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U.S. external adjustment: is it disorderly? Is it unique? Will it disrupt the rest of the world?

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  • Steven B. Kamin
  • Trevor A. Reeve
  • Nathan Sheets

Abstract

In recent years, a number of studies have analyzed the experiences of a broad range of industrial economies during periods when their current account deficits have narrowed. Such studies identified systematic aspects of external adjustment, but it is unclear how good a guide the experience of other countries may be to the effects of a future narrowing of the U.S. external imbalance. In contrast, this paper focuses in depth on the historical experience of external adjustment in the United States. Using data from the past thirty-five years, we compare economic performance in episodes during which the U.S. trade balance deteriorated and episodes during which it adjusted. We find trade balance adjustment to have been generally benign: U.S. real GDP growth tended to fall, but not to a statistically significant extent; housing construction slumped; inflation generally rose modestly; and although nominal interest rates tended to rise, real interest rates fell. The paper then compares these outcomes to those in foreign industrial economies. We find that the economic performance of the United States during periods of external adjustment is remarkably similar to the foreign experience. Finally, we also examine the performance of the foreign industrial economies during the periods of U.S. deterioration and adjustment. Contrary to concerns that U.S. adjustment will prove injurious to foreign economies, our analysis suggests that the foreign economies fared reasonably well during past periods when the U.S. trade deficit narrowed: the growth of domestic demand and real GDP abroad generally strengthened during such episodes, although inflation and interest rates tended to rise as well.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven B. Kamin & Trevor A. Reeve & Nathan Sheets, 2007. "U.S. external adjustment: is it disorderly? Is it unique? Will it disrupt the rest of the world?," International Finance Discussion Papers 892, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:892
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. J. Bradford Jensen & Lori G. Kletzer, 2005. "Tradable Services: Understanding the Scope and Impact of Services Outsourcing," Working Paper Series WP05-9, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    3. Freund, Caroline, 2005. "Current account adjustment in industrial countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(8), pages 1278-1298, December.
    4. Gust, Christopher & Leduc, Sylvain & Sheets, Nathan, 2009. "The adjustment of global external balances: Does partial exchange-rate pass-through to trade prices matter?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 173-185, November.
    5. Guy Debelle & Gabriele Galati, 2007. "Current Account Adjustment and Capital Flows," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 989-1013, November.
    6. Hilary Croke & Steven B. Kamin & Sylvain Leduc, 2006. "An Assessment of the Disorderly Adjustment Hypothesis for Industrial Economies," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 37-61, May.
    7. Sebastian Edwards, 2005. "Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable? If Not, How Costly Is Adjustment Likely to Be?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 211-288.
    8. Abdelhak S. Senhadji & Claudio E. Montenegro, 1999. "Time Series Analysis of Export Demand Equations: A Cross-Country Analysis," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 46(3), pages 1-2.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raphael A. Auer, 2015. "Exchange Rate Pass‐Through, Domestic Competition, and Inflation: Evidence from the 2005–08 Revaluation of the Renminbi," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(8), pages 1617-1650, December.
    2. Ravi Balakrishnan & Volodymyr Tulin & Tamim Bayoumi, 2007. "Globalization, Gluts, Innovation or Irrationality; What Explains the Easy Financing of the U.S. Current Account Deficit?," IMF Working Papers 07/160, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Balance of trade ; Balance of payments ; Debts; External;

    JEL classification:

    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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