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Globalization and the Sustainability of Large Current Account Imbalances: Size Matters

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  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Yi Sun

Abstract

This paper evaluates the sustainability of large current account imbalances in the era when the Chinese GDP growth rate and current account/GDP exceed 10%. We investigate the size distribution and the durability of current account deficits during 1966-2005, and report the results of a simulation that relies on the adding-up property of global current account balances. Excluding the US, we find that size does matter: the length of current account deficit spells is negatively related to the relative size of the countries' GDP. We conclude that the continuation of the fast growth rate of China, while maintaining its large current account/GPD surpluses, would be constrained by the limited sustainability of the larger current account deficits/GDP of countries that grow at a much slower rate. Consequently, short of the emergence of a new "demander of last resort," the Chinese growth path would be challenged by its own success.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Aizenman & Yi Sun, 2008. "Globalization and the Sustainability of Large Current Account Imbalances: Size Matters," NBER Working Papers 13734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13734
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    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies

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