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External Imbalances and Financial Crises

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  • Alan M. Taylor

Abstract

In broad perspective, there have been essentially two competing views of the global financial crisis, albeit there are some complementarities among them. One view looks across the border: it mainly blames external imbalances, the large-scale mix of unprecedented pattern current account deficits and surpluses which entailed massive and growing net and gross international financial flows in the last decade. The alternative view looks within the border: it finds more fault in the domestic arena of the afflicted countries, attributing the problems to financial systems where risks originated in excessive credit booms in local banks. This paper uses the lens of macroeconomic and financial history to confront these dueling hypotheses with evidence. Of the two, the credit boom explanation stands out as the most plausible predictor of financial crises since the dawn of modern finance capitalism in the late nineteenth century. Historically, we find that global imbalances are not as important as a factor in financial crises as is often perceived, and they have much less correlation with subsequent episodes of financial distress compared to direct indicators like credit drawn from the financial system itself.

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  • Alan M. Taylor, 2012. "External Imbalances and Financial Crises," NBER Working Papers 18606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18606
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    1. Leroi RAPUTSOANE, 2015. "Alternative Measures of Credit Extension for Countercyclical Buffer Decisions in South Africa," Turkish Economic Review, KSP Journals, vol. 2(4), pages 210-221, December.
    2. Mikkel Hermansen & Oliver Röhn, 2017. "Economic resilience: The usefulness of early warning indicators in OECD countries," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2016(1), pages 9-35.
    3. Claudio Borio & Piti Disyatat, 2015. "Capital flows and the current account: Taking financing (more) seriously," BIS Working Papers 525, Bank for International Settlements.
    4. Colvin, Christopher L. & de Jong, Abe & Fliers, Philip T., 2015. "Predicting the past: Understanding the causes of bank distress in the Netherlands in the 1920s," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 97-121.
    5. Douglas Sutherland & Peter Hoeller, 2013. "Growth-promoting Policies and Macroeconomic Stability," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1091, OECD Publishing.
    6. Douglas Sutherland & Peter Hoeller, 2014. "Growth Policies and Macroeconomic Stability," OECD Economic Policy Papers 8, OECD Publishing.
    7. Oliver Röhn & Aida Caldera Sánchez & Mikkel Hermansen & Morten Rasmussen, 2015. "Economic resilience: A new set of vulnerability indicators for OECD countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1249, OECD Publishing.
    8. Borsi, Mihály Tamás, 2018. "Credit contractions and unemployment," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 573-593.
    9. te Kaat, Daniel Marcel & Dinger, Valeriya, 2015. "Global Imbalances and Bank Risk-Taking," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112866, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations

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