IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Current Account Deficits: The Australian Debate

  • Rochelle Belkar

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

  • Lynne Cockerell

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

  • Christopher Kent

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

Registered author(s):

    This paper documents the clear change of view, which has taken place in Australia over the past three decades or so, concerning the relevance of the current account deficit for policy. Historical experience under a fixed exchange rate regime suggested that large persistent deficits were unsustainable and could leave the economy vulnerable to sudden reversals in sentiment. These concerns persisted after the floating of the Australian dollar and financial deregulation, and it was thought that all arms of policy should help to rein in the then much larger current account deficits. However, these policies were shown to be ineffective and, by the early 1990s, the argument that current account deficits represent the optimal outcomes of decisions made by ‘consenting adults’ gained wide support. This paper presents some empirical evidence consistent with optimal smoothing in the face of temporary shocks; the persistence of the deficit is attributed to a modest degree of impatience relative to the rest of the world. Although it is now widely accepted that policy should not seek to influence the current account balance, the issue of external vulnerability remains of interest. Here, country-specific considerations are important, and it is argued that the factors that have made Australia relatively resilient to external shocks are also those that helped to attract foreign capital in the first place.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.rba.gov.au/publications/rdp/2007/pdf/rdp2007-02.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Reserve Bank of Australia in its series RBA Research Discussion Papers with number rdp2007-02.

    as
    in new window

    Length:
    Date of creation: Mar 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:rba:rbardp:rdp2007-02
    Contact details of provider: Postal: GPO Box 3947, Sydney NSW 2001
    Phone: 61-2-9551-8111
    Fax: 61-2-9551-8000
    Web page: http://www.rba.gov.au/Email:


    More information through EDIRC

    Order Information: Web: http://www.rba.gov.au/forms/rdp-order-form/

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Ricardo Caballero & Kevin Cowan & Jonathan Kearns, 2005. "Fear of Sudden Stops: Lessons From Australia and Chile," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(4), pages 313-354.
    2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
    3. J. D. Pitchford, 1989. "Does Australia Really Have A Current Account Problem?," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 8(4), pages 25-32, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Chapman BJ & Gruen F, 1990. "Analysis of the Australian consensual incomes policy: the prices and incomes accord," ILO Working Papers 275456, International Labour Organization.
    6. 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.
    7. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1986. "Cointegration and Tests of Present Value Models," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 785, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    8. Reuven Glick & Kenneth Rogoff, 1993. "Global Versus Country-Specific Productivity Shocks and the Current Acocount," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 31, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
    9. J. D. Pitchford, 1989. "A Sceptical View of Australia's Current Account and Debt Problem," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 22(2), pages 5-14.
    10. Nikola Dvornak & Marion Kohler & Gordon Menzies, 2003. "Australia’s Medium-run Exchange Rate: A Macroeconomic Balance Approach," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2003-03, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    11. Chay Fisher & Christopher Kent, 1999. "Two Depressions, One Banking Collapse," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp1999-06, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    12. Bergin, Paul R & Sheffrin, Steven M, 2000. "Interest Rates, Exchange Rates and Present Value Models of the Current Account," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(463), pages 535-58, April.
    13. Cashin, P., 1996. "Are Australia's Current Account deficits Excessive?," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 533, The University of Melbourne.
    14. Chapman, B.J. & Gruen, F., 1990. "An Analysis Of The Australian Consensual Incomes Policy: The Prices And Incomes Accord," CEPR Discussion Papers 221, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    15. Campbell, John Y, 1987. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1249-73, November.
    16. Glenn Otto, 2003. "Can an Intertemporal Model Explain Australia's Current Account Deficit?," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 36(3), pages 350-359.
    17. Christopher Kent & Kylie Smith & James Holloway, 2005. "Declining Output Volatility: What Role for Structural Change?," RBA Annual Conference Volume, in: Christopher Kent & David Norman (ed.), The Changing Nature of the Business Cycle Reserve Bank of Australia.
    18. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, August.
    19. Jocelyn Horne, 2001. "The Current Account Debate in Australia: Changing Policy Perspectives," Research Papers 0111, Macquarie University, Department of Economics.
    20. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
    21. Milbourne, Ross & Otto, Glenn, 1992. "Consumption Smoothing and the Current Account," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(59), pages 369-84, December.
    22. Christopher Kent & Kylie Smith & James Holloway, 2005. "Declining Output Volatility: What Role for Structural Change?," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2005-08, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    23. Charles Engel, 2005. "The US Current Account Deficit: A Re-examination of the Role of Private Saving," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2005-09, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rba:rbardp:rdp2007-02. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Paula Drew)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.