THE GOLD AND FOREIGN EXCHANGE reserves of small or poor countries are often not large enough to make it easy to operate foreign exchange markets virtually free from quantitative restrictions.1 Furthermore, it may not be desirable on other grounds for such countries to invest a large proportion of their assets in foreign reserves, when there are other claims upon savings which deserve priority. There are, however, positive advantages for such countries in maintaining liberalized exchange markets, so that they have a direct interest in carrying out the international commitments into which they have entered, by joining the International Monetary Fund, to avoid the use of restrictions on the making of payments and transfers for current international payments. Many of them also wish to maintain certain controls to influence the rate of growth or the income distribution of their economies; and in these circumstances the maintenance of balance of payments equilibrium without recourse to exchange control measures requires a flexible, well-timed, and skillful management of monetary and/or fiscal controls of a kind for which the experience of more highly developed countries may not give adequate guidance.
This Selected Issues Paper on Belgium provides an overview of the extent of trade and financial openness of Belgium and the links to particular countries. With an export-to-GDP ratio of 79 percent, Belgium belongs to the most open economies in Europe and also globally. Its exports are highly concentrated with a share of three-fourths of total merchandise exports accounted for by the European Union, of which close to two-thirds go to Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This paper highlights that 1976 was an important year for the IMF. With the end of 1976, the IMF closed its books on a year of virtually unprecedented activity. It launched the New Year with a US$3.9 billion stand-by arrangement for the United Kingdom, the largest ever made for a member country. The outlook at the beginning of 1977 suggests another busy year ahead for the IMF. The proposed second amendment to the IMF’s Articles of Agreement and the increase in members’ quotas are expected to go into effect before the end of the year.
A dynamic stochastic model of a small open economy is used to quantify the macroeconomic effects of a policy that utilizes capital controls as an instrument to target the trade balance. The results show that, given the magnitude of actual business cycles, capital controls have negligible effects on agents’ ability to smooth consumption and the level of welfare. These surprising results suggest that the benefits obtained from free trade as a mechanism that facilitates consumption smoothing are of secondary importance. A fiscal strategy that enforces capital controls by taxing foreign interest income is also studied.[JEL E32, N12]