IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Growth and competitiveness as factors of Eurozone external imbalances : evidence and policy implications


  • Sanchez , Jose Luis Diaz
  • Varoudakis, Aristomene


The paper assesses the contribution of key factors associated with external imbalances in the Eurozone through the estimation of a panel-data vector autoregressive model over 1975-2011. Growth fluctuations, initially associated with demand booms triggered by unusually low interest rates and later with demand contractions resulting from the crisis and policy adjustments, have been key drivers of current account fluctuations. Changes in competitiveness, measured by real exchange rates or unit labor costs, have played a less important role. Demand shocks have contributed more to current account balance dynamics in the Eurozone periphery than in the core, whereas competitiveness has been a less prominent factor in the periphery but relatively more important in the core. Changes in competitiveness are positively associated with changes in growth. Preventing imbalances from building up in a context of growing financial integration and easy finance warrants enhanced mutual surveillance of fiscal imbalances, but also better regulation of credit markets to prevent excess leverage and concentration of lending in investments prone to speculative bubbles. Coordination of fiscal policy across the Eurozone would facilitate the management of external imbalances without placing an often unwarranted burden on fiscal tightening in countries with sound fiscal positions affected by credit booms. The policies of internal devaluation implemented in the periphery, aimed at promoting external competitiveness, may have had only limited effectiveness in restoring the external balance to equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Sanchez , Jose Luis Diaz & Varoudakis, Aristomene, 2013. "Growth and competitiveness as factors of Eurozone external imbalances : evidence and policy implications," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6732, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6732

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1995. "Some Empirical Evidence on the Effects of Shocks to Monetary Policy on Exchange Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(4), pages 975-1009.
    2. Chinn, Menzie D. & Prasad, Eswar S., 2003. "Medium-term determinants of current accounts in industrial and developing countries: an empirical exploration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 47-76, January.
    3. Belke, Ansgar & Dreger, Christian, 2011. "Current account imbalances in the euro area: Catching up or competitiveness?," Discussion Papers 297, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
    4. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
    5. Michael G. Arghyrou & Georgios Chortareas, 2008. "Current Account Imbalances and Real Exchange Rates in the Euro Area," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 747-764, September.
    6. Schmitz, Birgit & von Hagen, Jürgen, 2011. "Current account imbalances and financial integration in the euro area," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(8), pages 1676-1695.
    7. Sebastian Barnes & Jeremy Lawson & Artur Radziwill, 2010. "Current Account Imbalances in the Euro Area: A Comparative Perspective," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 826, OECD Publishing.
    8. Holger Zemanek & Ansgar Belke & Gunther Schnabl, 2009. "Current Account Imbalances and Structural Adjustment in the Euro Area: How to Rebalance Competitiveness," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 895, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. Calderon Cesar Augusto & Chong Alberto & Loayza Norman V., 2002. "Determinants of Current Account Deficits in Developing Countries," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-33, March.
    10. Gros, Daniel, 2012. "Macroeconomic Imbalances in the Euro Area: Symptom or cause of the crisis?," CEPS Papers 6865, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    11. Roel Beetsma & Massimo Giuliodori & Franc Klaassen, 2008. "The Effects of Public Spending Shocks on Trade Balances and Budget Deficits in the European Union," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 414-423, 04-05.
    12. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
    13. Love, Inessa & Zicchino, Lea, 2006. "Financial development and dynamic investment behavior: Evidence from panel VAR," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 190-210, May.
    14. Ronald MacDonald & Jun Nagayasu, 2000. "The Long-Run Relationship Between Real Exchange Rates and Real Interest Rate Differentials: A Panel Study," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 47(1), pages 1-5.
    15. Florence Jaumotte & Piyaporn Sodsriwiboon, 2010. "Current Account Imbalances in the Southern Euro Area," IMF Working Papers 10/139, International Monetary Fund.
    16. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi, 2002. "Current Account Deficits in the Euro Area: The End of the Feldstein Horioka Puzzle?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 147-210.
    17. Philip R. Lane, 2008. "The Macroeconomics of Financial Integration: A European Perspective," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp265, IIIS.
    18. Philip R. Lane & Barbara Pels, 2012. "Current Account Imbalances in Europe," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp397, IIIS.
    19. Giavazzi, Francesco & Spaventa, Luigi, 2010. "Why the current account may matter in a monetary union: Lessons from the financial crisis in the Euro area," CEPR Discussion Papers 8008, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Ruo Chen & Gian M Milesi-Ferretti & Thierry Tressel, 2012. "External Imbalances in the Euro Area," IMF Working Papers 12/236, International Monetary Fund.
    21. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
    22. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    23. Judson, Ruth A. & Owen, Ann L., 1999. "Estimating dynamic panel data models: a guide for macroeconomists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 9-15, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:psl:pslqrr:2017:23 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hubert Gabrisch & Karsten Staehr, 2015. "The Euro Plus Pact: Competitiveness and External Capital Flows in the EU Countries," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 558-576, May.
    3. Storm, Servaas & Naastepad, C.W.M., 2015. "Crisis and recovery in the German economy: The real lessons," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 11-24.
    4. Karsten Staehr & Robert Vermeulen, 2016. "How competitiveness shocks affect macroeconomic performance across euro area countries," DNB Working Papers 515, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    5. Mariarosaria Comunale & Jeroen Hessel, 2014. "Current account imbalances in the Euro area: Competitiveness or financial cycle?," DNB Working Papers 443, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    6. Esposito, Piero, 2017. "Trade creation, trade diversion and imbalances in the EMU," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 462-472.
    7. Engelbert Stockhammer & collin constantine & Severin Reissl, 2016. "Explaining the Euro crisis: Current account imbalances, credit booms and economic policy in different economic paradigms," Working Papers PKWP1617, Post Keynesian Economics Study Group (PKSG).
    8. Mirdala, Rajmund, 2015. "Real Exchange Rates, Current Accounts and Competitiveness Issues in the Euro Area," MPRA Paper 68864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Scharpf, Fritz W., 2016. "Forced structural convergence in the eurozone: Or a differentiated European monetary community," MPIfG Discussion Paper 16/15, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    10. Lopez, Claude & Adams-Kane, Jonathon & Wilhelmus, Jakob, 2016. "Cross-Border Investment in Europe: From Macro to Financial Data," MPRA Paper 76622, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. repec:nov:artigo:v:25:y:2015:i:spe:p:749-775 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Semmler, Willi & Tahri, Ibrahim, 2017. "Current account imbalances: A new approach to assess external debt sustainability," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 161-170.
    13. Cesaroni, Tatiana & De Santis, Roberta, 2015. "Current Account ‘Core-Periphery Dualism’ in the EMU," CEPS Papers 10317, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    14. Stockhammer, Engelbert & Constantine, Collin & Reissl, Severin, 2016. "Neoliberalism, trade imbalances and economic policy in the Eurozone crisis," Economics Discussion Papers 2016-3, School of Economics, Kingston University London.

    More about this item


    Currencies and Exchange Rates; Economic Theory&Research; Debt Markets; Emerging Markets; Macroeconomic Management;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    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:wbk:wbrwps:6732. 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: (Roula I. Yazigi). 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.