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Factor Market Distortion and the Current Account Surplus in China


  • Yiping Huang

    (China Center for Economic Research, Peking University, Yiheyuan Road No. 5, Beijing, China 100871.)

  • Kunyu Tao

    (China Center for Economic Research, Peking University, Yiheyuan Road No. 5, Beijing, China 100871.)


China's large current account surpluses not only destabilize its own macroeconomic conditions, but are also a focal point for global rebalancing discussions. Existing explanations by the literature fail either to account for the recent surge or to offer actionablepolicy responses. In this study, we propose an alternative hypothesis: asymmetric market liberalization and associated cost distortions. These distortions are producer subsidy equivalents, which contributed to both extraordinary growth performance and the growing structural imbalances. Our rough estimates of such factor cost distortions offer some explanations for recent movements of the current account. We argue that China needs to adopt a comprehensive reform package to rebalance its economy. (c) 2010 The Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Yiping Huang & Kunyu Tao, 2010. "Factor Market Distortion and the Current Account Surplus in China," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 9(3), pages 1-36, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:asiaec:v:9:y:2010:i:3:p:1-36

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, July.
    2. McKibbin, Warwick J. & Pearce, David & Stegman, Alison, 2007. "Long term projections of carbon emissions," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 637-653.
    3. John B. Taylor, 2009. "The Financial Crisis and the Policy Responses: An Empirical Analysis of What Went Wrong," NBER Working Papers 14631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tyers, Rod, 2015. "International effects of China's rise and transition: Neoclassical and Keynesian perspectives," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-19.
    2. Yao, Yang, 2014. "The Chinese Growth Miracle," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 943-1031 Elsevier.
    3. Dennis Tao Yang, 2012. "Aggregate Savings and External Imbalances in China," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(4), pages 125-146, Fall.
    4. Yiping Huang & Daili Wang & Gang Fan, 2014. "Paths to a Reserve Currency : Internationalization of the Renminbi and Its Implications," Macroeconomics Working Papers 24165, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    5. Andrea Fracasso, 2015. "Economic Rebalancing and Growth: the Japanese experience and China’s prospects," DEM Discussion Papers 2015/07, Department of Economics and Management.
    6. Du, Julan & Fang, Hongsheng & Jin, Xiangrong, 2014. "The “growth-first strategy” and the imbalance between consumption and investment in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 441-458.
    7. Françoise Lemoine & Deniz Ünal, 2012. "Scanning the Ups and Downs of China’s Trade Imbalances," Working Papers 2012-14, CEPII research center.
    8. van Treeck, Till. & Sturn, Simon., 2012. "Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession? : A survey of current debates," ILO Working Papers 994709343402676, International Labour Organization.

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