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Twin Deficits, Openness, and the Business Cycle


  • Giancarlo Corsetti
  • Gernot J. Müller


In this article, we study the co-movement of the government budget balance and the trade balance at business-cycle frequencies. In a sample of 10 OECD countries we find that the correlation of the two time series is negative, but less so in more open economies. Moreover, for the U.S. the cross-correlation function is S-shaped. We analyze these regularities taking the perspective of international business cycle theory. First, we show that a standard model delivers predictions broadly in line with the evidence. Second, we show that conditional on spending shocks the model predicts a perfect correlation of the budget balance and the trade balance. The effect of spending shocks on the trade balance is contained, however, if an economy is not very open to trade. (JEL:F41, F42, E32) (c) 2008 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Giancarlo Corsetti & Gernot J. Müller, 2008. "Twin Deficits, Openness, and the Business Cycle," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 404-413, 04-05.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:6:y:2008:i:2-3:p:404-413

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J & Kydland, Finn E, 1994. "Dynamics of the Trade Balance and the Terms of Trade: The J-Curve?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 84-103, March.
    2. David Backus & Espen Henriksen & Frederic Lambert & Chris Telmer, 2005. "Current Account Fact and Fiction," 2005 Meeting Papers 115, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Financial autarky and international business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 601-627, April.
    4. V. V Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2002. "Can Sticky Price Models Generate Volatile and Persistent Real Exchange Rates?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 533-563.
    5. Roel Beetsma & Massimo Giuliodori & Franc Klaassen, 2008. "The Effects of Public Spending Shocks on Trade Balances and Budget Deficits in the European Union," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 414-423, 04-05.
    6. Giancarlo Corsetti & Gernot J. Müller, 2006. "Twin deficits: squaring theory, evidence and common sense," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 21(48), pages 597-638, October.
    7. Ravn, Morten O., 1997. "International business cycles in theory and in practice," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 255-283, April.
    8. David Backus & Patrick Kehoe & Finn Kydland, 1992. "Dynamics of the trade balance and the terms of trade: the J-curve revisited," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 65, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. Kim, Soyoung & Roubini, Nouriel, 2008. "Twin deficit or twin divergence? Fiscal policy, current account, and real exchange rate in the U.S," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 362-383, March.
    10. Christopher J. Erceg & Luca Guerrieri & Christopher Gust, 2005. "Expansionary Fiscal Shocks and the US Trade Deficit," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(3), pages 363-397, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gust, Christopher & Leduc, Sylvain & Sheets, Nathan, 2009. "The adjustment of global external balances: Does partial exchange-rate pass-through to trade prices matter?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 173-185, November.
    2. Athanasios Tagkalakis, 2015. "Fiscal policy, net exports, and the sectoral composition of output in Greece," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 521-539, October.
    3. Horag Choi & Nelson C. Mark, 2009. "Trending Current Accounts," NBER Working Papers 15244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Andrea Gerali & Alberto Locarno & Alessandro Notarpietro & Massimiliano Pisani, 2015. "Every cloud has a silver lining. The sovereign crisis and Italian potential output," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1010, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    5. Bicu A.C. & Lieb L.M., 2015. "Cross-border effects of fiscal policy in the Eurozone," Research Memorandum 019, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    6. James Feyrer & Jay Shambaugh, 2012. "Global Savings and Global Investment: The Transmission of Identified Fiscal Shocks," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 95-114, May.
    7. Fratzscher, Marcel & Juvenal, Luciana & Sarno, Lucio, 2010. "Asset prices, exchange rates and the current account," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(5), pages 643-658, July.
    8. Athanasios Tagkalakis, 2014. "Discretionary fiscal policy and economic activity in Greece," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 687-712, November.
    9. Alberto Locarno & Alessandro Notarpietro & Massimiliano Pisani, 2013. "Sovereign risk, monetary policy and fiscal multipliers: a structural model-based assessment," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 943, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    10. Samuele Murtinu & Giulio Piccirilli & Agnese Sacchi, 2016. "Fiscal Policy, Government Polarization, and the Economic Literacy of Voters," Working papers 50, Società Italiana di Economia Pubblica.
    11. Enders, Zeno & Müller, Gernot J. & Scholl, Almuth, 2011. "How do fiscal and technology shocks affect real exchange rates?: New evidence for the United States," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 53-69, January.
    12. Fujiwara, Ippei & Ueda, Kozo, 2013. "The fiscal multiplier and spillover in a global liquidity trap," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 1264-1283.
    13. Sajal Lahiri & A. K. M. Mahbub Morshed, 2010. "Current Account Imbalances and Foreign Investment: A Theoretical Analysis of Interrelationships and Causalities," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 369-381, May.
    14. Hürtgen, Patrick & Rühmkorf, Ronald, 2014. "Sovereign default risk and state-dependent twin deficits," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 48(PB), pages 357-382.
    15. Martin Boileau & Michel Normandin, 2012. "Do tax cuts generate twin deficits? A multi-country analysis," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1667-1699, November.
    16. repec:bla:intfin:v:19:y:2016:i:3:p:269-291 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Philip Lane, 2010. "Some Lessons for Fiscal Policy from the Financial Crisis," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp334, IIIS.
    18. Lane, Philip R., 2009. "A New Fiscal Strategy for Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 40(2), pages 233-253.
    19. repec:eee:reveco:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:57-70 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission


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