Assessment of Feldstein’s ‘Global Imbalance'


  • Pawel Mlodkowski School of International Liberal Arts, Miyazaki Kokusai Daigaku



global imbalance, U.S., current account, foreign exchange reserves, the dollar


This note is a systematic review of arguments provided by Feldstein (2008) on the necessity for global readjustments, both in the U.S. and in main trading partners. The purpose is to address the main arguments in the scientific and political debate on persistent To date, there has been no publication that challenged the opinions leading to totally wrong forecasts concerning the global imbalance. With a perspective of more than 10 years of post-2008-crisis developments, and together with empirical evidence one can easily see how erroneous were the arguments formulated in 2008. The tasks included a systematic review of all arguments formulated by Martin Feldstein in 2008, and casting them against empirical evidence. The U.S. current account (CA) deficit has continued for many years, since 1982, and has not changed, as foreseen by Feldstein. The primary method is a simple comparative analysis, supported by basic macroeconomic data. They allow to reveal multiple processes leading to further deterioration of the U.S. trade balance. Neither savings rate domestically nor abroad adjusted to give a basis for solving the global imbalance. In the same time, all traditional arguments presented on global imbalances seem undeniable. However, an alternative interpretation of the imbalance does not recognize the CA deficit as “a gift to the U.S. economy”. This paper sheds new light on the “global imbalance”, suggesting that increasing domestic absorption by China may be an important factor in resolving the U.S. problematic and persistent trade deficit. Disaster-scenarios may be not there in the U.S. to experience. Future developments may be far from those announced, and previously expected by Feldstein in his seminal paper. A careful reader may conclude that all coming changes and adjustments will be slow, gradual, and will not cause any major issues in the global economy. Such conclusions seem most justified by hard data and therefore encouraging. As the topic remains central to open economy empirical macroeconomics, continuation of studies on this issue seems natural. The U.S. and China will remain the biggest economies, and, as such, they are central to the global situation.

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Economics of the European Union