Publications

Working Paper No. 554 | January 2009

Macroeconomic Imbalances in the United States and Their Impact on the International Financial System

The argument put forward in this paper is twofold. First, the financial crisis of 2007–08 was made global by the current account deficit in the United States; and second, there is global dependence on the United States trade deficit as a means of maintaining liquidity in financial markets. The outflow of dollars from the United States was invested in US capital markets, causing inflation in asset markets and leading to a bubble and bust in the subprime mortgage sector. Since the US dollar is the international reserve currency, international debt is mostly denominated in dollars. Because there is a high degree of global financial integration, any reduction in the US balance of trade will have negative effects on many countries throughout the world—for example, those countries dependent on exporting to the United States in order to finance their debt.

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