International Finance

39 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2004 Last revised: 4 Apr 2015

See all articles by Maurice Obstfeld

Maurice Obstfeld

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 1986

Abstract

This essay written for The New Palgrave dictionary of Ecnomics provides a selective and interpretive account of the development of thought on international financial questions. Attention is focused on the process of international adjustment and on the proper definition of external balance. Since the first descriptions of the price-specie-flow mechanism in Humes time, the definition of external balance has evolved in response to changes in the world economy's structure. The foreign reserve constraint so central under the gold standard or in the early Bretton Woods years is less important under conditions of high international capital mobility. Increasingly, the current account and the national intertemporal budget constraint are emphasized in discussions of international adjustment. In analogy with the idea of a high-employment government budget surplus, a working definition of external balance might be a current account that maintains the highest possible steady consumption level consistent with the economy's expected intertemporal budget constraint. Intertemporal approaches to external balance become more difficult to apply when countries face credit rationing as a result of nonrepayment risk.

Suggested Citation

Obstfeld, Maurice, International Finance (November 1986). NBER Working Paper No. w2077. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=344854

Maurice Obstfeld (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
510-643-9646 (Phone)
510-642-6615 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/obstfeld/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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