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The asymmetric adjustment of global imbalances: myth or fact?

Neus Dausà and Livio Stracca

No 2777, Working Paper Series from European Central Bank

Abstract: We revisit the so-called ”secular international problem”, whereby the adjustment of current account imbalances purportedly falls entirely on the shoulders of deficit countries. We introduce a stylised model to rationalise an asymmetric counter-cyclical policy reaction that is stronger for deficit countries. When considering large current account adjustments (both deficits and surpluses) in advanced and emerging economies, we find surprisingly little evidence of greater policy activism in deficit countries. However, large surplus adjustments are less frequent. Moreover, when we look at current account (terms of trade) shocks we do find some evidence of asymmetry in the sense that fiscal policy is tightened only in reaction to shocks leading to a larger deficit position. Finally, being in a banking crisis leads to a more counter-cyclical response to negative current account shocks, partly mitigated by a stronger NFA position and a higher quality of institutions for emerging economies. JEL Classification: F32, F41

Keywords: current account adjustment; Harry Dexter White; John Maynard Keynes; secular international problem; fiscal policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-int and nep-opm
Note: 335958
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