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The Unsustainable U S Current Account Position Revisited

  • Maurice Obstfeld
  • Kenneth Rogoff
  • Richard Clarida

We show that when one takes into account the global equilibrium ramifications of an unwinding of the US current account deficit, currently estimated at 5.4% of GDP, the potential collapse of the dollar becomes considerably larger (more than 50% larger) than our previous estimates (Obstfeld and Rogoff 2000a). That global capital markets may have deepened (as emphasized by US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan) does not affect significantly the extent of dollar decline in the wake of global current account adjustment. Rather, the dollar adjustment to global current account rebalancing depends more centrally on the level of goods-market integration. Whereas the dollar?s decline may be benign as in the 1980s, we argue that the current conjuncture more closely parallels the early 1970s, when the Bretton Woods system collapsed. Finally, we use our model to dispel some common misconceptions about what kinds of shifts are needed to help close the US current account imbalance. Faster growth abroad helps only if it is relatively concentrated in nontradable goods; faster productivity growth in foreign tradable goods is more likely to exacerbate the US adjustment problem.

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Paper provided by Harvard University OpenScholar in its series Working Paper with number 14901.

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  1. Obstfeld,Maurice & Taylor,Alan M., 2004. "Global Capital Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521633178, November.
  2. Cedric Tille, 2005. "Financial integration and the wealth effect of exchange rate fluctuations," Staff Reports 226, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  3. Sebastian Edwards, 2004. "Thirty Years of Current Account Imbalances, Current Account Reversals and Sudden Stops," NBER Working Papers 10276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Helene Rey, 2005. "International Financial Adjustment," NBER Working Papers 11155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gordon, Robert J, 2004. "Two Centuries of Economic Growth: Europe Chasing the American Frontier," CEPR Discussion Papers 4415, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Alejandro Izquierdo & Ernesto Talvi & Guillermo A. Calvo, 2002. "Sudden Stops, the Real Exchange Rate and Fiscal Sustainability: Argentina's Lessons," Research Department Publications 4299, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  7. Jose Manuel Campa & Linda S. Goldberg, 2002. "Exchange Rate Pass-Through into Import Prices: A Macro or Micro Phenomenon?," NBER Working Papers 8934, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Philip R. Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2004. "Financial globalization and exchange rates," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19926, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Catherine L. Mann, 1999. "Is the U.S. Trade Deficit Sustainable?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 47.
  10. Engel, C., 1996. "Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 96-02, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  11. Philip Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "THE EXTERNAL WEALTH OF NATIONS: Measures of Foreign Assets and Liabilities For Industrial and Developing Countries," Trinity Economics Papers 20014, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  12. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 339-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Lane, Philip & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, . "External Wealth of Nations," Instructional Stata datasets for econometrics extwealth, Boston College Department of Economics.
  14. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2003. "International Financial Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 3769, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "Perspectives on OECD Economic Integration: Implications for US Current Account Adjustment," International Trade 0012004, EconWPA.
  16. repec:cto:journl:v:24:y:2004:i:1-2:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Sebastian Edwards, 2005. "Is the U.S. Current Account Deficit Sustainable? And If Not, How Costly is Adjustment Likely To Be?," NBER Working Papers 11541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2004. "The revived Bretton Woods system," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 307-313.
  19. Joseph E. Gagnon, 2003. "Productive capacity, product varieties, and the elasticities approach to the trade balance," International Finance Discussion Papers 781, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  20. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter M. Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
  21. Kenneth Rogoff & William Brainard & George Perry, . "Global Current Account Imbalances and Exchange Rate Adjustments," Working Paper 33687, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  22. Alejandro Izquierdo, 2002. "Sudden Stops, the Real Exchange Rate and Fiscal Sustainability in Argentina," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(7), pages 903-923, 07.
  23. Hilary Croke & Steven B. Kamin & Sylvain Leduc, 2005. "Financial market developments and economic activity during current account adjustments in industrial economies," International Finance Discussion Papers 827, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  24. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476.
  25. Cedric Tille, 2003. "The impact of exchange rate movements on U.S. foreign debt," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Jan).
  26. Alan Greenspan, 2004. "The Evolving U.S. Payments Imbalance and Its Impact on Europe and the Rest of the World," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 24(1-2), pages 1-11, Spring/Su.
  27. Sebastian Edwards, 2004. "Thirty Years of Current Account Imbalances, Current Account Reversals, and Sudden Stops," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 51(s1), pages 1-49, June.
  28. Warnock, Francis E., 2003. "Exchange rate dynamics and the welfare effects of monetary policy in a two-country model with home-product bias," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 343-363, June.
  29. Castiglionesi, F. & Navarro, N., 2007. "Optimal Fragile Financial Networks," Discussion Paper 2007-100, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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