The Structure and Reform of the Exchange and Payments Systems of Some East European Countries1
Author: Mr. Mark Allen

The holder of money in a centrally planned economy is subject to considerable restrictions on its use. These not only limit the holder’s right to exchange his holdings for foreign exchange with which to make payments abroad but also circumscribe his right to use his holdings for domestic payments. This paper shows that it was necessary to impose such restrictions to make central planning effective. Since the start of the 1960s, there has been a degree of reform of the economic systems of the countries in question that has entailed a liberalization of restrictions on the use and exchange of money. The paper outlines the connection between the reduction of such restrictions and the transfer of the authority for certain decisions from the central authorities to enterprise managers.


The holder of money in a centrally planned economy is subject to considerable restrictions on its use. These not only limit the holder’s right to exchange his holdings for foreign exchange with which to make payments abroad but also circumscribe his right to use his holdings for domestic payments. This paper shows that it was necessary to impose such restrictions to make central planning effective. Since the start of the 1960s, there has been a degree of reform of the economic systems of the countries in question that has entailed a liberalization of restrictions on the use and exchange of money. The paper outlines the connection between the reduction of such restrictions and the transfer of the authority for certain decisions from the central authorities to enterprise managers.

The holder of money in a centrally planned economy is subject to considerable restrictions on its use. These not only limit the holder’s right to exchange his holdings for foreign exchange with which to make payments abroad but also circumscribe his right to use his holdings for domestic payments. This paper shows that it was necessary to impose such restrictions to make central planning effective. Since the start of the 1960s, there has been a degree of reform of the economic systems of the countries in question that has entailed a liberalization of restrictions on the use and exchange of money. The paper outlines the connection between the reduction of such restrictions and the transfer of the authority for certain decisions from the central authorities to enterprise managers.

The greater part of payments for transactions between the members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) are made in transferable rubles on account at the International Bank for Economic Cooperation (IBEC). However, the holder of transferable ruble balances is unable to exchange such balances for other currencies and is subject in practice to considerable limitations on the use he may make of them. This paper shows how these limitations stem from the organization of the CMEA market and this market’s interrelation with the domestic markets of the member countries. The paper surveys various proposals made to increase the role of the transferable ruble and describes recent developments in the organization of the CMEA market.

Section I gives a theoretical account of the effect of prereform central planning on foreign trade and the role of money in such an economy. Some necessary organizational features of such a planned economy are described in Section II. In Section III, the paper considers in general terms the contribution that economic reform can make, and has made, toward removing limitations on the use and exchange of money. Section IV discusses the use of money in the trade between CMEA member countries, and Section V examines proposals to extend the usefulness of the transferable ruble. The paper concludes that developments over the last decade have substantially extended the command of money over goods both within the countries in question and on the CMEA market. However, a substantial liberalization of the existing restrictions on nonresident use of the countries’ currencies and residents’ rights to obtain foreign exchange will require a reform of the price formation mechanism.

I. A Theoretical View of Foreign Trade and Money in a Centrally Planned Economy

foreign trade

A centrally planned economy may be regarded as having two levels. At the top, the planners determine priorities and issue instructions, which are executed by the lower level of managers. The task of preparing detailed plans has two main parts. First, the planners must elaborate a coordinated series of balances of sources and uses of products. This is functionally equivalent to constructing an ex ante input-output model of the entire economy.2 Second, this model must be translated into compulsory tasks for the individual managers. From the planner’s perspective, foreign trade provides a means by which inputs into the production process and goods for final consumption may be obtained. In the main, exports have no utility for the planners other than to create the ability to import. This is in contrast to the situation in a market economy, where exports are part of aggregate demand and an important element affecting the level of economic activity.3

