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The US Current Account Deficit and Economic Development: Collateral for a Total Return Swap

  • Michael P. Dooley
  • David Folkerts-Landau
  • Peter M. Garber

We argue that a chronic US current account deficit is an integral and sustainable feature of a successful international monetary system. The US deficit supplies international collateral to the periphery. International collateral in turn supports two-way trade in financial assets that liberates capital formation in poor countries from inefficient domestic financial markets. The implicit international contract is analogous to a total return swap in domestic financial markets. Using market-determined collateral arrangements from these transactions we compute the collateral requirements consistent with recent foreign direct investment in China. The data are remarkably consistent with such calculations. The analysis helps explain why net capital flows from poor to rich countries and recent evidence that net outflows of capital are associated with relatively high growth rates in emerging markets. It also clarifies the role of the reserve currency in the system.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10727.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10727.

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Date of creation: Sep 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10727
Note: IFM
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  1. Joshua Aizenman & Brian Pinto & Artur Radziwill, 2004. "Sources for Financing Domestic Capital -- Is Foreign Saving a Viable Option for Developing Countries?," NBER Working Papers 10624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Maurice Obstfeld, 1992. "Risk-Taking, Global Diversification, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 4093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2001. "International Liquidity Illusion: On the Risks of Sterilization," NBER Working Papers 8141, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jeremy A.Rogoff Bulow & Kenneth, 1986. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 43, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  5. Peter M. Garber, 1998. "Derivatives in International Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 6623, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2003. "An Essay on the Revived Bretton Woods System," NBER Working Papers 9971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Self-Protection for Emerging Market Economies," NBER Working Papers 6907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  9. Dooley, Michael P., 2000. "International financial architecture and strategic default: can financial crises be less painful?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 361-377, December.
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