NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Current Account Fact and Fiction

David Backus, Espen Henriksen, Frederic Lambert, Christopher Telmer

NBER Working Paper No. 15525
Issued in November 2009
NBER Program(s):   IFM

With US trade and current account deficits approaching 6% of GDP, some have argued that the country is "on the comfortable path to ruin" and that the required "adjustment'' may be painful. We suggest instead that things are fine: although national saving is low, the ratios of household and consolidated net worth to GDP remain high. In our view, the most striking features of the world at present are the low rates of investment and growth in some of the richest countries, whose surpluses account for about half of the US deficit. The result is that financial capital is flowing out of countries with low investment and growth and into the US and other fast-growing countries. Oil exporters account for much of the rest.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15525

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