Chapter

IV Experience with Nominal Anchors

Author(s):
Adam Bennett, Louis Dicks-Mireaux, Miguel Savastano, María Carkovic S., Mauro Mecagni, Susan Schadler, and James John
Published Date:
September 1995
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Nominal anchors—whether an exchange rate peg or a money supply rule—are widely recognized as an important component of a program to reduce or control inflation, or reinforce discipline in financial policies and wage developments. Therefore, the fact that nominal anchors have not been adopted in every IMF-supported stabilization program, particularly in those designed to lower inflation, may lead to the conjecture that these programs have not placed enough emphasis on the reduction or the containment of inflation. Rather, according to this argument, such programs have been geared toward addressing external crises, in which devaluations may play a major role and credit ceilings designed to achieve ambitious targets for reserve accumulation are favored over money rules.

In fact, in 16 of the 36 countries with arrangements approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991, nominal anchors—in all but one, the exchange rate—were used at least at some stage during IMF-supported programs. The 16 countries varied in initial conditions and principal motivations for using anchors. About a third—mainly in Central Europe and the Western Hemisphere—were aiming at a rapid disinflation from very high inflation levels; another third were using the anchor to help prevent prospective price increases from igniting an inflation spiral; and another third—principally CFA franc zone countries—had longstanding exchange rate pegs as a standard for policy discipline.

This paper reviews the experience with nominal anchors in these 16 countries. Three broad questions are addressed. First, under what conditions did programs incorporate a nominal anchor? Second, how did the record of success in reducing inflation or holding it at a low level differ between countries with and without nominal anchors? Third, what were the costs for external performance and growth of using an exchange rate anchor? The paper does not question whether low inflation should be a central goal in programs. Rather, it is premised on the position that low inflation promotes efficient allocation of resources and economic growth (De Gregorio (1992a), Fischer (1993), and Levine and Renelt (1992)).

The limitations of the sample—the relatively small number of countries that used nominal anchors, the short period under review, and the paucity of money anchors—restrict the generalization of conclusions. Nonetheless, the experience of the countries reviewed confirms that there is no substitute for tight financial policies and wage restraint in the effort to reduce inflation or hold it at a low level. When such conditions exist, however, an exchange rate anchor appears to have increased the speed and size of disinflation or helped keep inflation low. These gains tended to come with significant costs to competitiveness, export growth, and possibly even short-term output growth—although the latter should be weighed against likely longer-term benefits associated with more stable prices. These costs became untenable when financial policies and wages were not restrained. However, in almost all the countries reviewed, significant reductions in high or intermediate inflation proved elusive without a nominal anchor.

Inflation at the Outset of the Arrangements

During the three years prior to the arrangements, average annual inflation in the 36 countries under review climbed from 30 to over 200 percent (Table 4-1). Differences among the countries were large. Before the first arrangement, 15 countries had annual inflation rates below 10 percent; 11 countries had increasing or persistent inflation between 10 and 50 percent; and 10 countries had inflation exceeding 50 percent (Table 4-2).

There were regional patterns in inflation rates. In the Western Hemisphere countries, sharply accelerating prices in Argentina and Brazil followed a sequence of failed attempts to stabilize, while most other countries endured chronic inflation at intermediate to high rates. In many instances, chronic inflation reflected inertia from widespread indexation arrangements. In Central Europe, Poland and Yugoslavia were slipping toward hyperinflation, and price pressures were mounting in Bulgaria. These developments were due principally to large fiscal deficits, rapid credit growth, currency depreciation, large wage increases (Yugoslavia), and the legacy of monetary overhangs (Bulgaria and Poland). In Romania, where inflation had been repressed, and Czechoslovakia, there was a major risk of wage-price spirals as prices were liberalized. Inflation was generally low in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. In Africa, low inflation reflected the importance of CFA franc zone countries, where excess demand pressures resulted in widening external imbalances and arrears.

Table 4-1.Initial Inflation1(In percent)
t – 3t – 2t – 1t

(Program

Target)
Africa10.617.819.115.3
Excluding Nigeria and Zaïre5.54.34.44.2
Asia and Middle East6.07.49.014.8
Western Hemisphere53.663.6301.469.8
Excluding Argentina and Brazil28.336.541.626.7
Central Europe42.870.1578.388.3
Excluding Yugoslavia11.724.9163.399.4
Average32.141.2219.948.0
Excluding Argentina. Brazil, and Yugoslavia16.623.146.732.2
Source: IMF staff estimates.

Annual consumer price inflation rates in the three years prior to the year of the first arrangement reviewed (denoted by t) for each country, as assessed at the time of program approval. End-of-period changes in the consumer price index, except in 11 countries—Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Jordan, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Romania, and Tunisia—where average changes were the only data consistently available. Changes in GDP deflator for Madagascar.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

Annual consumer price inflation rates in the three years prior to the year of the first arrangement reviewed (denoted by t) for each country, as assessed at the time of program approval. End-of-period changes in the consumer price index, except in 11 countries—Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Jordan, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Romania, and Tunisia—where average changes were the only data consistently available. Changes in GDP deflator for Madagascar.

On the whole, inflation targets in the arrangements were quite ambitious. Excluding the extreme cases of Argentina, Brazil, and Yugoslavia, inflation for the countries under review was targeted to decline in the first program year from 47 percent to 32 percent, reversing about two thirds of the previous year’s increase.1 Inflation was targeted to decline in 60 percent of the countries. Among high-inflation countries, a sharp disinflation was targeted in Argentina, Poland, Yugoslavia, and, to a lesser extent, in Ecuador, Guyana, Mexico, and Uruguay. Of the 14 countries where inflation was targeted to rise, 6 had initial rates below 10 percent and most of the others were planning extensive price decontrol (Algeria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, and Romania), adjustment of administered prices, and/or a large initial depreciation of the exchange rate.

Role of Nominal Anchors

For countries targeting a large disinflation, demand restraint, through a reining in of public sector finances and tight credit policies, was the centerpiece of the program. Usually this effort concentrated on reducing the central government borrowing requirement, but also, in several countries, on improving the financial position of other public sector entities. It was, however, recognized that the short-run relationship between deficit reductions and inflation is often weak and that reducing inflation through demand restraint alone could involve costly and politically untenable losses of output and employment.2 These costs were a particular concern in the presence of sources of inflation inertia: backward-looking indexation; staggered nominal contracts; or slowly adjusting inflation expectations.3 In such circumstances, some countries adopted an explicit nominal anchor and changed wage-setting arrangements to foster credibility, break inflation expectations, set a standard for policy discipline, and, depending on the type of anchor, directly stabilize tradable goods prices.4

Table 4-2.Distribution of Countries by Initial Inflation1
Inflation Range
Below 10 percent10–50 percentAbove 50 percent
AfricaCameroon

Congo

Côte d’Ivoire

Gabon

Mali
Madagascar2

Nigeria
Zaïre
Asia and Middle EastJordan

Morocco

Pakistan

Papua New Guinea

Philippines

Tunisia
Algeria

Egypt
None
Western HemisphereHaiti

Jamaica

Trinidad and Tobago
Costa Rica

El Salvador

Guatemala

Honduras

Venezuela
Argentina

Brazil

Ecuador

Guyana

Mexico

Uruguay
Central EuropeRomaniaCzechoslovakia

Hungary
Bulgaria

Poland

Yugoslavia
Source: IMF staff estimates.

Consumer price inflation in the year before the (first) program, as assessed at the time the programs were approved.

GDP deflator.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

Consumer price inflation in the year before the (first) program, as assessed at the time the programs were approved.

GDP deflator.

For countries facing an incipient price shock, a nominal anchor stood to bolster underlying restraint in financial policies and limit the risks of onetime shocks spreading into persistent inflation. Central European countries constituted a special group among these. Beyond the uncertain outcome of price liberalization, fiscal policy was encumbered by the erosion of the traditional tax base; tax and expenditure control systems inadequate for the transition to a market economy; and pressures to cushion the effects of the output collapse. At the same time, the initial liquidity overhang in Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania was likely to push up prices, in the absence of effective financial control instruments. In these conditions, some programs complemented fiscal adjustment with an exchange rate anchor and wage controls to contain inflation after the initial price jump. (See the paper on wage controls in Central Europe in this volume.)

In low-inflation settings, a nominal anchor provided a signal of the intent to stick to a steady course of financial policies. The purpose of this section is to examine two questions about the role of nominal anchors in IMF-supported programs. First, what is a nominal anchor? And second, what circumstances lent themselves to the use of nominal anchors?

What Is a Nominal Anchor?

A nominal anchor is a nominal variable that by policy decision is fixed or set on a predetermined and announced path to help stabilize the price level (Adams and Gros (1986), Bruno (1986), and Patinkin (1993)). In principle, either the money supply or the price of a central commodity—goods, labor, or foreign exchange—can serve as an anchor. If a price is chosen, it must be the price of an important and homogeneous commodity to exert a prominent influence on the general price level while avoiding relative price distortions.

In practice, nominal anchors differ in their efficacy and potential for distortions. Price controls induce anticipatory price increases, enlarge the scope for relative price rigidities and resource misallocation, and increase subsidies. At most, therefore, they could play a role briefly at the outset of a disinflation program. Even there, price controls may damage credibility if they are perceived as a substitute for, rather than a complement to, demand restraint. Similarly, wage controls are not an ideal anchor, as they inhibit desirable changes in wage relativities. Even when applied to large segments of the labor force in Central Europe, wage ceilings were inadequate nominal anchors because at times they were adjusted in line with inflation, governments succumbed to pressures for exemptions, or their enforcement was weak.

The anchor role of money supply targets with a flexible exchange rate is prone to difficulties that become more severe with high inflation. First, large shifts in the demand for money undermine its predictability. Second, the scope for currency substitution implies that total liquidity—including the domestic value of the foreign currency component—eludes control when exchange rate fluctuations are large: with perfectly substitutable domestic and foreign currencies, a given stock of domestic money becomes consistent with any aggregate price level, depending on the exchange rate. Third, the signaling role of money targets for expectations and pricing behavior is weak before full credibility of the monetary authorities is established. Money targets are also hard to monitor, because information on money supply is not readily available and may be difficult to interpret owing to seasonal patterns and changes in money demand (Kiguel and Liviatan (1994)).

A more contentious issue concerns the anchor role of credit ceilings. Credit ceilings are effective in reaching goals for reserve accumulation, and adherence to them is essential for the sustainability of a money or exchange rate anchor.5 On their own, however, except when external sources of money creation are absent (for example, in a purely floating exchange rate regime), they do not constitute an effective nominal anchor. They are subject to all the problems of a money anchor but are also undermined by nonbank sources of credit6 and unexpected capital inflows that may increase total liquidity even when the ceilings are respected. Capital inflows have been a particular problem in high-inflation countries where a tightening of credit pushed up interest rates and attracted inflows while inflation persisted.7

In contrast, a predetermined exchange rate level or path is a visible, easily monitored anchor that provides a strong signal of the commitment to disinflate or sustain low inflation. In an open economy, pegging the exchange rate to a low-inflation currency stabilizes the traded goods component of the general price level, directly and through greater competitive pressure on domestic wage- and price-setting behavior. This effect is greater the more open the economy. An exchange rate anchor, therefore, exerts a powerful influence on both actual and expected inflation, particularly at very high inflation rates when prices are revised frequently in line with the exchange rate. As with other price-based anchors, distortive effects—on the price of tradable relative to non-tradable goods—are not uncommon.8 For although in principle a fully credible exchange rate anchor could, in the absence of backward-looking price-setting behavior, stop inflation in its track at virtually no real cost, in practice the adjustment is rarely so quick (Calvo and Végh (1991, 1992), Dornbusch and Giovannini (1990), Végh (1992)). Often exchange rate anchors do have real effects, owing to insufficient credibility of policy announcements, continued backward-looking price and wage behavior, or fiscal adjustment inadequate to constrain prices of nontraded goods.9 As a result, inflation may not decline as rapidly as required to maintain competitiveness, and in time adverse effects for the current account and output may develop. Also, the nature of the disturbances that the economy is likely to experience is crucial for the desirability of an exchange rate anchor. For instance, long-lived asymmetric real disturbances call for exchange rate changes to help stabilize output.10

Table 4-3.Nominal Anchors in Countries with IMF Arrangements Approved During 1988–92
AfricaEuropeAsia and

Middle East
Western

Hemisphere
1. Countries with nominal anchors
Fixed exchange rateCameroon

Côte d’Ivoire

Congo

Gabon

Mali
Czechoslovakia

Poland

Yugoslavia
Morocco (1990)

Papua New Guinea
Argentina (l989–2nd half)1

Trinidad and Tobago
Limited exchange rate flexibilityNoneNoneEgyptHonduras (1991)

Mexico
MoneyNoneNonePhilippinesNone
Other (multiple anchors)NoneCzechoslovakia (wages)

Poland (wages)

Yugoslavia (prices/wages)
NoneMexico (prices/wages)
2. Countries without nominal anchors
Exchange rate regime:
Crawling pegNoneNoneNoneBrazil

Costa Rica

Ecuador
Adjustable pegMadagascarHungaryAlgeria

Morocco (1988 and 1989)
Jamaica (1990/91)
Managed floatingNigeriaBulgariaJordan

Pakistan

Tunisia
Argentina (1990)

El Salvador

Guatemala

Jamaica (1988/89-89/90 and 1991/92-92/93)

Uruguay

Venezuela
Dual systemZaïreRomaniaNoneGuyana

Haiti
Source: IMF staff reports.

For Argentina, the nominal anchor considered is the short-lived attempt during July-December 1989 to fix the exchange rate. The subsequent successful establishment of a currency board occurred after the period covered by this review.

