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External Adjustment

  • Obstfeld, Maurice

Gross stocks of foreign assets have increased rapidly relative to national outputs since 1990, and the short-run capital gains and losses on those assets can amount to significant fractions of GDP. These fluctuations in asset values render the national income and product account measure of the current account balance increasingly inadequate as a summary of the change in a country's net foreign assets. Nonetheless, unusually large current account imbalances, especially deficits, should remain high on policymakers' list of concerns, even for the richer and less credit-constrained countries. Extreme imbalances signal the need for large and perhaps abrupt real exchange rate changes in the future, changes that might have undesired political and financial consequences given the incompleteness of domestic and international asset markets. Furthermore, of the two sources of the change in net foreign assets -- the current account and the capital gain on the net foreign asset position -- the former is better understood and more amenable to policy influence. Systematic government attempts to manipulate international asset values in order to change the net foreign asset position could have a destabilizing effect on market expectations.

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Paper provided by Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series with number qt7bw468wx.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ciders:qt7bw468wx
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  1. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Rey, Hélène, 2005. "International Financial Adjustment," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt124628cx, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Philip R. Lane, 1999. "The External Wealth of Nations; Measures of Foreign Assets and Liabilities for Industrial and Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 99/115, International Monetary Fund.
  3. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2004. "The Unsustainable US Current Account Position Revisited," NBER Working Papers 10869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Pentti J. K. Kouri & Jorge Braga De Macedo, 1978. "Exchange Rates and the International Adjustments Process," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 9(1), pages 111-158.
  9. Maurice Obstfeld, 2004. "Globalization, Macroeconomic Performance, and the Exchange Rates of Emerging Economies," NBER Working Papers 10849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1986. "Capital mobility in the world economy: Theory and measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 55-103, January.
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