IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Current Account Imbalances: can Structural Reforms Help to Reduce Them?

  • Clovis Kerdrain
  • Isabell Koske
  • Isabelle Wanner

This article explores the impact of structural policies on saving, investment, and current accounts in OECD and non-OECD economies. Since the current account effects of structural reforms are often complex and ambiguous from a theoretical perspective, new OECD empirical analysis is carried out. Reduced-form equations are estimated for a panel of 30 OECD countries as well as for a panel/cross-section of 117 OECD and non- OECD countries that relate saving, investment and current accounts to policy indicators and a set of macroeconomic control variables. This work suggests that structural reforms may influence saving, investment and current accounts through their impact on macroeconomic conditions such as productivity growth or public revenues and expenditures, but also more directly: i) higher social spending (in particular on health care) is found to lower the saving rate and thereby to weaken the current account, most likely reflecting lower precautionary saving; ii) product market liberalisation temporarily boosts investment and thus also weakens the current account; iii) financial market deregulation may lower the saving rate, though only in less developed countries; iv) stricter employment protection may be associated with lower saving rates if unemployment benefits are low, as well as with higher investment rates possibly due to greater substitution of capital for labour. A scenario analysis indicates that fiscal consolidation and structural reforms in the main world economies could significantly reduce current global imbalances, possibly by about one-third.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text available to READ online. PDF download available to OECD iLibrary subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by OECD Publishing in its journal OECD Journal: Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 2011 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-44