Since supply and demand in the external world are beyond the planners’ control, there is a degree of uncertainty in planning for the external sector. Unexpected developments in the rest of the world may disrupt the planned balance of the domestic input-output matrix (as, indeed, may domestic crop failures). The planners therefore seek to reduce the amount of uncertainty or to insure against various contingencies. To reduce external uncertainty, the planners have two main methods at their command. They may attempt to create an autarkic closed economy, or they may conclude long-term agreements with foreign trade partners. For that uncertainty which either cannot be eliminated or whose elimination in this way is too costly, there remains insurance. This insurance may consist of stockpiling goods that may be exported if necessary (or building up gold and foreign exchange reserves) or of contingency plans to divert goods from domestic planned use to export. Such insurance has a considerable cost. Stockpiling means forgoing the present use of some resource in order to prevent a future disruption of the input-output system. The costs of diverting goods from one planned use to another may be even greater. First, if the good diverted is part of intermediate demand, its removal may, in itself, disrupt the current production matrix. If it is part of final demand destined for investment, its diversion may disrupt the long-term production plan. Finally, if it is destined for consumption, its diversion may have a social cost.

As a digression, it may be noted that certain of these problems are intensified when the planners are striving for the maximum growth rate possible. In an effort to mobilize all resources available for investment, the cost of stockpiling, in terms of immediate growth forgone, will be perceived to be high. The domestic availability of consumer goods that may be diverted for export will be limited, and there will be an unwillingness to divert investment goods to export. As a result the foreign trade plan becomes much less flexible.


Central planning of an economy is done in physical rather than in value terms. Tasks are assigned to managers in physical terms, and so, in the centrally planned economy described earlier, money plays no role domestically. In practice, however, it has been found convenient to use money for various purposes in centrally planned economies. First, direct distribution of consumer goods from producers to individual consumers is an inefficient means of satisfying consumer demand. Thus, money is issued in the form of wages, pensions, etc., and is used by the recipients to purchase consumer goods and services. The volume of goods and services made available, however, is not determined by the level of effective demand but by an exogenous decision of the planners.4

Quite distinct from this wage-consumer goods sphere of monetary circulation is the use of money by the productive sector. In this sector, money serves as a means of keeping accounts, the need for which stems from the lack of detailed information available to the planners or their inability to process information coming from the production units in the necessary detail. If the manager keeps monetary accounts of his enterprise’s activities, the planners can perform simple checks on the internal functioning of the enterprise.

Two varieties of money exist in the centrally planned economy as described earlier. First, there is money that consumers use to purchase goods and services. Second, there is enterprise accounting money. The spheres of circulation of these monies are kept separate by the institutional arrangements described in Section II and are each insulated against influences from abroad. A given commodity may have a different price in each sphere and a third price on the world market. Arbitrage to equate price levels in the three areas is not possible.5

All foreign exchange is held by the planners who use it to purchase necessary imports, which are then allocated domestically either to the production sector or to consumption. The consumer who holds money may convert this money into those commodities released by the planners, but not into foreign exchange or into those goods that are allocated only to the production sector. An enterprise manager holds accounting money in the name of his enterprise. However, since all goods in the production sector have already been allocated by the plan, he has no freedom to spend this money. This money simply moves from account to account in response to the planned movement of goods within the production sphere.6 In general, nonresidents may not hold domestic currency.

II. The Foreign Trade Organization and Money System of the Traditional Centrally Planned Economy

The key feature of the prereform centrally planned economy that is described in this section is the sharp separation of the domestic economy from the external economy and of the domestic consumption sphere from the domestic production sphere. This separation applies to the organizations active in each sphere, the prevailing prices, and the kind of money in circulation.

Foreign trade is a state monopoly in the centrally planned economy, and the state alone may hold foreign exchange. Domestic enterprises are permitted to deal with foreign customers and suppliers only through special foreign trade enterprises. When a domestic enterprise produces a good as part of an export plan, the good is sold to the foreign trade enterprise at the prevailing domestic wholesale price. The foreign trade enterprise sells the good to the foreign purchaser and receives payment in foreign exchange. This exchange is promptly surrendered to the state bank in return for the domestic currency equivalent at the official exchange rate. The loss or gain of the foreign trade enterprise on the deal is routinely covered by a payment from or to a Price Equalization Fund.7 For importing, the procedure is similar.