Source: IMF staff reports.

For Argentina, the nominal anchor considered is the short-lived attempt during July-December 1989 to fix the exchange rate. The subsequent successful establishment of a currency board occurred after the period covered by this review.

In sum, the choice of the main nominal anchor is essentially limited to the exchange rate or the setting of money targets. In general, the exchange rate is preferable to money the greater the scope for disturbances to money demand (Fischer (1986)). In conditions of uncertainty, multiple anchors—the simultaneous predetermination of several nominal variables—have helped reduce inertia in the nontradable sector (Bruno (1991), Bruno and others (1991), Edwards (1992)). Typically, this involves temporary wage and price controls as supplements to a primary exchange rate anchor. The principal difficulty with multiple anchors is that the very uncertainty they are meant to address increases the likelihood of setting inconsistent paths for the nominal variables involved. At most, therefore, they can be used for short periods during a decisive disinflation program.

Nominal Anchors in IMF-Supported Programs

As noted above, a nominal anchor—a predetermined exchange rate or a money target—was used at some stage in 16 of the 36 countries under review (Table 4-3).11 In the remaining 20 countries, credit ceilings were the main predetermined nominal variable, with varying degrees of exchange rate flexibility (Appendix Table 4-A1). These countries are considered as the sample without an explicit nominal anchor.12

Table 4-4.Timing of Adoption of Exchange Rate Nominal Anchors
Timing of Nominal Anchor

Decision
Annual Programs

Under Review
1. Non-CFA countries
Argentina

Czechoslovakia

Egypt

Honduras

Mexico

Morocco

Papua New Guinea Poland

Trinidad and Tobago

Yugoslavia
July 9, 1989

December 28, 1990

De facto, around April 1991

De facto, December 1990

December 1987

May 1990

December 1976

January 1, 1990

August 17, 1988

December 18, 1989
1990

1991

1991/92

1990, 1991

1999, 1990, 1991, 1992

1988, 1989, 1990

1990

1990, 1991

1989, 1990

1990
2. CFA countries
Cameroon

Congo

Côte d’Ivoire

Gabon

Mali
Became members of the CFA franc zone on December 16, 1946. Mali left the zone in 1962 and rejoined in 1984. The parity of the CFA franc vis-à-vis the French franc remained unchanged from 1948 to January 12, 1994.1988/89, 1989/90

1990, 1991

1990

1989, 1990

1988, 1989
Source: IMF staff reports.
Source: IMF staff reports.

Except in the Philippines, nominal anchors took the form of exchange rate rules, explicit or de facto. The 15 countries with exchange rate anchors ranged from the CFA franc zone countries, which had maintained parity with the French franc since 1948, to Egypt, which unofficially and in light of large capital inflows maintained a virtually fixed exchange rate. Most of the ten countries outside the CFA franc zone adopted exchange rate rules at the outset of their first arrangement during the period (Table 4-4).13 The exchange rate anchor took the form of a peg—bilateral or to a currency basket—except in three countries: Egypt, where there was de facto a narrowly bounded float; Honduras, where the float was officially constrained within a narrow band; and Mexico, where there was a preannounced crawl. The exchange rate was accompanied by wage policies as part of a multiple anchor strategy in four countries—Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Mexico.14 Temporary price controls were used in Yugoslavia and at an early stage in Mexico.

The sample precludes an evaluation of money anchors because only the Philippines adopted that strategy (Box 4-1). The remaining discussion will focus on exchange rate anchors only.

When Was the Exchange Rate Used as a Nominal Anchor?

Among the 15 countries that used an exchange rate anchor, several considerations loomed large for its feasibility or desirability: the initial level of inflation, the ambitiousness of disinflation and fiscal adjustment targets, the fear that price reforms would ignite inflation, and the desire for a disciplining device. Sufficient external reserves to enable the authorities to adhere to the preannounced exchange rate path and to withstand a deterioration in competitiveness were also a prominent concern.

Box 4-1.Money as a Nominal Anchor: The Philippines

The use of money targets as nominal anchors has been less common than the use of exchange rates. Successful money-based stabilizations include the recent sharp disinflation in Latvia (1992/93), but in the sample under review, only the Philippines formally used money targets. In the Philippines, reserve money targets were introduced in 1984, when disinflation was accorded high priority after protracted financial imbalances had pushed the 12-month inflation rate to a peak of 64 percent (September–October 1984). After a slower-than-targeted initial decline, by end-1985 the 12-month inflation rate (less than 6 percent) overperformed the target in the original program (10–15 percent). Reserve money targets were maintained throughout the period under review, but were rarely met: reserve money growth exceeded the ceilings for most of 1989 and 1990 during the extended arrangement, and in most test dates during the subsequent standby arrangement. While this record did not prove inconsistent with a decline of inflation from 16 percent in 1990 to 8 percent in 1992, it illustrates the problems likely to occur when using money as a nominal anchor in an environment of high capital mobility and a managed float. The frequent breaching of targets reflected central bank intervention to purchase foreign exchange originating from unexpected capital inflows. The repeated deviations indicated the unwillingness to accept the exchange rate implications of balance of payments outcomes implied by adherence to a money anchor.

About 40 percent of all countries with high inflation or the prospect of widespread price liberalization adopted an exchange rate anchor at the outset of their arrangements. On average, these countries started with higher inflation and targeted a sharper decline than the high-inflation countries that did not adopt a nominal anchor (Tables 4-5 and 4-6; tables present countries by decreasing order of initial inflation, and exclude outlier countries and countries for which data were unavailable on a consistent basis). Among low-inflation countries, about 60 percent had exchange rate anchors. In most of these—the CFA franc zone countries and Papua New Guinea—the anchor had been in force for a long time. In contrast, 20 percent (Egypt and Honduras) of countries with intermediate inflation adopted an exchange rate anchor. Typically, countries had learned to live with inflation in this range with protection mechanisms that made it difficult to garner support for reducing inflation.

The 15 countries that used exchange rate anchors faced, in about equal proportions, the three types of situation nominal anchors address: very high inflation (Argentina, Mexico, Poland, and Yugoslavia); low or intermediate inflation, but with the threat of prospective shocks—price liberalization, increases in import prices, or indirect taxes—igniting inflation (Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Honduras, Morocco, and Trinidad and Tobago); low inflation but the perceived need for an autonomous source of policy discipline (CFA franc zone countries and Papua New Guinea). In this last group, the nominal anchor was a long-standing constraint rather than a policy decision at the time of the arrangements under review.

Not surprisingly, the ambitiousness of disinflation and fiscal adjustment targets distinguished the use of an exchange rate anchor mainly in high-inflation countries. As a group, the high-inflation countries with an anchor started with a higher average fiscal deficit (by about 1 percent of GDP) but targeted a more ambitious fiscal adjustment (by about 3.5 percent of GDP) than high-inflation countries without an anchor. At low inflation, initial imbalances and deficit reduction targets were slightly higher (by about 0.5 percent of GDP) in the countries without anchors.

The role of initial foreign exchange reserves in the decision to use an exchange rate anchor appears to have been more differentiated. In low-inflation countries, reserves may have been an important factor. In non-CFA franc zone countries with nominal anchors, the import cover was about one month higher than in countries without anchors. By comparison, intermediate-inflation countries with a nominal anchor started from lower reserves than those without. However, only two countries fall in this category, and in Egypt de facto nominal exchange rate stability was part of the policy response to a surge of capital inflows. Among countries with high inflation or undergoing major price reforms, reserves were generally slightly higher (by about ¼ month of imports) in the countries adopting exchange rate anchors. An important exception was Mexico, where reserves equivalent to 12 months of imports proved important in withstanding an initial sharp decline. The issue of reserves varied considerably for the remaining countries. In Bulgaria and Romania, low initial reserves and the uncertainty over a sustainable exchange rate level deterred the adoption of an exchange rate anchor. In contrast, in Czechoslovakia the decision to peg the exchange rate in spite of low initial reserves was decisively influenced by the early commitment of the international community. In Argentina, low reserves did not prevent the adoption of an exchange rate anchor: with highly substitutable domestic and foreign currencies and a sophisticated financial system, the stabilization program was expected to induce a rapid turnaround of capital flows.

Table 4-5.Initial Conditions in Countries with Exchange Rate Anchors(In percent unless noted otherwise)
Initial Inflation1Targeted Disinflation2Initial

Fiscal

Position3
Targeted

Fiscal

Adjustment4
Initial

External

Reserves5
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Yugoslavia62,653.0–2,620.01.5–0.76.4
Poland704.0–610.0–8.38.23.7
Argentina (l989–2nd half)7613.2–235.80.3
Mexico159.1–94.116.66.712.0
Czechoslovakia22.17.9–4.45.20.7
Average830.3–710.4–7.04.94.6
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia295.1–232.1–9.86.75.5
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Honduras (1991)35.2–15.2–8.54.00.7
Egypt19.512.0–20.910.62.5
Average27.4–1.6–14.77.31.6
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago9.3–0.8–4.80.22.3
Morocco (1990)5.60.4–5.72.90.8
Papua New Guinea4.54.0–7.00.24.2
Mali4.4–0.1–10.31.2
Congo4.0–2.0–10.8–7.20.5
Cameroon3.8–0.7–5.23.20.6
Côte d’Ivoire1.4–1.3–12.45.0
Gabon–7.210.2–9.44.20.9
Average3.21.2–8.21.21.5
CFA countries1.31.2–9.61.30.7
Non-CFA countries6.51.2–5.81.12.4
Average for all countries282.1–236.4–8.83.12.7
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia74.3–53.1–9.63.32.6
Source: IMF staff estimates.

Inflation in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991, as estimated at the time of program approval.

Inflation targeted for the first year of the arrangement of the first arrangements approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991 less initial inflation.

Fiscal position (in percent of GDP) in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991. Broadest definition of public sector for which data were available.

Fiscal position (in percent of GDP) targeted for the first year of the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991 less initial fiscal position.

Reserves (in months of imports) in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991.

Fiscal balance net of inflation tax.

Initial data for June 1989; targets for December 1989.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

Inflation in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991, as estimated at the time of program approval.

Inflation targeted for the first year of the arrangement of the first arrangements approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991 less initial inflation.

Fiscal position (in percent of GDP) in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991. Broadest definition of public sector for which data were available.

Fiscal position (in percent of GDP) targeted for the first year of the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991 less initial fiscal position.

Reserves (in months of imports) in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991.

Fiscal balance net of inflation tax.

Initial data for June 1989; targets for December 1989.

To protect the external position, most countries devalued—often by a large amount—before the initial setting of the exchange rate. These devaluations were conditioned by the great uncertainty over the exchange rate level consistent with a sustainable balance of payments—particularly in countries undergoing massive structural changes—as well as the anticipated erosion of competitiveness. Consequently, they tended to err toward the lower end of an estimated range consistent with different assumptions about the stringency of policies. This was meant to diminish the risk of the rate rapidly becoming overvalued. On the other hand, there were clear risks that excessive devaluations would impart an inflation bias.15 While the actual direction of the bias remains a difficult issue, the level at which the exchange rate was pegged appears not to have been the critical factor in the success or failure of an anchor strategy.

Table 4-6.Initial Conditions in Countries Without Nominal Anchors(In percent, unless noted otherwise)
Initial

Inflation1
Targeted

Disinflation2
Fiscal

Balance3
Targeted

Fiscal

Adjustment4
External

Reserves5
1. Countries with high inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Argentina (1990)3,305.1–3,290.62.0
Brazil415.0185.0–30.6–6.02.7
Uruguay123.0–93.0–2.90.43.4
Guyana104.7–67.0–49.5–7.33.6
Zaïre93.7–18.7–22.36.23.5
Ecuador85.7–35.7–5.11.74.5
Bulgaria64.0170.0–13.09.50.5
Romania67.4114.1–0.3–1.20.6
Average524.8–379.5–17.70.52.6
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana74.827.3–8.73.32.5
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela35.526.7–7.83.86.0
Nigeria633.0–11.0–11.43.00.7
Costa Rica25.3–11.3–0.60.35.8
El Salvador23.5–7.5–5.92.33.7
Madagascar620.0–7.3–5.01.15.1
Hungary19.0–1.5–0.91.43.2
Algeria616.618.43.4–1.40.9
Guatemala13.0–5.0–3.20.62.8
Average23.20.2–3.91.43.5
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Haiti8.43.8–5.71.6
Tunisia68.2–1.7–3.6–0.52.0
Jamaica7.8–0.8–5.42.62.0
Pakistan67.12.9–8.52.00.7
Jordan64.69.4–23.74.10.5
Morocco2.42.6–6.11.60.9
Average6.42.7–8.81.61.3
Average for all countries201.0–137.2–9.91.22.6
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana31.58.1–6.72.02.6
Source: IMF staff estimates.

Inflation in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991, as estimated at the time of program approval.

Inflation targeted for the first year of the arrangement of the first arrangements approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991 less initial inflation.

Fiscal position (in percent of GDP) in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991.

Fiscal position (in percent of GDP) targeted for the first year of the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991 less initial fiscal position.

Reserves (in months of imports) in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991.

Inflation rate measured in terms of average consumer price index (end-period consumer price index not available).

Source: IMF staff estimates.

Inflation in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991, as estimated at the time of program approval.

Inflation targeted for the first year of the arrangement of the first arrangements approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991 less initial inflation.

Fiscal position (in percent of GDP) in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991.

Fiscal position (in percent of GDP) targeted for the first year of the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991 less initial fiscal position.

Reserves (in months of imports) in the year before the first arrangement approved between mid-1988 and mid-1991.

