By Norman Colton
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1. In the IMF’s framework, it is possible for the US savings-investment gap (and therefore the current account imbalance) to exceed its long-run ‘‘sustainable’’ level on a short-term basis or possibly even a medium-term basis as long as foreign capital can be attracted to finance the gap. Nonetheless, in the long run the savings-investment imbalance could not exceed its sustainable level, since it is presumed that there is an upper limit on a country’s ability to attract foreign capital on a sustained basis.
1, this aggregate has stayed close to balance as a percentage of GDP until the past few months. Now the broad balance has moved into deficit, and the overall balance is starting to depend on more short-term inflows. The degree of positive capital flows may have partially reflected the belief that rising relative US productivity might offer better returns on investments than elsewhere or a view that the current account balance might be lowered in the future, as discussed earlier. The underlying current account deficit will presumably become more of a problem for the dollar if quality capital flows slow more quickly, resulting in increasing dependence on short-term flows.
It is quite likely that if policy could improve the outlook for the Euroland economies, pending inflows might improve even more. While structural reforms and a more welcoming stance on corporate ownership might have a big impact, a significant decline in interest rates might help also. 12), there have been some notable fluctuations in both net bond flows and net equity flows. 3 Net bond flows have shifted from a large net inflow to the United States in the past few months, and net equity flows have slowed, in contrast with the picture of large net outflows for much of 2000 and early 2001.