The role of corporate saving in global rebalancing
Philippe Bacchetta, Kenza Benhima 24 August 2014
Among the various explanations behind global imbalances, the role of corporate saving has received relatively little attention. This column argues that corporate saving is quantitatively relevant, and proposes a theory that is consistent with the stylised facts and useful for understanding the current phase of global rebalancing. The theory implies that, while the economic contraction originating in developed countries has pushed interest rates towards the zero lower bound, the recent growth slowdown in emerging countries could push them out of it.
The increase in global imbalances in the last decade posed a theoretical challenge for international macroeconomics. Why did some less-developed countries with a higher need for capital, like China, lend to richer countries? The inconsistency of standard open-economy dynamic models with actual global capital flows had already been stressed before (e.g. by Lucas 1990), but the sensitivity to this issue became more acute with increasing global imbalances. This stimulated the development of several alternative theoretical frameworks.
International finance International trade
interest rates, global imbalances, capital flows, saving, global crisis, credit constraints, savings glut, zero lower bound, corporate saving, global rebalancing
TARGET balances, Bretton Woods, and the Great Depression
Michael Bordo 21 March 2014
Since 2007, there has been a buildup of TARGET imbalances within the Eurosystem – growing liabilities of national central banks in the periphery matched by growing claims of central banks in the core. This column argues that, rather than signalling the collapse of the monetary system – as was the case for Bretton Woods between 1968 and 1971 – these TARGET imbalances represent a successful institutional innovation that prevented a repeat of the US payments crisis of 1933.
During the Eurozone crisis, an analogy was made between the events in Europe between 2007 and 2012 and the collapse of the Bretton Woods System between 1968 and 1971. There has been a build-up of TARGET liabilities since 2007 by some central banks (notably Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, or the ‘GIPS’), and of TARGET assets by Germany and others.
Economic history International finance
ECB, eurozone, euro, global imbalances, Central Banks, financial crisis, Great Depression, Eurosystem, Eurozone crisis, Bretton Woods, TARGET
Tracking the causes of Eurozone external imbalances: New evidence
Jose Luis Diaz Sanchez, Aristomene Varoudakis 06 February 2014
External imbalances within the Eurozone grew substantially between the introduction of the euro in 1999 and the global financial crisis of 2008–09. Using new empirical evidence, this column argues that imbalances in the Eurozone periphery were mainly driven by a domestic demand boom, triggered by greater financial integration, with changes in the periphery’s competitiveness playing only a minor role. Internal devaluation may thus have been of limited effectiveness in restoring external balances, although better external competitiveness may eventually boost medium-term growth.
The Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, triggered by the 2008–09 global financial crisis, exposed macroeconomic imbalances in member countries that had accrued gradually following the advent of the euro in 1999. The growing current-account deficits in the Eurozone periphery and surpluses in the core were a main symptom of these imbalances (Figure 1).1 These patterns of intra-Eurozone current-account imbalances led to the accumulation of large external debts in the Eurozone periphery, matched by growing claims held by commercial banks in the core.
competitiveness, eurozone, global imbalances, global financial crisis, European sovereign debt crisis
China's growth, stability, and use of international reserves
Joshua Aizenman, Yothin Jinjarak, Nancy P. Marion 05 January 2014
Before the financial crisis, the world economy was characterised by large and growing current account imbalances. Since the onset of the crisis, the current account imbalances of the US and China have decreased to half their pre-crisis levels. This column highlights the implications of the reduction in the current account surplus for China, and gives policy recommendations. A restructuring of the economy is needed, and reversing of policies that depress consumption and prevent real appreciation.
US, global imbalances, China, global crisis
Global and Eurozone imbalances: A question of civic capital?
Sascha Bützer, Christina Jordan, Livio Stracca 23 November 2013
Since the advent of the Eurozone sovereign-debt crisis, economic commentators have drawn attention to macroeconomic imbalances within the Eurozone. This column presents evidence on the link between macroeconomic imbalances and differences in culture – or more specifically, interpersonal trust. A conservative estimatation suggests that a one standard-deviation increase in trust reduces macroeconomic imbalances by about a quarter of a standard deviation. Moreover, differences in interpersonal trust can explain a fifth of the variation in intra-Eurozone imbalances.
