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Current account sustainability and relative reliability

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  • Stephanie E. Curcuru
  • Charles P. Thomas
  • Francis E. Warnock

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephanie E. Curcuru & Charles P. Thomas & Francis E. Warnock, 2008. "Current account sustainability and relative reliability," International Finance Discussion Papers 947, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:947
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Curcuru, Stephanie E. & Thomas, Charles P. & Warnock, Francis E. & Wongswan, Jon, 2014. "Uncovered Equity Parity and rebalancing in international portfolios," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 86-99.
    2. Philip R. Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2009. "Where Did All the Borrowing Go? A Forensic Analysis of the U.S. External Position," NBER Chapters,in: Financial Globalization, 20th Anniversary Conference, NBER-TCER-CEPR National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Horag Choi & Nelson C. Mark, 2009. "Trending Current Accounts," NBER Working Papers 15244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Rey, Hélène, 2014. "External Adjustment, Global Imbalances, Valuation Effects," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier.
    5. Gian M Milesi-Ferretti, 2008. "Fundamentals at Odds? The U.S. Current Account Deficit and The Dollar," IMF Working Papers 08/260, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Curcuru, Stephanie E. & Dvorak, Tomas & Warnock, Francis E., 2010. "Decomposing the U.S. external returns differential," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 22-32, January.
    7. Curcuru, Stephanie E. & Thomas, Charles P. & Warnock, Francis E., 2013. "On returns differentials," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 1-25.
    8. John D. Burger & Alessandro Rebucci & Francis E. Warnock & Veronica Cacdac Warnock, 2010. "External Capital Structures and Oil Price Volatility," Research Department Publications 4667, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    9. Mileva, Mariya, 2015. "Valuation effects and long-run real exchange rate dynamics," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 390-408.
    10. Bridgman, Benjamin, 2014. "Do intangible assets explain high U.S. foreign direct investment returns?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 159-171.
    11. Yeh, Kuo-chun & Ho, Tai-kuang, 2012. "Magnitude and volatility of Taiwan's net foreign assets against Mainland China: 1981–2009," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 720-728.
    12. Luis Servén & Ha Nguyen, 2013. "Global Imbalances: Origins and Prospects," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 28(2), pages 191-219, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    International finance ; International trade;

    JEL classification:

    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance

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