Figure 1. Global Current Balances for Select Country Aggregates. Note sum of surpluses and deficits do not equal due to statistical discrepancy. Source: IMF, WEO, October 2018.
While the imbalances havea reappeared (see my Jackson Hole paper), the dispersion of current account imbalances has not yet come close to that witnessed in 2007, on the eve of the Great Recession.
Figure 2. Distribution of current account balances, as share of national GDP
From the abstract of the paper:
Global current account imbalances have reappeared, although the extent and distribution of these imbalances are noticeably different from those experienced in the middle of the last decade. What does that recurrence mean for our understanding of the origin and nature of such imbalances? Will imbalances persist over time? Informed by empirical estimates of the determinants of current account imbalances encompassing the period after the global recession, we find that – as before – the observable manifestations of the factors driving the global saving glut have limited explanatory power for the time series variation in imbalances. Fiscal factors determine imbalances, and have accounted for a noticeable share of the recent variation in imbalances, including in the U.S. and Germany. For advanced economies, the financial component of the current account has been playing an increasing role to determine the movements of the account. Examining observable policy actions, it is clear that net official flows have been associated with some share of imbalances, although tracing out the motivations for intervention is difficult. Looking forward, it is clear that policy can influence global imbalances, although some component of the U.S. deficit will likely remain given the U.S. role in generating safe assets.