Inflation rate measured in terms of average consumer price index (end-period consumer price index not available).

Table 4-7.Inflation Performance in Countries with Exchange Rate Anchors1(In percent)
InitialTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Yugoslavia2,653.033.077.0
Poland704.094.0249.360.444.3
Argentina (l989–2nd half)3613.2377.4605.0
Mexico159.165.051.719.729.9
Czechoslovakia22.130.053.611.5
Average830.3119.9207.3
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia295.163.0118.230.5
Median613.165.077.019.7
2. Countries with moderate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Honduras (1991)35.220.021.312.0
Egypt419.531.521.111.1
Average27.425.821.211.6
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago59.38.59.52.38.5
Morocco (1990)5.66.07.57.24.5
Papua New Guinea44.58.57.07.04.3
Mali44.44.30.7–0.92.9
Congo4.02.02.1–0.6
Cameroon43.83.11.61.5–0.6
Côte d’Ivoire41.40.1–0.71.64.2
Gabon–7.23.06.66.01.9
Average3.24.4423.03.7
CFA countries1.32.52.01.51.7
Non-CFA countries6.57.78.05.55.8
Average for all countries282.145.874.2
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia74.321.233.110.7
Median for all countries9.38.59.56.0
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Inflation during half-year period (t = second half of 1989).

Inflation rate measured in terms of average consumer price index (end-period consumer price index not available).

Inflation target values for 1989 not available.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Inflation during half-year period (t = second half of 1989).

Inflation rate measured in terms of average consumer price index (end-period consumer price index not available).

Inflation target values for 1989 not available.

How Well Did Nominal Anchors Work?

The success of nominal anchor strategies can be judged by two basic criteria: whether countries with nominal anchors were more successful than those without in reducing inflation and/or maintaining it at a low level; and whether nominal anchors helped reduce the costs of disinflation. Against these two criteria, this section examines five questions. First, what was the record of success in reducing inflation in programs with and without anchors? Second, did anchors add to the impact of other policies, especially fiscal restraint, on inflation? Third, what were the costs of using the exchange rate as an anchor? Fourth, did the use of anchors have adverse effects on growth? And fifth, what conditions affected the sustainability of nominal anchors?

Table 4-8.Inflation Performance in Countries Without Nominal Anchors1(In percent)
InitialTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Argentina (1990)3,305.114.51,344.584.017.7
Brazil415.0600.01,037.61,782.91,476.6
Uruguay123.030.081.358.9
Guyana104.737.775.981.515.0
Zaïre93.775.056.0265.0
Ecuador85.750.054.249.549.0
Bulgaria64.0234.0338.979.4
Romania37.4121.5161.1210.3
Average524.8145.3393.7326.4
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana74.8102.1138.3132.6
Median99.262.5121.282.8
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela35.562.281.036.531.0
Nigeria333.022.050.57.413.0
Costa Rica25.314.010.027.325.3
El Salvador23.516.019.39.819.9
Madagascar320.012.721.212.011.5
Hungary19.017.533.432.221.6
Algeria316.635.022.831.8
Guatemala13.08.017.560.39.4
Average23.223.432.027.218.8
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Haiti8.412.214.424.38.4
Tunisia38.26.57.27.76.5
Jamaica7.87.011.520.828.3
Pakistan37.110.08.36.713.2
Jordan34.614.021.510.24.5
Morocco2.45.01.55.67.5
Average6.49.110.712.611.4
Average for all countries201.063.9157.7132.0
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana31.539.653.250.3
Median for all countries21.816.828.132.0
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Inflation rate measured in terms of average consumer price index (end-period consumer price index not available).

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Inflation rate measured in terms of average consumer price index (end-period consumer price index not available).

Inflation Record

The difference in inflation performance of countries that used exchange rate anchors and those that did not was stark (Tables 4-7 and 4-8). In countries with anchors (excluding Argentina and Yugoslavia) inflation fell on average by 41 percentage points in the first program year under review, and by a further 22 percentage points in the subsequent year.16 In countries without anchors—excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, and Guyana—inflation rose by about 22 percentage points in the first program year, but fell slightly in the following year.17 The sharp contrast in inflation performance is confirmed by the median rate for countries with and without anchors.18

The gap in inflation performance was greatest for the high-inflation countries. Among countries with an anchor, inflation fell by three fourths in the first year and continued to fall thereafter. This result was dominated by the sharp initial disinflation in Yugoslavia, and by the significant progress in reducing inflation in Mexico and Poland. In Czechoslovakia, prices rose more than expected in the first year of the arrangement, but inflation declined rapidly thereafter. In high-inflation countries without an anchor, inflation also declined on average, but by about one fifth of the drop in countries with an anchor. Moreover, the average decline was heavily influenced by Argentina (which returned to an exchange rate anchor in 1991); in most of the other countries there was little progress in reducing high or chronic inflation. In the intermediate inflation range, inflation increased in the first program year and then subsided in countries without an anchor, while progress in reducing inflation was faster and larger in countries with an anchor. In the low range, inflation almost doubled in countries without an anchor, while it was kept in check in countries with an anchor.

The initial progress in reducing inflation proved short-lived in some countries where the anchor had to be abandoned (Argentina) or had become clearly unsustainable (Yugoslavia). Financial policies inconsistent with a pegged exchange rate led to severe external reserve losses, a sharp rebound of inflation, and a loss of credibility. Thus, in Argentina, after declining from 200 percent a month in July 1989 to 6 percent in October, inflation rose to 40 percent in December 1989. In Yugoslavia, after virtually halting in April–June 1990, monthly inflation rose to over 7 percent in September–October 1990.

Notwithstanding the sizable drop in inflation in countries that adhered to a nominal anchor, targets at least for the first program year were significantly exceeded in some countries. This result largely reflected the underestimation of the initial price shock in Central Europe and the inflationary effects of the subsequent wage catch-up, for instance in Poland. Higher-than-targeted inflation was even more frequent in countries without anchors, affecting 17 out of 22 countries. Targets were significantly overshot in Brazil, Bulgaria, Guyana, Romania, and Uruguay.

Adherence to Fiscal Targets

Was the greater success in reducing inflation of countries with exchange rate anchors simply the result of stronger fiscal adjustment or did the nominal anchor add something to the process? The strict complementarity of nominal anchors and fiscal adjustment and the mutual reinforcement of a rapid disinflation and fiscal consolidation—mainly through a reversed Olivera-Tanzi effect (Olivera (1967), Tanzi (1977)) and lower interest payments in highly indebted economies—make this a difficult question to address.

Notwithstanding this caveat, countries that adopted exchange rate anchors not only were more ambitious in their fiscal targets but also achieved a significantly greater fiscal adjustment. In other words, exchange rate anchors were on average used when there were prospects, subsequently realized, for a decisive and front-loaded fiscal adjustment. Countries with exchange rate anchors on average reduced the deficit relative to GDP by over 3 percentage points in the first program year, reaching the targeted change (Table 4-9). By comparison, excluding outlier cases, countries without anchors reduced the deficit relative to GDP by only 1.3 percentage points, or about two thirds of their less ambitious targets (Table 4-10). In both groups, the fiscal consolidation was subsequently partly reversed (by 0.5 to 1 percentage point of GDP).

Because disinflation itself typically lowers interest payments and therefore the overall deficit, comparisons of fiscal adjustment would ideally focus also on operational or primary deficits. Although data do not exist for all countries and cover a narrower fiscal aggregate (typically the central government), what data are available confirm the pattern of adjustment noted above. Countries with exchange rate anchors on average targeted a more ambitious primary balance adjustment in the first program year (about 4 percent of GDP) than countries without anchors (2.3 percent of GDP), and excluding outliers achieved a greater primary balance improvement—3.1 percent of GDP, compared with 2.2 percent of GDP in countries without anchors (Tables 4-11 and 4-12). Once again, part of the progress made was subsequently reversed.

Table 4-9.Fiscal Performance in Countries with Exchange Rate Anchors1(Fiscal balance, broadest coverage available; in percent of GDP)
InitialTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Yugoslavia31.50.8
Poland–8.3–0.13.1–5.6–6.8
Argentina (l989–2nd half)4
Mexico–16.6–9.9–13.2–5.7–3.4
Czechoslovakia–4.40.8–2.0–3.2
Average–7.0–2.1–3.04.8
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia–9.8–3.1–4.0–4.8
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Honduras (1991)–8.5–4.5–3.34.8
Egypt–20.9–10.3–5.0–4.7
Average–14.7–7.4–4.2–4.8
3. Countries with low initial inflation (below 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago–4.8–4.6–1.3–0.1–2.6
Morocco (1990)–5.7–2.8–3.5–3.0–1.7
Papua New Guinea–7.0–6.8–10.5–10.410.6
Mali–10.3–9.1–10.5–9.9–8.5
Congo–10.8–18.0–6.8–17.0
Cameroon–5.2–2.0–5.0–8.6–9.5
Côte d’Ivoire–12.4–7.4–13.1–14.3–12.9
Gabon–9.4–5.2–8.0–4.0–0.3
Average–8.2–7.0–7.3–8.4–6.6
CFA countries–9.6–8.3–8.7–10.8–7.8
Non-CFA countries–5.8-4.7–5.1–4.5–5.0
Average for all countries–8.8–5.7–5.7–7.0
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia–9.6–6.1–6.1–7.0
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Fiscal balance net of inflation tax.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Fiscal balance net of inflation tax.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Differences in overall fiscal performance among countries with exchange rate anchors were also large. On the one hand, Mexico, Egypt, and Morocco achieved sizable fiscal adjustments.19 In Mexico, this adjustment and success in reducing inflation were mutually reinforcing: much of the reduction in the overall deficit came from lower debt-servicing costs as nominal interest rates fell. Egypt and Morocco mainly adjusted the primary balance. On the other hand, large fiscal imbalances persisted in most CFA franc zone countries (except in Gabon), and with the drop in output, public finances deteriorated in Poland (after an initial overperformance) and, to a lesser extent, in Czechoslovakia.

Table 4-10.Fiscal Performance in Countries Without Nominal Anchors1(Fiscal balance, broadest coverage available; in percent of GDP)
InitialTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Argentina (1990)3
Brazil–30.6–36.6–50.173.0–29.2
Uruguay–2.9–2.5–1.5–0.1
Guyana–49.5–56.8–65.4–45.0–38.3
Zaïre–22.3–16.1–8.5–12.7
Ecuador–5.13.4–1.9–0.4–1.9
Bulgaria–13.0–3.5–15.1–14.0
Romania–0.3–1.50.6–0.9
Average–17.7–17.2–20.3–20.9
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana–8.7–5.4–5.3–5.6
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela–7.8–4.0–1.41.1–3.4
Nigeria–11.4–8.4–5.9–3.0–6.8
Costa Rica–0.60.2–2.9–2.9–0.2
El Salvador–5.9–3.6–2.5–4.3–5.6
Madagascar–5.0–3.9–4.0–8.2–3.8
Hungary–0.90.50.8–4.4–6.9
Algeria3.42.01.0–6.6
Guatemala–3.2–2.6–1.8–4.8–1.2
Average–3.9–2.5–2.5–4.1–4.0
3. Countries with low initial inflation (below 10 percent)
Haiti–5.7–5.7–6.1–6.2–5.8
Tunisia–3.6–4.1–4.85.7–4.6
Jamaica–5.4–2.8–12.6–6.2–2.9
Pakistan–8.5–6.5–7.7–6.6–8.7
Jordan–23.7–19.6–21.018.7–17.8
Morocco–6.1–4.5–4.6–6.0–3.5
Average–8.8–7.2–9.5–8.2–7.2
Average for all countries–9.9–8.7–10.4–10.9
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana–6.7–4.7–5.4–5.8
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Notwithstanding the importance of the fiscal adjustment, exchange rate anchors appear to have added to the disinflation process and to the success in sustaining low inflation. This may be seen by comparing the inflation performance of countries with and without exchange rate anchors in program years in which overall fiscal balance targets relative to GDP were met (Chart 4-1 and Appendix Table 4-A2). For this relatively small sample of program years, inflation fell substantially in countries that achieved fiscal targets and had anchors, while in those that achieved fiscal targets and did not have an anchor the decline in inflation was modest. Of course, this pattern could reflect the greater ambitiousness of fiscal targets in countries with anchors. However, a simple comparison of disinflation and fiscal adjustment between the pre-program year (t – 1) and t + 1 suggests a much greater reduction in inflation for a given reduction in the deficit in the countries with exchange rate anchors than in the countries without: specifically, the average reduction of inflation for each percentage point of fiscal adjustment amounted to 17.6 percentage points in countries with anchors, and to 1.2 percentage points in countries without (Appendix Table 4-A3). Not surprisingly, high-inflation countries account for this result. In the intermediate inflation range, the larger inflation decline in countries with anchors was associated with a much larger actual fiscal adjustment (by 4.5 percent of GDP).

Table 4-11.Primary Fiscal Balance in Countries with Exchange Rate Anchors1(Broadest coverage available; in percent of GDP)
InitialTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Yugoslavia2.31.60.4
Poland3
Argentina (1989–2nd half)4
Mexico5.38.25.37.97.8
Czechoslovakia5
Average3.84.93.27.9
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia5.38.25.97.9
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Honduras (1991)–3.70.90.7–0.5
Egypt–11.60.93.05.8
Average7.70.91.92.7
3. Countries with low initial inflation (below 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago1.22.13.34.62.6
Morocco (1990)0.33.42.62.63.9
Papua New Guinea5
Mali–8.9–7.4–8.5–7.9–6.2
Congo–3.0–3.23.2–8.4
Cameroon–3.01.6–3.0–5.6–4.4
Côte d’Ivoire–2.44.7–2.4–2.3–1.4
Gabon–2.41.4–2.31.85.2
Average–2.60.4–1.0–2.2–0.1
CFA countries–3.9–0.6–2.6–4.5–1.7
Non-CFA countries0.82.83.03.63.3
Average for all countries–2.41.30.3–0.2
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia–2.81.30.3–0.2
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target and outcome data not available.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Target data not available.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target and outcome data not available.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Target data not available.

