The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper provides a new argument for “shock” versus “gradualism” in the implementation of trade policies. In the simple context of a small open economy with rational expectations, we consider the comparative welfare effects of eliminating an import tariff either immediately as an unanticipated shock, or gradually over a preannounced length of time. The gradualist policy introduces a distortion in consumption-accumulation decisions and generates welfare costs. And if the gradual change is extended over “too long” a period, these costs may exceed the long-run benefits of liberalization.