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Resolving the Global Imbalance: The Dollar and the U.S. Saving Rate


  • Feldstein, Martin


The massive deficit in the U.S. trade and current accounts is one of the most striking features of the current global economy and, to some observers, one of the most worrying. Although the current account deficit finally began to shrink in 2007, it remained at more than 5 percent of GDP—more than $700 billion. While some observers claim that the U.S. economy can continue to have trade deficits of this magnitude for years—some would say for decades—into the future, I believe that such enormous deficits cannot continue and will decline significantly in the coming years. This paper discusses the reasons for that decline and the changes that are needed in the U.S. saving rate and in the value of the dollar to bring it about. Reducing the U.S. current account deficit does not require action by the U.S. government or by the governments of America's trading partners. Market forces alone will cause the U.S. trade deficit to decline further. In practice, however, changes in government policies at home and abroad may lead to faster reductions in the U.S. trade deficit. More important, the response of the U.S. and foreign governments and central banks will determine the way in which the global economy as a whole adjusts to the decline in the U.S. trade deficit. Reductions in the U.S. current account deficit will of course imply lower aggregate trade surpluses in the rest of the world. Taken by itself, a reduction in any country's trade surplus will reduce aggregate demand and therefore employment in that country. I will therefore look at what other countries—China, Japan, and European countries—can do to avoid the adverse consequences of the inevitable decline of the U.S. trade deficit.

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  • Feldstein, Martin, 2008. "Resolving the Global Imbalance: The Dollar and the U.S. Saving Rate," Scholarly Articles 2792081, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:2792081

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    Cited by:

    1. Kappler, Marcus & Reisen, Helmut & Schularick, Moritz & Turkisch, Edouard, 2013. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Large Exchange Rate Appreciations," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 471-494.
    2. Naphon Phumma, 2014. "Neoliberalism and the global imbalances: the neo-Gramscian approach," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2014_04, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
    3. Cosimo Pancaro & Christian Saborowski, 2016. "Current Account Reversals in Industrial Countries: does the Exchange Rate Regime Matter?," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 107-130, April.
    4. P. Butzen & W. Melyn & W. Vandevyvere, 2010. "Rebalancing global demand," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue ii, pages 21-38, September.
    5. Balicki Artur, 2011. "Global Imbalances - Their Sustainability and the Role of the Dollar," Folia Oeconomica Stetinensia, De Gruyter Open, vol. 10(1), pages 99-109, January.
    6. Aronsson, Thomas & Sjögren, Tomas, 2014. "Tax policy and present-biased preferences: Paternalism under international capital mobility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 298-316.
    7. Gunther Schnabl & Stephan Freitag, 2012. "Determinants of Global and Intra-European Imbalances," Global Financial Markets Working Paper Series 25-2011, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    8. Marie-Louise DJIGBENOU-KRE & Hail Park, 2015. "The Effects of Global Liquidity on Global Imbalances," Working Papers 2015-23, Economic Research Institute, Bank of Korea.
    9. Lizardo Radhames A & Mollick Andre Varella, 2010. "The Sustainability of the U.S. Current Account Deficit: Revisiting Mann's Rule," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 9(4), pages 1-21, January.
    10. Zongxin Qian, 2011. "Global Imbalance, Excess Liquidity and Financial Risk in China," Chapters,in: The Economic Crisis and European Integration, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Hoffmann, Mathias & Krause, Michael U. & Laubach, Thomas, 2013. "The expectations-driven US current account," Discussion Papers 10/2013, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    12. Shahrokhi, Manuchehr, 2011. "The Global Financial Crises of 2007–2010 and the future of capitalism," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 193-210.
    13. Joshua Aizenman & Yothin Jinjarak & Nancy Marion, 2014. "China’s Growth, Stability, and Use of International Reserves," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 407-428, July.
    14. Smith, Constance E., 2011. "External balance adjustment: An intra-national and international comparison," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1195-1213, October.
    15. Hoffmann, Mathias & Krause, Michael U. & Laubach, Thomas, 2011. "Long-run growth expectations and "global imbalances"," CFS Working Paper Series 2011/01, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    16. Salotti, Simone, 2008. "Global imbalances and household savings: the role of wealth," MPRA Paper 17729, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2009.
    17. Liu, Kai & Zhou, Xuan, 2015. "The U.S. Dollar and Global Imbalances," MPRA Paper 64786, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Aizenman, Joshua, 2015. "The internationalization of the RMB, capital market openness, and financial reforms in China," BOFIT Discussion Papers 4/2015, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    19. Virginie Coudert, 2009. "Mythes et réalités de la « zone dollar »," Revue d'Économie Financière, Programme National Persée, vol. 94(1), pages 151-169.
    20. Chiu, Yi-Bin & Sun, Chia-Hung D., 2016. "The role of savings rate in exchange rate and trade imbalance nexus: Cross-countries evidence," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 1017-1025.
    21. Chevallier, Julien, 2012. "Global imbalances, cross-market linkages, and the financial crisis: A multivariate Markov-switching analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 943-973.
    22. DJIGBENOU-KRE, Marie-Louise & Park, Hail, 2016. "The effects of global liquidity on global imbalances," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 1-12.
    23. Yusuf Ekrem Akbas & Fuat Lebe, 2016. "Current Account Deficit, Budget Deficit and Saving Gap: Is the Twin or Triplet Deficit Hypothesis Valid in G7 Countries?," Prague Economic Papers, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2016(3), pages 271-286.
    24. Krishnakumar S, 2015. "Global Imbalances and Bretton Woods II Postulate," Working Papers id:6567, eSocialSciences.
    25. Vincent C.S. Lim & Victor Pontines, 2012. "Global Imbalances: A Primer," Staff Papers, South East Asian Central Banks (SEACEN) Research and Training Centre, number sp86.

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