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
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
Capital controls and the resolution of failed cross-border banks: The case of Iceland
Friðrik Már Baldursson, Richard Portes, 12 November 2013
Iceland’s 2008 capital controls are still in place to prevent outflows of domestic holdings in failed cross-border banks. However, it is important for the country’s future economic prosperity to lift the capital controls without endangering financial stability. This column discusses the risks of capital controls and gives policy recommendations for cases of the three former major Icelandic banks.
A large amount of carry trade was drawn to Iceland in the boom leading up to the crisis of early October 2008 (Danielsson and Arnason 2011, Baldursson and Portes 2013a). As pressure mounted on the Icelandic banks, investors increasingly chose to exit the krona, which depreciated by 25% during the week before the banks collapsed. As the banks went down, the krona depreciated even further.
Topics: Europe's nations and regions, Global crisis
Tags: capital controls, cross-border banks, Iceland
Independent monetary policies, synchronised outcomes
Espen Henriksen, Finn Kydland, Roman Šustek, 2 October 2013
The monetary policy for Eurozone members is one-size-fits-all in an economic area rife with economic differences. Does this really make a difference? This column argues that even if each EZ member state had a fully independent monetary authority, monetary policies would likely still appear highly synchronised across EZ members.
The recession in the Eurozone has given new life to optimal-currency-area thinking. The argument goes that the disadvantages of a single currency come from the loss of flexibility and ability to use monetary policy to respond to “asymmetric shocks” (Krugman and Obstfeld 2009).
Topics: Exchange rates, Monetary policy
Tags: capital controls, Central Banks, EMU, exchange-rate policy, inflation, monetary policy
Is there a dilemma with the Trilemma?
Michael W Klein, Jay C. Shambaugh , 27 September 2013
The ‘financial trilemma’ – that open capital markets and pegged exchange rates mean a loss of monetary autonomy – has recently been challenged. Some argue that even flexible exchange rates cannot assure monetary autonomy without capital controls, while others argue even countries with fixed exchange rates can gain autonomy through temporary capital controls. This column argues that free floating exchange rates do in fact allow autonomy, and partially floating ones allow partial autonomy. For countries with fixed exchange rates, capital controls provide monetary autonomy when they are widely applied and longstanding, but not when they are temporary and narrowly targeted.
In the Handbook of Safeguarding Global Financial Stability, the chapter “Capital Mobility and Exchange Rate Regimes” begins “Forced to state all the insights of international macroeconomics while standing on one leg, one could do worse than raise a foot off the ground and say something like:
Topics: Exchange rates, Monetary policy
Tags: capital controls, exchange-rate policy, global crisis, monetary policy
Dilemma not Trilemma: The global financial cycle and monetary policy independence
Hélène Rey, 31 August 2013
The global financial cycle has transformed the well-known trilemma into a ‘dilemma’. Independent monetary policies are possible if and only if the capital account is managed directly or indirectly. This column argues the right policies to deal with the ‘dilemma’ should aim at curbing excessive leverage and credit growth. A combination of macroprudential policies guided by aggressive stress‐testing and tougher leverage ratios are needed. Some capital controls may also be useful.
Looking at the evolution of financial integration over the past half‐century in the world economy, one might conclude that financial openness is an irresistible long-run trend, hailed by policymakers and academic economists alike. Both emerging markets and advanced economies have increasingly opened their borders to financial flows.
Topics: International finance, Monetary policy
Tags: capital controls, Global financial cycle, macro-prudential policy, VIX
The capital controls in Cyprus and the Icelandic experience
Jon Danielsson, 28 March 2013
Cyprus has imposed temporary capital controls. This column sheds light on how temporary and how damaging they are likely to be, based on Iceland’s experience. The longer controls exist, the harder they are to abolish. Icelandic capital controls, which have been ‘temporary’ for half a decade, deeply damage the economy by discouraging investment. We can only hope the authorities that created the chaos in the first place realise that temporary really needs to mean temporary.
The Cypriot government, European authorities and the IMF have concluded that capital controls are the best way to prevent a total collapse of the Cypriot financial system. Motivated by the obvious fear that anybody with money left over in Cyprus will seek to take their money out as soon as possible, temporary capital controls are to be put in place to prevent this.
Topics: EU institutions, Macroeconomic policy
Tags: capital controls, Cyprus, Eurozone crisis, Iceland
Brazil: Did inward capital controls work?
Márcio Garcia, 1 March 2013
Did inward capital controls work for Brazil? This column assesses the evidence, concluding that capital controls are desirable if they help avoid excessive debt and asset price bubbles, a risk given the appetite of foreign investors towards Brazilian assets. That said, policymakers needs to complement capital controls with foreign savings in order to enable an investment rate compatible with sustaining GDP growth.
As the developed economies struggle to revive growth and create jobs, the debate about currency wars has come to forefront, with generalised quantitative easing, an EU Tobin tax, and confusing comments from G7 official regarding the effects of Abenomics on the yen.
Topics: Global governance, International trade
Tags: Brazil, capital controls
The Brazilian competitiveness cliff
Otaviano Canuto, Matheus Cavallari, José Guilherme Reis, 27 February 2013
Brazilian exports of goods and services have grown sharply in recent years, tripling since 2000. This column argues that Brazil’s export performance depends mostly on favourable geographical and sector composition effects and that a recent slowdown in industrial exports, production, and investments are not related to insufficient demand but rather supply-side inefficiencies and rising costs. Policymakers ought to aim for urgent progress on the nation’s microeconomic reforms agenda, an increase in the investment-to-GDP ratio, and improvements in human capital.
The Brazilian economy is facing considerable competitiveness challenges (Bonelli and Pinheiro 2012). After several years of strong expansion, the recent slowdown seems related to supply-side difficulties stemming from a wide range of inefficiencies and rising costs, rather than insufficient aggregate demand.
Topics: International trade, Monetary policy
Tags: BRICs, capital controls, competitiveness, MIST
Capital controls: Gates versus walls
Michael W Klein, 17 January 2013
Capital controls are back in vogue. This column argues that we should distinguish between episodic controls (gates) and long-standing controls (walls). Research shows that the apparent success of 'walls' in China and India tells us little about the consequences of capital controls imposed or removed in countries like Brazil and South Korea, as circumstances change. Walls and gates are fundamentally distinct, and policy debate needs to take into account these differences.
Capital controls are no longer considered rogue policies.
Topics: Macroeconomic policy
Tags: Brazil, capital controls, China, South Korea