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Current Account Imbalances in the Euro Area: A Comparative Perspective

Author

Listed:
  • Sebastian Barnes

    (OECD)

  • Jeremy Lawson

    (OECD)

  • Artur Radziwill

    (OECD)

Abstract

This paper considers the increase in current account imbalances in euro area countries since the early 1990s. While the euro area as a whole has remained relatively close to external balance, the current account balances of individual countries have diverged: Spain, Greece and Portugal ran large current account deficits by historical norms for industrial economies, while Germany and the Netherlands ran large surpluses. These imbalances are larger and more sustained than those observed in recent decades. While there has been extensive discussion of the US and Chinese external positions in the context of the debate on global imbalances, more attention has been given to the developments in the euro area only in the wake of the recent sovereign debt crisis. This paper uses a period-average model estimated on data for OECD countries since the late 1960s to investigate the determinants of current account imbalances. Fundamental economic factors are found to play an important role, in line with earlier studies, but do not fully explain the extent of imbalances over the past decade. The strength of housing investment appears to capture important effects over this period. This working paper relates to the 2010 OECD Economic Survey of the Euro Area (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/euroarea). Les déséquilibres de la balance courante dans la zone euro : une perspective comparative Ce document analyse l’augmentation des déséquilibres de la balance courante dans les pays de la zone euro depuis le début des années 90. Si le solde extérieur de la zone euro dans son ensemble est resté relativement proche de l’équilibre, les soldes des opérations courantes des pays pris individuellement ont divergé : l’Espagne, la Grèce et le Portugal ont connu d’importants déficits de la balance courante sur la base des normes historiques des économies industrielles, tandis que l’Allemagne et les Pays-Bas ont connu d’amples excédents. Ces déséquilibres sont plus importants et plus marqués que ceux observés ces dernières décennies. Alors qu’il y a eu de nombreuses études sur les positions extérieures des États-Unis et de la Chine dans le contexte du débat sur les déséquilibres globaux, l’attention ne s’est tourné vers l’évolution de la zone euro qu’à la suite de la récente crise sur les dettes souveraines. Ce document utilise un modèle estimé sur des données qui représentent des moyennes temporelles des pays de l’OCDE depuis la fin des années 60, pour rechercher les déterminants des déséquilibres de la balance courante. Il se trouve que les facteurs économiques fondamentaux y jouent un rôle important, conformément aux études antérieures, mais ils n’expliquent pas entièrement l’ampleur des déséquilibres au cours de la dernière décennie. La vigueur de l’investissement en logement semble expliquer des effets importants au cours de cette période. Ce document de travail porte sur l'Étude économique du Zone euro. (www.oecd.org/eco/etudes/zoneeuro).

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Barnes & Jeremy Lawson & Artur Radziwill, 2010. "Current Account Imbalances in the Euro Area: A Comparative Perspective," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 826, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:826-en
    as

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5km33svj7pxs-en
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    Cited by:

    1. Belke, Ansgar & Dreger, Christian, 2011. "Current account imbalances in the euro area: Catching up or competitiveness?," Discussion Papers 297, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
    2. Virginie Coudert & Cécile Couharde & Valérie Mignon, 2013. "On Currency Misalignments within the Euro Area," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 35-48, February.
    3. Cécile Couharde & Serge Rey & Audrey Sallenave, 2016. "External debt and real exchange rates’ adjustment in the euro area: new evidence from a nonlinear NATREX model," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(11), pages 966-986, March.
    4. Guerreiro, David, 2014. "Is the European debt crisis a mere balance of payments crisis?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 44(S1), pages 50-56.
    5. Torój, Andrzej & Bednarek, Elżbieta & Bęza-Bojanowska, Joanna & Osińska, Joanna & Waćko, Katarzyna & Witkowski, Dariusz, 2012. "EMU: the (post-)crisis perspective. Literature survey and implications for the euro-candidates," MF Working Papers 12, Ministry of Finance in Poland, revised 06 Mar 2012.
    6. Sanchez , Jose Luis Diaz & Varoudakis, Aristomene, 2013. "Growth and competitiveness as factors of Eurozone external imbalances : evidence and policy implications," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6732, The World Bank.
    7. D. Siena, 2014. "The European Monetary Union and Imbalances: Is it an Anticipation Story ?," Working papers 501, Banque de France.
    8. Projektgruppe Gemeinschaftsdiagnose, 2011. "Gemeinschaftsdiagnose Frühjahr 2011: Aufschwung setzt sich fort - Europäische Schuldenkrise noch ungelöst," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 64(08), pages 03-63, April.
    9. Ansgar Belke & Christian Dreger, 2013. "Current Account Imbalances in the Euro Area: Does Catching up Explain the Development?," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 6-17, February.
    10. Gossé, Jean-Baptiste & Serranito, Francisco, 2014. "Long-run determinants of current accounts in OECD countries: Lessons for intra-European imbalances," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 451-462.
    11. Roberta De Santis & Tatiana Cesaroni, 2016. "Current Account ‘Core–Periphery Dualism’ in the EMU," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(10), pages 1514-1538, October.
    12. Engelbert Stockhammer & Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos, 2014. "Rebalancing the Euro Area: The Costs of Internal Devaluation," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(2), pages 210-233, April.
    13. Luigi Bonatti & Andrea Fracasso, 2012. "A Germans� dilemma: save the euro or preserve their socio-economic model," Department of Economics Working Papers 1207, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    14. Carlos A. Carrasco & Patricia Peinado, 2015. "On the Origin of European Imbalances in the Context of European Integration," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 62(2), pages 177-191, June.
    15. Nieminen, Mika, 2015. "Trade imbalances within the euro area and with respect to the rest of the world," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 306-314.
    16. repec:bla:jcmkts:v:55:y:2017:i::p:133-148 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Nurgun Topalli & İbrahim Dogan, 2016. "The structure and sustainability of current account deficit: Turkish evidence from regime switching," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(4), pages 570-589, June.
    18. Carlos A. Carrasco & Felipe Serrano, 2014. "Global and European Imbalances:A critical review," Working papers wpaper42, Financialisation, Economy, Society & Sustainable Development (FESSUD) Project.
    19. Luigi Bonatti & Andrea Fracasso, 2013. "The German Model and the European Crisis," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(6), pages 1023-1039, November.
    20. Unger, Robert, 2017. "Asymmetric credit growth and current account imbalances in the euro area," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 73(PB), pages 435-451.
    21. van Treeck, Till. & Sturn, Simon., 2012. "Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession? : A survey of current debates," ILO Working Papers 994709343402676, International Labour Organization.
    22. Serge REY & Cécile COUHARDE & Audrey SALLENAVE, 2015. "External debt and real exchange rates’ adjustment in the euro area: New evidence from a non linear NATREX model," Working Papers 2015-2016_1, CATT - UPPA - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, revised Sep 2015.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    current account; euro area; imbalances; solde extérieur; zone Euro;

    JEL classification:

    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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