This system serves to separate the domestic market from the foreign market. Gains and losses from foreign trade are concentrated in the foreign trade enterprises, which are then directly subsidized or taxed, and thus changes in foreign prices can have no direct effects on either the domestic price level or the activities of domestic enterprises. Since domestic enterprises make deliveries to, and receive deliveries from, foreign trade enterprises in response to plan tasks, rather than external market conditions, stimuli from the world market are not transmitted directly to the domestic producer.

Another purpose of the foreign trade monopoly is to control import demand. Managers may apply for imports as substitutes for scarce domestic resources. When planners press managers for increased production, this normally results in considerably increased import demand. The foreign trade monopoly acts in these circumstances to ration imports. A third function of the system is to control the direction of trade. This is performed by the Ministry of Foreign Trade, which exercises direct control over the foreign trade enterprises. Such control is useful if the bulk of trade is carried on under trade agreements demanding bilateral balance.

Under this system imports are rationed by the plan, so that changes in the exchange rate or the application of tariffs do not serve to reduce the demand for imports. Similarly, the domestic enterprise produces for export to fulfill a plan assignment rather than in response to foreign market conditions. A foreigner holding a claim on such a country is not free to purchase all goods available domestically, but may purchase only such goods as the foreign trade enterprises offer. There is no way he may bypass these enterprises and buy directly from a domestic producer, as this might disrupt the centrally planned economy’s domestic supply and demand equilibrium.

As the state’s foreign trade and foreign exchange monopolies serve to separate the domestic and foreign economies, so the system of cashless payments separates the domestic consumption and production spheres. This system forbids enterprises to use cash in their transactions with each other. Cash money is used only by the enterprises to pay wages, social security benefits, etc., and by the recipients to purchase consumer goods and services from retail outlets. In the production sphere, money, except for the wage fund, exists only in enterprises’ accounts at the state bank. In general, the enterprise manager has almost no discretion in determining how this money is used. All payments between enterprises must be accompanied by documentation showing that they correspond to planned purchases and sales.8

Prices in the production sphere are not set at a level that equilibrates supply and demand, but tend to be based on average historical costs. In any case, since supply and demand are regulated according to plan, a change in relative prices would not assist in moving the market toward equilibrium. The domestic prices of imports and exports bear no necessary relation to foreign prices; the operation of the Price Equalization Fund allows the former to be the same as the prices of the equivalent domestic product. Prices in the consumer sphere are generally set at approximately market clearing levels. At the point where goods leave the production sphere and enter the consumption sphere, they are subject to a differentiated “turnover tax,” which, among its other functions, serves to separate the price structure in the two domestic spheres.

III. The Impact of Economic Reforms

After World War II, each country in Eastern Europe adopted an economic system very closely modeled on that of the Soviet Union. This system has been described earlier as the prereform centrally planned economy. While this system of economic organization contributed to remarkable growth rates for a time, certain problems led to a movement for its reform. Reforms have been initiated in all countries of the region since about 1963,9 and have significantly modified the functioning of the centrally planned economies. In this section, the reasons for the reform of the centrally planned economy are given. Within the length constraint of this paper, it is possible only to sketch the kind of reforms introduced and their impact on foreign trade and on the use of money in these countries.10

The most important single reason for the introduction of economic reforms was a marked fall in the rate of growth of most of the East European countries after 1960. This fall in growth rates was accompanied by increasingly visible inefficiencies in the economies—rapid inventory accumulation, for example. As the economies developed during the 1950s, the economic system became more rigid. Miscalculations in plans or other unforeseen occurrences could no longer be righted by mobilizing surplus labor reserves, as these had by now been largely absorbed. Instead, it became necessary to devise some mechanism whereby managers themselves could respond to unplanned events. With declining rates of growth, increasing emphasis was placed on more efficient growth. With a smaller growth rate of investment volume, it became more important that the most efficient variant of the investment plan be chosen. Thus, the main aim of the subsequent reform was to increase the efficiency of economic activity: the main instrument employed to achieve this objective was a certain amount of decentralization of economic decision making.