Macroeconomic imbalances have been the subject of much debate in recent years, and are still in the spotlight. Before and during the financial crisis, a lot of attention was devoted to global imbalances – in particular to the persistent current-account deficits of some countries (such as the US) and the persistent surpluses of others (such as China). With the advent of the Eurozone sovereign-debt crisis, the attention has shifted to imbalances within the Eurozone.
Europe's nations and regions International trade
eurozone, global imbalances, trust, World Values Survey, civic capital
International cooperation and central banks
Harold James 08 October 2013
The global nature of the recent financial crisis required a coordinated response from central banks. After the fall of Lehman Brothers, several of them simultaneously reduced their policy rates, and the Fed extended dollar swap lines to its overseas counterparts. However, the second phase of the crisis has put increasing strain on international cooperation. This column presents two explanations. First, the Eurozone crisis threatens the solvency of governments, thus creating conflict over who will pay the costs of maintaining financial stability. Second, unconventional monetary policy has had spillover effects in developing countries.
Tackling the aftermath of a major financial crisis, the origins of which lie in ‘global imbalances’ and whose transmission mechanisms are cross-national, seems prima facie to demand more substantial and institutionalised cooperation. However, in the five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, visions of what central banks can and should do have changed profoundly. In particular, the demand that they should play a much more vigorous and preemptive role in financial supervision has had made them more nationally focused and in consequence less prone to cooperate.
Global crisis International finance
monetary policy, global imbalances, Central Banks, global crisis, policy coordination, Eurozone crisis
Value-added exchange rates
Rudolfs Bems, Robert Johnson 06 December 2012
With the rise of complex, globalised supply chains is the real effective exchange rate (REER), the most commonly used measure of competitiveness, now outdated? If it is, what should replace it? This column presents a ‘Value-Added REER’ and shows that it differs substantially from the conventional REER. Because it is possible to construct a new Value-Added REER from existing data, policymakers interested in improving their understanding of competitiveness might well consider including it in their toolbox.
Real effective exchange rates (REERs) are widely used to gauge competitiveness. Yet conventional REERs, based on gross trade flows and consumer price indexes (CPIs), are not well suited to that role when imports are used to produce exports – i.e., with vertical specialisation in trade.
Competition policy Global economy International trade
competitiveness, Germany, global imbalances, China, globalisation, trade, supply chains, iPhone
Global trade in services: Fear, facts, and offshoring
J. Bradford Jensen 19 November 2012
Should developed countries fear trade in services? Won’t high skilled jobs be lost to cheaper, developing country service workers? This column argues that trade in services represents a profitable opportunity as long as international trade in services is liberalised. The US and other developed countries should aggressively pursue fairer and thus more favourable terms under the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement.
Should the US, or indeed the EU, Japan, Canada, or Australia, fear increased trade in services? As the ‘Really Good Friends of Services’ discussions gain momentum in Geneva, it seems an important time to ask1.
global imbalances, WTO, international trade, protectionism
Slow but steady? External adjustment within the Eurozone starts working
Marco Buti, Alessandro Turrini 12 November 2012
Why aren’t Eurozone imbalances adjusting? This column argues that there is heartening evidence that they are. Labour markets are beginning to be reformed across Europe, thereby increasing countries’ competitiveness. However, the road ahead will surely long and hard; for external adjustment to really work, it is crucial that financial markets start to take a lead supportive role.
There is a general perception in the policy debate that Eurozone imbalances are not adjusting. Deficit countries are stuck in an unsustainable equilibrium and surplus countries’ growth is mostly based on exports. The most pressing concern is that a symmetric evolution of competitiveness between surplus and deficit countries is needed for rebalancing to be complete and durable. This will be something that is hard to achieve, most notably because the competitive disinflation processes that are required in deficit countries are painful.
EU policies Europe's nations and regions Financial markets Labour markets
global imbalances, financial crisis, Greece, Eurozone crisis, banking union
Global Rebalancing 2.0
Linda Lim, Ronald U Mendoza 24 September 2012
There has been much talk among economists of ‘global rebalancing’, with the focus on China and the US rebalancing their current accounts. But this column argues that the type of rebalancing that will bring real gains to the global economy is one that will be shaped by many countries, both industrial and developing.
The discussion on global rebalancing is at a crossroads, and much of what will shape policy options moving forward will have to be taken up in roundtables that include more countries than the two usual suspects, China and the US.
US, global imbalances, China