IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The U.S. Current Account Deficit and the Expected Share of World Output

  • Charles Engel
  • John H. Rogers

We investigate the possibility that the large current account deficits of the U.S. are the outcome of optimizing behavior. We develop a simple long-run world equilibrium model in which the current account is determined by the expected discounted present value of its future share of world GDP relative to its current share of world GDP. The model suggests that under some reasonable assumptions about future U.S. GDP growth relative to the rest of the advanced countries -- more modest than the growth over the past 20 years -- the current account deficit is near optimal levels. We then explore the implications for the real exchange rate. Under some plausible assumptions, the model implies little change in the real exchange rate over the adjustment path, though the conclusion is sensitive to assumptions about tastes and technology. Then we turn to empirical evidence. A test of current account sustainability suggests that the U.S. is not keeping on a long-run sustainable path. A direct test of our model finds that the dynamics of the U.S. current account -- the increasing deficits over the past decade -- are difficult to explain under a particular statistical model (Markov-switching) of expectations of future U.S. growth. But, if we use survey data on forecasted GDP growth in the G7, our very simple model appears to explain the evolution of the U.S. current account remarkably well. We conclude that expectations of robust performance of the U.S. economy relative to the rest of the advanced countries is a contender -- though not the only legitimate contender -- for explaining the U.S.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11921.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Engel, Charles, and John H. Rogers. “The US Current Account Deficit and the Expected Share of World Output.” Journal of Monetary Economics 53 (2006): 1063-1093.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11921
Note: IFM
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi & Filipa Sa, 2005. "The U.S. Current Account and the Dollar," NBER Working Papers 11137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Edwin M. Truman, 2005. "Postponing Global Adjustment: An Analysis of the Pending Adjustment of Global Imbalances," Working Paper Series WP05-6, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  3. Richard H. Clarida & Manuela Goretti & Mark P. Taylor, 2007. "Are There Thresholds of Current Account Adjustment in the G7?," NBER Chapters, in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 169-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David Backus & Espen Henriksen & Frederic Lambert & Christopher Telmer, 2009. "Current Account Fact and Fiction," NBER Working Papers 15525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Aart Kraay & Jaume Ventura, 2005. "The Dot-Com Bubble, the Busch Deficits and the US Current Account," Working Papers 216, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  6. Gianluca Benigno & Christoph Thoenissen, 2002. "Equilibrium exchange rates and supply-side performance," Bank of England working papers 156, Bank of England.
  7. Gian M Milesi-Ferretti & Philip R. Lane, 2005. "A Global Perspectiveon External Positions," IMF Working Papers 05/161, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2006. "An Equilibrium Model of "Global Imbalances" and Low Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 11996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Hélène Rey, 2007. "From World Banker to World Venture Capitalist: U.S. External Adjustment and the Exorbitant Privilege," NBER Chapters, in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 11-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 339-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff & Richard Clarida, . "The Unsustainable U S Current Account Position Revisited," Working Paper 14901, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  12. Eric M. Engen & R. Glenn Hubbard, 2004. "Federal Government Debt and Interest Rates," NBER Working Papers 10681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior of U. S. Public Debt and Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963.
  14. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 2006. "The U.S. current account deficit and the expected share of world output," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jun.
  15. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2000. "Perspectives on OECD economic integration : implications for U.S. current account adjustment," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 169-208.
  16. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
  17. R. Glenn Hubbard & Eric M. Engen, 2004. "Federal Government Debt and Interest Rates," AEI Economics Working Papers 50018, American Enterprise Institute.
  18. Reuven Glick & Kenneth Rogoff, 1993. "Global Versus Country-Specific Productivity Shocks and the Current Acocount," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 31, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  19. Kenneth Rogoff & William Brainard & George Perry, . "Global Current Account Imbalances and Exchange Rate Adjustments," Working Paper 33687, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  20. Hamid Faruqee & Douglas Laxton & Dirk Muir & Paolo Pesenti, 2005. "Smooth landing or crash? model based scenarios of global current account rebalancing," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  21. repec:tcd:wpaper:tep16 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Jonathan A. Parker, 2000. "Spendthrift in America? On Two Decades of Decline in the U.S. Saving Rate," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1999, Volume 14, pages 317-387 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Bohn, Henning, 2007. "Are stationarity and cointegration restrictions really necessary for the intertemporal budget constraint?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(7), pages 1837-1847, October.
  24. Henning Bohn, 2005. "The Sustainability of Fiscal Policy in the United States," CESifo Working Paper Series 1446, CESifo Group Munich.
  25. Luca Guerrieri & Christopher Erceg, 2004. "Productivity Growth and the Trade Balance in the 1990s: the Role of Evolving Perceptions," 2004 Meeting Papers 719, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  26. William G. Gale & Peter R. Orszag, 2004. "Budget Deficits, National Saving, and Interest Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(2), pages 101-210.
  27. Sebastian Edwards, 2005. "Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable? And If Not, How Costly is Adjustment Likely To Be?," NBER Working Papers 11541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11921. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.