internal economic organization

To establish a more efficient and more decentralized system of economic organization, it was necessary to devise a new set of decisionmaking criteria for management. Under the old system of central planning, when a manager had the authority to make a decision, he generally tried to maximize gross output,11 since this would lead to the greatest bonus.12 This led to considerable inefficiency, as it was possible to achieve the gross output target by producing unsalable goods, or goods with a very high material or labor content. Since the introduction of economic reforms, the East European countries have experimented with a variety of criteria for management.13 In most countries now, profitability, instead of gross output, is the main criterion; it is defined as the ratio of profits to some other magnitude, such as total costs, fixed capital, or fixed capital plus working capital. A high degree of central control is usually maintained by making the manager responsible for achieving certain targets, such as marketed gross output or labor productivity. Thus, the manager’s typical objective function in Eastern Europe is to achieve certain targets and then maximize profitability.

If decision making is to be decentralized, central control must, to varying degrees, be exerted by means of indirect guidance rather than direct commands. In Eastern Europe this has meant increasing use of “economic levers” by the center. While more decisions are made at lower levels, the center actively controls the parameters used in making decisions by adjusting its price, tax, and credit policies. At the same time, if the manager is to be able to make decisions, more resources must be available to him for use at his discretion. To achieve this, a more flexible policy of bank credit has been introduced and the system of enterprise funds 14 expanded.

All these features of decentralized decision making require the increased use of money. While in the traditional centrally planned economy, most money within the production sphere moved in response to the planned allocation of goods, decentralization of some decisions now permits the manager to use some of his enterprise’s money on account at the bank to purchase a variety of goods and services. Money has become more active in the enterprise sphere, and holders have been freed from some restrictions on its domestic use.

Two further aspects of the economic reforms have served to increase money’s command over goods and services: the use of interenterprise contracts and new methods of price formation. The use of contracts is an attempt to make production more responsive to demand, and to decentralize the distribution of intermediate goods. The bargaining that takes place before contracts are signed is not identical to that in a market economy, since sellers and buyers do not choose each other freely, nor are they free to argue about prices; however, in most countries, quantity, quality, and delivery dates are subject to negotiation. Since each side is constrained by the need to fulfill an output or sales target, this limited bargaining encourages the production of goods that are in demand.

In the prereform centrally planned economy, prices, other than those in the consumer goods market, had no important economic function to perform; consequently, price formation could be essentially arbitrary. In the reformed economy, prices play a more active role. First, managers make decisions on the basis of relative prices. Hence, if the decisions are to be efficient, the prices used cannot ignore scarcity relations in the economy. Second, if managers are to generate sufficient funds to be capable of implementing their decisions, and the central authorities wish to end the indiscriminate subsidization of enterprises, prices must be set at levels that will ensure that the majority of enterprises working under normal conditions show a profit. Price reforms embodying these principles 15 have been adopted in most countries of Eastern Europe.

foreign trade organization 16

Because of the small size of East European economies, excepting that of the Soviet Union, foreign trade is very important to these countries.17 Despite their considerable participation in foreign trade in the prewar period, the development strategy adopted by these countries in the late 1940s and early 1950s was essentially autarkic. However, when this policy was changed in the mid-1950s, participation in foreign trade grew rapidly. During the next period from the mid-1950s until the economic reforms of the mid-1960s, foreign trade continued to be administered through the prereform centrally planned system discussed earlier. As has been shown, this system rationed imports, and mobilized sufficient exports to pay for them, by administrative means.