in new window

Handle: RePEc:oec:ecokac:5kg5825lkmvl
Contact details of provider: Postal: 2 rue Andre Pascal, 75775 Paris Cedex 16
Phone: 33-(0)-1-45 24 82 00
Fax: 33-(0)-1-45 24 85 00
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Luiz de Mello & Per Mathis Kongsrud & Robert W.R. Price, 2004. "Saving Behaviour and the Effectiveness of Fiscal Policy," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 397, OECD Publishing.
  2. Abdul Abiad & Enrica Detragiache & Thierry Tressel, 2010. "A New Database of Financial Reforms," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 57(2), pages 281-302, June.
  3. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Farhi, Emmanuel & Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier, 2008. "An Equilibrium Model of "Global Imbalances" and Low Interest Rates," Scholarly Articles 3229094, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Stefano Scarpetta & Thierry Tressel, 2002. "Productivity and Convergence in a Panel of OECD Industries: Do Regulations and Institutions Matter?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 342, OECD Publishing.
  5. Aglietta, Michel & Chateau, Jean & Fayolle, Jacky & Juillard, Michel & Le Cacheux, Jacques & Le Garrec, Gilles & Touze, Vincent, 2007. "Pension reforms in Europe: An investigation with a computable OLG world model," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 481-505, May.
  6. Laurence Boone & Nathalie Girouard & Isabelle Wanner, 2001. "Financial Market Liberalisation, Wealth and Consumption," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 308, OECD Publishing.
  7. Andrew B. Abel & Janice C. Eberly, 1993. "A Unified Model of Investment Under Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 4296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2009. "Global Imbalances and Financial Fragility," NBER Working Papers 14688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Alberto Alesina & Silvia Ardagna & Giuseppe Nicoletti & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2003. "Regulation and Investment," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 352, OECD Publishing.
  10. Bartzsch, Nikolaus, 2006. "Precautionary saving and income uncertainty in Germany - new evidence from microdata," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2006,44, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  11. Marcos Chamon & Eswar Prasad, 2008. "Why are Saving Rates of Urban Households in China Rising?," IMF Working Papers 08/145, International Monetary Fund.
  12. Javorcik, Beata & Spatareanu, Mariana, 2005. "Do Foreign Investors Care About Labour Market Regulations?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4839, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Gerda Dewit & Holger Görg & Catia Montagna, 2009. "Should I stay or should I go? Foreign direct investment, employment protection and domestic anchorage," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 145(1), pages 93-110, April.
  14. Ettore Dorrucci & Alexis Meyer-Cirkel & Daniel Santabárbara, 2009. "Domestic Financial Development in Emerging Economies: Evidence and Implications," Occasional Paper Series 102, European Central Bank.
  15. Oriana Bandiera & Gerard Caprio & Patrick Honohan & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2000. "Does Financial Reform Raise or Reduce Saving?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(2), pages 239-263, May.
  16. Andrew A. Samwick, 2000. "Is Pension Reform Conducive to Higher Saving?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(2), pages 264-272, May.
  17. Andrew Benito, 2006. "Does job insecurity affect household consumption?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 157-181, January.
  18. Sarantis, Nicholas & Stewart, Chris, 2001. "Saving Behaviour in OECD Countries: Evidence from Panel Cointegration Tests," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 69(0), pages 22-41, Supplemen.
  19. Alessandra Fogli & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "The "Great Moderation" and the US External Imbalance," NBER Working Papers 12708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Chinn, Menzie D. & Ito, Hiro, 2007. "Current account balances, financial development and institutions: Assaying the world "saving glut"," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 546-569, June.
  21. Hervé Boulhol & Alain de Serres & Margit Molnár, 2008. "The contribution of economic geography to GDP per capita," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2008(1), pages 1-37.
  22. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-26, November.
  23. R. Glenn Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1994. "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," NBER Working Papers 4884, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Schiantarelli, Fabio & Perotti, Roberto & Ardagna, Silvia & Alesina, Alberto, 2002. "Fiscal Policy, Profits, and Investment," Scholarly Articles 4685103, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  25. Jonathan Gruber & Aaron Yelowitz, 1997. "Public Health Insurance and Private Savings," UCLA Economics Working Papers 772, UCLA Department of Economics.
  26. Cyrille Schwellnus & Jens Arnold, 2008. "Do Corporate Taxes Reduce Productivity and Investment at the Firm Level?: Cross-Country Evidence from the Amadeus Dataset," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 641, OECD Publishing.
  27. Ricardo J. Caballero, 2006. "On the Macroeconomics of Asset Shortages," NBER Working Papers 12753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Harris, Mark N & Loundes, Joanne & Webster, Elizabeth, 2002. "Determinants of Household Saving in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(241), pages 207-23, June.
  29. Jha, Shikha & Prasad, Eswar & Terada-Hagiwara, Akiko, 2009. "Saving in Asia: Issues for Rebalancing Growth," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 162, Asian Development Bank.
  30. Calista Cheung & Davide Furceri & Elena Rusticelli, 2013. "Structural and Cyclical Factors behind Current Account Balances," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(5), pages 923-944, November.
  31. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1983. "Real Interest Rates, Home Goods, and Optimal External Borrowing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 141-53, February.
  32. Feng, Jin & He, Lixin & Sato, Hiroshi, 2009. "Public pension and household saving: Evidence from China," BOFIT Discussion Papers 2/2009, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
  33. Andrea Bassanini & Andrea Garnero & Pascal Marianna & Sébastien Martin, 2010. "Institutional Determinants of Worker Flows: A Cross-Country/Cross-Industry Approach," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 107, OECD Publishing.
  34. Tatiana Kirsanova & James Sefton, 2006. "A Comparison of National Saving Rates in the UK, US and Italy," Discussion Papers 0612, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
  35. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2006. "Differential Mortality, Uncertain Medical Expenses, and the Saving of Elderly Singles," NBER Working Papers 12554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. Christopher D. Carroll & Karen E. Dynan & Spencer D. Krane, 2003. "Unemployment Risk and Precautionary Wealth: Evidence from Households' Balance Sheets," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 586-604, August.
  37. Andrew E. Clark & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2004. "Job security and job protection," DELTA Working Papers 2004-16, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  38. Haaland, Jan I. & Wooton, Ian, 2001. "Multinational Firms: Easy Come, Easy Go?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2660, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  39. Giacomo Corneo & Matthias Keese & Carsten Schröder, 2009. "The Riester Scheme and Private Savings: An Empirical Analysis based on the German SOEP," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 129(2), pages 321-332.
  40. Gruber, Joseph W. & Kamin, Steven B., 2007. "Explaining the global pattern of current account imbalances," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 500-522, June.