Monetary Conditions

With highly mobile capital, even restrictive ceilings on net domestic assets were frequently not sufficient to contain money growth and inflation. On average, both in countries with exchange rate anchors and in those without, money growth exceeded targets for the first program year.20 Nonetheless, even though deviations from the targeted growth of net domestic assets were small in countries with exchange rate anchors, money growth decelerated, while in most countries without anchors money growth kept increasing (Tables 4-13 and 4-14).

Table 4-12.Primary Fiscal Balance in Countries Without Nominal Anchors1(Broadest coverage availably; in percent of GDP)
InitialTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Argentina (1990)3
Brazil4
Uruguay1.81.02.22.4
Guyana5
Zaïre–12.9–6.4–4.6–10.2
Ecuador2.65.55.37.14.7
Bulgaria–2.64.63.41.2
Romania–0.3–1.00.6–0.8
Average–2.30.71.4–0.1
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana–2.30.71.4–0.1
2. Countries with moderate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela–4.60.73.85.90.5
Nigeria1.26.54.79.94.9
Costa Rica5
El Salvador–4.8–2.6–1.4–2.0–3.6
Madagascar–2.5–0.9–2.0–6.5–2.3
Hungary1.53.23.8–0.8–2.5
Algeria6.67.46.81.7
Guatemala–1.0–1.1–2.5–1.21.1
Average–0.51.91.91.0–0.3
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Haiti–0.4–0.3–0.8
Tunisia–0.5–0.9–1.6–2.5–1.5
Jamaica9.08.13.88.010.7
Pakistan5
Jordan–18.2–12.5–11.3–8.1–7.0
Morocco1.71.60.22.6
Average–2.0–0.8–1.5–0.61.0
Average for all countries–1.50.80.80.2
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana–1.50.30.70.2
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Target and outcome data not available.

Target data not available.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Target and outcome data not available.

Target data not available.

A credible nominal anchor can have a variety of often offsetting effects on money demand. One frequently observed effect is in enhancing the role of financial restraint and structural reform in restoring confidence in the economy and thereby lowering velocity. With restrictive ceilings on net domestic assets, this tends to attract capital inflows. At the same time, however, declining inflation typically lowers the demand for nominal money balances. Money growth is influenced by the relative importance of these factors. In fact, the contribution of net foreign assets to money growth in general increased in the first year of programs with exchange rate anchors, partially offsetting the effect of credit restraint (Tables 4-15 and 4-16). Notably, however, this offset was, on average, far smaller in the countries with exchange rate anchors than in countries without. On average in the latter the increase more than offset the declining contribution of net domestic assets, and money growth increased. This suggests that the combination of fiscal restraint and an exchange rate anchor exerted a sufficiently strong effect on expected and actual inflation so that a lower money growth could be attained.

Chart 4-1.Inflation Performance When Fiscal Targets Were Met

(Average of program years: in percent)

Source: IMF staff estimates.

1Average of 15 program years accounting for 37 percent of program years of countries without nominal anchors: Uruguay, 1991; Zaïre, 1989; Jamaica, 1991/92, 1992/93; Ecuador, 1989, 1990; Venezuela, 1989, 1990; Guyana, 1991; Nigeria, 1989; Costa Rica, 1992; El Salvador, 1990; Hungary, 1990; Tunisia, 1990, 1992.

2Average of 9 program years accounting for 36 percent of program years of countries with exchange rate anchors: Poland, 1990; Mexico, 1989, 1990, 1991; Honduras, 1991; Egypt, 1991/92; Trinidad and Tobago, 1990; the Congo, 1990; Mali, 1989.

3As estimated at the time the programs were approved.

The limitations of credit ceilings in restraining money expansion are even more evident in countries without anchors that met fiscal targets relative to GDP. On average, in all annual programs in which fiscal targets were met and an anchor was not used, broad money growth increased from 33 percent in the pre-program year to over 36 percent during the first program year—against a target of 22 percent—and further to 50 percent in the following year. The overshooting of money targets (by over 14 percentage points) was fully accounted for by a larger-than-expected expansion in net foreign assets (by over 16 percent of the initial money stock), while the contribution of net domestic assets to money growth remained within program targets.

Indexing Arrangements

The effectiveness of a stabilization program supported by a nominal anchor is greatly enhanced by the removal of indexing practices, particularly for wages.21 When backward-looking indexation is widespread, the role of an anchor in influencing expectations, one of the most potent channels through which anchors are likely to work, is severely limited. For countries without a nominal anchor, backward-looking indexation practices are an important source of inflation inertia.

A precise characterization of the degree of indexation in most countries outside Central Europe is not possible with the scanty data available and the complexity of existing wage-setting arrangements. It is clear, however, that the persistence of high and intermediate inflation rates in many countries without nominal anchors reflects widespread indexation, whether formal or informal. In Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Uruguay, public sector wages, at least, were formally indexed. In Algeria and Venezuela, there appears to have been a high degree of de facto indexation. In Bulgaria and Romania, there were large reductions in real wages early in the arrangements but rather close indexing of public sector wages to consumer prices thereafter.

In countries with exchange rate anchors, in general there was not much progress in removing backward-looking formal or de facto indexation. The most notable exception is Mexico, which formally replaced backward indexation with a forward-looking scheme. Argentina, however, did not implement changes to the indexing of public sector wages when the exchange rate was fixed in July 1989, and Yugoslavia’s effort to freeze wages in 1989 was unsuccessful. In other countries with nominal anchors, the extent of indexation is not clear, although there were no notable efforts to change existing practices.

Trade-Offs with External Performance

Success in reducing inflation in countries with an exchange rate anchor came at the cost of deteriorating competitiveness and weaker export volume growth relative to countries that did not have an anchor (Chart 4-2 and Appendix Table 4-A4). Nevertheless, countries with anchors on average recorded a larger improvement in their current account positions. In general, this suggests that the effects of stronger fiscal adjustment on domestic absorption more than offset the short-run effects of weakening price competitiveness. At the same time, the import cover of reserves rose by slightly less in the countries with anchors than in the countries without.

Table 4-13.Broad Money Growth in Countries with Exchange Rate Anchors1(In percent)
ActualTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Yugoslavia3815.118.539.8
Poland227.349.2119.747.457.5
Argentina (1989–2nd half)
Mexico3116.672.042.243.045.8
Czechoslovakia1.75.927.419.9
Average290.236.457.336.8
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia115.242.463.136.8
2. Countries with moderate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Honduras (1991)318.922.620.024.7
Egypt25.611.414.313.4
Average22.317.017.219.1
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago37.05.07.86.61.0
Morocco (1990)11.89.518.516.89.0
Papua New Guinea6.9–3.63.514.312.5
Mali–4.25.28.51.0–4.9
Congo3.74.918.5–4.2–9.9
Cameroon–1.1–2.8–4.71.02.2
Côte d’Ivoire–2.10.7–3.0–1.9
Gabon4.12.61.65.97.1
Average3.32.76.35.21.9
CFA countries0.12.14.20.7–1.5
Non-CFA countries6.68.69.912.67.5
Average for all countries88.014.422.414.6
Average excluding Argentina (1989–2nd half), Yugoslavia32.014.021.114.6
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time the programs were approved.

Broad money growth excluding valuation changes.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time the programs were approved.

Broad money growth excluding valuation changes.

It is important to remember that many factors unrelated to the role of nominal anchors contributed to differences in external performance. For instance, in Central Europe the collapse of Council for Mutual Economic Assistance trade and unmarketable product mixes, in addition to the loss of price competitiveness, induced a sharp contraction of export volumes. Also, current account positions in Central European countries with and without nominal anchors were influenced by the response of imports to the collapse in output and, in some countries, to financing shortfalls. In Mexico, widening current account deficits reflected private saving behavior and the large capital inflows, stemming from the confidence instilled by major structural and fiscal adjustments, as well as the nominal anchor itself.

The deterioration in price competitiveness in countries with nominal anchors was large in high-inflation countries, but still noticeable in intermediate inflation countries (Tables 4-17 and 4-18). The level of inflation affected both the extent to which nominal depreciations before the adoption of a nominal anchor were sustained in the real effective exchange rate and the continuous real appreciations once the anchor was in place. In contrast, countries without an anchor typically saw little change or a drop in the real effective exchange rate irrespective of the level of inflation: gains achieved before and during the first annual program were only slightly reversed afterwards. To some extent these divergences in the evolution of real effective exchange rates may have been offset by more rapid gains in productivity in the countries that successfully disinflated or maintained low inflation. However, that any such offset was not complete is suggested by marked differences in export volume growth between countries with and without nominal anchors, although limited data prevent a clear picture. Intermediate-inflation countries—mainly without anchors—stand out for their generally brisk export performance.

Table 4-14.Broad Money Growth in Countries Without Nominal Anchors1(In percent)
ActualTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Argentina (1990)3548.349.0418.9104.161.7
Brazil296.9592.1825.41,408.11,738.2
Uruguay318.514.525.311.1
Guyana350.332.952.066.160.4
Zaïre3127.236.661.1187.0
Ecuador347.234.837.557.360.1
Bulgaria312.424.124.841.1
Romania22.315.0101.274.8
Average140.499.9193.3243.7
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana45.525.050.074.3
2. Countries with moderate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela327.645.137.153.943.6
Nigeria32.810.811.040.433.3
Costa Rica319.217.823.516.924.9
EE Salvador12.211.929.615.133.6
Madagascar17.712.520.229.80.3
Hungary12.615.730.238.927.9
Algeria13.111.721.323.6
Guatemala310.510.917.023.957.2
Average18.217.123.729.931.5
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Haiti10.713.115.19.39.6
Tunisia13.79.019.011.06.3
Jamaica21.117.034.510.321.2
Pakistan12.211.94.612.419.4
Jordan11.911.312.45.124.5
Morocco9.713.014.711.818.5
Average13.212.616.710.016.6
Average for all countries61.345.983.5102.2
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana23.817.728.435.3
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Broad money growth excluding valuation changes.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Broad money growth excluding valuation changes.

Table 4-15.Contributions to Broad Money Growth in Countries with Exchange Rate Anchors1(In percent)
Broad Money GrowthNet Domestic AssetsNet Foreign Assets
t – 1tt – 1tt – 1t
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Yugoslavia2887.439.8842.233.645.26.2
Poland239.4119.7193.038.446.481.2
Argentina (1989–2nd half)
Mexico2141.042.2107.672.433.4–30.2
Czechoslovakia0.127.44.125.0–4.12.4
Average317.057.3286.742.430.214.9
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia126.863.1101.645.325.217.8
2. Countries with moderate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Honduras (1991)217.520.015.08.62.511.4
Egypt27.514.311.8–1.515.715.8
Average22.517.213.43.69.113.6
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago27.07.82.84.64.23.2
Morocco (1990)11.818.510.83.71.014.8
Papua New Guinea5.43.512.74.1–7.3–0.6
Mali–4.28.5–9.2–5.25.013.7
Congo3.718.57.6–6.5–3.925.0
Cameroon–5.2–4.7–6.46.91.2–11.6
Côte d’Ivoire–7.4–3.0–8.0–3.70.60.7
Gabon4.11.62.2–6.81.98.4
Average1.96.31.6–0.40.36.7
CFA countries–1.84.2–2.8–3.11.07.2
Non-CFA countries8 i9.98.84.1–0.75.8
Average for all countries94.922.484.712.410.110.0
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia33.921.126.510.87.410.3
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

Excluding valuation changes.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

Excluding valuation changes.

Despite deteriorating competitiveness, countries with exchange rate anchors recorded larger improvements in their current account during the first program year than countries without anchors—on average, by 1 to 2 percentage points of GDP (Tables 4-19 and 4-20). Even by the second year, when there were significant reversals of these improvements, the nominal anchor countries showed a slightly larger cumulative adjustment. Greater demand restraint induced by more restrictive fiscal policies appears to have been a significant factor. In fact, import volume growth in most countries with exchange rate anchors on average fell below that in both the pre-program year and in program targets—the latter reflecting developments in Central Europe as well as in the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Papua New Guinea, and Trinidad and Tobago. In contrast, import volume growth rose in countries without anchors. The terms of trade were not an important factor: on average they deteriorated by about 4 percentage points for countries with exchange rate anchors, and remained broadly unchanged in countries without.

Did Nominal Anchors Hurt Growth?

The adoption of exchange rate anchors in disinflation programs has frequently been associated with initial output expansion and subsequent recession (Calvo and Végh (1990, 1991, 1992), De Gregorio, Guidotti, and Végh (1992), Kiguel and Liviatan (1992b)). This pattern typically involves a consumption boom fueled by increasing real wages due to a failure to de-index; wealth effects stemming from a falling inflation tax; and the bringing forward of durable goods purchases on fears that stabilization will be short-lived. Expanding demand then sustains nontradables inflation, the real exchange rate appreciates, and the trade account deteriorates. As the consumption boom wanes, export growth falters, and output growth drops.22 When an exchange rate anchor is longer standing, there is a risk that a cumulative loss of competitiveness will depress investment and growth in the export sector.

