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The origins of the German current account surplus: Unbalanced productivity growth and structural change

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  • Coricelli, Fabrizio
  • Ravasan, Farshad R
  • Wörgötter, Andreas

Abstract

The surge in the German current account surplus in the 2000s is often interpreted as the result of efficiency-enhancing structural reforms, especially in the labor market. However, this interpretation is puzzling because the growth rate of the German economy has been one of the lowest in the Euro area in the 2000s. Using empirical evidence and a simple theoretical two-sector model, the paper argues that the German surplus is closely linked to the increasing gap between productivity growth in manufacturing and services. Such gap is due not only to improvements in the manufacturing sector but also to a significant slowdown of productivity growth in services. Therefore, despite the success in export markets, the German surplus may signal long-run weaknesses associated with constraints on service growth and the inability of productivity growth in manufacturing to create positive spill-over effects on services. Persistence of barriers to liberalization in services may partly explain these phenomena. The paper concludes that higher and more balanced growth could lead to an equilibrium reduction of the current account surplus.

Suggested Citation

  • Coricelli, Fabrizio & Ravasan, Farshad R & Wörgötter, Andreas, 2013. "The origins of the German current account surplus: Unbalanced productivity growth and structural change," CEPR Discussion Papers 9527, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9527
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    Cited by:

    1. Koutchogna Kokou Edem ASSOGBAVI, 2021. "Global Account Imbalances since the Global Financial Crisis: Determinants, Implications and Challenges for the Global Economy," Bordeaux Economics Working Papers 2021-06, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée (GREThA).
    2. Coricelli, Fabrizio & Ravasan, Farshad R, 2017. "Structural Change and the China Syndrome: Baumol vs Trade Effects," CEPR Discussion Papers 12069, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    German current account surplus; structural change; unbalanced productivity change;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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