Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Global Rebalancing (fg)

It was on every's agenda last two years, the question of soft or hard U.S. landing in an environment of global imbalances. The potential reasons for massive disequilibria were manifold: Twin deficits, low U.S. savings coupled with an excessive surge in assets markets, asymmetric price elasiticites of U.S. exports and imports, export-led growth strategy of China with massive reserve accumulation and finally Bernanke's global savings glut.

Most economists advocated a significant dollar depreciation in terms of its real effective exchange rate. Some analysts simulated the necessary depreciation in order to lead international balance-of-payments relations to sustainable paths (i.e. Obstfeld/Rogoff: 30%, Cavallo/Tille: 35%). However, as Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach emphazied, the real effective dollar already depreciated against its trade counterparts by more than 16% and the U.S. current account deficits decreased just slightly to 5.8%. According to Roach, global rebalancing will not take place via realignment of the world’s relative price structure through currency adjustments, but via a re-mixture of global savings and consumption. The consumption response to the bursting of the US housing bubble, thus, may be the macro question of the hour.

We'll see.