1887

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

Current Account Imbalances in the Euro Area

A Comparative Perspective

This paper considers the increase in current account imbalances in euro area countries since the early 1990s. While the euro area as a whole has remained relatively close to external balance, the current account balances of individual countries have diverged: Spain, Greece and Portugal ran large current account deficits by historical norms for industrial economies, while Germany and the Netherlands ran large surpluses. These imbalances are larger and more sustained than those observed in recent decades. While there has been extensive discussion of the US and Chinese external positions in the context of the debate on global imbalances, more attention has been given to the developments in the euro area only in the wake of the recent sovereign debt crisis. This paper uses a period-average model estimated on data for OECD countries since the late 1960s to investigate the determinants of current account imbalances. Fundamental economic factors are found to play an important role, in line with earlier studies, but do not fully explain the extent of imbalances over the past decade. The strength of housing investment appears to capture important effects over this period. This working paper relates to the 2010 OECD Economic Survey of the Euro Area (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/euroarea).

English

Keywords: euro area, current account, imbalances
JEL: F41: International Economics / Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance / Open Economy Macroeconomics; F32: International Economics / International Finance / Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
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