Mr. Bikas Joshi, Ms. Manuela Goretti, Ms. Uma Ramakrishnan, Mr. Alun H. Thomas, Mr. Atish R. Ghosh, and Mr. Juan Zalduendo
Although capital inflows are generally beneficial to recipient countries, they also pose a challenge for the conduct of economic policy. This paper proposes a conceptual taxonomy to guide the design of policy responses in the face of capital flows. We explore how responses to capital surges should be differentiated based on the source of balance of payments pressures. We also examine whether the policy choices in emerging market countries conform to the taxonomy's predictions and find some correspondence, especially during periods of high global liquidity.
Australia has enjoyed fifteen years of uninterrupted economic expansion since 1992 despite shocks such as the Asian crisis in 1997-98 and the information technology bust in 2000-01. This resilient economic performance owes much to wide-ranging structural reforms and the improved frameworks for monetary and fiscal policies that were implemented after the Australian dollar was floated in 1983. In addition to gaining the expected macroeconomic benefits from exchange rate flexibility, the float appeared to help motivate and facilitate the subsequent reforms. Australia's experience with adapting to a floating currency may therefore be of broader interest.
The current round of multilateral trade negotiations-the Doha Round-presents an opportunity for countries to reap the benefits of trade liberalization. Unfortunately, a number of misconceptions about the likely impact of trade reforms has, in part, impeded more rapid progress toward completion of the Round. This paper addresses some of the most egregious of these misconceptions and presents results from IMF research that sheds light on these issues. In particular, this paper argues that: (i) developing countries have much to gain from their own trade liberalization; (ii) preference erosion could be significant for some countries, but it is not a justification for postponing tariff reductions; (iii) tariffs applied against agricultural products in rich countries actually harm developing countries more than subsidies; and (iv) a disproportionate share of agricultural subsidies in rich countries goes to large wealthy farmers.
China has achieved tremendous economic progress in the last three decades, but there is much work to be done to make the economy resilient to large shocks, ensure the sustainability of its growth, and translate this growth into corresponding improvements in the economic welfare of its citizens. We discuss the complex challenges that Chinese policymakers face in striking the right balance in terms of speed and coordination of reforms. We argue that China's current stage of development, along with its rising market orientation and increasing integration with the world economy, may make the incremental and piecemeal approaches to reforms increasingly untenable and, in some cases, could even generate risks of their own. The present favorable domestic and external circumstances provide an excellent window of opportunity for bolder reforms and for tackling some deep-rooted problems without causing much economic disruption.
Improving market access in industrial countries and retaining preferences have been Africa's two key objectives in the Doha Round trade negotiations. This paper argues that African negotiators may have overlooked the potential market access gains in developing countries, where trade barriers remain relatively high and demand for African imports has expanded substantially over the past decades. As reductions in most-favored-nation tariffs in industrial countries will inevitably lead to preference erosion, African countries need to ensure that the Doha Round leads to liberalization in all sectors by all World Trade Organization (WTO) members, so that the resulting gains will offset any losses. Such an outcome is more likely if African countries also offer to liberalize their own trade regimes and focus on reciprocal liberalization as a negotiation strategy rather on preferential and differential treatment.
In this paper, we develop a proposal for a controlled approach to capital account liberalization for economies experiencing large capital inflows. The proposal essentially involves securitizing a portion of capital inflows through closed-end mutual funds that issue shares in domestic currency, use the proceeds to purchase foreign exchange from the central bank and then invest the proceeds abroad. This would eliminate the fiscal costs of sterilizing those inflows, give domestic investors opportunities for international portfolio diversification and stimulate the development of domestic financial markets. More importantly, it would allow central banks to control both the timing and quantity of capital outflows. This proposal could be part of a broader toolkit of measures to liberalize the capital account cautiously when external circumstances are favorable. It is not a substitute for other necessary policies such as strengthening of the domestic financial sector or, in some cases, greater exchange rate flexibility. But it could in fact help create a supportive environment for these essential reforms.
This paper aims to put some constraints on the way primary surpluses are projected when making assessments of public debt sustainability. Projections should be tied either to the country's historical track record in generating surpluses-if the institutional and other factors accounting for this track record are expected to persist-or to some model that links primary surpluses to their fundamental determinants, either on the basis of constant institutions and policies or a credible reform program. History-based or model-based primary surplus projections provide a useful benchmark for judging the realism of fiscal forecasts underlying debt sustainability calculations. Together with information on future growth and interest rates, the primary surplus projections can be used to generate measures of overborrowing, and the magnitude of adjustment needed to return debt to a sustainable level.
Mr. Eswar S Prasad, Mr. Qing Wang, and Mr. Thomas Rumbaugh
This paper reviews the issues involved in moving towards greater exchange rate flexibility and capital account liberalization in China. A more flexible exchange rate regime would allow China to operate a more independent monetary policy, providing a useful buffer against domestic and external shocks. At the same time, weaknesses in China’s financial system suggest that capital account liberalization poses significant risks and should be a lower priority in the short term. This paper concludes that greater exchange rate flexibility is in China’s own interest and that, along with a more stable and robust financial system, it should be regarded as a prerequisite for undertaking a substantial liberalization of the capital account.