Jean-Pierre Landau, 24 November 2016

The objectives of maximising growth and reducing external imbalances may not be fully compatible in a financially integrated and asymmetric world. This column argues that countries have two choices: they can contain global imbalances and gross financial flows through permanent capital controls, or they can pursue financial integration, managing growing imbalances and external exposures by creating more global safe assets. This implies debt contracts would be either state-contingent, with easy restructuring, or built to be ‘safe’, with a high level of commitment by the issuer.

Anusha Chari, Peter Blair Henry, 06 March 2015

In the wake of the Great Recession, a contentious debate has erupted over whether austerity is helpful or harmful for economic growth. This column compares the experiences of the East Asian countries – whose leaders responded to the East Asian financial crisis with expansionary fiscal policy – with those of the European periphery countries during the Great Recession. The authors argue that it was a mistake for the European periphery countries to pivot from fiscal expansion to consolidation before their economies had recovered.

Eduardo Olaberría, 07 December 2013

Policymakers have long been concerned that large capital inflows are associated with asset-price booms. This column presents recent research showing that the composition of capital inflows also matters. The association between capital inflows and asset-price booms is about twice as strong for debt-related than for equity-related investment. Policymakers should therefore pay attention to the composition of capital inflows, since debt-related inflows may still undermine financial stability even if they do not result in an overall current-account deficit.

Françoise Lemoine, Deniz Ünal, 19 July 2012

Since 2008 China’s trade surplus has fallen sharply. This column argues that China has since become a major source of international demand, thanks to its strong economic growth. China’s import demand has been aimed at resource-rich countries and at its Asian neighbours, but also at European exporters, especially in high-end consumer goods.

Jean Pisani-Ferry, Silvia Merler, 02 April 2012

Many analysts and observers have put forward that the euro crisis is a balance-of-payments crisis at least as much as a fiscal crisis. This column provides evidence of capital-flow reversals in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. It argues that the fostering of a pan-European banking industry and the creation of a banking union with centralised supervision and access to resources to recapitalise weak financial institutions should feature high on the policy agenda.

Erlend Nier, Ouarda Merrouche, 25 March 2012

Five years into the global crisis there is still little agreement on its root causes. Had central banks kept policy rates too low for too long? Or were rising global imbalances the underlying cause of the crisis? This column suggests that the strength of net capital inflows, rather than the monetary-policy stance, emerges as the key determinant of differences in the growth of financial imbalances across OECD countries over the pre-crisis period.

Luiz de Mello, Pier Carlo Padoan, Linda Fache Rousová, 18 June 2011

For developing and emerging economies, current-account reversals are rarely welcome news. Often they lead to financial ruin and political turmoil. This column explores what current-account reversals mean for the long run. It argues that they can cause structural breaks in trend GDP growth, rather than short-lived deviations.

S. M. Ali Abbas, Jacques Bouhga-Hagbe, Antonio Fatás, Paolo Mauro, Ricardo Velloso, 16 September 2010

What impact will fiscal policy have on current-account imbalances in the years to come? Using data from a large and diverse panel of countries, this column finds that a strengthening in the fiscal balance by 1 percentage point of GDP is, on average, associated with a current-account improvement of 0.2-0.3 percentage points of GDP.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Panagiotis Konstantinou, 18 February 2009

The US net international investment position declined by an astounding magnitude in 2008. Does that imply a massive contraction in US consumption? This column provides empirical evidence that large swings in the US current account are driven by transitory shocks that don’t significantly alter consumption.

Menzie Chinn, Shang-Jin Wei, 01 December 2008

This column examines whether the pace at which a country’s current account balance adjusts to its average value depends upon the exchange rate regime. The benefits of exchange rate flexibility for current account adjustment are found to be greatly exaggerated. By some measures, a fixed exchange rate facilitates faster adjustment.

Cédric Tille, 11 October 2008

There has been a lively debate over the sustainability of global imbalances in recent years. This column argues that capital gains on international assets and liabilities are an important ingredient in any assessment of the sustainability of global imbalances.

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