Menzie Chinn, Hiro Ito, 21 November 2019

Global imbalances have reappeared, somewhat transformed, and relocated. Using data from developing and industrialised countries covering 1972-2016, this column shows that fiscal factors, rather than savings glut variables, have accounted for a noticeable share of the recent variation in imbalances, including in the US and Germany. The contribution of demographic factors is large for industrialised countries but not for emerging markets. Net official flows shape global imbalances in both developing and industrialised countries. 

Emine Boz, Nan Li, Hongrui Zhang, 28 February 2019

It is commonly observed that economies specialising in sectors, such as services, that face relatively high trade costs tend to run current account deficits, while those specialising in more easily tradable sectors tend to run surpluses. This column tests the causality of this observation by constructing a measure of effective trade costs. Results show that although higher effective exporting costs are associated with lower current account balances, the impact of those costs is quantitatively limited. The findings suggest that the contribution of trade costs to observed global imbalances has been modest.

Kristin Forbes, 16 May 2016

Current accounts deficits are driven by different variables, with a trade deficit being a major component. In this video, Kristin Forbes outlines a model to understand when deficits are worrying. When countries run current account deficits, we need to go beyond trade deficits and focus on financial channels and vulnerabilities. Deficits can be risky, but can also be risk-sharing. This video was recorded in March 2016 during the Royal Economic Society’s Annual Conference held at the University of Sussex.

Aqib Aslam, Samya Beidas-Strom, Marco Terrones, Juan Yépez, 29 October 2014

Global current-account imbalances narrowed substantially over the past eight years. As a result, the systemic risks associated with these imbalances have decreased. This column argues that despite this narrowing, the net creditor and debtor positions diverged further. Some large debtor economies remain exposed to changes in market confidence. Containing remaining imbalances requires a rebalance in global demand.

Gylfi Zoega, 09 April 2008

Iceland’s economic turbulence sounds like a familiar macroeconomic story – a credit expansion fuelled excessive borrowing and spending. But there are unfamiliar details – an unusually large banking sector and a central bank unable to serve as a credible lender of last resort – that raise concerns. Nevertheless, Iceland should be able to weather the current turmoil.

Events

CEPR Policy Research