Staff Report 489

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Global Imbalances and Structural Change in the United States

Timothy J. Kehoe - Consultant
Kim J. Ruhl
Joseph B. Steinberg

Published August 12, 2013

Abstract
Since the early 1990s, as the United States has borrowed from the rest of the world, employment in U.S. goods-producing sectors has fallen. Using a dynamic general equilibrium model, we find that rapid productivity growth in goods production, not U.S. borrowing, has been the most important driver of the decline in goods-sector employment. As the United States repays its debt, its trade balance will reverse, but goods-sector employment will continue to fall. A sudden stop in foreign lending in 2015–2016 would cause a sharp trade balance reversal and painful reallocation across sectors, but would not affect long-term structural change.


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