Feasible Limits For External Deficits And Debt
Rising current account deficits and foreign debt levels remain a source of concern for international financial markets and policymakers. Yet, exactly what constitutes an "excessive" external deficit or liability position for an economy at any time has not been adequately defined. This paper addresses this question by proposing measures of the maximum feasible limits of current account deficits and foreign debt levels based on international macroeconomic relationships. It proposes that investment opportunities essentially define the limit of feasibility for current account deficits, whereas the capital to output ratio sets the feasible foreign debt to GDP limit. Benchmark estimates of these limits are presented for advanced economies that have borrowed heavily since 1990.
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