This Selected Issues paper identifies episodes of large and sustained current account surpluses in advanced economies (AEs) and compares Germany’s ongoing surplus with those episodes. In doing so, the paper aims to put Germany’s external position in a historical and cross-country context drawing from 55 years of data across 20 AEs. The comparison shows that the real growth of all domestic demand components, particularly of private investment, was remarkably weak during the latest sustained surplus episode in Germany in comparison with both “normal times” and other AE surplus episodes. Neither Germany’s nor a typical AE surplus episode has been accompanied by visible, broad-based competitiveness or terms of trade gains.
IMF Staff Country Reports

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