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The Intertemporal Approach to the Current Account

  • Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff.

The intertemporal approach views the current-account balance as the outcome of forward-looking dynamic saving and investment decisions. This paper, a chapter in the forthcoming third volume of the Handbook of International Economics, surveys the theory and empirical work on the intertemporal approach as it has developed since the early 1980s. After reviewing the basic one-good, representative- consumer model, the paper considers a series of extended models incorporating relative prices, complex demographic structures, consumer durables, asset-market incompleteness, and asymmetric information. We also present a variety of empirical evidence illustrating the usefulness of the intertemporal approach, and argue that intertemporal models provide a consistent and coherent foundation for open-economy policy analysis. As such, the intertemporal approach should supplant the expanded versions of the Mundell-Fleming IS-LM model that currently furnish the dominant paradigm used by central banks, finance ministries, and international economic agencies.

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Paper provided by University of California at Berkeley in its series Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers with number C94-044.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 1994
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Handle: RePEc:ucb:calbcd:c94-044
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  1. David Johnson, 1986. "Consumption, Permanent Income, and Financial Wealth in Canada: Empirical Evidence on the Intertemporal Approach to the Current Account," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(2), pages 189-206, May.
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  25. Backus, David K & Kehoe, Patrick J & Kydland, Finn E, 1992. "International Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 745-75, August.
  26. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
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  29. Steinar Ekern & Robert Wilson, 1974. "On the Theory of the Firm in an Economy with Incomplete Markets," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 5(1), pages 171-180, Spring.
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