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Current Account Sustainability in Transition Economies


  • Nouriel Roubini
  • Paul Wachtel


This paper presents an analysis of the sustainability of current account deficits in transition economies in Central and Eastern Europe. These countries have experienced large current account imbalances in the transition to a market economy. We consider a wide range of macroeconomic factors that may indicate whether such imbalances are sustainable. We find that capital inflows and the choice of regimes of fixed exchange rates have led to a real exchange rate appreciation in many countries; this in turn has led to a significant loss of competitiveness and a worsening of the current account. In several countries there are a number of other indicators that point to a fragility of the external balance: weak banking and financial systems, large fiscal imbalances, low foreign reserves, increasing foreign debt and foreign debt-burden ratios. However, short-term portfolio investments (so-called hot money' inflows) are still relatively small in the transition economies examined, thus limiting the possibility of sudden speculative capital outflows.

Suggested Citation

  • Nouriel Roubini & Paul Wachtel, 1998. "Current Account Sustainability in Transition Economies," NBER Working Papers 6468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6468
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria & Razin, Assaf, 1996. "Current Account Sustainability: Selected East Asian and Latin American Experiences," CEPR Discussion Papers 1509, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Graciela Kaminsky & Saul Lizondo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 1998. "Leading Indicators of Currency Crises," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 1-48, March.
    3. Buiter, Willem H., 1996. "Aspects of Fiscal Performance in some Transition Economies under Fund-supported Programs," CEPR Discussion Papers 1535, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
    5. László Halpern & Charles Wyplosz, 1997. "Equilibrium Exchange Rates in Transition Economies," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(4), pages 430-461, December.
    6. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferrett & Assaf Razin, 1996. "Sustainability of Persistent Current Account Deficits," NBER Working Papers 5467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Milesi-Ferreti, Gian Maria & Razin, Assaf, 1996. "Current account sustainability," Sede de la CEPAL en Santiago (Estudios e Investigaciones) 34294, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    8. Carlos A. Végh Gramont & Ratna Sahay & Guillermo Calvo, 1995. "Capital Flows in Central and Eastern Europe; Evidence and Policy Options," IMF Working Papers 95/57, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Kornélia Krajnyák & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 1998. "Competitiveness in Transition Economies: What Scope for Real Appreciation?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(2), pages 309-362, June.
    10. Vaclav Klaus, 1997. "Promoting financial stability in the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 183-192.
    11. Giancarlo Corsetti & Nouriel Roubini, 1997. "Politically Motivated Fiscal Deficits: Policy Issues in Closed and Open Economies," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 27-54, March.
    12. Guillermo A. Calvo, 1995. "Varieties of Capital-Market Crises," Research Department Publications 4008, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
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    JEL classification:

    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems


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