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

  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Yi Sun

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13734.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
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Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13734
Note: ITI IFM
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  1. Olivier Blanchard, 2007. "Current Account Deficits in Rich Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(2), pages 191-219, June.
  2. Sebastian Edwards, 2007. "On Current Account Surpluses and the Correction of Global Imbalances," NBER Working Papers 12904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jiandong Ju & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "Domestic Institutions and the Bypass Effect of Financial Globalization," Working Papers 222010, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
  4. Carroll, Christopher D. & Weil, David N., 1994. "Saving and growth: a reinterpretation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 133-192, June.
  5. Aizenman, Joshua & LEE, JAEWOO, 2005. "International Reserves: Precautionary versus Mercantilist Views, Theory and Evidence," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt44g3n2j8, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  6. Eswar S. Prasad & Raghuram G. Rajan & Arvind Subramanian, 2007. "Foreign Capital and Economic Growth," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 153-230.
  7. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2006. "An Equilibrium Model of Global Imbalances and Low Interest Rates," 2006 Meeting Papers 894, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. 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.
  9. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Olivier Jeanne, 2007. "Capital Flows to Developing Countries: The Allocation Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 13602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Robert C. Feenstra & Chang Hong, 2007. "China's Exports and Employment," NBER Working Papers 13552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. R Blundell & Steven Bond, . "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data model," Economics Papers W14&104., Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  12. Sebastian Edwards, 2004. "Thirty Years of Current Account Imbalances, Current Account Reversals and Sudden Stops," NBER Working Papers 10276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Romain Ranciere & Olivier Jeanne, 2006. "The Optimal Level of International Reserves for Emerging Market Countries; Formulas and Applications," IMF Working Papers 06/229, International Monetary Fund.
  14. 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.
  15. Chinn, Menzie D. & Ito, Hiro, 2007. "Current account balances, financial development and institutions: Assaying the world "saving glut"," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 546-569, June.
  16. repec:rus:hseeco:317881 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Richard N. Cooper, 2005. "Living with Global Imbalances: A Contrarian View," Policy Briefs PB05-03, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  18. Joshua Aizenman & Jaewoo Lee, 2006. "Financial Versus Monetary Mercantilism-Long-run View of Large International Reserves Hoarding," NBER Working Papers 12718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Jaewoo Lee & Joshua Aizenman, 2006. "Financial Versus Monetary Mercantilism; Long-Run View of the Large International Reserves Hoarding," IMF Working Papers 06/280, International Monetary Fund.
  20. Christopher D. Carroll & Jody Overland & David N. Weil, 1995. "Saving and growth with habit formation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  21. Olivier Jeanne, 2007. "International Reserves in Emerging Market Countries: Too Much of a Good Thing?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 1-80.
  22. Sebastian Edwards, 2004. "Thirty Years of Current Account Imbalances, Current Account Reversals, and Sudden Stops," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 51(s1), pages 1-49, June.
  23. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2004. "The revived Bretton Woods system," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 307-313.
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