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Capital Controls 2010 04

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    Capital   Controls   and   Monetary   Policy   in   Developing   Countries    José   Antonio   Cordero   and    Juan   Antonio   Montecino   April 2010 Center for Economic and Policy Research  1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 400 Washington, D.C. 20009 202-293-5380 www.cepr.net  Contents   Executive Summary...........................................................................................................................................3 Introduction........................................................................................................................................................5 Macroeconomics and Monetary Policy...........................................................................................................6 Inflation targeting versus capital controls......................................................................................................8 Inflation targeting..........................................................................................................................................8 Capital controls............................................................................................................................................12 Case Studies......................................................................................................................................................18 Controls on Capital Inflows in Malaysia: 1989-1995.............................................................................18 Controls on Capital Outflows in Malaysia: 1998-2001..........................................................................20 Controls on Capital Inflows in Colombia: 1993-1998...........................................................................22 Controls on Capital Inflows in Chile: 1989-1998...................................................................................23 Controls on Capital Inflows in Brazil: 1992-1998..................................................................................25 Conclusion........................................................................................................................................................27 References.........................................................................................................................................................29  About the Authors  José Antonio Cordero is a Senior Economist and Juan Antonio Montecino is a Research Assistant at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.  Acknowledgements  The authors would like to thank Mark Weisbrot and Kunda Chinku for their useful comments and suggestions.  CEPR Capital Controls and Monetary Policy in Developing Countries   3 Executive   Summary   Short-term capital flows may be very volatile; they react quickly to sudden changes in investors’ moods, external events, and to perceptions of governments’ macroeconomic policy decisions. In 2007 net debt flows to the developing world were more than 6.5 times as big as they were in 2003; yet, in 2008 these flows were at less than half their 2007 level. Short-term debt flows, which almost quadrupled between 2003 and 2007, turned negative in 2008. Given the negative impact of these large reversals on many countries in the recent world recession, the possibilities of using capital controls has received more attention in the last two years.  This paper looks at the potential for using capital controls as a means of reducing this volatility, as  well as the economic damage that it can cause. It also examines some case studies in which capital controls were implemented in various countries in recent decades. One of the main problems caused by uncontrolled capital movements is their effect on the real exchange rate. A surge of capital inflows, especially short-term and/or speculative inflows, can cause the domestic currency to appreciate. This can reduce competitiveness in the country’s tradable goods sector, slow economic growth, and harm economic development by increasing the volatility and hence uncertainty of international prices. Uncontrolled capital flows can also make it more difficult for governments to control inflation. If a central bank raises interest rates in order to reduce inflation, the resulting interest rate differential between domestic and international interest rates can stimulate capital inflows, which then counteract monetary policy by creating downward pressure on interest rates. Many governments have dealt with this problem by adopting inflation-targeting regimes, where the central bank focuses on maintaining a target inflation rate; if this increases capital inflows, they then allow the domestic currency to appreciate. However this can make it difficult or impossible to maintain a stable and competitive exchange rate, with negative consequences for growth and development. Furthermore, capital flows can cause enormous damage when they are reversed, with large capital outflows leading to a financial crisis. One of the most extreme examples of this problem was the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1999, which was set off by a huge reversal of short-term capital flows in 1997. Capital controls can provide an alternative to the inflation-targeting with floating exchange rate regime, or a “hard peg” fixed exchange rate regime (which has been shown to have other severe disadvantages, as in Argentina, Brazil, and Russia in the 1990s). With capital controls, it may be possible for the government to maintain a more stable and competitive exchange a rate while keeping inflation in check.  These were some of the reasons for the implementation of controls on capital inflows in Malaysia (1989-1995); Colombia (1993-1998); Chile (1989-1998); and Brazil (1992-1998). In Malaysia, private net short-term flows, which consisted mostly of external borrowing by commercial banks and ringgit deposits by foreigners in domestic banks, had increased from 1.2 percent of GDP in 1990 to 8.9 percent in 1993. 1  This sharp increase was partly due to investor expectations that the domestic currency would appreciate. In order to control this appreciation as well as maintain control over 1  IMF (2000)  CEPR Capital Controls and Monetary Policy in Developing Countries   4 monetary policy, Malaysia introduced controls on capital inflows that targeted short-term borrowing by banks as well as domestic currency deposits by foreigners. These measures appear to have contributed to a reduction in short-term capital inflows as well as preventing the domestic currency from appreciating.  The Colombian controls were also motivated by a surge in capital inflows from 1990-1997, and resulting appreciation of the currency. The results were more mixed, possibly because of loopholes that enabled investors to get around the controls, although the controls did appear to be successful in increasing the independence of monetary policy.  The Chilean government in 1991 also wanted to avoid the currency appreciation resulting from large foreign inflows, while at the same time controlling inflation; the exchange rate was seen as very important to the country’s export competitiveness. Authorities also wanted to alter the composition of flows, decreasing the share of short-term flows; these represented up to 95 percent of all inflows in 1989 and were regarded as destabilizing and speculative in nature. The Chilean measures seem to have succeeded in altering the composition of capital flows and increasing monetary policy independence; there is some debate over how much they succeeded with regard to the exchange rate. India and especially China have used controls on inflows to promote direct investment in strategic sectors and to foster the transfer of technology. Controls have been also used to reward equity investment, as opposed to debt. By changing the composition of inflows, capital controls may help aim the evolution of financial markets at objectives that are consistent with broader development goals, and reduce the growth and bursting of asset bubbles. Prudential regulations (capital adequacy requirements, reporting requirements, and limitations on the kinds of projects in which financial institutions may be involved) may also be seen as forms of capital controls. Controls on capital outflows are more difficult but there is evidence that Malaysia used such controls successfully in 1998-2001, during the Asian financial crisis. In sum, there is sufficient backing in both economic theory and empirical evidence to consider more  widespread adoption of capital controls in order to address some of the macroeconomic problems associated with short-term capital flows, to enable certain development strategies, and to allow policy makers more flexibility with regard to crucial monetary and exchange rate policies.
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