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Capital Flows, Interest Rates and Precautionary Behaviour: a model of "global imbalances"

  • Marcus Miller

    (University of Warwick)

  • Lei Zhang

    (University of Warwick)

A dynamic stochastic model of global equilibrium, where countries outside the US face higher risk than the US itself, predicts current account surpluses in the RoW and US deficits. With Loss Aversion, such precautionary savings can cause substantial ‘global imbalances’, particularly if there is an inefficient supply of global ‘insurance’. In principle, lower real interest rates will ensure aggregate demand equals supply at a global level (though the required real interest may be negative). Low interest rates and high savings outside the US appear to be an efficient global equilibrium: but is this sustainable? A precautionary savings glut appears to us to be a temporary phenomenon, destined for correction as and when adequate reserve levels are achieved. But if the process of correction is triggered by ‘Sudden Stop’ on capital flows to the US, might it not lead to the inefficient outcomes forecast by several leading macroeconomists? When precautionary saving is combined with financial panic, history offers no guarantee of full employment.

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Paper provided by ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London in its series WEF Working Papers with number 0014.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:wef:wpaper:0014
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