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Current account sustainability and relative reliability

  • Stephanie E. Curcuru
  • Charles P. Thomas
  • Francis E. Warnock
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    The sustainability of the large and persistent U.S. current account deficits is one of the biggest issues currently being confronted by international macroeconomists. Some very plausible theories suggest that the substantial global imbalances can continue in a benign manner, other equally plausible theories predict a disorderly resolution, and in general it is very difficult to discern between competing theories. To inform the debates, we view competing theories through the perspective of the relative reliability of the data the theories rely on. Our analysis of the dark matter theory is cursory; from a relative reliability perspective, it fails as it is built on the assumption that an item that is largely unmeasured is the most accurate component of the entire set of international accounts. Similarly, the best data currently available suggest that U.S. returns differentials are much smaller than implied by the exorbitant privilege theory. Our analysis opens up questions about potential inconsistencies in the international accounts, which we address by providing rough estimates of various holes in the accounts.

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    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 947.

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    Date of creation: 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:947
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    1. Burger, John D. & Warnock, Francis E., 2007. "Foreign participation in local currency bond markets," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 291-304.
    2. John D. Burger & Francis E. Warnock, 2006. "Local Currency Bond Markets," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 53(si), pages 7.
    3. Anna Pavlova & Roberto Rigobon, 2007. "An Asset-Pricing View of External Adjustment," NBER Working Papers 13468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. John Ammer & Sara B. Holland & David C. Smith & Francis E. Warnock, 2006. "Look at Me Now: What Attracts U.S. Shareholders?," NBER Working Papers 12500, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1495-1530.
    6. Philip R. Lane and Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2008. "Where Did All The Borrowing Go? A Forensic Analysis of the U.S. External Position," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp239, IIIS.
    7. Carol C. Bertaut & Steven B. Kamin & Charles P. Thomas, 2008. "How long can the unsustainable U.S. current account deficit be sustained?," International Finance Discussion Papers 935, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Philip R. Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2004. "Financial globalization and exchange rates," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19926, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Hélène Rey, 2007. "From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist: U.S. External Adjustment and the Exorbitant Privilege," NBER Chapters, in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 11-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Carol C. Bertaut & Ralph W. Tryon, 2007. "Monthly estimates of U.S. cross-border securities positions," International Finance Discussion Papers 910, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    11. Michele Cavallo & Cedric Tille, 2006. "Could capital gains smooth a current account rebalancing?," 2006 Meeting Papers 252, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. Frankel, Jeffrey, 2006. "Global Imbalances and Low Interest Rates: An Equilibrium Model vs. A Disequilibrium Reality," Working Paper Series rwp06-035, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    13. John Kitchen, 2007. "Sharecroppers or Shrewd Capitalists? Projections of the US Current Account, International Income Flows, and Net International Debt," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 1036-1061, November.
    14. Owen A. Lamont & Jeremy C. Stein, 2004. "Aggregate Short Interest and Market Valuations," NBER Working Papers 10218, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Guy M Meredith, 2007. "Debt Dynamics and Global Imbalances; Some Conventional Views Reconsidered," IMF Working Papers 07/4, International Monetary Fund.
    16. Ralph H. Kozlow, 2006. "Statistical Issues Related to Global Economic Imbalances: Perspectives on "Dark Matter"," BEA Papers 0068, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    17. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-Border Returns Differentials," NBER Working Papers 13768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Ricardo Hausmann & Federico Sturzenegger, 2007. "The missing dark matter in the wealth of nations and its implications for global imbalances," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 22, pages 469-518, 07.
    19. Stephanie E. Curcuru & Tomas Dvorak & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Cross-border returns differentials," International Finance Discussion Papers 921, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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