  41. Florian Pelgrin & Alain de Serres, 2003. "The Decline in Private Saving Rates in the 1990s in OECD Countries: How Much Can Be Explained by Non-wealth Determinants?," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2003(1), pages 117-153.
  42. Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "The After Tax Rate of Return Affects Private Savings," NBER Working Papers 1351, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  43. Alessandra Guariglia & Mariachristina Rossi, 1999. "Consumption, habit formation and precautionary saving: Evidence from the UK," Economics Discussion Papers 502, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  44. Holger Görg, 2005. "Fancy a Stay at the 'Hotel California'? The Role of Easy Entry and Exit for FDI," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 519-535, November.
  45. Mariacristina Rossi, 2006. "Examining the interaction between saving and contributions to Personal Pension Plans. Evidence from the BHPS," CeRP Working Papers 49, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  46. Scarpetta, Stefano & Tressel, Thierry, 2004. "Boosting productivity via innovation and adoption of new technologies : any role for labor market institutions?," Social Protection Discussion Papers 29144, The World Bank.
  47. Jonathan D. Ostry & Carmen M. Reinhart, 1992. "Private Saving and Terms of Trade Shocks: Evidence from Developing Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 39(3), pages 495-517, September.
  48. Loayza, N. & Schmidt, K. & Serven, L., 1999. "What Drives Private Saving Across the World?," Papers 47, Cambridge - Risk, Information & Quantity Signals.
  49. Alex Maynard & Jiaping Qiu, 2009. "Public insurance and private savings: who is affected and by how much?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 282-308, 03.
  50. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri & Guglielmo Weber, 2007. "Health care quality, economic inequality, and precautionary saving," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(4), pages 327-346.
  51. Obstfeld, Maurice, 2010. "The immoderate world economy," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 603-614, June.
  52. Beck, Nathaniel & Katz, Jonathan N., 2001. "Throwing Out the Baby with the Bath Water: A Comment on Green, Kim, and Yoon," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(02), pages 487-495, March.
  53. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  54. Andrea Bassanini & Danielle Venn, 2007. "Assessing the Impact of Labour Market Policies on Productivity: A Difference-in-Differences Approach," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 54, OECD Publishing.
  55. Engen, Eric M. & Gruber, Jonathan, 2001. "Unemployment insurance and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 545-579, June.
  56. Mike Kennedy & Torsten Sløk, 2005. "Structural Policy Reforms and External Imbalances," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 415, OECD Publishing.
  57. Jiandong Ju & Shang-Jin Wei, 2006. "A Solution to Two Paradoxes of International Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 12668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  58. Felix Hüfner & Isabell Koske, 2010. "Explaining Household Saving Rates in G7 Countries: Implications for Germany," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 754, OECD Publishing.
  59. Zhou, Yanfei, 2003. "Precautionary saving and earnings uncertainty in Japan: A household-level analysis," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 192-212, June.
  60. Judson, Ruth A. & Owen, Ann L., 1999. "Estimating dynamic panel data models: a guide for macroeconomists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 9-15, October.
  61. Laura Vartia, 2008. "How do Taxes Affect Investment and Productivity?: An Industry-Level Analysis of OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 656, OECD Publishing.
  62. Orazio Attanasio & James Banks & Matthew Wakefield, 2004. "Effectiveness of tax incentives to boost (retirement) saving: theoretical motivation and empirical evidence," IFS Working Papers W04/33, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  63. Rachel Griffith & Rupert Harisson, 2004. "The link between product market reform and macro-economic performance," European Economy - Economic Papers 209, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  64. Jeanne, Olivier & Rancière, Romain, 2008. "The Optimal Level of International Reserves For Emerging Market Countries: A New Formula and Some Applications," CEPR Discussion Papers 6723, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  65. Orazio P. Attanasio & Agar Brugiavini, 2003. "Social Security And Households' Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1075-1119, August.
  66. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, July.
  67. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1996. "How Retirement Saving Programs Increase Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 91-112, Fall.
  68. Papaioannou, Elias, 2007. "Finance and growth: a macroeconomic assessment of the evidence from a European angle," Working Paper Series 0787, European Central Bank.
  69. Alain de Serres & Shuji Kobayakawa & Torsten Sløk & Laura Vartia, 2006. "Regulation of Financial Systems and Economic Growth," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 506, OECD Publishing.
  70. Krugman, Paul, 1989. "Differences in income elasticities and trends in real exchange rates," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 1031-1046, May.
  71. Emanuele Baldacci & Ding Ding & David Coady & Giovanni Callegari & Pietro Tommasino & Jaejoon Woo & Manmohan S. Kumar, 2010. "Public Expenditures on Social Programs and Household Consumption in China," IMF Working Papers 10/69, International Monetary Fund.
  72. Chou, Shin-Yi & Liu, Jin-Tan & Hammitt, James K., 2003. "National Health Insurance and precautionary saving: evidence from Taiwan," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1873-1894, September.
  73. Paul Conway & Donato de Rosa & Giuseppe Nicoletti & Faye Steiner, 2006. "Regulation, Competition and Productivity Convergence," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 509, OECD Publishing.
  74. Giuseppe Nicoletti & Steve Golub & Dana Hajkova & Daniel Mirza & Kwang-Yeol Yoo, 2003. "Policies and International Integration: Influences on Trade and Foreign Direct Investment," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 359, OECD Publishing.
  75. Alessandra Guariglia, 2002. "Consumption, habit formation, and precautionary saving: evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(1), pages 1-19, January.
  76. Clovis Kerdrain & Isabell Koske & Isabelle Wanner, 2010. "The Impact of Structural Policies on Saving, Investment and Current Accounts," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 815, OECD Publishing.
  77. Lusardi, Annamaria, 1997. "Precautionary saving and subjective earnings variance," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 319-326, December.
  78. Breusch, Trevor & Ward, Michael B & Nguyen, Hoa & Kompas, Tom, 2010. "On the fixed-effects vector decomposition," MPRA Paper 21452, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  79. Erik Hurst & Arthur Kennickell & Annamaria Lusardi & Francisco Torralba, 2005. "Precautionary Savings and the Importance of Business Owners," NBER Working Papers 11731, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  80. Steven Barnett & Ray Brooks, 2010. "China: Does Government Health and Education Spending Boost Consumption?," IMF Working Papers 10/16, International Monetary Fund.
  81. Thierry Bracke & Matthieu Bussière & Michael Fidora & Roland Straub, 2008. "A framework for assessing global imbalances," Occasional Paper Series 78, European Central Bank.
  82. Jean-Marc Fournier & Isabell Koske, 2010. "A Simple Model of the Relationship Between Productivity, Saving and the Current Account," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 816, OECD Publishing.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oec:ecokac:5kg5825lkmvl. 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: ()

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.