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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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Handle: RePEc:qsh:wpaper:14901
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  1. Helene Rey & Pierre Olivier Gourinchas, 2005. "International Financial Adjustment," 2005 Meeting Papers 169, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Philip Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "THE EXTERNAL WEALTH OF NATIONS: Measures of Foreign Assets and Liabilities For Industrial and Developing Countries," CEG Working Papers 20012, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  3. Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff., 2000. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C00-112, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, & Philip R. Lane, 2003. "International Financial Integration," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp03, IIIS.
  5. Cedric Tille, 2005. "Financial Integration and the Wealth Effect of Exchange Rate Fluctuations," 2005 Meeting Papers 282, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Lane, Philip & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, . "External Wealth of Nations," Instructional Stata datasets for econometrics extwealth, Boston College Department of Economics.
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  8. Philip R. Lane & G Milesi-Feretti, 2004. "Financial Globalization and Exchange Rates," CEP Discussion Papers dp0662, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Castiglionesi, F. & Navarro, N., 2007. "Optimal Fragile Financial Networks," Discussion Paper 2007-100, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  10. Catherine L. Mann, 1999. "Is the U.S. Trade Deficit Sustainable?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 47.
  11. Gordon, Robert J, 2004. "Two Centuries of Economic Growth: Europe Chasing the American Frontier," CEPR Discussion Papers 4415, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Engel, C., 1996. "Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes," Working Papers 96-02, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "Perspectives on OECD Economic Integration: Implications for US Current Account Adjustment," International Trade 0012004, EconWPA.
  15. 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.
  16. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2005. "Global Current Account Imbalances and Exchange Rate Adjustments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(1), pages 67-146.
  17. 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.
  18. Joseph E. Gagnon, 2007. "Productive Capacity, Product Varieties, and the Elasticities Approach to the Trade Balance," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(4), pages 639-659, 09.
  19. Obstfeld,Maurice & Taylor,Alan M., 2005. "Global Capital Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671798.
  20. 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.).
  21. repec:cto:journl:v:24:y:2004:i:1-2:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2003. "An Essay on the Revived Bretton Woods System," NBER Working Papers 9971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. 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.
  24. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  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. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
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