Policymaking in crises: Pick your poison
Kristin Forbes, Michael W Klein, 24 December 2013
Government interventions to control capital flows and reduce exchange-rate volatility have long been controversial. The Global Financial Crisis has made the debate more urgent. This column discusses recent research that evaluates such policies against the counterfactual of no intervention. Depreciations and reserve sales can boost GDP growth during crises, but may also substantially increase inflation. Large increases in interest rates and new capital controls are associated with reductions in GDP growth, with no significant effect on inflation. When faced with sudden shifts in capital flows, policymakers must ‘pick their poison’.
In 2010, the Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantenga declared a ‘currency war’ because of the harmful effects of the strengthening of the real. He blamed the currency’s appreciation on easy money in advanced countries, and to a lesser extent on reserve accumulation in some emerging markets.
Topics: Exchange rates, Macroeconomic policy
Tags: Brazil, capital controls, currency war, exchange rates, foreign exchange reserves, global financial crisis, India, Indonesia
Overcoming the obstacles to international macro policy coordination is hard
Olivier Blanchard, Jonathan D Ostry, Atish R Ghosh, 20 December 2013
The world has just been through a period of unprecedented macro policy activism. More is set to come as central banks exit unconventional policies, governments fix their fiscal positions, and financial regulations are reformed. These national policies have undeniable international spillovers. This column argues that the setting is ripe for more cooperation and suggests some ways forward, even if international macro policy coordination may continue to be heard about more often than it is seen.
International policy coordination is like the Loch Ness monster – much discussed but rarely seen. Going back over the decades, and even further in history to the period between the two world wars, coordination efforts have been episodic.
Topics: Macroeconomic policy
Tags: currency war, financial regulation, fiscal consolidation, policy coordination, spillovers, unconventional monetary policy
Tapering talk: The impact of expectations of reduced Federal Reserve security purchases on emerging markets
Barry Eichengreen, Poonam Gupta, 19 December 2013
Fed tapering has started. A revival of last summer’s emerging economy turmoil is a real concern. This column discusses new research into who was hit and why by the June 2013 taper-talk shock. Those hit hardest had relatively large and liquid financial markets, and had allowed large rises in their currency values and their trade deficits. Good macro fundamentals did not provide much insulation, nor did capital controls. The best insulation came from macroprudential policies that limited exchange rate appreciation and trade deficit widening in response to foreign capital inflows.
In May 2013, Federal Reserve officials first began to talk of the possibility of the US central bank tapering its securities purchases from $85 billion a month to something lower. A milestone to which many observers point is 22 May 2013, when Chairman Bernanke raised the possibility of tapering in his testimony to Congress.
Topics: Exchange rates, Monetary policy
Tags: capital controls, Capital inflows, currency war, emerging markets, exchange rates, Federal Reserve, Macroprudential policies, monetary policy, tapering
Root causes of currency wars
Simon J Evenett, 14 February 2013
Discussion of currency wars has broken out again in the run-up to this week’s G20 finance ministers' meeting in Moscow. This column points to the underlying policy choices responsible for the recurring currency disputes and the feeble ex-post rationalisations for them.
Once dismissed as self-serving grandstanding by the Brazilian finance minister in 2010, claims that the world is closer to a currency war have returned. This time the proximate cause appears to be the publicly stated policies of the new Japanese government aimed at shaking off a decades-long economic malaise.
Topics: Global economy
Tags: currency war
An overlooked currency war in Europe
Daniel Gros, 11 October 2012
Switzerland has pegged its currency to the euro at a level that helps it sustain a 12% current-account surplus and one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe. This column argues that the Swiss peg involves currency manipulation that is, as far as Europe is concerned, the same order of magnitude as China’s intervention. It has had a significant impact on the euro exchange rate and a non-negligible effect on the EZ economy.
A current-account surplus is the mirror image of a capital export. A country that is running persistent current-account surpluses is thus persistently exporting capital. An important question to consider is which sector is investing abroad, the private or the public sector?
Topics: Macroeconomic policy
Tags: currency war, euro exchange rate, Swiss franc peg