Capital controls are back in fashion. This column discusses new firm-level evidence from Brazil showing that capital controls segment international financial markets, reduce external financing, and lower firm-level investment. They disproportionately affect small, non-exporting firms, especially those more dependent on external finance. This suggests that macro-finance models focusing on aggregate variables are missing an important dimension by abstracting from firm-level heterogeneity.
Laura Alfaro, Anusha Chari, Fabio Kanczuk, Thursday, January 22, 2015
Kris James Mitchener , Kirsten Wandschneider, Monday, August 18, 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.
Paolo Giordani, Michele Ruta, Hans Weisfeld, Ling Zhu, Monday, June 23, 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.
Barry Eichengreen, Andrew K Rose, Thursday, June 5, 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.
Matthieu Bussière, Gong Cheng, Menzie D. Chinn , Noëmie Lisack, Sunday, March 16, 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.
Kristin Forbes, Michael W Klein, Tuesday, December 24, 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’.
Barry Eichengreen, Poonam Gupta, Thursday, December 19, 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.
Friðrik Már Baldursson, Richard Portes, Tuesday, November 12, 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.
Espen Henriksen, Finn Kydland, Roman Šustek, Wednesday, October 2, 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.
Michael W Klein, Jay C. Shambaugh , Friday, September 27, 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.
Hélène Rey, Saturday, August 31, 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.
Jon Danielsson, Thursday, March 28, 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.
Márcio Garcia, Friday, March 1, 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.
Otaviano Canuto, Matheus Cavallari, José Guilherme Reis, Wednesday, February 27, 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.
Michael W Klein, Thursday, January 17, 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.
Olivier Blanchard, Jonathan D Ostry, Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The IMF recently endorsed capital controls as useful policy responses to certain circumstances. This column explains the logic and the research that underpins the shift.
Yothin Jinjarak, Ilan Noy, Huanhuan Zheng, Thursday, November 22, 2012
Capital controls are experiencing a renaissance, due in part to the current financial crisis. But do they really have an effect? This column assesses the Brazilian experience, arguing that policies may be more politically or electorally convenient than effective in any economic sense. It seems policymakers understand capital controls’ relative economic impotence, but nevertheless feel forced to resort to adopting them.
Ila Patnaik, Ajay Shah, Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Can we agree that capital controls are an effective tool for macroeconomic policy? If so, should they be permanent or temporary? This column argues that under a permanent system of capital controls, a country will always bear costs whether there is a surge or capital flight or not. Looking at the Indian experience, it’s clear that capital controls do not necessarily help a government meet its macroeconomic goals in times of need.
John Williamson, Olivier Jeanne, Arvind Subramanian, Monday, June 11, 2012
Do we need international rules for capital controls? This column looks at the different regimes in countries such as Brazil and China and argues that we do.
Jon Danielsson, Ragnar Arnason, Monday, November 14, 2011
The IMF has emerged from the global crisis bigger and more powerful. But this column argues that the capital controls it required Iceland to adopt in 2008 are not of the soft and cuddly modern type that slow hot money flows. Instead they are akin to the draconian controls common in the 1950s. They violate the civil rights of Icelanders and significantly hamper economic growth.