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The role of internal devaluation on the correction of the Spanish external deficit

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Villanueva, Paloma and Cárdenas del Rey, Luis and Uxó, Jorge and Álvarez, Ignacio (2018) The role of internal devaluation on the correction of the Spanish external deficit. [ Working Papers; nº 05, 2018, ]

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Abstract

The Spanish economy has been one of the EU’s most affected by the Great Recession of 2008, recording a rate of unemployment of 26.2% in 2013. However, since 2014 Spain is growing faster than most Euro Area countries, reaching an annual growth rate over 3% during the period 2015- 2017. Moreover, it has turned its historical current account deficit, which peaked in 2007, into a surplus of 2 % of GDP in 2017.
International and Spanish institutions, as well as some scholars, have rooted this readjustment of the current account in the “internal devaluation strategy”. Consisting in the reduction of wages, this strategy is supposed to have boosted exports and therefore Spanish economic activity, through the reversion of the accumulated loss of price-competitiveness since the creation of the European Monetary Union. Nevertheless, empirical evidence shows that changes in demand (and some exceptional factors as the recent evolution of oil prices) are much more important to explain the evolution of Spanish net exports than changes in price competitiveness.
Based on an extended version of the Bhaduri-Marglin model, which enables the disentangling of the price effect from the demand effect, this paper sheds light on the true influence of internal devaluation on the deficit correction occurred in the Spanish external sector. It reveals that wage restraint has meant only limited gains in price-competitiveness, having affected external balance mainly through a “demand effect” on imports, although to a limited extent. The estimations carried out show that the internal devaluation strategy readjusted the Spanish external sector by 1.74 p.p. during the period of 2010-2017. Of all this correction, 98% is induced by a change in the demand of the economy, and only 2% is due to the effect on prices. It makes also clear that although exports performance has been remarkable during last years in Spain, it does not differ much from the previous decade, and it cannot be explained by internal devaluation.

Resumen (otros idiomas)

La economía española ha sido una de las más afectadas de la UE por la Gran Recesión de 2008, alcanzando la tasa de paro un 26,2% en 2013. Sin embargo, desde 2014 España está creciendo a un ritmo superior al de los países de la zona del Euro, concretamente por encima del 3% en el período 2015-2017, y lleva desde entonces registrando superávits por cuenta corriente (2% del PIB en 2017). Tanto instituciones internacionales como españolas, además de numerosos economistas, sostienen que dicho ajuste exterior es fruto de la devaluación interna. Así, la reducción de los salarios habría contribuido al crecimiento de las exportaciones, y por tanto de la producción, gracias a la recuperación de la competitividad precio, la cual se había deteriorado desde la creación de la Unión Monetaria Europea. No obstante, la evidencia empírica sugiere que la evolución de la demanda interna (y de otros factores como los precios del petróleo) se encuentran detrás de la corrección del histórico déficit por cuenta corriente. Basándonos en una versión extendida del modelo de Bhaduri-Marglin, que distingue el efecto precio del efecto demanda, este trabajo aclara el papel de dicha estrategia en el reajuste exterior. De tal forma, para el período 2010-2017 los efectos de esta estrategia han sido muy limitados; siendo el efecto demanda (1,71 pp) claramente predominante sobre el efecto precios (0,03 pp). Estos resultados apuntan a que el éxito exportador no ha sido consecuencia de la devaluación salarial.

Item Type:Working Paper or Technical Report
Uncontrolled Keywords:Spanish current account; Wage share; Price-cost competitiveness; Internal devaluation; Bhaduri-Marglin
Palabras clave (otros idiomas):Balanza por cuenta corriente; Rentas del trabajo; Competitividad precio; Devaluación interna; Bhaduri-Marglin
Subjects:Social sciences > Economics > Economic indicators
Social sciences > Economics > Macroeconomics
JEL:E12, E25, E64, F32
Series Name:Working Papers
Volume:2018
Number:05
ID Code:49373
Deposited On:05 Oct 2018 09:47
Last Modified:05 Oct 2018 09:50

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