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Perspectives on OECD Economic Integration: Implications for US Current Account Adjustment

  • Maurice Obstfeld

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Kenneth Rogoff

    (Harvard University)

The US current account deficit has been persistently large and has brought the country's ratio of foreign debt to GDP to 20%, a figure that is high by historical standards. This paper argues that while US solvency is not a near-term constraint on ongoing deficits, the sheer size of the US economy makes it likely that its current account will have to approach balance in the next five to ten years, if not sooner. The paper surveys a wide body of evidence suggesting that the US economy remains surprisingly closed to external trade in products and capital, and suggests that costs of international trade in goods can explain the evidence. Given the trade costs, a substantial real depreciation of the dollar will be needed to close the US current account gap. If current- account adjustment is gradual, then the medium-term depreciation of the dollar would be on the order of 12%. If the current account deficit is eliminated in a precipitous and disorderly fashion, and the Fed attempts to maintain full employment, the depreciation could be much bigger, even on the order of 40% to 50%.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series International Trade with number 0012004.

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Length: 63 pages
Date of creation: 09 Feb 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpit:0012004
Note: 63 pages, Acrobat .pdf
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  2. Reinhart, Carmen & Ostry, Jonathan, 1991. "Private Saving and Terms of Trade Shocks," MPRA Paper 13716, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  6. Engel, C., 1996. "Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 96-02, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  7. Karen K. Lewis, 1999. "Trying to Explain Home Bias in Equities and Consumption," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(2), pages 571-608, June.
  8. Charles Freedman, 1979. "A Note on Net Interest Payments to Foreigners under Inflationary Conditions," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 12(2), pages 291-99, May.
  9. Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff., 1999. "New Directions for Stochastic Open Economy Models," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C99-107, University of California at Berkeley.
  10. Feldstein, Martin & Horioka, Charles, 1980. "Domestic Saving and International Capital Flows," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 314-29, June.
  11. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  12. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1976. "Expectations and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1161-76, December.
  13. Mendoza, Enrique G, 1991. "Real Business Cycles in a Small Open Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 797-818, September.
  14. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
  15. Catherine L. Mann, 1999. "Is the U.S. Trade Deficit Sustainable?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 47.
  16. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Cleaning Up Third World Debt without Getting Taken to the Cleaners," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 31-42, Winter.
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