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On Current Account Surpluses and the Correction of Global Imbalances

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  • Sebastian Edwards

Abstract

In this paper I analyze the nature of external adjustments in current account surplus countries. I ask whether a realignment of world growth rates -- with Japan and Europe growing faster, and the U.S. growing more slowly -- is likely to solve the current situation of global imbalances. The main findings may be summarized as follows: (a) There is an important asymmetry between current account deficits and surpluses. (b) Large surpluses exhibit little persistence through time. (c) Large and abrupt reductions in surpluses are a rare phenomenon. (d) A decline in GDP growth, relative to long term trend, of 1 percentage point results in an improvement in the current account balance -- higher surplus or lower deficit -- of one quarter of a percentage point of GDP. Taken together, these results indicate that a realignment of global growth -- with Japan and the Euro Zone growing faster, and the U.S. moderating its growth -- would only make a modest contribution towards the resolution of global imbalances. This means that, even if there is a realignment of global growth, the world is likely to need significant exchange rate movements. This analysis also suggests that a reduction in China's (very) large surplus will be needed if global imbalances are to be resolved.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Edwards, 2007. "On Current Account Surpluses and the Correction of Global Imbalances," NBER Working Papers 12904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12904
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Blaise Gnimasoun & Valérie Mignon, 2013. "Current-account adjustments and exchange-rate misalignments," EconomiX Working Papers 2013-31, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    2. Aizenman, Joshua & Sun, Yi, 2010. "Globalization and the sustainability of large current account imbalances: Size matters," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 35-44, March.
    3. Alessandro Rebucci & Nicoletta Batini & Pietro Cova & Massimiliano Pisani, 2009. "Global Imbalances; The Role of Non-Tradabletotal Factor Productivity in Advanced Economies," IMF Working Papers 09/63, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Joshua Aizenman & Yothin Jinjarak, 2009. "The Usa As The 'Demander Of Last Resort' And The Implications For China'S Current Account," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(3), pages 426-442, August.
    5. Daniela Bragoli & Piero Ganugi & Giancarlo Ianulardo, 2013. "Gini’s transvariation analysis: an application on financial crises in developing countries," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 153-174, February.
    6. Rabah Arezki & Fuad Hasanov, 2013. "Global Imbalances and Petrodollars," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 213-232, February.
    7. Blaise Gnimassoun & Valérie Mignon, 2015. "Persistence of Current-account Disequilibria and Real Exchange-rate Misalignments," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 137-159, February.
    8. repec:eid:wpaper:16/09 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Thomas, P Mini, 2015. "Relationship between services trade, economic growth and external stabilisation in India: An empirical investigation," Working Papers 340, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
    10. Chris Hunt, 2008. "Financial turmoil and global imbalances: the end of Bretton Woods II?," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, vol. 71, September.
    11. Riccardo Fiorentini & Guido Montani, 2012. "The New Global Political Economy," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14443.
    12. Adnan Velic, 2017. "Current Account Imbalances, Real Exchange Rates, and Nominal Exchange Rate Variability," Trinity Economics Papers tep1417, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    13. Subir Lall & Roberto Cardarelli & Selim Elekdag, 2009. "Financial Stress, Downturns, and Recoveries," IMF Working Papers 09/100, International Monetary Fund.
    14. Cardarelli, Roberto & Elekdag, Selim & Lall, Subir, 2011. "Financial stress and economic contractions," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 78-97, June.
    15. Yang, Lucun, 2011. "An Empirical Analysis of Current Account Determinants in Emerging Asian Economies," Cardiff Economics Working Papers E2011/10, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements

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