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A Forensic Analysis of Global Imbalances

  • Menzie D. Chinn
  • Barry Eichengreen
  • Hiro Ito

We examine whether the behavior of current account balances changed in the years preceding the global crisis of 2008-09, and assess the prospects for global imbalances in the post-crisis period. Changes in the budget balance are an important factor affecting current account balances for deficit countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. The effect of the "saving glut variables" on current account balances has been relatively stable for emerging market countries, suggesting that those factors cannot explain the bulk of their recent current account movements. We also find the 2006-08 period to constitute a structural break for emerging market countries, and to a lesser extent, for industrialized countries. We attribute the anomalous behavior of pre-crisis current account balances to stock market performance and real housing appreciation; fiscal procyclicality and the stance of monetary policy do not matter as much. Household leverage also appears to explain some of the standard model's prediction errors. Looking forward, U.S., fiscal consolidation alone cannot induce significant deficit reduction. For China, financial development might help shrink its current account surplus, but only when it is coupled with financial liberalization. These findings suggest that unless countries implement substantially more policy change, global imbalances are unlikely to disappear.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17513.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Publication status: published as "A Forensic Analysis of Global Imbalances," Oxford Economic Papers (2013), (March 2013 version) (with Barry Eichengreen and Hiro Ito).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17513
Note: IFM
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  1. Laura Alfaro & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Vadym Volosovych, 2008. "Why Doesn't Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries? An Empirical Investigation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 347-368, May.
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  8. Martin Feldstein & Charles Horioka, 1979. "Domestic Savings and International Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 0310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
  13. Lee, Jaewoo & Chinn, Menzie D., 2006. "Current account and real exchange rate dynamics in the G7 countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 257-274, March.
  14. Edwin Truman, 2005. "Budget and external deficits: not twins but the same family," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
  15. Chinn, Menzie David & Ito, Hiro, 2005. "What Matters for Financial Development? Capital Controls, Institutions, and Interactions," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5pv1j341, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  16. Menzie D. Chinn & Hiro Ito, 2005. "Current Account Balances, Financial Development and Institutions: Assaying the World "Savings Glut"," NBER Working Papers 11761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Menzie D. Chinn & Hiro Ito, 2008. "Global Current Account Imbalances: American Fiscal Policy versus East Asian Savings," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(3), pages 479-498, 08.
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