Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #176

Current Account Balances and Structural Adjustment in the Euro Area

by Holger Zemanek, Ansgar Belke and Gunther Schnabl

University of Duisburg-Essen, 03/2010, 49 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-197-5

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Abstract

In the past decade, a set of euro area countries has accumulated large current account deficits. After a brief relaxation of the euro area internal imbalances in the wake of the financial crisis, it appears as if this pattern arises anew when times normalize again and Germany still sticks to export-led growth. This issue has been labelled one of the most challenging economic policy issues for Europe inter alia by the European Commission and some other players on the EU level. In this paper, we analyse the role of private restructuring and structural reforms for the urgently needed sustainable readjustment of intra-euro area current account balances. A panel regression reveals a significant impact of structural reforms on intra-euro area current account balances. This implies that in particular structural reforms and wage restraint in notorious current account and budget deficit countries such as Greece are highly suitable to support long-term economic stability in Europe.

JEL-Classification: E24, F15, F16, F32

Keywords: Structural reforms; current account balances; euro area; dynamic panel estimation; interaction term

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