While this system did permit foreign trade to take place, it became clear to the authorities that it was highly inefficient. The two main sources of this inefficiency were as follows: (1) an inability to adapt exports to foreign market conditions; and (2) the difficulties involved in discovering the correct trade specialization for the country. The inflexibility of the export system was a consequence of the system of separating specialized foreign trade enterprises from the production units in the economy. The domestic producer sells production at domestic prices to the foreign trade enterprise for export. The producer is thus isolated from price changes, and from quality and performance demands, on foreign markets. There is also little stimulus to improve quality, since the responsibility for actually selling the goods abroad belongs, not to the producer, but to the foreign trade enterprise.

In addition to the problem of adaptation to foreign market conditions, there is the problem of determining the most efficient structure of production and foreign trade. In the prereform centrally planned economy, the decision to export is determined centrally on the basis of the availability of goods for export. The arbitrary nature of the domestic price system, with its lack of relation to the structure of world market prices, and the absence of an economically founded exchange rate make comparisons between domestic and foreign costs difficult. Until the late 1950s, no attempt was made to establish the profitability of exports. Since then a number of indices of foreign currency return per unit of domestic expenditure have been calculated.18 In some countries a minimum acceptable level of foreign currency earned per unit of domestic expenditure has been fixed. In effect, such a minimal level acts as an accounting exchange rate.

A considerable part of the national product of most East European countries enters foreign trade, and therefore the potential gains from more efficient foreign trade were large. As a result, the foreign trade sphere was among the earliest to be reformed. In order to encourage domestic producers to be more responsive to foreign markets, most East European countries (but not the Soviet Union) allow major producers to export directly. (Imports, however, apart from a relatively small volume financed by foreign exchange retention quotas, remain strictly controlled by the central authorities.)19 If a producer is to be encouraged to export when the foreign price for his product is high and discouraged when it is low, the return on foreign sales must be reflected on the enterprise’s balance sheet. Also, if a rational structure of exports is to emerge, the producer should be able to compare the returns from domestic and foreign sales. These comparisons require some form of realistic exchange rate to relate domestic and foreign prices. Such a rate or system of rates has been established to varying degrees in most countries in the area.

This new exchange rate (usually called a foreign trade coefficient or multiplier) has not fully replaced the older price equalization system of subsidies and taxes on foreign trade. Complete replacement is not possible until the autonomous basis of the domestic price system is abandoned and domestic prices are allowed to reflect the world market price structure. While the domestic price system differs markedly from the foreign price system, enterprises responding to price stimuli might deprive the home market of needed goods, or export goods at prices that are less than the value of their import content. For these reasons, attempts have been made in Eastern Europe to reform the system of prices for enterprises so as to reflect foreign prices more closely. This has not proved easy for two reasons. First, as stated earlier, there are competing requirements for the price system. Most countries feel that the price system, besides reflecting foreign prices, should allow most existing enterprises to show a reasonable profit and should equate supply and demand in the domestic market. Second, planning needs a stable environment; the linking of domestic and world market prices is felt to introduce instability and uncertainty, particularly in periods when world market prices are subject to movements as large as those prevailing during the period 1972–75.

The economic reforms introduced to date have resulted in some liberalization of the restrictions governing enterprises’ use of money. In the consumer sphere, there has been very little liberalization. Nonresidents are permitted to purchase and hold cash only when inside the country in question, and it may be used only for the purchase of consumer goods and services. Domestic residents remain subject to restrictions on the exchange of their holdings of cash for foreign currencies. A certain decentralization of decision making and the freeing of a certain volume of goods from central allocation have allowed the enterprise manager to make wider use of his holdings of enterprise money for domestic purchases. Such purchases are still not permitted to nonresidents.

