Current Account Imbalances in the Euro Area: Catching Up or Competitiveness?

26 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2011

See all articles by Ansgar Hubertus Belke

Ansgar Hubertus Belke

University of Duisburg-Essen - Department of Economics and Business Administration; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Centre for European Policy Studies

Christian Dreger

European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 1, 2011

Abstract

In the debate on global imbalances, the euro area countries did not receive much attention so far. While the current account is on balance for the entire area, divergences between individual member states have increased since the introduction of the common currency. In this paper, the imbalances are traced back to catching up and competitiveness factors using paneleconometric techniques. In line with the intertemporal approach to the current account, low income countries tend to run deficits, while rich countries realize surpluses. However, the effect diminishes, if early years are dropped from the sample. The competitiveness channel is more robust and shows the expected sign, i.e. a real appreciation leads to external deficits. To restore competitiveness, a reduction of unit labour costs is on the agenda. Since a deterioration of competitiveness is not a feasible strategy for the surplus countries, an asymmetric response across countries is required in order to reduce the imbalances.

Keywords: Current account imbalances, catching up and competitiveness, euro area

JEL Classification: E44, F32, F36

Suggested Citation

Belke, Ansgar Hubertus and Dreger, Christian, Current Account Imbalances in the Euro Area: Catching Up or Competitiveness? (February 1, 2011). Ruhr Economic Paper No. 241, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1776984 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1776984

Ansgar Hubertus Belke (Contact Author)

University of Duisburg-Essen - Department of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Universitätsstr. 9
Essen, 45141
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Centre for European Policy Studies ( email )

1 Place du Congres, 1000
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

Christian Dreger

European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) ( email )

Frankfurt (Oder)
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) ( email )

Beijing, 100732
China

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