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Capital Flows, Consumption Booms and Asset Bubbles: A Behavioural Alternative to the Savings Glut Hypothesis

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  • David Laibson
  • Johanna Mollerstrom

Abstract

Bernanke (2005) hypothesized that a "global savings glut" was causing large trade imbalances. However, we show that the global savings rates did not show a robust upward trend during the relevant period. Moreover, if there had been a global savings glut there should have been a large investment boom in the countries that imported capital. Instead, those countries experienced consumption booms. National asset bubbles explain the international imbalances. The bubbles raised consumption, resulting in large trade deficits. In a sample of 18 OECD countries plus China, movements in home prices alone explain half of the variation in trade deficits.

Suggested Citation

  • David Laibson & Johanna Mollerstrom, 2010. "Capital Flows, Consumption Booms and Asset Bubbles: A Behavioural Alternative to the Savings Glut Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 15759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15759
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    1. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1990. "World Real Interest Rates," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 15-74, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • F01 - International Economics - - General - - - Global Outlook
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises

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