Volker Wieland and Council of Economic Experts rebut criticism over German current account surplus („Financial Times“)

In its recent economic update, the German Council of Economic Experts including Volker Wieland has rejected the criticism of the Trump administration regarding the German current account surplus. The Financial Times analyzes the Council’s arguments in the debate.

In the opinion of the Council, the German current account surplus does not signal macroeconomic imbalances. Instead, temporary factors such as the ECB’s expansionary monetary policy as well as the effects of falling oil prices, an ageing population and private sector debt reduction play a major role. FT’s economic editorial writer Martin Sandu presents the Council’s explanations, although coming to a different conclusion regarding the question whether German policy should be changed or not in response to the surplus.

Concerning the persisting current account deficit of the United States, the Council emphasizes the special situation of the US dollar. This “permanent borrowing from other countries is an expression of the United States’ ‘exorbitant privilege’ to the UD dollar’s role as a reserve currency”, the Council's report says. As FT’s Sandbu concludes, “the need to run deficits if you want to supply the world’s reserve currency, well understood in economic theory as Triffin dilemma, is something that Donald Trump’s economic advisors ought to impress on the president.

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Economic forecast of the Council of Economic Experts (PDF), box 2, p. 16-20