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 examines trade reforms of uncertain duration undertaken in economies subject to real foreign and domestic shocks. These reforms induce consumption and import booms regardless of whether they succeed or fail and of the degree of intertemporal elasticity of substitution. If tariff revenue is rebated, a recession follows the boom, but without rebates a boom or a recession may follow depending on the outcome of the reform. Consumption fluctuations reflect imperfect credibility and real shocks, and the credibility component depends on the mean and risk of real asset returns. Thus, observed booms are a noisy signal of imperfect credibility. Quantitatively, lack of credibility produces sizable consumption cycles, but generally smaller than those induced by real disturbances.