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Current account imbalances and income inequality: Theory and evidence

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  • Al-Hussami, Fares
  • Remesal, Álvaro Martín

Abstract

In this paper we analyze theoretically and empirically the impact of an increase in income inequality on the current account balance. We develop a model with consumption externalities and heterogeneous agents which explains how an increase in income inequality can affect negatively or positively the current account balance. The relationship is exacerbated by the level of financial liberalization represented by changes in the borrowing constraints. Panel data regressions for a sample of developed and developing economies confirm that an increase in income inequality is mostly linked to a decrease in the current account balance. Moreover, we also find that relatively higher levels of financial liberalization interact with the level of income inequality so that the previous effect is amplified. These results are robust to different specifications.

Suggested Citation

  • Al-Hussami, Fares & Remesal, Álvaro Martín, 2012. "Current account imbalances and income inequality: Theory and evidence," Kiel Advanced Studies Working Papers 459, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwasw:459
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Abel, Andrew B, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 38-42, May.
    2. Azzimonti, Marina & de Francisco, Eva & Quadrini, Vincenzo, 2012. "Financial Globalization, Inequality, and the Raising of Public Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 8893, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Dimitris Georgarakos & Michael Haliassos & Giacomo Pasini, 2014. "Household Debt and Social Interactions," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 27(5), pages 1404-1433.
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    7. Gruber, Joseph W. & Kamin, Steven B., 2007. "Explaining the global pattern of current account imbalances," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 500-522, June.
    8. Broer, Tobias, 2014. "Domestic or global imbalances? Rising income risk and the fall in the US current account," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 47-67.
    9. Ori Heffetz, 2011. "A Test of Conspicuous Consumption: Visibility and Income Elasticities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1101-1117, November.
    10. Romain Ranciere & Nathaniel A. Throckmorton & Michael Kumhof & Claire Lebarz & Alexander W. Richter, 2012. "Income Inequality and Current Account Imbalances," IMF Working Papers 12/8, International Monetary Fund.
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    12. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data Since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jorge Carrera & Esteban Rodríguez & Mariano Sardi, 2015. "Inequality, Financial Deepening and Current Account Impact," Ensayos Económicos, Central Bank of Argentina, Economic Research Department, vol. 1(72), pages 59-102, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    current account; income inequality; global imbalances; financial liberalization; consumption externalities; heterogeneity;

    JEL classification:

    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements

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