IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Current Account Deficits in Rich Countries

  • Olivier Blanchard

Current account imbalances have increased steadily in rich countries over the past 20 years. While the U.S. current account deficit dominates the numbers and the news, other countries, especially within the euro area, are also running large deficits. These deficits are different from the Latin American deficits of the early 1980s, or the Mexican deficit of the early 1990s. They involve rich countries; they reflect mostly private saving and investment decisions, and fiscal deficits often play a marginal role; and the deficits are financed mostly through equity, FDI foreign direct investment, and own-currency bonds rather than through bank lending. Yet there appears to be a widely shared concern that these deficits are too large, and government intervention is required. My purpose is to examine the logic of this argument. I ask the following question: Assume that deficits reflect private saving and investment decisions. Assume also that people and firms have rational expectations. Should the government intervene, and, if so, how? To answer the question, I construct a simple benchmark. In the benchmark, the outcome is “first best” and there is no need nor justification for government intervention. I then introduce simple distortions in either goods, labor, or financial markets, and characterize the equilibrium in each case. I derive optimal policy and the implications for the current account. I show that optimal policy may or may not lead to smaller current account deficits. I see the model and the extensions very much as a first pass. Sharper conclusions require a better understanding of the exact nature and the extent of distortions, which we do not have yet. Such understanding is needed, however, to improve the quality of the current debate. IMF Staff Papers (2007) 54, 191–219. doi:10.1057/palgrave.imfsp.9450013

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: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/imfsp/journal/v54/n2/pdf/9450013a.pdf
File Function: Link to full text PDF
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

File URL: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/imfsp/journal/v54/n2/full/9450013a.html
File Function: Link to full text HTML
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 under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal IMF Staff Papers.

Volume (Year): 54 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 191-219

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:pal:imfstp:v:54:y:2007:i:2:p:191-219
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/

Order Information: Postal: Palgrave Macmillan Journals, Subscription Department, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS, UK
Web: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/pal/subscribe/index.html Email:


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. 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.
  2. Blanchard, Olivier J & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2006. "Rebalancing Growth in China: A Three-Handed Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 5403, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Sebastian Edwards, 2001. "Does the Current Account Matter?," NBER Working Papers 8275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Krugman, Paul, 1987. "The narrow moving band, the Dutch disease, and the competitive consequences of Mrs. Thatcher : Notes on trade in the presence of dynamic scale economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1-2), pages 41-55, October.
  5. Ricardo Caballero & Muhamad Hammour, 1999. "The Cost of Recessions Revisited: A Reverse-Liquidationist View," Working papers 99-22, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi & Filipa Sa, 2005. "The U.S. Current Account and the Dollar," NBER Working Papers 11137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Alejandro Izquierdo & Ernesto Talvi & Guillermo A Calvo, 2006. "Phoenix miracles in emerging markets: recovering without credit from systemic financial crises," BIS Working Papers 221, Bank for International Settlements.
  8. Michael B. Devereux & Charles Engel, 2006. "Expenditure Switching vs. Real Exchange Rate Stabilization: Competing Objectives for Exchange Rate Policy," NBER Working Papers 12215, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2002. "A Dual Liquidity Model for Emerging Markets," NBER Working Papers 8758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  11. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi & Filipa Sa, 2005. "International Investors, the U.S. Current Account, and the Dollar," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 1-66.
  12. Rudiger Dornbusch, 1981. "Real Interest Rates, Home Goods, and Optimal External Borrowing," NBER Working Papers 0779, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. William R. Cline, 2005. "United States as a Debtor Nation, The," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 3993.
  14. Pisani, Florence & Brender, Anton, 2007. "Les déséquilibres financiers internationaux," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4188, Paris Dauphine University.
  15. Willer, 2005. "United States Animal Health Association," 2005 NAAMIC Workshop II: Agrifood Regulatory and Policy Integration under Stress 163870, North American Agrifood Market Integration Consortium (NAAMIC).
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:pal:imfstp:v:54:y:2007:i:2:p:191-219. 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: (Daniel Foley)

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.