Bank of Lithuania
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2016-08-09

A closer look at EU current accounts

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In this paper, we look at the determinants of current accounts in twenty-seven EU countries over the period 1994-2014. The twenty-seven countries of interest are divided into three sub-groups, namely: core, periphery and CEE new member states. We also assess the current accounts based on computed equilibrium values, and we provide a measure of misalignment for the medium run. As determinants we include capital flows as well as demographic, fiscal and relative development factors. The initial Net Foreign Asset position and oil balance seem to matter more in the core countries than in the periphery and CEE new member states. In contrast, the periphery and CEE new member states seem to be more strongly affected by capital flows. Fiscal balance negatively affects only the periphery, while an increase in government spending is positive for the current account for CEE new member states. In the past twenty years these misalignments have shown a cyclical behaviour in most EU countries, and the magnitude of the cycles themselves are highly heterogeneous across groups. Lastly, we compute an adjusted current account equilibrium, which tries to correct the equilibrium value by the role of expectations (proxied by IMF projections). This factor has more of an impact in the UK than in the euro-area countries.

JEL Codes: F32, F31, C33.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Bank of Lithuania.

European Union, Current account misalignments, foreign capital flows