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Could capital gains smooth a current account rebalancing?

  • Michele Cavallo
  • Cédric Tille

A narrowing of the U.S. current account deficit through exchange rate movements is likely to entail a substantial depreciation of the dollar, as stressed in the widely cited contribution by Obstfeld and Rogoff (2005). We assess how the adjustment is affected by the high degree of international financial integration in the world economy. A growing body of research stresses the increasing leverage in international financial positions, with industrialized economies holding substantial and growing financial claims on each other. Exchange rate movements then leads to valuations effects as the currency compositions of a country's assets and liabilities are not matched. In particular, a dollar depreciation generates valuation gains for the U.S. by boosting the dollar value of the large amount of its foreign-currency denominated assets. We consider an adjustment scenario in which the U.S. net external debt is held constant. The key finding is that while the current account moves into balance, the pace of adjustment is smooth. Intuitively, the valuation gains stemming from the depreciation of the dollar allow the U.S. to finance ongoing, albeit shrinking, current account deficits. We find that the smooth pattern of adjustment is robust to alternative scenarios, although the ultimate movements in exchange rates are affected.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2006-03.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2006-03
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  1. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Farhi, Emmanuel & Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier, 2008. "An Equilibrium Model of "Global Imbalances" and Low Interest Rates," Scholarly Articles 3229094, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Helene Rey, 2005. "International Financial Adjustment," NBER Working Papers 11155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Philip Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2005. "A Global Perspective on External Positions," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp079, IIIS.
  4. Cedric Tille, 2005. "Financial Integration and the Wealth Effect of Exchange Rate Fluctuations," 2005 Meeting Papers 282, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Blanchard, Olivier & Giavazzi, Francesco & Sá, Filipa, 2005. "The US Current Account and the Dollar," CEPR Discussion Papers 4888, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2005. "The unsustainable U.S. current account position revisited," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
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  12. Richard H. Clarida, 2007. "G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clar06-2, May.
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  14. Matthew Higgins & Thomas Klitgaard & Cedric Tille, 2005. "The income implications of rising U.S. international liabilities," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 11(Dec).
  15. Obstfeld, Maurice, 2004. "External Adjustment," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt7bw468wx, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  16. Cedric Tille, 2003. "The impact of exchange rate movements on U.S. foreign debt," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Jan).
  17. David Backus & Espen Henriksen & Frederic Lambert & Chris Telmer, 2005. "Current Account Fact and Fiction," 2005 Meeting Papers 115, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2007. "Direct Investment, Rising Real Wages and the Absorption of Excess Labor in the Periphery," NBER Chapters, in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 103-132 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Matthew Higgins & Thomas Klitgaard, 2004. "Reserve accumulation: implications for global capital flows and financial markets," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 10(Sep).
  20. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi & Filipa Sa, 2005. "International Investors, the U.S. Current Account, and the Dollar," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 1-66.
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