Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the issue of high current account deficit (CAD) from various perspectives focussing its behaviour, financing pattern and sustainability for India.
Design/methodology/approach – To begin with the trends, composition and dynamics of CAD for India are analysed. Next, the influence of capital flows on current account is investigated using Granger noncausality test proposed by Toda and Yamamoto (1995) between current account balance (CAB) to GDP ratio and financial account balance to GDP ratio. Also, the sustainability of India’s current account is examined using different econometrics techniques. In particular, Husted’s (1992), Johansen’s cointegration and vector error correction model (VECM) is applied along with conducting unit root and structural break tests wherever applicable. Further, long-run and short-run determinants of the CAB are estimated using Johansen’s VECM.
Findings – The study found that the widening of CAD is due to fall in household financial savings and corporate investments. Also, it was found that a large part of India’s CAD has been financed by FDI and portfolio investments which are partly replaced by short-term volatile flows. The unit root and cointegration tests indicate a sustainable current account for India. Further, econometric analysis reveals that India’s current account is driven by fiscal deficit, terms of trade growth, inflation, real deposit rate, trade openness, relative income growth and the age dependency factor.
Practical implications – Since India’s CAD has widened and is expected to widen primarily due to rise in gold and oil imports, policy makers should focus on achieving phenomenal export growth so that a sustainable current account is maintained. Also, with rising working-age and skilled population, India should focus more on high-value product exports rather than low-value manufactured items. Further, on the structural side it is important to correct fiscal deficit as it is one of the important factors contributing to large CAD.
Originality/value – The paper is an important empirical contribution towards explaining India’s CAD over time using latest and comprehensive data and econometric models
Cointegration, Current account deficit, Twin deficit, Financial savings