Great Depression recovery: The role of capital controls
Kris James Mitchener , Kirsten Wandschneider 18 August 2014
The IMF has recently revised its position on capital controls, acknowledging that they may help prevent financial crises. This column examines the effects of capital controls imposed during the Great Depression. Capital controls appear not to have been successfully used as tools for rescuing banking systems, stimulating domestic output, or for raising prices. Rather they appear to have been maintained as a means for restricting trade and repayment of foreign debts.
The use of capital controls as a policy tool – especially as a stopgap to ward off financial crises – is controversial. For example, in 1998, Malaysia was castigated by policymakers and financial markets for imposing capital controls in response to the East Asian financial crisis. In 2010, however, the IMF revised its stand against capital controls, recognising that sudden capital surges can pose risks for some countries, and acknowledging that controls on capital inflows may be part of a toolkit that countries use to ward off financial crises (Ostry et al. 2010).
Economic history Exchange rates International finance Monetary policy
exchange rates, financial crises, capital controls, gold standard, East Asian financial crisis, Great Depression
Do capital controls deflect capital flows?
Paolo Giordani, Michele Ruta, Hans Weisfeld, Ling Zhu 23 June 2014
Capital controls may help countries limit large and volatile capital inflows, but they may also have spillover effects on other countries. This column discusses recent research showing that inflow restrictions have significant spillover effects as they deflect capital flows to countries with similar economic characteristics.
The size and volatility of capital flows to developing countries have increased significantly in recent years (Figure 1), leading many economists to argue that national policies and multilateral institutions are needed to govern these flows (Forbes and Klein 2013, Blanchard and Ostry 2012). The IMF itself has reviewed its position on the liberalisation and management of capital flows, while recognising that “much further work remains to be done to improve policy coordination in the financial sector” (IMF 2012, p. 28).
China, capital flows, spillovers, South Africa, capital controls, Brazil, Capital inflows, international capital flows
Capital controls in the 21st century
Barry Eichengreen, Andrew K Rose 05 June 2014
Since the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, opposition to the use of capital controls has weakened, and some economists have advocated their use as a macroprudential policy instrument. This column shows that capital controls have rarely been used in this way in the past. Rather than moving with short-term macroeconomic variables, capital controls have tended to vary with financial, political, and institutional development. This may be because governments have other macroeconomic policy instruments at their disposal, or because suddenly imposing capital controls would send a bad signal.
Capital controls are back. The IMF (2012) has softened its earlier opposition to their use. Some emerging markets – Brazil, for example – have made renewed use of controls since the global financial crisis of 2008–2009. A number of distinguished economists have now suggested tightening and loosening controls in response to a range of economic and financial issues and problems. While the rationales vary, they tend to have in common the assumption that first-best policies are unavailable and that capital controls can be thought of as a second-best intervention.
IMF, capital flows, global financial crisis, capital controls, capital, Macroprudential policy
For a few dollars more: Reserves and growth in times of crises
Matthieu Bussière, Gong Cheng, Menzie D. Chinn , Noëmie Lisack 16 March 2014
The financial crisis that swept the global economy at the end of 2008 provides a natural experiment to test the proposition that international reserves are useful during crises. This column presents cross-country evidence based on a panel of 112 emerging and developing countries. Countries with more reserves relative to short-term debt fared better.
In the decade preceding the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC), emerging market economies accumulated large stocks of international reserves (see Figure 1). The unprecedented pace of reserve accumulation was at least partly a response to the lessons drawn from previous financial crises, which predominantly affected emerging markets. Most research on emerging-market crises suggests that countries with an insufficient level of reserves, measured against appropriately chosen benchmarks, suffered more from crises in the 1990s.1
financial crises, international reserves, capital controls
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. More recently, concerns were raised by slides in the values of the Indian rupee – which lost 18% of its value against the dollar between February and August – and by the fall in the value of the Indonesian rupiah – which has lost almost a quarter of its value against the US dollar in 2013.
Exchange rates Macroeconomic policy
exchange rates, foreign exchange reserves, India, Indonesia, global financial crisis, capital controls, Brazil, currency war
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. This ‘tapering talk’ had a sharp negative impact on economic and financial conditions in emerging markets.
Three aspects of that impact are noteworthy:
Exchange rates Monetary policy
exchange rates, monetary policy, Federal Reserve, emerging markets, capital controls, Macroprudential policies, Capital inflows, currency war, 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.
Europe's nations and regions Global crisis
Iceland, capital controls, cross-border banks
Independent monetary policies, synchronised outcomes
Espen Henriksen, Finn Kydland, Roman Šustek 02 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). The often-unarticulated presumption is that countries with independent monetary policies would make different policy decisions as long as contemporaneous shocks to output and employment were asymmetric.
Exchange rates Monetary policy
inflation, monetary policy, EMU, Central Banks, capital controls, exchange-rate 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:
- ‘Governments face the policy trilemma – the rest is commentary.’”
Admittedly, that entry was written by one of us.
Exchange rates Monetary policy
monetary policy, global crisis, capital controls, exchange-rate 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. Yet in a financially integrated world, fixed exchange rates export the monetary policy of the centre country to the periphery. It is impossible to have at the same time free capital mobility, fixed exchange rates and independent monetary policy.
International finance Monetary policy
capital controls, macro-prudential policy, Global financial cycle, VIX