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The Euro’s Effecton Trade Imbalances

  • Helge Berger
  • Volker Nitsch

When does trade become a one-way relationship? We study bilateral trade balances for a sample of 18 European countries over the period from 1948 through 2008. We find that, with the introduction of the euro, trade imbalances among euro area members widened considerably, even after allowing for permanent asymmetries in trade competitiveness within pairs of countries or in the overall trade competitiveness of individual countries. This is consistent with indications that pair-wise trade tends to be more balanced when nominal exchange rates are flexible. Intra-euro area imbalances also seem to have become more persistent with the introduction of the euro, some of which is linked to labor market inflexibility. Reviewing the direction of imbalances, we find that bilateral trade surpluses are decreasing in the real exchange rate, decreasing in growth differentials, and increasing in the relative volatility of national business cycles. Finally, countries with relatively higher fiscal deficits and less flexible labor and product markets exhibit systematically lower trade surpluses than others.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 10/226.

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Length: 30
Date of creation: 01 Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:10/226
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  1. Pietro Biroli & Gilles Mourre & Alessandro Turrini, 2010. "Adjustment in the Euro Area and Regulation of Product and Labour Markets: An Empirical Assessment," European Economy - Economic Papers 428, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  2. Robert Dekle & Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2007. "Unbalanced Trade," NBER Working Papers 13035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Holger Zemanek & Ansgar Belke & Gunther Schnabl, 2010. "Current account balances and structural adjustment in the euro area," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 83-127, May.
  4. Menzie D. Chinn & Shang-Jin Wei, 2008. "A Faith-based Initiative: Does a Flexible Exchange Rate Regime Really Facilitate Current Account Adjustment?," NBER Working Papers 14420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Silvia Ardagna & Giuseppe Nicoletti & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2003. "Regulation and Investment," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 352, OECD Publishing.
  6. Olivier Blanchard, 2007. "Current Account Deficits in Rich Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(2), pages 191-219, June.
  7. Amelia Santos-Paulino & A. P. Thirlwall, 2004. "The impact of trade liberalisation on exports, imports and the balance of payments of developing countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(493), pages F50-F72, 02.
  8. Jörg Decressin & Emil Stavrev, 2009. "Current Accounts in a Currency Union," IMF Working Papers 09/127, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Ca' Zorzi, Michele & Rubaszek, Michał, 2008. "On the empirical evidence of the intertemporal current account model for the euro area countries," Working Paper Series 0895, European Central Bank.
  10. Jiandong Ju & Shang-Jin Wei, 2007. "Current Account Adjustment: Some New Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Giuseppe Nicoletti & Steve Golub & Dana Hajkova & Daniel Mirza & Kwang-Yeol Yoo, 2003. "Policies and International Integration: Influences on Trade and Foreign Direct Investment," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 359, OECD Publishing.
  12. Alan Ahearne & Jürgen von Hagen, 2005. "Global current account imbalances: how to manage the risk for Europe," Policy Briefs 231, Bruegel.
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