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International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.
On October 30, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board reviewed the adequacy of the Fund’s precautionary balances. Precautionary balances, comprising the Fund’s general and special reserves and the Special Contingent Account (SCA-1), are one element of the IMF’s multi-layered framework for managing financial risks. These balances provide a buffer to protect the Fund against potential losses, resulting from credit, income, and other financial risks. This review of the adequacy of the Fund’s precautionary balances took place on the standard two-year cycle, although it was delayed by a few months to allow for an assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Fund financial risks. In conducting the review, the Executive Board applied the rules-based framework agreed in 2010.
Mr. Zhiwei Zhang and Shang-Jin Wei
While new conventional wisdom warns that developing countries should be aware of the risks of premature capital account liberalization, the costs of not removing exchange controls have received much less attention. This paper investigates the negative effects of exchange controls on trade. To minimize evasion of controls, countries often intensify inspections at the border and increase documentation requirements. Thus, the cost of conducting trade rises. The paper finds that a one standard-deviation increase in the controls on trade payment has the same negative effect on trade as an increase in tariff by about 14 percentage points. A one standard-deviation increase in the controls on FX transactions reduces trade by the same amount as a rise in tariff by 11 percentage points. Therefore, the collateral damage in terms of foregone trade is sizable.
Mr. Anthony J. Richards
This paper examines the evidence for the common assertion that the volatility of emerging stock markets has increased as a result of the liberalization of markets. A range of measures suggests that there has been no generalized increase in volatility in recent years; indeed, it appears that volatility may have tended to fall rather than rise on average. The paper also tests for the predictability of long-horizon returns in emerging markets. While there is evidence for positive autocorrelation in returns at horizons of one or two quarters, the autocorrelations appear to turn negative at horizons of a year or more. However, the magnitude of the apparent return reversals is not that much larger than reversals in some mature markets. One interpretation of the results would be that emerging markets have not consistently been subject to fads or bubbles, or at least no more so than in some industrial countries. In general, the liberalization and broadening of emerging markets should lead to a reduction in return volatility as risk is spread among a larger number of investors.