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The Unsustainable U S Current Account Position Revisited

Listed author(s):
  • 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. 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.
  2. 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.
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  9. Obstfeld,Maurice & Taylor,Alan M., 2005. "Global Capital Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671798, January.
  10. 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.
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  13. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476.
  14. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2000. "Perspectives on OECD economic integration : implications for U.S. current account adjustment," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 169-208.
  15. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
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  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. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, & Philip R. Lane, 2003. "International Financial Integration," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp03, IIIS.
  19. 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.
  20. Gian M Milesi-Ferretti & Philip R. Lane, 1999. "The External Wealth of Nations; Measures of Foreign Assets and Liabilities for Industrial and Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 99/115, International Monetary Fund.
  21. Guillermo A. Calvo & Alejandro Izquierdo & Ernesto Talvi, 2002. "Sudden Stops, the Real Exchange Rate and Fiscal Sustainability: Argentina's Lessons," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6821, Inter-American Development Bank.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Gian M Milesi-Ferretti & Philip R. Lane, 2005. "Financial Globalization and Exchange Rates," IMF Working Papers 05/3, International Monetary Fund.
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  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. Catherine L. Mann, 1999. "Is the U.S. Trade Deficit Sustainable?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 47, 03.
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  31. Castiglionesi, F. & Navarro, N., 2007. "Optimal Fragile Financial Networks," Discussion Paper 2007-100, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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