Structural and CyclicalFactors behind Current-Account Balances

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Global external imbalances widened persistently over the last several years and have narrowed abruptly over the course of the financial crisis. Understanding the extent to which structural or cyclical factors may have driven these patterns is important to assess the likely evolution of global imbalances going forward, as well as the potential adjustment that can be achieved through changes in policy. This paper assesses the link between structural and cyclical factors and current-account balances using a panel of 94 countries from 1973 to 2008. We find that the medium-term evolution of global external imbalances can be related in large part to structural factors including cross-country differences in demographics, fiscal deficits, oil dependency and intensity, stage of economic development, financial market development, and institutional quality. Part of the narrowing in current-account balances since the financial crisis appears to be related to various cyclical factors including changes in output growth, oil prices, and exchange rates, and may be expected to reverse alongside the economic recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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