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Globalization and the Sustainability of Large Current Account Imbalances: Size Matters

  • Aizenman, Joshua
  • Sun, Yi

This paper evaluates the sustainability of large current account imbalances in the era when the Chinese GDP growth rate and current account/GDP exceed 10%. We investigate the size distribution and the durability of current account deficits during 1966-2005, and report the results of a simulation that relies on the adding-up property of global current account balances. Excluding the US, we find that size does matter: the length of current account deficit spells is negatively related to the relative size of the countries’ GDP. We conclude that the continuation of the fast growth rate of China, while maintaining its large current account/GPD surpluses, would be constrained by the limited sustainability of the larger current account deficits/GDP of courtiers that grow at a much slower rate. Consequently, short of the emergence of a “new demander of last resort,†the Chinese growth path would be challenged by its own success.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz in its series Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt4s3478nz.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt4s3478nz
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  1. Joshua Aizenman & Brian Pinto & Artur Radziwill, 2004. "Sources for financing domestic capital - is foreign saving a viable option for developing countries?," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0288, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
  2. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Olivier Jeanne, 2007. "Capital Flows to Developing Countries: The Allocation Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 13602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Olivier Blanchard, 2007. "Current Account Deficits in Rich Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(2), pages 191-219, June.
  4. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2004. "The revived Bretton Woods system," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 307-313.
  5. Ricardo J Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2006. "An equilibrum model of "global imbalances" and low interest rates," BIS Working Papers 222, Bank for International Settlements.
  6. repec:rus:hseeco:317881 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 1993. "Saving and Growth: A Reinterpretation," NBER Working Papers 4470, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Robert C. Feenstra & Chang Hong, 2007. "China's Exports and Employment," NBER Working Papers 13552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jody Overland & Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 2000. "Saving and Growth with Habit Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 341-355, June.
  10. Eswar S. Prasad & Raghuram G. Rajan & Arvind Subramanian, 2007. "Foreign Capital and Economic Growth," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 153-230.
  11. Jiandong Ju & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "Domestic Institutions and the Bypass Effect of Financial Globalization," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 173-204, November.
  12. Romain Ranciere & Olivier Jeanne, 2006. "The Optimal Level of International Reserves for Emerging Market Countries; Formulas and Applications," IMF Working Papers 06/229, International Monetary Fund.
  13. Blundell, R. & Bond, S., 1995. "Initial Conditions and Moment Restrictions in Dynamic Panel Data Models," Economics Papers 104, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  14. Joshua Aizenman & Jaewoo Lee, 2005. "International reserves: precautionary versus mercantilist views, theory and evidence," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  15. Olivier Jeanne, 2007. "International Reserves in Emerging Market Countries: Too Much of a Good Thing?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 1-80.
  16. Sebastian Edwards, 2007. "On Current Account Surpluses and the Correction of Global Imbalances," NBER Working Papers 12904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Joshua Aizenman & Jaewoo Lee, 2008. "Financial versus Monetary Mercantilism: Long-run View of Large International Reserves Hoarding," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(5), pages 593-611, 05.
  18. Richard N. Cooper, 2005. "Living with Global Imbalances: A Contrarian View," Policy Briefs PB05-03, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  19. Jaewoo Lee & Joshua Aizenman, 2006. "Financial Versus Monetary Mercantilism; Long-Run View of the Large International Reserves Hoarding," IMF Working Papers 06/280, International Monetary Fund.
  20. Chinn, Menzie D. & Ito, Hiro, 2007. "Current account balances, financial development and institutions: Assaying the world "saving glut"," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 546-569, June.
  21. Sebastian Edwards, 2004. "Thirty Years of Current Account Imbalances, Current Account Reversals and Sudden Stops," NBER Working Papers 10276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Sebastian Edwards, 2005. "Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable? And If Not, How Costly is Adjustment Likely To Be?," NBER Working Papers 11541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Sebastian Edwards, 2004. "Thirty Years of Current Account Imbalances, Current Account Reversals, and Sudden Stops," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 51(s1), pages 1-49, June.
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