Sharp exchange rate depreciations in the East Asian crisis countries (Indonesia, Korea, and Thailand) raised doubts about the efficacy of increasing interest rates to defend the currency. Using a standard monetary model of exchange rate determination, this paper shows that tighter monetary policy was in fact associated with an appreciation of the exchange rate. Moreover, there is little evidence of higher real interest rates contributing to a widening of the risk premium.
The member countries of the International Monetary Fund collaborate to try to assure orderly exchange arrangements and promote a stable system of exchange rates, recognizing that the essential purpose of the international monetary system is to facilitate the exchange of goods, services, and capital, and to sustain sound economic growth. The paper reviews the stability of the overall system of exchange rates by examining macroeconomic performance (inflation, growth, crises) under alternative exchange rate regimes; implications of exchange rate regime choice for interaction with the rest of the system (external adjustment, trade integration, capital flows); and potential sources of stress to the international monetary system.
The growing integration of world capital markets has made it fashionable to argue that only extreme exchange rate regimes are sustainable. Short of adopting a common currency, currency board arrangements represent the most extreme form of exchange rate peg. This paper compares the macroeconomic performance of countries with currency boards to those with other forms of pegged exchange rate regime. Currency boards are indeed associated with better inflation performance, even allowing for potential endogeneity of the choice of regime. Perhaps more surprisingly, this better inflation performance is accompanied by higher output growth.
This paper revisits the bipolar prescription for exchange rate regime choice and asks two questions: are the poles of hard pegs and pure floats still safer than the middle? And where to draw the line between safe floats and risky intermediate regimes? Our findings, based on a sample of 50 EMEs over 1980-2011, show that macroeconomic and financial vulnerabilities are significantly greater under less flexible intermediate regimes—including hard pegs—as compared to floats. While not especially susceptible to banking or currency crises, hard pegs are significantly more prone to growth collapses, suggesting that the security of the hard end of the prescription is largely illusory. Intermediate regimes as a class are the most susceptible to crises, but “managed floats”—a subclass within such regimes—behave much more like pure floats, with significantly lower risks and fewer crises. “Managed floating,” however, is a nebulous concept; a characterization of more crisis prone regimes suggests no simple dividing line between safe floats and risky intermediate regimes.
Although few would doubt that very high inflation is bad for growth, there is much less agreement about moderate inflation’s effects. Using panel regressions and a nonlinear specification, this paper finds a statistically and economically significant negative relationship between inflation and growth. This relationship holds at all but the lowest inflation rates and is robust across various samples and specifications. The method of binary recursive trees identifies inflation as one the most important statistical determinants of growth. Finally, while there are short-run growth costs of disinflation, these are only relevant for the most severe disinflations, or when the initial inflation rate is well within the single-digit range.
We develop an overlapping generations model of a developing economy in which ‘culture’ and technology interact to determine savings, investment and growth. Investment is assumed to involve intermediation or other costs which may, in each period, result in either of two stable equilibria for the savings rate. At the “good” equilibrium, savings and growth are higher than at the “bad” equilibrium, whether the country attains the good or bad equilibrium in any period depends on each individual’s belief about the savings behavior of other agents in the economy. The model implies that fiscal policy or public activities to facilitate private investment can influence saving. In particular, a sustained period of fiscal restraint can shift the economy onto a higher savings and growth path.
This paper investigates why controls on capital inflows have a bad name, and evoke such visceral opposition, by tracing how capital controls have been used and perceived, since the late nineteenth century. While advanced countries often employed capital controls to tame speculative inflows during the last century, we conjecture that several factors undermined their subsequent use as prudential tools. First, it appears that inflow controls became inextricably linked with outflow controls. The latter have typically been more pervasive, more stringent, and more linked to autocratic regimes, failed macroeconomic policies, and financial crisis—inflow controls are thus damned by this “guilt by association.” Second, capital account restrictions often tend to be associated with current account restrictions. As countries aspired to achieve greater trade integration, capital controls came to be viewed as incompatible with free trade. Third, as policy activism of the 1970s gave way to the free market ideology of the 1980s and 1990s, the use of capital controls, even on inflows and for prudential purposes, fell into disrepute.
Milton Friedman argued that flexible exchange rates would facilitate external adjustment. Recent studies find surprisingly little robust evidence that they do. We argue that this is because they use composite (or aggregate) exchange rate regime classifications, which often mask very heterogeneous bilateral relationships between countries. Constructing a novel dataset of bilateral exchange rate regimes that differentiates by the degree of exchange rate flexibility, as well as by direct and indirect exchange rate relationships, for 181 countries over 1980–2011, we find a significant and empirically robust relationship between exchange rate flexibility and the speed of external adjustment. Our results are supported by several “natural experiments” of exogenous changes in bilateral exchange rate regimes.
This paper presents two approaches to modeling the use of IMF resources in order to gauge whether the recent decline in credit outstanding is a temporary or a permanent phenomenon. The two approaches-the time series behavior of credit outstanding and a two-stage program selection and access model-yield the same conclusion: the use of IMF resources is likely to decline sharply. Specifically, credit outstanding is projected to decline from an average of SDR 50 billion over 2000?05 to SDR 8 billion over 2006?10. Stochastic simulations suggest that it is unlikely to be much higher. These results are based on WEO projections with a correction for historically-observed over-optimistic biases. Alternative scenarios assuming a weaker economic performance or a less benign global environment do not alter these results.
Following very high inflation rates at the beginning of the reform process, most transition countries have succeeded in lowering their inflation to more moderate rates. Inflation rates in the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union are now typically in the range of 10–60 percent. This essay examines whether a further reduction in inflation may be necessary. It concludes that low inflation may be important for achieving remonetization of the economy and sustained output growth.