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.
This paper analyzes the recent behavior of real exchange rates, the trade balance and the net foreign asset position of the United States in an intertemporal optimizing model of the world economy that incorporates heterogeneity across countries and imperfect international capital and good markets. While the model successfully tracks the dynamics of trade balances and net foreign assets it generates too much consumption smoothing and excessively volatile relative prices. Resolving these inadequacies simultaneously is difficult as the elasticity of substitution between tradables and nontradables affects in opposite ways the degree of consumption smoothing and the volatility of relative prices.