Table 4-16.Contributions to Broad Money Growth in Countries Without Nominal Anchors1(In percentage points; end-of-period data)
Broad Money GrowthNet Domestic AssetsNet Foreign Assets
t - 1tt - 1tt - 1t
1. Countries with high initial inflation (In excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Argentina (1990)2491.0418.9682.5403.3–191.515.6
Brazil3825.4816.98.5
Uruguay219.925.314.09.915.915.4
Guyana250.352.058.517.7–8.234.3
Zaïre2127.261.1135.9–7.5–8.768.6
Ecuador244.637.546.013.2–1.424.3
Bulgaria212.424.827.230.7–14.8–5.9
Romania22.3101.216.9104.55.4–3.3
Average111.1193.3140.1173.6–29.019.7
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana47.350.048.030.2–0.719.8
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela225.737.146.031.1–20.36.0
Nigeria33.411.03.0–21.330.432.3
Costa Rica229.823.525.87.64.015.9
El Salvador13.429.622.46.9–9.022.7
Madagascar17.620.214.5–0.43.120.6
Hungary13.630.248.924.1–38.36.1
Algeria11.321.311.316.25.2
Guatemala213.017.020.318.5–7.3–1.5
Average19.723.724.010.3–4.313.4
3. Countries with low initial inflation (below 10 percent)
Haiti10.715.18.117.62.6–2.5
Tunisia13.719.010.09.43.79.6
Jamaica20.434.57.729.712.84.8
Pakistan12.24.613.57.2–1.3–2.6
Jordan11.412.414.10.3–2.712.1
Morocco9.714.76.711.63.03.1
Average13.016.710.012.63.04.1
Average for all countries48.383.558.770.3–10.513.2
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana24.928.425.916.3–1.012.2
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

Data exclude valuation changes.

Comparable data for t – 1 are not available.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

Data exclude valuation changes.

Comparable data for t – 1 are not available.

Data limitations prevent an assessment of whether this process characterized the experience with exchange rate anchors under review. In the absence of counterfactuals, the question of whether an exchange rate anchor reduced the costs of disinflation or of maintaining low inflation would require two groups of countries with similar inflation profiles—one with nominal anchors and one without. The only comparison that can be made here is between countries with anchors that reduced inflation or maintained it at relatively low levels and countries without anchors that had significantly higher rates of inflation. Even between these two groups, two problems exist. First, the short sample period permits an examination of short-term differences in growth, when, because the longer-term positive effects of disinflation on growth cannot be seen, the costs of disinflation are likely to be large. Second, output growth in the CFA franc zone countries reflects the influence not only of the anchor policy during the period under review, but also of large previous deteriorations in competitiveness.

Chart 4-2.Real Effective Exchange Rates When Fiscal Targets Were Met1

(Average of program years; percent change)

Source: IMF staff estimates.

1Positive values indicate real effective exchange rate appreciation.

2Average of 15 program years accounting for 37 percent of program years of countries without nominal anchors: Uruguay, 1991; Zaïre, 1989; Jamaica, 1991/92, 1992/93; Ecuador, 1989, 1990; Venezuela, 1989, 1990; Guyana, 1991; Nigeria, 1989; Costa Rica, j 1992; El Salvador, 1990; Hungary, 1990; Tunisia, 1990, 1992.

3Average of 9 program years accounting for 36 percent of program years of countries with exchange rate anchors: Poland, 1990; Mexico, 1989, 1990, 1991; Honduras, 1991; Egypt, 1991/92; j Trinidad and Tobago, 1990; the Congo, 1990; Mali, 1989.

With these caveats in mind, the data suggest that the sharper disinflation or persistently lower inflation in countries with exchange rate anchors than in countries without came at the cost of lower short-term growth, most likely related to the impact of losses of competitiveness and the immediate effects of tighter financial policies. Excluding the Central European countries and other outliers, the cumulative real growth in the three years following the outset of the first program was about 3.5 percentage points lower in the countries with nominal anchors than in the countries without (Tables 4-21 and 4-22, last row). In countries with nominal anchors, average GDP growth rose to 3.3 percent in the second program year, from –1.0 percent in the pre-program year. It then declined to about 1 percent in the following year—mainly reflecting developments in Morocco, Trinidad and Tobago, and the CFA franc zone countries. In countries without nominal anchors, average output growth was higher before the programs started but remained brisker, accelerating toward an average annual rate of 3.5–4.0 percent.

While firm conclusions are not possible, most countries in the sample did not conform to the early boom-late recession pattern observed in other exchange-rate-based stabilizations. This pattern occurred only in Morocco and Trinidad and Tobago, where inflation was moderate from the beginning. In the period under review, growth picked up gradually in Mexico, Honduras, and Papua New Guinea. On the other hand, growth was weak in the CFA franc zone countries—except in Gabon—and Egypt, reflecting a loss of competitiveness and stagnant non-oil exports.

Were Nominal Anchors Sustainable?

At some stage, each country with an exchange rate anchor faced the question of whether the costs for competitiveness and potential export growth were too great to sustain. Most of the countries opted to keep the anchor, although in Yugoslavia it had become clearly unsustainable early in the program; 3 of the 15 countries abandoned the anchor for a float (Argentina, and, after the arrangements under review, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago (Appendix Table 4-A5)); Poland replaced its fixed exchange rate anchor with a preannounced crawl with discrete devaluations. For the countries that kept the anchor, questions about sustainability remain.

The experience of high inflation countries, in particular, confirms that tight financial policies are a necessary condition for the nominal anchor to be sustained. The common problem in Argentina, Poland, and Yugoslavia was a weakening of financial policies and the failure to de-index: the real value of domestic currency rose sharply, and, in Argentina and Poland, intervention to support the parity became unsustainable.23

Table 4-17.Real Effective Exchange Rate and Export Volume Growth in Countries with Exchange Rate Anchors1
Real Effective Exchange Rate

(Percent change; end-of-period data:

+ = real appreciation)
Export Volume Growth

(In percent)
ActualActualActualActualActualTargetActualActualActual
t – 1tt + 1t + 2t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Yugoslavia318.289.069.37.25.04.8
Poland–31.265.728.35.613.7–27.17.0
Argentina (l989–2nd half)4–39.917.657.6
Mexico2.329.90.15.712.42.9–0.55.15.4
Czechoslovakia5–8.8–15.0–40.7
Average–12.750.638.82.7–1.8–5.7
Average excluding Argentina (1989–2nd half), Yugoslavia–14.547.814.25.71.2–4.0–9.2–11.06.2
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Honduras (1991)–53.717.94.83.85.8–4.90.7
Egypt–3.6–1.917.3
Average–28.78.06.3
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago8.6–3.01.08.94.11.19.0–1.01.1
Morocco (1990)2.2–6.73.30.2–10.616.719.70.1–0.5
Papua New Guinea–1.6–9.12.01.95.87.3–4.521.922.7
Mali2.2–5.60.40.39.6–4.2–2.917.73.7
Congo–0.7–0.3–3.20.412.3–1.31.5–8.0
Cameroon6–6.2–7.71.7–4.5
Côte d’Ivoire2.52.8–3.83.420.61.711.2–4.80.9
Gabon–15.38.67.3–12.42.221.525.018.55.4
Average–1.7–161.1–0.26.76.18.46.35.6
CFA countries-4.5–0.40.5–2.611.24.48.75.93.3
Non-CFA countries3.1–6.32.13.70.38.48.17.07.8
Average for all countries–8.714.112.65.13.52.6
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia–8.37.64.14.93.32.42.3
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time the programs were approved.

Data for export volume growth in 1991 are not available.

Changes during half a year (t = second half of 1989).

Data not available.

Target data not available.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time the programs were approved.

Data for export volume growth in 1991 are not available.

Changes during half a year (t = second half of 1989).

Data not available.

Target data not available.

Table 4-18.Real Effective Exchange Rate and Export Volume Growth in Countries Without Nominal Anchors1
Real Effective Exchange Rate

(Percent change; end-of period data; + = real appreciation)
Export Volume Growth

(In percent)
ActualActualActualActualActualTargetActualActualActual
t – 1tt + 1t + 2t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Argentina (1990)29.4160.4–10.316.8–9.020.043.2–0.35.2
Brazil–3.6–10.436.419.3–17.65.217.711.5
Uruguay–5.416.410.41.21.8–4.9
Guyana–38.8–23.1–2.110.8–2.812.7–8.817.524.2
Zaïre4.7–17.7–20.311.921.7–2.8–4.1–1.9
Ecuador–262.3–2.2–0.127.3–6.0–3.56.810.4
Bulgaria
Romania–41.8–39.830.1
Average–16.712.66.03.55.26.64.4
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana–11.3–9.74.516.7–2.3–4.22.5
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela21.9–34.36.75.6–7.910.051.725.4–21.8
Nigeria0.521.4–21.1–5.23.12.817.59.73.3
Costa Rica–0.71.4–2.2–10.9–0.77.516.42.86.0
El Salvador–1.0–19.27.17.2–19.537.329.7–1.18.6
Madagascar–33.5–3.94.11.26.35.0–8.528.718.3
Hungary–3.619.26.614.66.58.510012.70.9
Algeria–28.7–32.327.0
Guatemala–13.0–6.61.14.45.12.011.512.26.8
Average–7.3–6.83.714–1.010.418.312.93.2
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Haiti4.5–11.90.4–10.42.6–10.5–2.2–14.9–10.5
Tunisia–6.31.2–1.9–0.89.13.38.718.34.5
Jamaica–1.386–10.1–0.97.27.0–2.930.39.0
Pakistan–6.9–3.3–0.5
Jordan–21.4–6.4–8.03.2
Morocco–4.6–1.52.2–6.77.211.319.5–11.019.7
Average–7.1–3.2–3.5–2.76.52.85.85.85.7
Average for all countries–10.40.72.42.36.811.28.5
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana–8.1–6.21.54.95.59.99.1
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time the programs were approved.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time the programs were approved.

Table 4-19.External Current Account and Reserves in Countries with Exchange Rate Anchors1
Current Account Excluding Official Transfers

(In percent of GDP)
Gross External Reserves

(in months of imports)
ActualTargetActualActualActualActualTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Yugoslavia33.52.2–1.56.47.95.0
Poland–3.2–6.60.72.9–0.73.74.16.53.63.8
Argentina (l989–2nd half)40.3102.3
Mexico3.21.5–12–19–3.212.013.13.13.13.9
Czechoslovakia–1.0–6.92.70.60.71.81.31.0
Average0.6–2.5–0.1–1.74.65.83.6
Average excluding Argentina (1989–2nd half), Yugoslavia–0.3–4.00.4–1.75.56.33.61.6
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Honduras (1991)–7.7–6.8–7.3–7.30.71.21.72.6
Egypt–12.0–11.53.5–1.12.51911.314.8
Average–9.9–9.2–1.9–4.21.62.16.58.7
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago–3.9–5.97.8–0.41.82.33.34.0141.6
Morocco (1990)–3.5–1.8–2.4–2.2–1.70.81.43.83.9
Papua New Guinea–17.2–22.6–9.9–12.6–7.04.23.84.93.52.8
Mali–16.0–17.6–17.0–14.4–14.7
Congo–5.9–17.1–9.7–15.80.50.40.60.6
Cameroon8.4–4.3–6.4–7.7–6.30.60.70.40.20.4
Côte d’Ivoire9.7–12.1–11.6–11.9–11.5
Gabon–18.7–11.0–5.74.41.90.91.40.43.03.5
Average–10.4–11.6–6.9–7.6–5.41.51.82.42.3
CFA countries–11.7–114–10.1–9.1–7.70.70.80.51.3
Non-CFA countries–8.2–10.1–1.5–5.1–2.3142.84.23.3
Average for all countries–7.2–8.6–4.2–5.72.73.43.53.5
Average excluding Argentina (1989–2nd half), Yugoslavia–8.0–9.44.4–5.72.63.13.53.5
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Data for 1991 not available.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions: external reserves at end-June 1989 (t – 1) and end-December 1989 (t).

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Data for 1991 not available.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions: external reserves at end-June 1989 (t – 1) and end-December 1989 (t).

Table 4-20.External Current Account and Reserves Performance in Countries Without Nominal Anchors1
Current Account Excluding Official Transfers

(In percent of GDP)
Gross External Reserves

(In months of imports)
ActualTargetActualActualActualActualTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Argentina (1990)32.03.65.56.110.2
Brazil–0.5–0.51.20.3–0.82.72.45.24.64.1
Uruguay0.90.31.3–2.03.43.82.54.0
Guyana–41.6–82.1–55.1–53.8–37.53.64.01.46.56.0
Zaïre–13.8–14.5–12.1–12.23.34.16.04.5
Ecuador–7.0–5.7–6.4–2.9–5.14.54.35.37.26.0
Bulgaria–5.7–10.2–5.6–8.30.50.91.93.6
Romania–9.2–5.5–4.7–8.30.81.81.21.7
Average–11.0–16.9–11.6–12.52.63.13.64.8
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana–7.0–7.1–5.5–6.72.53.03.44.2
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela–8.1–3.45.115.22.86.010.010.015.013.0
Nigeria–5.6–9.00.97.70.71.02.55.34.8
Costa Rica–5.6–4.9–8.4–9.1–1.75.85.64.22.65.4
El Salvador–9.4–5.8–6.6–5.0–6.53.74.65.14.03.9
Madagascar–11.7–16.8–10.8–8.7–13.65.14.47.17.81.6
Hungary–5.4–2.1–2.0–1.2–1.83.24.62.35.35.2
Algeria2.60.76.02.60.91.72.12.0
Guatemala–6.5–5.2–5.3–4.0–3.92.83.11.60.13.5
Average–6.2–5.8–2.6–0.4–3.53.54.44.45.35.3
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Haiti–4.9–5.7–6.9–7.4–6.61.61.41.20.61.5
Tunisia–1.4–3.8–3.3–5.32.02.53.12.71.8
Jamaica–5.8–4.9–6.5–10.3–7.22.02.01.40.91.3
Pakistan–4.0–3.3–4.8–4.7–4.30.71.10.70.90.8
Jordan–18.5–15.5–17.2–29.1–21.50.51.00.21.03.8
Morocco–0.6–0.30.7–4.6–2.40.91.21.10.93.8
Average–5.9–5.6–5.6–9.9–7.91.31.51.31.22.2
Average for all countries–7.7–9.5–6.5–7.12.63.13.34.0
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana–6.3–6.1–4.3–5.12.63.13.13.7
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target and actual ratios to GDP for Argentina are not comparable because of large GDP revisions.

