Cover of EconPol Working Paper 69

60%, -4% And 6%, a Tale of Thresholds for EU Fiscal and Current Account Developments

António Afonso and José Carlos Coelho (EconPol Europe, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics & Management, Universidade de Lisboa; REM/UECE)

This paper investigates the relationship between the budget balance and the current account balance for European Union countries with a quarterly data set from 1995 to 2020, using various time series and panel data empirical methodologies. The analysis shows that the impact of the budget balance on the current account balance is greater for those Eurozone countries with an average current account balance-to-GDP ratio outside the range of -4 to 6%, and in Eurozone countries with debt-to-GDP ratios above 60%. Hence, from a policy perspective, to avoid such unwelcome effects on the current account balance, governments should try to contain both, budget deficits and big current account deficits. Economic policy measures to mitigate the resulting macroeconomic imbalances should be tailored to individual countries but - given the feedback effects between economies as a whole - they also require coordination at EU level.  

Abstract

We study the relationship between the budget balance and the current account balance for European Union (EU) countries, using quarterly data from 1995 to 2020. Through the use of panel Granger causality tests and a panel SUR model, we conclude that the relationship is bi-directional for the EU panel as a whole. Furthermore, we find that in Eurozone countries, before 2010, for those countries with an average current account balance-toGDP ratio outside the range of -4 to 6%, and also in countries whose average debt-toGDP ratio is greater than 60%, the impact of the budget balance on the current account balance is greater. Conversely, in non-Eurozone countries, after 2010, in countries with a current account balance-to-GDP ratio of -4 to 6%, and also in countries with an average debt-to-GDP ratio of less than 60%, the impact of the fiscal balance on the current account balance is less relevant.

Citation

António Afonso, José Carlos Coelho: "60%, -4% And 6%, a Tale of Thresholds for EU Fiscal and Current Account Developments", EconPol Working Paper 69, October 2021