IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/chb/bcchwp/450.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Current Account Deficits: The Australian Debate

Author

Listed:
  • Rochelle Belkar
  • Lynne Cockerell
  • Christopher Kent

Abstract

This paper documents the clear change of view, which has taken place in Australia over the past three decades or so, concerning the relevance of the current account deficit for policy. Historical experience under a fixed exchange rate regime suggested that large persistent deficits were unsustainable and could leave the economy vulnerable to sudden reversals in sentiment. These concerns persisted after the floating of the Australian dollar and financial deregulation, and it was thought that all arms of policy should help to rein in the then much larger current account deficits. However, these policies were shown to be ineffective and, by the early 1990s, the argument that current account deficits represent the optimal outcomes of decisions made by ‘consenting adults’ gained wide support. This paper presents some empirical evidence consistent with optimal smoothing in the face of temporary shocks; the persistence of the deficit is attributed to a modest degree of impatience relative to the rest of the world. Although it is now widely accepted that policy should not seek to influence the current account balance, the issue of external vulnerability remains of interest. Here, country-specific considerations are important, and it is argued that the factors that have made Australia relatively resilient to external shocks are also those that helped to attract foreign capital in the first place.

Suggested Citation

  • Rochelle Belkar & Lynne Cockerell & Christopher Kent, 2007. "Current Account Deficits: The Australian Debate," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 450, Central Bank of Chile.
  • Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchwp:450
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://si2.bcentral.cl/public/pdf/documentos-trabajo/pdf/dtbc450.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cashin, Paul & McDermott, C John, 1998. "Are Australia's Current Account Deficits Excessive?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 74(227), pages 346-361, December.
    2. repec:wsi:wschap:9789813225343_0010 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Nikola Dvornak & Marion Kohler & Gordon Menzies, 2005. "Australia's Medium-Run Exchange Rate: A Macroeconomic Balance Approach," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 81(253), pages 101-112, June.
    4. Glick, Reuven & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Global versus country-specific productivity shocks and the current account," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 159-192, February.
    5. Campbell, John Y, 1987. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1249-1273, November.
    6. Milbourne, Ross & Otto, Glenn, 1992. "Consumption Smoothing and the Current Account," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(59), pages 369-384, December.
    7. Makin, A.J., 1988. "Targeting Australia’s Current Account: A New Mercantilism?," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 199-212.
    8. Ricardo Caballero & Kevin Cowan & Jonathan Kearns, 2005. "Fear of Sudden Stops: Lessons From Australia and Chile," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(4), pages 313-354.
    9. Chapman, B.J. & Gruen, F., 1990. "An Analysis Of The Australian Consensual Incomes Policy: The Prices And Incomes Accord," CEPR Discussion Papers 221, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    10. David Gruen & Amanda Sayegh, 2005. "The Evolution of Fiscal Policy in Australia," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(4), pages 618-635, Winter.
    11. Campbell, John Y & Shiller, Robert J, 1987. "Cointegration and Tests of Present Value Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1062-1088, October.
    12. J. D. Pitchford, 1989. "A Sceptical View of Australia's Current Account and Debt Problem," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 22(2), pages 5-14.
    13. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, January.
    14. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
    15. Chapman BJ. & Gruen F., 1990. "Analysis of the Australian consensual incomes policy: the prices and incomes accord," ILO Working Papers 992754563402676, International Labour Organization.
    16. Christopher Kent & Kylie Smith & James Holloway, 2005. "Declining Output Volatility: What Role for Structural Change?," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2005-08, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    17. Christopher Kent & Kylie Smith & James Holloway, 2005. "Declining Output Volatility: What Role for Structural Change?," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Christopher Kent & David Norman (ed.), The Changing Nature of the Business Cycle Reserve Bank of Australia.
    18. 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.
    19. Glenn Otto, 2003. "Can an Intertemporal Model Explain Australia's Current Account Deficit?," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 36(3), pages 350-359.
    20. 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.
    21. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244.
    22. Charles Engel, 2005. "The US Current Account Deficit: A Re-examination of the Role of Private Saving," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2005-09, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    23. J. D. Pitchford, 1989. "Does Australia Really Have A Current Account Problem?," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 8(4), pages 25-32, December.
    24. David Gruen & Glenn Stevens, 2000. "Australian Macroeconomic Performances and Policies in the 1990s," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: David Gruen & Sona Shrestha (ed.), The Australian Economy in the 1990s Reserve Bank of Australia.
    25. Paul R. Bergin & Steven M. Sheffrin, 2017. "Interest Rates, Exchange Rates and Present Value Models of the Current Account," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: International Macroeconomic Interdependence, chapter 10, pages 287-316 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    26. repec:ilo:ilowps:275456 is not listed on IDEAS
    27. Chay Fisher & Christopher Kent, 1999. "Two Depressions, One Banking Collapse," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp1999-06, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    28. Jocelyn Horne, 2001. "The Current Account Debate in Australia: Changing Policy Perspectives," Research Papers 0111, Macquarie University, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Karunaratne, Neil Dias, 2010. "The sustainability of Australia's current account deficits--A reappraisal after the global financial crisis," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 81-97, January.
    2. Chen, Shyh-Wei, 2011. "Current account deficits and sustainability: Evidence from the OECD countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 1455-1464, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:chb:bcchwp:450. 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: (Claudio Sepulveda). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/bccgvcl.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.