Table 4-21.Real GDP Growth in Countries with Exchange Rate Anchors1(In percent)
ActualTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Yugoslavia0.8–2.5–7.5
Poland–1.0–5.0–11.6–7.20.6
Argentina (1989–2nd half)3
Mexico1.12.01.23.34.4
Czechoslovakia–3.0–5.0–15.9–5.9
Average–0.52.6–8.5–3.32.5
Average excluding Argentina (1989–2nd half), Yugoslavia–1.0–2.7–8.8–3.32.5
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Honduras (1991)–1.01.03.04.9
Egypt1.5–3.00.30.5
Average–1.3–1.01.72.7
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago–3.70.71.53.1–1.6
Morocco (1990)2.23.53.75.1–3.0
Papua New Guinea1.40.5–3.09.58.5
Mali3.9–0.8–0.211.80.8
Congo0.30.60.52.2
Cameroon–14.8–11.60.9–7.3–6.2
Côte d’Ivoire–0.8–1.7–2.1–0.8
Gabon2.05.07.04.06.3
Average1.2–0.51.03.50.4
CFA countries–1.9–1.71.22.0–0.2
Non-CFA countries1.60.75.91.3
Average for all countries–1.0–1.2–1.61.80.9
Average excluding Argentina (1989–2nd half), Yugoslavia–1.1–1.1–1.11.80.9
Average excluding Argentina (l989–2nd half), Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia–1.0–0.31.23.30.9
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target data are not available.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Target data are not available.

Conversely, the experience of Czechoslovakia and Mexico for the period under review show that exchange rate anchor strategies, even in initially inflationary settings, can be sustained as long as they complement resolute fiscal adjustment and wage restraint. In Czechoslovakia, a surge in prices following liberalization was rapidly tamed, and although there has been a modest erosion of competitiveness, export growth remained strong. In Mexico, the evolution of the anchor strategy helped contain pressures on external competitiveness: a peg in the first year was followed by a preannounced crawl and greater (albeit limited) flexibility within a band when annual inflation fell below 20 percent. Two years into the anchor policy, large capital inflows put upward pressure on the peso and raised the question of whether to allow an appreciation. Foreign direct investment validated the stabilization effort and contributed to output growth and export diversification. As noted, however, the external current account deficit widened, largely reflecting the marked decline in private sector saving.

Table 4-22.Real GDP Growth in Countries Without Nominal Anchors1(In percent)
ActualTargetActualActualActual
t – 12ttt + 1t + 2
1. Countries with high initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations
Argentina (1990)–5.04.5–0.28.58.0
Brazil2.92.0–0.13.3–4.4
Uruguay1.02.31.97.8
Guyana–3.32.9–2.56.06.5
Zaïre2.53.30.60.6
Ecuador8.01.00.22.34.4
Bulgaria–11.3–11.0–11.7–5.6
Romania10.2–15.1–15.4
Average–1.90.6–3.40.93.6
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana–2.0–0.9–4.8–2.14.4
2. Countries with intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela4.2–2.7–8.66.510.4
Nigeria1.21.57.28.24.5
Costa Rica3.84.35.63.62.2
El Salvador1.12.5343.54.5
Madagascar1.42.0344.13.1
Hungary–1.8–0.3–35–11.9–4.4
Algeria1.14.50.22.8
Guatemala4.54.54.13.13.3
Average1.92.01.52.53.4
3. Countries with low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Haiti–1.5–0.5–1.5–3.0–4.0
Tunisia5.80.90.13.77.6
Jamaica5.54.73.44.74.1
Pakistan5.35.24.84.75.6
Jordan–3.5–13.51.71.8
Morocco1.56.010.42.53.7
Average2.22.70.62.43.1
Average for all countries0.61.7–0.51.93.3
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana1.01.5–0.51.33.3
Average excluding Argentina (1990), Brazil, Guyana, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary2.62.51.43.63.9
Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

A t denotes the first year of the first arrangement reviewed for each country, except where otherwise noted.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Other countries with an exchange rate anchor maintained lower rates of inflation, but nonetheless, over time, felt also the pressures on competitiveness and the external accounts. In Morocco and Papua New Guinea, initial devaluations afforded some room for slippages in competitiveness without adverse effects on external viability. In the CFA franc zone countries, continued fiscal imbalances and adverse terms-of-trade changes resulted in large current account deficits that led to protracted recourse to exceptional financing and arrears, and more recently to a change in parity. In Egypt, strong capital inflows have eased financing constraints, but there have been sizable costs for competitiveness.

Concluding Observations

  • The success in reducing inflation or in keeping inflation low among the countries under review depended first and foremost on the strength of financial adjustment and wage restraint as well as the absence of major exogenous disturbances.

  • Disentangling the separate effects of underlying adjustment policies and a nominal anchor is difficult. However, among the countries reviewed an exchange rate anchor appears to have added to the effects of strong and credible adjustment policies in reducing high inflation or sustaining low inflation through a variety of mechanisms: helping break inflation expectations; reinforcing policy discipline; stabilizing traded goods prices; and setting in train forces that lowered fiscal deficits. These effects were of course sustainable only when the underlying adjustment policies were compatible with sustained low or reduced rates of inflation.

  • When policies were weaker or the terms of trade deteriorated persistently, exchange rate anchors still had strong effects on inflation, principally through the direct stabilization of traded goods prices, but tended not to be sustainable. In the most extreme of such circumstances, the nominal anchor ended in a disruptive foreign exchange crisis; in other situations, where policies were not sufficiently supportive, competitiveness weakened and the external position and output growth suffered as the exchange rate was held.

  • Money anchors are another means of reinforcing strong stabilization policies but were used infrequently in the countries reviewed. Conceptually, money anchors were less desirable than exchange rate anchors for the countries under review where money demand was subject to wide fluctuations and inflation expectations needed to be broken quickly, but the sample precludes any in-depth analysis of their role.

  • With few exceptions, the countries without an explicit nominal anchor did not succeed in reducing inflation substantially from very high or even intermediate levels before programs started. This does not mean that with more restrictive financial policies and greater wage restraint, inflation could not have been reduced. Nor does it mean that with the policies then in effect, an exchange rate anchor could have been sustained. But for the countries under review, major reductions in inflation occurred when exchange rate anchors were in effect.

  • Within the short period reviewed, the benefits of an exchange rate anchor for inflation appear to have come at a cost, certainly in terms of competitiveness, but possibly also in terms of short-term output growth. Nonetheless, in view of the significant effect of the anchor on inflation and the evidence from other studies of a link between lower inflation and stronger long-term growth, a successful anchor strategy should prove beneficial to growth for countries addressing very high inflation rates. Moreover, because there is not an adequate control group in which inflation was reduced without an exchange rate anchor, it is not possible to tell whether an exchange rate anchor diminished the costs of disinflation.

  • Should exchange rate anchors have been used more often in IMF-supported programs addressing high inflation? In a first best world, yes: there should have been stronger fiscal and wage restraint supported by an anchor. In fact, however, the experience strongly indicates that when programs were not as strong as the ideal and indexing was not addressed, exchange rate anchors were more likely to end in crises than to work. In this light, decisions to use an exchange rate anchor in IMF-supported programs should place greatest priority on the prospects for resolute fiscal adjustment, the credibility of these prospects in the eyes of the public, and the removal of indexation.

  • The desirability of initiating and particularly of sustaining an exchange rate anchor depends on the importance and persistence of exogenous disturbances to the economy. Active use of the exchange rate is usually an important part of the adjustment to real disturbances that are unlikely to be reversed—whether from the supply side, such as a deterioration of the terms of trade, or from the demand side, such as a change in investment.

  • Within a range of relatively strong adjustment efforts, there are ways to gear a nominal anchor disinflation strategy to a country’s capacity for adjustment and susceptibility to real shocks. Specifically, a relatively rigid anchor is needed in the initial stages, but once inflation has been reduced, greater exchange rate flexibility may become necessary to redress a worsening of competitiveness and avoid one-way bets against the exchange rate. For example, in Mexico and Poland exchange rates were initially fixed; after inflation had fallen, though not necessarily to desired levels, more flexibility, albeit limited, was introduced. How long a period of initial fixity is needed is open to question, but the limited experience reviewed suggests that one year is likely to be a minimum. In reasonably stable conditions, mid-course corrections may strengthen the credibility of a stabilization program rather than signal its failure.

  • In low-inflation settings, the use of exchange rate anchors for ongoing discipline has pitted broad success in maintaining inflation at low rates against weak external positions and low growth. It is not clear whether the benefits of an exchange rate anchor in countries where terms of trade and other exogenous shocks have been large and persistent are worth the costs in a low-inflation environment. The best experiences were in countries, such as Papua New Guinea, that at least adjusted the exchange rate discretely in response to exogenous shocks or policy slippages. This raises the question of whether it makes sense to adhere to a fixed parity for very long periods in the face of sustained shifts in terms of trade or other real variables. Discrete changes in the exchange rate, while perhaps weakening the discipline value of the anchor if they occur with any frequency, may be necessary to foster adjustment in response to changed economic circumstances.

