IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Global Current Account Adjustments: A Decomposition


  • Michael B. Devereux

    () (Department of Economics University of British Columbia)

  • Amartya Lahiri


In the last five years the international macroeconomics literature has become increasingly concerned with global current account imbalances, with particular focus on the size and persistence of the US current account deficit. While much of the recent literature on global imbalances (e.g. Caballero and Gourinchas 2005, Engel and Rogers, 2005 ) has attempted to rationalize the recent surge in the US current account deficit within theoretical settings, there has been little effort devoted to providing a quantitative accounting of the observed path of capital flows. In this paper we attempt to answer precisely this question. We follow the recent methodology developed by Cole and Ohanian (2004, 2005), Chari et al. (2004) etc. In particular, we construct a model of the world economy comprised of three regions – the US, EU/Japan and Emerging Markets. The model is the standard one-sector neoclassical growth model with production and investment. We then run actual data through the optimality conditions of the model and back out the ex-post deviations (or “wedges†) in these conditions relative to optimality. We call these measured deviations “wedges†. The model generates three wedges – two optimality wedges and one productivity wedge. We find that in order to rationalize the data, the neoclassical model demands a combination of time varying wedges in the intertemporal Euler wedge as well as variations in the productivity wedge. However, from a purely accounting standpoint, the productivity wedge is quantitatively much larger than the mean level of the Euler wedge during our sample period. This leads us to conclude that explanations such as Caballero-Gourinchas (2005), which imply time variation in the Euler wedge can at best, be a very partial explanation of the growing global imbalance. Explanations which center on productivity differences (like the older absorption view of current account determination) are quantitatively more important.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael B. Devereux & Amartya Lahiri, 2006. "Global Current Account Adjustments: A Decomposition," 2006 Meeting Papers 750, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:750

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jul, pages 2-13.
    2. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2008. "An Equilibrium Model of "Global Imbalances" and Low Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 358-393, March.
    3. Amartya Lahiri & Kei-Mu Yi, 2005. "A Tale of Two States," 2005 Meeting Papers 132, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2004. "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    current account; global imbalance;

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed006:750. 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: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.