu P. Murshid, 2000. "Are Financial Crises Becoming Increasingly More Contagious? What is the Historical Evidence on Contagion?," NBER Working Papers 7900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Bordo, Michael D. & Rockoff, Hugh, 1996. "The Gold Standard as a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 389-428, June.
    11. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen & Jongwoo Kim, 1998. "Was There Really an Earlier Period of International Financial Integration Comparable to Today?," NBER Working Papers 6738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Obstfeld,Maurice & Taylor,Alan M., 2005. "Global Capital Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671798, March.
    13. Michael D. Bordo, 1993. "The Bretton Woods International Monetary System: A Historical Overview," NBER Chapters,in: A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform, pages 3-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Michael Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1999. "Is our Current International Economic Environment Unusually Crisis Prone?," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: David Gruen & Luke Gower (ed.), Capital Flows and the International Financial System Reserve Bank of Australia.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ketenci, Natalya & Uz, Idil, 2010. "Determinants of current account in the EU: the relation between internal and external balances in the new members," MPRA Paper 27466, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Salvatore, Dominick, 2006. "Twin deficits in the G-7 countries and global structural imbalances," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 701-712, September.


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