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Appendix Tables
Table 4-A1.Summary of Exchange Rate, Wage/Incomes, and Price Control Policy in IMF Arrangements, 1988–92
Country/Program Year(s)ArrangementExchange Rate PolicyWage/Incomes PolicyPrice Controls PolicyNominal Anchors
Algeria, 1991SBAAdjustable peg (to a basket), with large initial depreciationCeiling on civil service salary increases (not observed)Extensive liberalizationNo
Argentina, 1969 (2nd half), 1990SBAPeg (to the US$) after large initial depreciation (abandoned after run on the currency in December 1989, when the exchange rate was floated)Guidelines for public sector and private sector wage increases (not observed)Agreement with leading firms to keep prices constant, as long as exchange race and public utility rates were unchangedFixed exchange rate in second half of 1969 No in 1990
Brazil, 1988SBACrawling peg (daily adjustment in line with domestic inflation)2-month central government and public enterprise wage freeze; continued monthly backward indexationIntention to limit scope of price controls to oligopolistic situationsNo
Bulgaria, 1991SBAFloatingCeilings on public sector wage bill, after initial general compensation for impact of price reformExtensive liberalizationNo
Cameroon, 1988/89. 1969/90SBAPeg (CFA franc zone)1-year civil service wage bill freeze; thereafter, increase in line with inflationReview of agricultural producer prices exceeding world market levelsFixed exchange rate
Congo, 1990, 1991SBAPeg (CFA franc zone)Reduction of civil service wage billNot mentionedFixed exchange rate
Costa Rica. 1989SBAICrawling peg (“periodic adjustments in light of relative price movements”)Restraint in central government wages and salariesincrease in public utility rates and administered agricultural pricesNo
Costa Rica. 1991, 1992SBA2Crawling peg (“geared toward maintaining export competitiveness”), at accelerated rate. Floating since 2/92Suspension of public sector wage indexation, limited growth of minimum wage as guideline for private sector wage adjustments-Adjustment in fuel prices and public utility ratesNo
Côte d’Ivoire, 1989, 1990SBAPeg (CFA franc zone)Freeze in public sector nominal wage billReduction in guaranteed agricultural product pricesFixed exchange rate
Czechoslovakia. 1991SBAPeg (to a 5-currency basket), after initial depreciationInitial ceilings on average wage growth, followed by partially indexed ceilingsExtensive liberalizationExchange race (incomes policy)
Ecuador, 1989, 1990SBACrawling peg (“commitment to prevent any appreciation in real effective terms”)Limits on minimum wage increase for public and private sectorAdjustment in selected public sector pricesNo
Egypt, 1991/92SBADual exchange system, linked to floating market rate: later, de facto narrowly fluctuating bilateral exchange rate vis-à-vis the US$Ceiling on government sector wage increaseExtensive liberalization and adjustment in administered pricesDe facto, exchange rate (limited flexibility)
El Salvador, 1990, 1991SBAFloatingCeiling on central government wage increase, close monitoring of other public sector wagesAdjustment of remaining administered prices, after 1989 extensive liberalizationNo
Gabon, 1989, 1990SBAPeg (CFA franc zone)Ceiling on government wage bill (not observed)Liberalization of controlled pricesFixed exchange rate
Guatemala, 1988, 1989SBAManaged floating (in practice rate remained unchanged until August 1989). Floating in November 1989Not mentionedAdjustment of administered energy pricesMo
Guyana, 1990, 1991SBADual exchange system, with commitment to unification and floating (by March 31, 1991)General wage increase in government sector below projected inflation; market determined private sector wagesMonthly review and adjustment of controlled prices and public sector tariffs in line with costsNo
Haiti, 1989SBADual exchange system, with official rate pegged to US$ and floating parallel marketFreeze in monthly wage bill in public enterprises (mandated reduction in selected cases)Adjustment of agricultural product prices and public tariffsNo
Honduras, 1990, 1991SBAAfter initial devaluation, limited flexibility of interbank market transactions within a narrow band around reference rate (for the US$) set by central bank and virtually pegged to the US$ since December 1990Guidelines for public sector wage increases and periodic review of private sector minimum wagesAdjustment of regulated pricesExchange rate (limited flexibility)
Hungary, 1990SBAAdjustable peg to basket of 10 currenciesTargeted reduction of real wage bill for socialized enterprises (tax-based)Liberalization and adjustment of controlled pricesNo
Hungary, 1991, 1992EFFUp-front depreciation followed by “flexible adjustment” of peg to a basketReduced reliance on tax-based income policy, greater decentralization of wage agreementsLiberalization and adjustment of controlled prices and public utility tariffsNo
Jamaica, 1988/89, 1989/90SBAIManaged floating (depreciation as necessary to return real effective exchange rate at base value for real appreciation exceeding 5 percent in 3-month period)Wage guidelines for central government, and private sector “wage fund”Adjustment of controlled prices in line with costsNo
Jamaica, 1990/91SBA2Adjustable peg (to US$). with adjustment linked to past real effective rate developments (floating in September 1990)Wage guidelines for central government and private sector “wage fund”Adjustment of controlled pricesNo (peg to US$ replaced by floating rate after a few months)
Jamaica, 1991/92, 1992/93SBA3FloatingWage guidelines limited to the public sectorAdjustment of public enterprise prices and of public tariffsNo
Jordan, 1989, 1990SBAPeg to a basket of SDR currencies (dual official/commercial rate system unified in February 1990); in practice, exchange rate policy aimed at maintaining competitivenessNot mentionedAdjustment of subsidized retail prices and petroleum product pricesNo
Madagascar, 1988SBAAdjustable peg to a basket of currencies (“to reflect changes in exchange rates and differentials in inflation”)Not mentionedNot mentionedNo
Mali, 1988, 1989SBAPeg (CFA franc zone)Constant government wage bill, freeze of merit increases and of adjustment for inflationLiberalization of controlled pricesFixed exchange rate
Mexico, (1988), 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992EFFInitial pegging (1988), followed by preannounced crawling peg (with crawling rate lower than inflation)After breaking the de facto indexation with a wage freeze in 1988, review of wage developments to ensure consistency with inflation and fiscal objectivesContinued control of public sector prices and tariffs, after adjustment to reflect production costs or world pricesExchange rate (incomes policy)
Morocco, 1988, 1989SBAIManaged floating (“to preserve the economy’s competitiveness”)Increase in wages for selected public sector employeesAdjustment of public utility tariffs, continued liberalization of pricesNo
Morocco, 1990SBA2Peg to a basket of currencies, after initial devaluationCeiling on public sector basic wages and freeze on fringe benefitsAdjustment of subsidized product prices and public enterprise tariffsExchange rate
Nigeria, 1989SBAIManaged floating (Central Bank weekly allocation to dealer market)Not mentionedAdjustment of domestic petroleum product prices and public enterprise tariffsNo
Nigeria, 1991SBA2Managed floatingReview of public sector wagesAdjustment of domestic petroleum product prices and subsidized fertilizer pricesNo
Pakistan, 1988/89, 1989/90SBA“Flexible exchange rate management” aimed at avoiding any appreciation of real effective exchange rate (performance criterion)Not mentionedAdjustment of utility prices, key crop prices, and subsidized fertilizer pricesNo
Papua New Guinea, 1990SBAPeg to a basket of currencies, with initial devaluationReduction of government real wages, reduced indexation, and moral suasion for private sector wage restraintGradual phasing out of price support for agricultural commodity prices above world market levelsExchange rate
Philippines, 1989, 1990EFFManaged floating (“flexible exchange race system to be guided by floors for the net international reserves”)Ceilings on government wage bill increaseAdjustment of petroleum product prices, public utility tariffsBase money target
Philippines, 1991, 1992SBAManaged floating (“central bank intervention in the foreign exchange market guided by the performance criteria on net international reserves”)Not mentionedAdjustment of petroleum and energy pricesBase money target
Poland, 1990SBAPeg (to the US$), after large initial depreciationCeilings (performance criteria) on change in wages in five main sectors of the socialized economy, with partial indexation to inflation, tax-basedExtensive liberalization and adjustment of energy pricesFixed exchange rate (wages)
Poland, 1991EFFPeg (to the US$)Ceilings (performance criteria) on average increase in wages in the six main branches of the economy. Tax-based except for private and privatized enterprises. Greater role for wage incentives. Partial indexationFurther liberalization and adjustment of administered pricesFixed exchange rate (wages)
Romania, 1991SBATemporary dual system, with interbank floating rate, and commitment to early unificationCeilings on maximum wages: tax penalties for excess wages: forward indexationExtensive price liberalization and adjustment of controlled pricesNo
Trinidad and Tobago, 1969SBAIAdjustable peg (to the US$) (managed flexibly to attain net international reserves target, in practice pegged)Freeze of wages in the government sector and reduction of wages in state enterprises (10 percent of total employment)Reduced scope of price controls and adjustment of controlled pricesExchange rate (in practice fixed)
Trinidad and Tobago, 1990SBA2Adjustable peg (to the US$) (in practice pegged)Continued freeze of wages in the public sectorAdjustment of controlled pricesExchange rate (in practice fixed)
Tunisia, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992EFFAdjustable vis-à-vis a basket of currencies under a system of managed floating (to maintain real effective exchange rate level)Average annual government wage bill growth slightly above projected inflation (productivity premium)Price liberalization and adjustment of controlled pricesNo
Uruguay, 1990, 1991SBAManaged floating (“aimed at maintaining competitiveness”)Periodic adjustment of public sector wages for targeted inflation; guidelines for private sector wages (not observed)Adjustment of public sector tariffs (with projected inflation), and petroleum product and public sector pricesNo
Venezuela, 1989, 1990, 1991EFFFloatingIn 1989, freeze of private and public sector wages, after initial adjustmentAdjustment of controlled prices in line with costs; reduced scope for price controls; adjustment of public utility tariffsNo
Yugoslavia, 1990SBAPeg (to the DM)Ceiling (performance criteria) on average net personal income for workers in the social sector (temporary wage freeze to be replaced by wage controls—not fully implemented)Temporary freeze of prices of transportation, public utilities, and key industrial goodsFixed exchange rate (wages and partial price freeze)
Zaïre, 1989SBADual exchange system, with official rate to be kept within a maximum 10 percent spread over the market rate (structural benchmark)Public sector wage bill increase below targeted inflationAdjustment of petroleum product pricesNo
Source: IMF staff reports.
Source: IMF staff reports.
Table 4-A2.Inflation Performance in Annual Programs When Fiscal Targets Were Met, 1988–92(Inflation rate, in percent; end-of-period data whenever available)
ActualTargetActualActualDifference Actual and TargetDeviation in Percent of TargetTarget at t Less Actual t1Actual at t Less Actual t – 1Actual at t + 1 Less Actual t – 1
t – 1ttt + 1tt
1. High initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations2
Poland 1990704.094.0249.360.4155.3165.2–610.0–454.7–643.6
Uruguay 1991123.030.081.358.951.3171.0–93.0–41.7–64.1
Zaïre 198993.775.056.0265.0–19.0–25.3–18.7–37.7171.3
Jamaica 1992/199390.515.021.16.140.7–75.5–69.4
Ecuador 198985.750.054.249.54.28.4–35.7–31.5–36.2
Venezuela 199083.618.636.531.017.996.2–65.0–47.1–52.6
Guyana 199175.965.081.515.016.525.4–10.95.6–60.9
Ecuador 199054.225.049.549.024.598.0–29.2–4.7–5.2
Mexico 198951.718.019.729.91.79.4–33.7–32.0–21.8
Average for all program years151.443.472.169.828.766.2–108.0–79.2–81.5
Average for program years without nominal anchors86.739.854.378.114.536.4–46.9–32.4–8.6
Average for program years with nominal anchors377.956.0134.545.278.5140.2–321.9–243.4–332.7
2. Intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela 198935.562.281.036.518.830.226.745.51.0
Honduras 199135.220.021.312.01.36.5–15.2–13.9–23.2
Nigeria 198933.022.050.57.428.5129.5–11.017.5–25.6
Mexico 199129.914.018.811.54.834.3–15.9–11.1–18.4
Jamaica 1991/9228.319.3105.821.186.5448.2–9.077.5–7.2
Costa Rica 199225.315.017.02.013.3–10.3–8.3
El Salvador 199023.516.019.39.83.320.6–7.5–4.2–13.7
Mexico 199019.715.029.918.814.999.3–4.710.2–0.9
Egypt 1991/9219.531.521.111.1–10.4–33.012.01.6–8.4
Hungary 199019.017.533.432.215.990.9–1.514.413.2
Philippines 199114.29.513.18.13.637.9–4.7–1.1–6.1
Philippines 199212.47.08.11.115.7–5.4–4.3
Average for all program years24.620.834.916.914.268.4–3.910.3–7.8
Average for program years without nominal anchors27.425.351.221.425.8102.0–2.123.7–6.0
Average for program years with nominal anchors21.816.218.712.32.615.8–5.7–3.1–9.5
With exchange rate anchors26.120.122.813.42.713.2–6.0–3.3–12.7
3. Low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago 19909.35.59.52.31.011.8–0.80.2–7.0
Tunisia 19927.86.55.5–1.0–15.4–1.3–2.3
Tunisia 19907.77.46.57.8–0.9–12.2–0.3–1.20.1
Congo 19904.02.02.1–0.60.15.0–2.0–1.9–4.6
Mali 19892.73.0–0.92.9–3.9–130.00.3–3.60.2
Average for all program years6.35.54.53.1–0.9–17.2–0.8–1.8–3.2
Average for program years without nominal anchors7.87.06.07.8–1.0–13.7–0.8–1.80.1
Average for program years with nominal anchors5.34.53.61.5–0.9–20.7–0.8–1.8–3.8
4. All annual programs
Average for all program years65.025.742.033.616.363.6–39.3–23.0–31.4
Average for program years without nominal anchors52.429.646.648.617.057.3–22.8–5.8–3.8
Average for program years with nominal anchors82.120.235.615.615.476.2–61.8–46.4–66.4
With exchange rate anchors97.322.941.216.518.380.0–74.4–56.1–80.9
Source: IΜF staff estimates.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Excluding Yugoslavia because target and actual fiscal data are not comparable, and Romania because of large fiscal data revisions.

Source: IΜF staff estimates.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Excluding Yugoslavia because target and actual fiscal data are not comparable, and Romania because of large fiscal data revisions.

Table 4-A3.Fiscal Performance in Annual Programs When Fiscal Targets Were Met, 1988–92(Fiscal balance, broadest coverage available; in percent of GDP)
Difference Actual and Target tDeviation in Percent of Target tTarget at t

Less Actual

t – 1
Actual at t

Less Actual

t – 1
Actual at t + 1 Less Actual

t – 1
Actual

t – 11
Target

t
Actual

t
Actual

t + 1
1. High initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations2
Poland 1990–8.3–0.13.1–5.63.2–3,200.08.211.42.7
Uruguay 1991–2.9–2.5–1.5–0.11.0–40.00.41.42.8
Zaïre 1989–22.3–16.1–as–12.77.6–47.26.213.89.6
Jamaica 1992/1993–0.71.72.20.529.42.419
Ecuador 1989–5.1–3.4–1.9–0.41.5–44.11.73.24.7
Venezuela 1990–1.41.1–3.41.11.42.5–2.0
Guyana 1991–63.6–68.8–45.0–33.323.3–34.6–5.28.625.3
Ecuador 1990–2.2–1.8–0.4–1.91.4–77.80.41.80.3
Mexico 1989–12.9–7.0–5.7–3.41.3–18.65.97.29.5
Average for all program years–13.3–10.9–6.3–8.24.6–42.22.47.05.0
Average for program years without nominal anchors–14.0–13.0–7.7–9.55.3–40.61.06.34.6
Excluding Guyana–5.8–3.7–1.5–3.72.2–59.32.14.32.1
Average for program years with nominal anchors–10.6–3.6–1.3–4.52.3–63.47.16.1
2. Intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela 1989–7.8–4.0–1.41.12.6–65.03.86.48.9
Honduras 19918.5–4.5–3.3–4.81.2–26.74.05.23.7
Nigeria 1989–11.4–8.4–5.9–3.02.5–29.83.05.53.4
Mexico 1991–3.5–2.0–0.30.51.7–85.01.53.24.0
Jamaica 1991/92–1.4–0.9–0.42.20.5–55.60.51.03.6
Costa Rica 1992–0.10.40.50.125.00.50.6
El Salvador 1990–5.9–3.6–2.5–4.31.1–30.62.33.41.6
Mexico 1990–5.9–5.1–3.4–0.31.7–33.30.82.55.6
Egypt 1991/92–20.9–10.3–5.0–4.75.3–51.510.615.916.2
Hungary 1990–0.90.50.8–4.40.360.01.41.7–3.5
Philippines 1991–5.2–3.7–2.3–2.11.4–37.81.52.93.1
Philippines 199228–2.7–2.10.6–22.20.10.7
Average for all program years–6.2–3.7–2.12.01.6–42.92.54.14.2
Average for program years without nominal anchors–4.62.7–1.5–1.71.2–44.41.93.12.9
Average for program years with nominal anchors–78–4.7–2.7–2.32.0–42.03.15.15.5
With exchange rate anchors–9.7–5.5–3.0–2.32.5–45.24.26.77.4
3. Low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago 1990–4.8–4.6–1.3–0.13.3–71.70.23.54.7
Tunisia 1992–4.1–3.1–3.00.13.21.01.1
Tunisia 1990–5.6–1.7–4.6–5.60.1–2.10.91.0_
Congo 1990–10.8–18.0–6.8–17.011.2–62.2–7.24.0–6.2
Mali 1989–9.5–10.0–9.9–8.50.1–1.0–0.5–0.41.0
Average for all program years–7.0–8.1–5.1–7.83.0–366–1.11.8–0.8
Average for program years without nominal anchors–4.9–3.9–3.8–5.60.1–2.61.01.1–0.8
Average for program years with nominal anchors–8.4–10.9–6.0–854.9–44.8–2.52.4–0.2
4. All annual programs
Average for all program years–8.8–7.0–4.1–5.32.9–41.21.84.73.5
Average for program years without nominal anchors–9.0–7.6–4.7–5.92.9–38.51.44.33.1
Average for program years with nominal anchors–8.5–6.2–3.4–4.62.3–45.62.35.13.9
With exchange rate anchors–9.5–6.8–3.6–4.93.2–47.12.65.846
Source: IMF staff estimates.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Excluding Yugoslavia because target and actual fiscal data are not comparable, and Romania because of large fiscal data revisions.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

As estimated at the time programs were approved.

