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International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

Produced since 2012, the IMF’s annual External Sector Report analyzes global external developments and provides multilaterally consistent assessments of external positions, including current accounts, real exchange rates, external balance sheets, capital flows, and international reserves, of the world’s largest economies, representing over 90 percent of global GDP. Chapter 1 discusses the evolution of global external positions in 2019, external developments during the COVID-19 crisis, and policy priorities for responding to the crisis and for reducing excess imbalances over the medium term. Chapter 2 analyzes the relationship between the structure of external assets and liabilities—the components of the international investment position—and the risk of external stress events. It also assesses how heightened global risk aversion, as during the COVID-19 crisis, amplifies these risks. Chapter 3, “Individual Economy Assessments,” provides details on the different aspects of the overall external assessment and associated policy recommendations for 30 economies. This year’s report and associated external assessments are based on the latest vintage of the External Balance Assessment (EBA) methodology and on data and IMF staff projections as of July 15, 2020.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

The IMF’s 2019 External Sector Report shows that global current account balances stand at about 3 percent of global GDP. Of this, about 35–45 percent are now deemed excessive. Meanwhile, net credit and debtor positions are at historical peaks and about four times larger than in the early 1990s. Short-term financing risks from the current configuration of external imbalances are generally contained, as debtor positions are concentrated in reserve-currency-issuing advanced economies. An intensification of trade tensions or a disorderly Brexit outcome—with further repercussions for global growth and risk aversion—could, however, affect other economies that are highly dependent on foreign demand and external financing. With output near potential in most systemic economies, a well-calibrated macroeconomic and structural policy mix is necessary to support rebalancing. Recent trade policy actions are weighing on global trade flows, investment, and growth, including through confidence effects and the disruption of global supply chains, with no discernible impact on external imbalances thus far.