Savings Gluts and Interest Rates: The Missing Link to Europe
Data for world savings rates do not suggest that an aggregate glut of world savings has depressed US and international interest rates in recent years. Unusual but offsetting changes in savings rates have been limited to three regions: sharp declines in the US have been matched by sharp increases for developing Asia and the Middle East. The world saving rate has increased very little. There are two important features of this change in regional savings behavior. First, three-quarters of the increase in Asian and Middle Eastern savings has been placed in international reserves. Second, all these additional savings have been absorbed by the United States. Even if reserves are mostly placed initially in the US, we would not expect all the savings exported from these high savings regions to remain in the United States. A collapse of expected profits outside the US seems to us a compelling explanation for the US current account deficit and depressed international interest rates.
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