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.
After widening substantially in the period preceding the global financial crisis, current account imbalances across the world have contracted to a significant extent. This paper analyzes the factors underlying this process of external adjustment. It finds that countries whose pre-crisis current account balances were in excess of what could be explained by economic fundamentals have experienced the largest contractions in their external balance. External adjustment in deficit countries was achieved primarily through demand compression, rather than expenditure switching. Changes in other investment flows were the main channel of financial account adjustment, with official external assistance and ECB liquidity cushioning the exit of private capital flows for some countries.