Short- And Medium-Term Determinants Of Current Account Balances In Middle East And North Africa Countries
The main aim of the paper is to examine the short- and medium-term empirical link between current account balances and a broad set of (economic) variables proposed by theoretical and empirical literature. The paper focuses on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), an economically diverse region, which has so far mainly been neglected in such empirical analyzes. For this purpose, a (dynamic) panel-regression technique is used to characterize the properties of current account variations across selected MENA economies in the 1971-2005 period. The results, which are generally consistent with theoretical and previous empirical analyses, indicate that higher (domestic and foreign) investment, government expenditure and foreign interest rates have a negative effect on the current account balance. On the other hand, a more open economy, higher oil prices and domestic economic growth generate an improvement in the external balance, whereas the latter implies that the domestic growth rate is associated with a larger increase in domestic savings than investment. Finally, the results show a relatively high persistency of current accounts and reject the validity of the stages of development hypothesis as poorer countries in the region reveal a higher current account surplus (or lower deficit).
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