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(Why) Should Current Account Balances Be Reduced?


  • Olivier Blanchard
  • Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti


The purpose of this note is to discuss two complex issues. First, why might a country want to reduce its current account deficit or surplus? And second, why might the international community ask for more? We argue that, in many cases, current account balances reflect underlying domestic distortions. It is then in the interest of the country to remove those distortions and, in the process, reduce imbalances. We then discuss cases where spillover effects, either from deficits or surpluses, suggest a direct role for multilateral surveillance. This process can play two potentially useful roles: first, as a discussion of the differences in assessments; second, as a potentially useful commitment device for countries to implement some of the required but politically unpalatable fiscal or structural adjustments.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Blanchard & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2012. "(Why) Should Current Account Balances Be Reduced?," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 60(1), pages 139-150, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:imfecr:v:60:y:2012:i:1:p:139-150

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    11. Edd Denbee & Carsten Jung & Francesco Paternò, 2016. "Stitching together the global financial safety net," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 322, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
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    14. Bernhard Herz & Stefan Hohberger, 2013. "Fiscal Policy, Monetary Regimes and Current Account Dynamics," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 118-136, February.
    15. Wong Hock Tsen, 2014. "External Balance And Budget In Malaysia," Asian Academy of Management Journal of Accounting and Finance (AAMJAF), Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia, vol. 10(2), pages 37-54.
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    17. Philip R. Lane, 2015. "International Financial Flows in Low-Income Countries," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 49-72, February.

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