Last week I had the opportunity to attend an IMF conference (organized by Olivier Blanchard, Krishna Srinivasan, and Hamid Faruqee) focusing on the critical issue of assessing the sources of the pre-crisis imbalances in systemically key countries. The proceedings also had a forward looking component, highlighting the difficulties of determining when external imbalances are problematic. The conference proceedings are here.
To place the topic in perspective, here is the graph of current account imbalances, from the September 2011 World Economic Outlook:
Figure 1: Current account balances, as a share of world GDP. Forecasts from 2011 onward. Source: IMF WEO (Sept. 2011).
Here is the conference agenda, with links to the presentations. More links are available at the IMF conference website.
Introductory and Welcoming Remarks
• Olivier Blanchard
• G-20 MAP Focus on Imbalances—Krishna Srinivasan
• G-20 MAP Indicative Guidelines: how/why 7 countries were chosen for deeper assessment of imbalances—Emil Stavrev
Session 1: What can explain large current account surpluses?
Moderator: Ashoka Mody
Session 2: What can explain large current account deficits?
Moderator: Krishna Srinivasan
Luncheon and Talk (HQ 2 Conference Hall 2)—By Invitation Only
John Lipsky—reflections on G-20 process, imbalances
Session 3: External Balance Assessments
Moderator: Jonathan D. Ostry
Roundtable—Imbalances and the Global Economy: Past, Present, and Future
Moderator: Nemat Shafik (IMF, Deputy Managing Director)
Olivier Blanchard, IMF, Economic Counsellor and Director
Maurice Obstfeld, University of California at Berkeley, Professor Presentation
Stephen Pickford, HM Treasury, Managing Director—retired; Associate Fellow, Chatham House
Paul Rochon, Canada, Associate Deputy Minister of Finance
Christian Broda, Duquesne Capital, Managing Director Presentation