The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Applying a consumption-smoothing model to five ASEAN countries reveals that excessive private consumption has not tended to characterize their widening external imbalances in recent years, except to a small degree in Indonesia and Malaysia. Beyond consumption smoothing, however, a number of factors influence the desirability of running large external deficits, including the level and composition of external liabilities, the flexibility of macroeconomic policies, and the health of banking systems. Even when the current account deficit appears sustainable, there is a case to reduce them in order to lower the risks arising from such factors.