IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Current account balances and structural adjustment in the euro area


  • Holger Zemanek


  • Ansgar Belke


  • Gunther Schnabl



In the past decade, a set of euro area countries has accumulated large current account deficits. After a brief relaxation of the euro area internal imbalances in the wake of the financial crisis, it appears as if this pattern arises anew when times normalize again and Germany still sticks to export-led growth. This issue has been labelled one of the most challenging economic policy issues for Europe inter alia by the European Commission and some other players on the EU level. In this paper, we analyse the role of private restructuring and structural reforms for the urgently needed sustainable readjustment of intra-euro area current account balances. A panel regression reveals a significant impact of structural reforms on intra-euro area current account balances. This implies that in particular structural reforms and wage restraint in notorious current account and budget deficit countries such as Greece are highly suitable to support long-term economic stability in Europe.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Holger Zemanek & Ansgar Belke & Gunther Schnabl, 2010. "Current account balances and structural adjustment in the euro area," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 83-127, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:iecepo:v:7:y:2010:i:1:p:83-127 DOI: 10.1007/s10368-010-0156-x

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. F. Daveri & C. Jona-Lasinio, 2007. "Off-shoring and productivity growth in the Italian manufacturing industries," Economics Department Working Papers 2007-EP08, Department of Economics, Parma University (Italy).
    2. Filippo Altissimo & Michael Ehrmann & Frank Smets, 2006. "Inflation persistence and price-setting behaviour in the euro area – a summary of the IPN evidence," Occasional Paper Series 46, European Central Bank.
    3. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-1054, July.
    4. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
    5. Holger Görg & Aoife Hanley & Eric Strobl, 2008. "Productivity effects of international outsourcing: evidence from plant-level data," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(2), pages 670-688, May.
    6. Enrique G. Mendoza, 2007. "Financial Integration, Financial Deepness and Global Imbalance," 2007 Meeting Papers 746, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Patrick Honohan & Philip R. Lane, 2003. "Divergent inflation rates in EMU," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 18(37), pages 357-394, October.
    8. Obstfeld, Maurice & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "The intertemporal approach to the current account," Handbook of International Economics,in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 34, pages 1731-1799 Elsevier.
    9. Michael G. Arghyrou & Georgios Chortareas, 2008. "Current Account Imbalances and Real Exchange Rates in the Euro Area," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 747-764, September.
    10. Romain Duval & Jørgen Elmeskov, 2005. "The Effects of EMU on Structural Reforms in Labour and Product Markets," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 438, OECD Publishing.
    11. Alfonso Arpaia & Gilles Mourre, 2005. "Labour market institutions and labour market performance: A survey of the literature," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 238, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    12. Bayoumi, Tamim & Laxton, Douglas & Pesenti, Paolo, 2004. "Benefits and spillovers of greater competition in Europe: a macroeconomic assessment," Working Paper Series 341, European Central Bank.
    13. Alberto Alesina & Silvia Ardagna & Vincenzo Galasso, 2011. "The Euro and Structural Reforms," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 2(1).
    14. Gwartney, James & Lawson, Robert, 2003. "The concept and measurement of economic freedom," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 405-430, September.
    15. Giuseppe Nicoletti & Stefano Scarpetta, 2005. "Product Market Reforms and Employment in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 472, OECD Publishing.
    16. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 2000. "Productivity gains from unemployment insurance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1195-1224, June.
    17. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
    18. Ansgar Belke & Bernhard Herz & Lukas Vogel, 2006. "Beyond Trade – Is Reform Effort Affected by the Exchange Rate Regime? A Panel Analysis for the World versus OECD Countries," Economie Internationale, CEPII research center, issue 107, pages 29-58.
    19. Giovanni S. F. Bruno, 2005. "Estimation and inference in dynamic unbalanced panel-data models with a small number of individuals," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 5(4), pages 473-500, December.
    20. Fagan, Gabriel & Gaspar, Ví­tor, 2007. "Adjusting to the euro," Working Paper Series 716, European Central Bank.
    21. Giuseppe Bertola & Anna Lo Prete, 2015. "Reforms, Finance, and Current Accounts," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(3), pages 469-488, August.
    22. Im, Kyung So & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Shin, Yongcheol, 2003. "Testing for unit roots in heterogeneous panels," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 53-74, July.
    23. Herman Z Bennett & Ziga Zarnic, 2009. "International Competitiveness of the Mediterranean Quartet: A Heterogeneous-Product Approach," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 56(4), pages 919-957, November.
    24. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi, 2002. "Current Account Deficits in the Euro Area: The End of the Feldstein Horioka Puzzle?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 147-210.
    25. Hofmann, Boris & Remsperger, Hermann, 2005. "Inflation differentials among the Euro area countries: Potential causes and consequences," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 403-419, June.
    26. Gabriel Fagan & Vítor Gaspar, 2007. "Adjusting to the Euro," Working Papers w200703, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    27. Acemoglu, Daron, 2001. "Good Jobs versus Bad Jobs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, January.
    28. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Garriga, Carlos, 2003. "Status Quo Problem In Social Security Reforms," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(05), pages 691-710, November.
    29. Guenter W. Beck & Kirstin Hubrich & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2009. "Regional inflation dynamics within and across euro area countries and a comparison with the United States," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 24, pages 141-184, January.
    30. Drazen, Allan & Grilli, Vittorio, 1993. "The Benefit of Crises for Economic Reforms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 598-607, June.
    31. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
    32. Mike Kennedy & Torsten Sløk, 2005. "Structural Policy Reforms and External Imbalances," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 415, OECD Publishing.
    33. Filippo di Mauro & Robert Anderton & Ekkehard Ernst & Laurent Maurin & Sonia Pokutova & Wim Melyn & Axel Jochem & N. M. Pakinezou & Javier Torres & Remy Lecat & Mark Cassidy & Roberto Tedeschi & Erik , 2005. "Competitiveness and the export performance of the euro area," Occasional Paper Series 30, European Central Bank.
    34. Wasmer, Etienne, 2003. "Interpreting European and US Labour Market Differences: The Specificity of Human Capital Investments," CEPR Discussion Papers 3780, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    35. Jörg Decressin & Emil Stavrev, 2009. "Current Accounts in a Currency Union," IMF Working Papers 09/127, International Monetary Fund.
    36. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    37. Ansgar Belke & Bernhard Herz & Lukas Vogel, 2006. "Exchange Rate Regimes and Reforms: A Panel Analysis for the World versus OECD Countries," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 317-342, December.
    38. Ursel Baumann & Filippo di Mauro, 2007. "Globalisation and euro area trade: Interactions and challenges," Occasional Paper Series 55, European Central Bank.
    39. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
    40. Windmeijer, Frank, 2005. "A finite sample correction for the variance of linear efficient two-step GMM estimators," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 25-51, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Structural reforms; Current account balances; Euro area; Dynamic panel estimation; Interaction term; E24; F15; F16; F32;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:iecepo:v:7:y:2010:i:1:p:83-127. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.