Terms of Trade Shocks and the Current Account: Evidence from Five Industrial Countries
What is the effect of shocks to the terms of trade on a country's current account position? The Harberger-Laursen-Metzler effect predicts that an adverse shock to the terms of trade will worsen the current account balance; in contrast, the prediction of intertemporal models of the current account is dependent on the duration of the shock. This paper examines several features of the terms of trade series of five OECD countries, and the relationship between terms of trade shocks and the current account balance. Median shocks to the terms of trade are found to be highly persistent, yet with a large transitory component, and to account for only a small share of the variability of current account balances in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In contrast, terms of trade shocks are found to account for a relatively large proportion of the variability of current account balances in Australia and New Zealand. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002
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