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The 'Great Moderation' and the US External Imbalance

  • Fogli, Alessandra
  • Perri, Fabrizio

The early 1980s marked the onset of two striking features of the current world macro-economy: the fall in US business cycle volatility (the “great moderation”) and the large and persistent US external imbalance. In this paper we argue that an external imbalance is a natural consequence of the great moderation. If a country experiences a fall in volatility greater than that of its partners, its relative incentives to accumulate precautionary savings fall and this results in an equilibrium permanent deterioration of its external balance. To assess how much of the current US imbalance can be explained by this channel, we consider a standard two country business cycle model in which households are subject to country specific shocks they cannot perfectly insure against. The model suggests that a fall in business cycle volatility like the one observed for the US relatively to other major economies can account for about 20% of the current total US external imbalance.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6010.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6010
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  1. Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio, 2001. "Financial Globalization and Real Regionalization," Working Papers 01-05, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  2. Caballero, Ricardo J & Farhi, Emmanuel & Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier, 2006. "An Equilibrium Model of "Global Imbalances" and Low Interest Rates," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt7xc0g8mm, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Enrique G. Mendoza, 2007. "Financial Integration, Financial Deepness and Global Imbalance," 2007 Meeting Papers 746, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Lee Ohanian & Andres Arias & Gary Hansen, 2005. "Why have business cycle fluctuations become less volatile?," 2005 Meeting Papers 927, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. David Backus & Espen Henriksen & Frederic Lambert & Christopher Telmer, 2009. "Current Account Fact and Fiction," NBER Working Papers 15525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  8. Diego Comin & Mark Gertler, 2003. "Medium Term Business Cycles," NBER Working Papers 10003, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Sylvain Leduc & Keith Sill, 2007. "Monetary Policy, Oil Shocks, and TFP: Accounting for the Decline in U.S. Volatility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(4), pages 595-614, October.
  10. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2005. "Global Current Account Imbalances and Exchange Rate Adjustments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 67-146.
  11. 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.
  12. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J & Kydland, Finn E, 1992. "International Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 745-75, August.
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