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Savings–investment and the current account More measurement than identity

Joscha Beckmann (), Ansgar Belke and Daniel Gros

Journal of International Money and Finance, 2022, vol. 121, issue C

Abstract: Econometric estimates of the determinants of current account (im)balances invariably start with the accounting “identity” that the current account is equal to the difference between (national) savings and (national) investment. However, this accounting relationship does not hold in the official data. The measurement errors are small but still significant for G-7 countries, and for other countries, these errors are often large (> 5% GDP), especially for less-developed countries. Larger samples imply thus also larger measurement errors. Moreover, there are important differences among the data that different widely used international sources such as the World Bank or the IMF have reported. This should be defined in full here. We illustrate the importance of these measurement errors in two ways: (1) the simple correlations between savings and investment often used to gauge capital mobility (the Feldstein–Horioka (1980) paradox) appear to be very different when different data sources are used, and (2) in a standard model for current account determination, using savings minus investment instead of the current account leads to some significantly different results, regarding the significance of the level of GDP per capita or banking crisis.

Keywords: Current account; Savings; Investment; Measurement error; Feldstein-Horioka paradox (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E01 F32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jimonfin.2021.102507

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