An Equilibrium Model of "Global Imbalances" and Low Interest Rates

Ricardo J. Caballero, Emmanuel Farhi, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas

NBER Working Paper No. 11996
Issued in February 2006
NBER Program(s):   EFG   IFM

Three of the most important recent facts in global macroeconomics -- the sustained rise in the US current account deficit, the stubborn decline in long run real rates, and the rise in the share of US assets in global portfolio -- appear as anomalies from the perspective of conventional wisdom and models. Instead, in this paper we provide a model that rationalizes these facts as an equilibrium outcome of two observed forces: a) potential growth differentials among different regions of the world and, b) heterogeneity in these regions' capacity to generate financial assets from real investments. In extensions of the basic model, we also generate exchange rate and FDI excess returns which are broadly consistent with the recent trends in these variables. Unlike the conventional wisdom, in the absence of a large change in (a) or (b), our model does not augur any catastrophic event. More generally, the framework is flexible enough to shed light on a range of scenarios in a global equilibrium environment.

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This paper was revised on May 24, 2006

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11996

Published: Caballero, Ricardo, Emmanuel Farhi and Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas. “An Equilibrium Model of Global Imbalances and Low Interest Rates." American Economic Review 98, 1 (March 2008). citation courtesy of

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