The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The discussion of global and regional imbalances has put the spotlight on the possible link between current accounts and structural policies. Drawing on standard empirical current account models, the paper finds that the commonly recommended structural factors cannot explain the widening of imbalances prior to the 2008 - 09 crisis. That said, structural factors do help explain some part of long-standing cross-country differences in the current account levels. In particular, countries with stricter credit market regulation, higher taxes on businesses, lower minimum wage (in particular,in slow growing economies) and generous unemployment benefits tend to have higher current account balances than others.