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External Balance Adjustment: An Intra-National and International Comparison

34 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2011  

Constance E. Smith

University of Alberta - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 7, 2011


Large external imbalances have become a policy concern. This study investigates the determinants of external balances for regions within a single country – Canadian provinces – as well as for a sample of 18 OECD countries. External balance adjustment may differ for provinces since there are few intra-national barriers to the mobility of capital, goods and labour within Canada. Also, because Canada is a monetary union, there is no currency risk associated with lending and borrowing across provinces, and this may promote inter-provincial financial flows. The estimates show that the short run response of the external balance to disturbances, such as a deterioration in the terms of trade, is typically larger for Canadian provinces than for OECD countries. There is also a much greater speed of adjustment of the external balance in the Canadian provinces. This faster adjustment speed, combined with the larger response of the external balance, means that provinces may see a quicker resolution of external imbalances, but larger deficits or surpluses may emerge before adjustment occurs.

Keywords: Current Account, External Balance, Global Imbalances, Currency Union

JEL Classification: F32, F36

Suggested Citation

Smith, Constance E., External Balance Adjustment: An Intra-National and International Comparison (March 7, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Constance Smith (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Economics ( email )

Tory. HM 8-14
Edmonton T6G 2H4, Alberta
780-492-5940 (Phone)
780-492-3300 (Fax)

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