Excluding Yugoslavia because target and actual fiscal data are not comparable, and Romania because of large fiscal data revisions.

Table 4-A4.Real Effective Exchange Rate in Annual Programs When Fiscal Targets Were Met, 1988–92(Changes in percent; end-of-period data; positive values = real appreciation)
Actual t – 1Actual tActual t + 1
1. High initial inflation (in excess of 50 percent) or transition economies with price liberalizations1
Poland 1990–31.265.728.3
Uruguay 1991–5.416.410.4
Zaïre 19894.7–17.7–20.3
Jamaica 1992/1993–31.635.4
Ecuador 1989–2.62.3-2.2
Venezuela 1990–34.36.75.6
Guyana 1991–23.1–2.110.8
Ecuador 19902.3–2.2–0.1
Mexico 198929.90.15.7
Average for all program years–10.111.64.8
Average for program years without nominal anchors–12.95.50.7
Average for program years with nominal anchors–0.732.917.0
2. Intermediate initial inflation (10 to 50 percent)
Venezuela 198921.9–34.36.7
Honduras 1991–53.717.9–4.8
Nigeria 19890.521.4–21.1
Mexico 19915.710.98.7
Jamaica 1991/92–0.9–31.635.4
Costa Rica 1992–10.97.7
El Salvador 1990–1.0–19.27.1
Mexico 19900.15.710.9
Egypt 1991/92–3.6–1.917.3
Hungary 1990–3.619.26.6
Philippines 1991–16.014.212.1
Philippines 199214.212.1
Average for all program years–3.91.87.9
Average for program years without nominal anchors1.0–6.16.9
Average for program years with nominal anchors–8.99.88.8
With exchange rate anchors–12.98.28.0
3. Low initial inflation (less than 10 percent)
Trinidad and Tobago 19908.6–3.01.0
Tunisia 19920.83.2
Tunisia 1990–1.9–0.80.8
Congo 1990–0.7–0.3–3.2
Mali 1989–5.60.40.3
Average for all program years0.2–0.1–0.3
Average for program years without nominal anchors–0.61.20.8
Average for program years with nominal anchors0.8–1.0–0.6
4. All annual programs
Average for all program years–5.34.95.3
Average for program years without nominal anchors–5.70.33.3
Average for program years with nominal anchors–4.811.17.6
With exchange rate anchors–5.610.67.1
Source: IMF staff estimates.

Excluding Yugoslavia because target and actual fiscal data are not comparable, and Romania because of large fiscal data revisions.

Source: IMF staff estimates.

Excluding Yugoslavia because target and actual fiscal data are not comparable, and Romania because of large fiscal data revisions.

Table 4-A5.Evolution of Exchange Rate Nominal Anchor Policies in Program Countries, 1988–92
Country (Program Years)Initial Nominal Anchor PoliciesEvolution of Nominal Anchor Policies
Argentina (2nd half of 1989)Peg to the US$ in July 1989, after large initial depreciationAfter an attempt to reset the exchange rate, it was floated in December 1989, in the wake of a balance of payments crisis and a run on banks caused by delays in fiscal policy implementation. The subsequent successful stabilization attempt involved announcement of a target zone for intervention (January 1991), and convertibility at the then-prevailing market rate (March 1991). with de-indexation of domestic currency contracts.
Cameroon (1988/89, 1989/90)Peg to the French francPeg was adjusted in January 1994.
Congo (1990, 1991)Peg to the French francPeg was adjusted in January 1994.
Côte d’Ivoire (1989, 1990)Peg to the French francPeg was adjusted in January 1994.
Czechoslovakia (1991)Peg to currency basket after initial depreciation; and wage ceilingsIn 1991, prices virtually stabilized, wage policy was tightly implemented, and external competitiveness was maintained. In 1992 the nominal anchors were kept, inflation remained stable, and the balance of payments strengthened.
Gabon (1989, 1990)Peg to the French francPeg was adjusted in January 1994.
Mali (1988, 1989)Peg to the French francPeg was adjusted in January 1994.
Morocco (1990)Peg to currency basket, after initial depreciationThe peg to a basket of main trading partners’ currencies was kept unchanged after its introduction in May 1990. The real effective exchange rate was little changed between May 1990 and October 1992.
Papua New Guinea (1990, 1991)One-step depreciation of peg to currency basketThe peg to a basket of main trading partners’ currencies was maintained with little change in the real effective exchange rate.
Poland (1990, 1991)Peg to the US$, after initial depreciation; and wage ceilings (partially indexed)After a sharp real effective appreciation in 1990-91, the exchange rate peg was abandoned in May 1991: the exchange rate was devalued and pegged to a currency basket. In October 1991, the peg was replaced by a preannounced crawling peg, which was accompanied by several one-step devaluations. The progressive tax on excess wages was subject to exemptions, and, with state enterprises willing to pay the tax, the average wage typically exceeded the norm.
Trinidad and Tobago (1989, 1990)Adjustable peg to the US$; de facto remained fixedThe fixed peg was maintained until April 1993, when a floating system was adopted after capital outflows and reduced oil earnings had put the external position under strain.
Yugoslavia (1990)Peg to the DM; and wage and partial price freezeIn practice, the temporary freeze (first half of 1990) on nominal wages was not implemented because of ineffective controls. With the lapse of the partial price freeze, inflation reignited in the second half of 1990. The real effective exchange rate appreciated significantly and external reserves fell.
Egypt (1991/92)De facto limited exchange rate flexibilityThe initial dual exchange rate system was unified into a free market rate in October 1991. De facto, since April 1991 nominal exchange rate stability within a narrow band to the U.S. dollar has been maintained through intervention in the free market. From April 1991 to July 1993, the real effective exchange rate appreciated by 15-20 percent; non-oil exports stagnated, and an improvement in external competitiveness was targeted for 1993/94.
Honduras (1990, 1991)Limited exchange rate flexibilityEffective March 1990, the interbank rate was permitted to fluctuate within a narrow band around a reference rate that was adjusted in several steps during 1990. The reference rate was kept unchanged through May 1992, except for a small parity change in November 1991. In June 1992, a floating system was adopted.
Mexico (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992)Initial peg to US$, then preannounced crawl; and wage-price pactsAfter a temporary peg in 1988 (with a small adjustment in February 1988), the rate was depreciated daily by 1.0 peso (January 1989-May 1990), 0.8 peso (May 1990-November 1990) and 0.4 peso (November 1990-November 1991). In November 1991, a progressively widening intervention band was created, with a fixed floor and a ceiling set to depreciate daily by 0.2 peso. The real effective exchange rate appreciated by about 50 percent between December 1987 and June 1992 (half of which was recorded during the 1988 fixed parity). After the wage freeze and de-indexation in early 1988, the wage-price pacts involved periodic adjustments in minimum wages, which fell by about 33 percent in real terms between 1987 and 1991, and became progressively less representative of private sector wage increases.
Source: IMF staff reports.
Source: IMF staff reports.

Disinflation targets for most annual programs were as ambitious as in past programs. On average, annual programs (excluding Argentina, Brazil, and Yugoslavia) targeted inflation to decline from 38 percent to 22 percent, compared with an average drop from 43 percent to 27 percent in the 29 arrangements approved from 1985 to mid-1988.

See Leiderman (1993) for a discussion of the short-term response of inflation to deficit reductions.

These sources of self-sustaining inflation are analyzed in Taylor (1979), Blanchard (1983), and Dornbusch and Simonsen (1987), among others. Low credibility of policy announcements may also be a prominent reason for inflation inertia (Agenor (1993), Calvo and Végh (1992, 1993), Helpman and Leiderman (1988), and Kiguel and Liviatan (1992a and 1992b)).

Bruno (1993) advocates a synchronized path for nominal variables to reduce output and employment costs associated with relative price changes during a disinflation program.

A small, open economy can maintain a fixed or managed exchange rate if domestic credit does not expand at a permanently faster rate than money demand, for a minimum reserve threshold not to be breached. Temporary excess credit growth may be sustained through use of reserves and access to external borrowing—as long as the government is perceived as financially solvent. See Aghevli, Khan, and Montiel (1991) and Savastano (1992).

Interenterprise arrears pose problems for a money anchor also.

The problem relates to the choice of a sustainable level of the exchange rate. In practice this is subject to major uncertainties—particularly in transition economies—and several disinflation programs involved an initial devaluation to mitigate adverse effects on the external position.

If structural rigidities shelter the nontraded goods sector, improved flexibility of factor and product markets may increase the effectiveness of an exchange rate anchor. See Griffiths and McDonald (1994).

The appropriate policy response depends on the duration of the disturbance. A fixed nominal exchange rate helps stabilize output when shocks are transitory. See Lipschitz (1978).

In general, countries that had more than one arrangement stuck with their original anchor strategy (only Morocco shifted to an explicit anchor strategy in its second arrangement).

Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary had wage controls but in light of the need to adjust wage guidelines as real wages plunged, these were at best weak nominal anchors.

Mexico and Argentina adopted exchange rate anchors respectively one year and half a year before the arrangements under review. For these two countries, the period reviewed is extended back to cover the entire nominal anchor experience. For Argentina, the anchor considered is the attempt to fix the exchange rate during July-December 1989 and not the 1991 Convertibility Plan, which was part of an arrangement not covered by this review. Honduras, following frequent and sizable adjustments during 1990, de facto pegged after December 1990. In this paper, only the 1991 program year is considered as having an exchange rate anchor.

In Mexico, the December 1987 stabilization program involved a fixed exchange rate—followed by a preannounced crawling peg after January 1989—together with a break from the previous wage indexation system. From December 1987 to February 1988, wages, public sector prices, and the prices of basic goods and services were temporarily frozen. A forward-looking indexation system was introduced thereafter.

In Poland, the unexpectedly large initial price increase was partly attributed to the excessive depreciation of the exchange rate, which had been pegged based on a weighted average of the official and auction rates prevailing in late 1989.

Argentina and Yugoslavia are excluded because the anchor was effective for a short period. Including them, the average decline in inflation was 208 percentage points in the first program year.

Argentina (1990) is included in the sample without nominal anchors because the exchange rate parity was abandoned for a managed float in December 1989. However, target-actual or before-after comparisons including 1991 are biased by successful adoption of a currency board in 1991. Brazil was excluded because its financial policies during this period were exceptionally lax, and the large increase in its inflation rate dominates the nonanchor sample. Guyana was excluded because of statistical problems. Including these countries, inflation in countries without anchors fell by about 40 percentage points in the first program year.

Sample observations for the inflation rate do not conform to a normal distribution. In each of the two groups of countries—with and without an anchor—means and medians differ markedly, and the coefficients of skewness and kurtosis are far from the values implied by normality. Also, the standard deviation at time t for countries with exchange rate anchors is less than half the value for those without. Given these characteristics, standard t-tests for differences between means are misleading. Nonparametric rank-sum tests (Freund and Walpole (1980)) reveal a statistically significant difference (at the 10 percent level) in the mean inflation rates at time t + 1 and in the mean change in inflation rates (from time t – 1 to t + 1) between countries with exchange rate anchors (excluding Argentina second half of 1989 and Yugoslavia) and countries without (excluding Argentina 1990, Brazil, and Guyana). However, the rank-sum test could not identify a significant difference between the mean inflation rates at time t – 1 of the two country groups, because of the concentration of anchor countries at the high and low ends of the sample range of inflation.

In Egypt, the inclusion of the costs of recapitalizing commercial banks (about 6 percent of GDP) in the pre-program-year deficit added to the apparent size of the adjustment.

Mexico is a notable exception among countries with an exchange rate anchor, largely because of unexpected capital out-flows in 1988.

The likelihood of recession may be lower when disinflation induces an increase in the supply of labor (Roldos (1993)).

In Argentina, fiscal and credit policy slippages led to the re-emergence of a parallel market spread that widened in spite of heavy intervention. Emergency measures and a parity adjustment failed to restore calm, and the ensuing run on the currency caused a significant loss of reserves—about US$1 billion more than programmed during the last quarter of 1989. In Poland, the exchange rate arrangement was modified after heavy intervention to defend the parity, as the market responded to policy slippages, the collapse of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, and a sharp erosion of competitiveness.

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