Balance of payments theory is endowed with several schools of thought each approaching the problem from a slightly different angle. To most professional economist this multiplicity is a source of strength, each school highlighting certain problems and largely ignoring others, but to many students it is, in my experience, a source of confusion. This note, pedagogical in intent, seeks not to draw fresh parallels between the various schools but to place them all within a single accounting framework so that their similarities and differences are readily apparent. The model used for this purpose is perhaps overly simple but it does, I believe, capture the essential features and it is amenable to expansion and adaptation to illustrate particular points. Above all I have, for several years, found it a useful vehicle for illustrating the common ground in the various approaches to the theory of the balance of payments.
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