Unless the domestic price system and the exchange rate were brought into closer harmony with foreign prices, such a liberalization could result in massive arbitrage by foreigners, which could disrupt the planned economy. The same reasoning explains the persistence of strict import and exchange controls, for if enterprise managers were given the freedom to convert domestic enterprise money into foreign exchange at a unitary exchange rate before the domestic price system were reformed, their response to the price differentials between domestic and foreign markets could upset the planned balance of the domestic economy. Although the need to bring domestic prices into a closer relation with foreign prices has been recognized in most countries in the area, the price reforms adopted have not yet eliminated the incentive for arbitrage.

IV. Trade and Payments Within the CMEA

About two thirds of the foreign trade turnover of the CMEA member countries is with the other CMEA members. The organizational features and payments arrangements governing this trade are strongly influenced by the planned character of these economies. Since foreign trade within the CMEA occupies such an important place in the economic activity of most CMEA members, the potential gains from efficient organization of this trade can contribute significantly to the welfare of the participating countries. Concern with improving the organization of CMEA trade and payments has paralleled efforts to reform the organization of the domestic economies.

The present CMEA trade and payments system has evolved from the system of bilateral barter of the early 1950s. Most trade takes place in the framework of annual and five-year trade agreements that specify the volume and value of goods to be exchanged. Such agreements facilitate, and are facilitated by, detailed allocative planning within member countries. Prices governing this trade often differ markedly from those prevailing on Western markets, and settlements are made in transferable rubles, the accounting unit of IBEC.20 For some goods that are delivered in quantities greater than those specified in the annual trade protocols, and in particular for extra deliveries of raw materials, settlement is in convertible currency.

Prices used in the trade between socialist countries are normally set according to the Bucharest pricing principle. Such prices are based on “world prices after having neutralized the harmful influence exerted by the interplay of speculative forces on the capitalist market.” 21 The neutralization of “speculative” influence is done by taking average world prices prevailing over some previous period. In practice, the prices so derived are not actually used in CMEA trade, but form the starting point for price negotiations during the bilateral meetings to determine the annual and five-year trade protocols. As a result, the same good may have different prices in trade between different pairs of partners.22

While world prices reflect overall supply and demand conditions outside the socialist countries, the prices used on the socialist international market do not, in general, reflect scarcities on that market. Most raw materials, some semimanufactures, and some investment goods of high technological specifications tend to be in short supply on this market. The prices for such goods, when arrived at by the method outlined earlier, are not high enough to equate supply and demand. Such goods are generally referred to as “hard” goods.23 Similarly, most consumer goods and much machinery and equipment tend to be overproduced and to have relatively high prices. These are known as soft goods. Hard goods are generally salable on Western markets for convertible currencies, while soft goods tend to be marketable solely within the CMEA.24

The bilateral payments agreements between each pair of CMEA members were replaced in 1964 by a multilateral clearing scheme at IBEC. The transferable ruble, the accounting unit of this scheme, can be held only by the Foreign Trade Banks of member countries and by the International Investment Bank on accounts at IBEC. It is not convertible into any Western currency (or gold) or into any domestic CMEA currency. It cannot be used to purchase goods on the domestic market of any CMEA country, but in theory it can be used to purchase goods on any CMEA country’s export list. In practice, owing to the peculiar nature of CMEA price formation and to the exigencies of planning, the transferable ruble performs this latter function only to a limited extent.

As mentioned earlier, the same product may have different transferable ruble prices within different bilateral transactions. Also, scarce hard goods purchased with transferable rubles are considered more valuable than relatively abundant soft goods. The countries concerned and the commodities involved play a decisive role in determining the value of a given claim or debt.25” Thus, the full value of a claim tends to be available only within the bilateral framework. If the claim is transferred to a third country under the multilateral clearing system, the claimant usually loses part of the value of his claim, as the third country need offer only the softest and least valuable goods against the claim.26 This leads the countries concerned to minimize the use of money in their mutual transactions and to insist on bilateral balance, not only in overall terms but by commodity group. In these circumstances, the country holding a transferable ruble generally can use it only within the bilateral relation in which it was earned, unless it is prepared to discount its value.

V. Proposals for Extending the Use of the Transferable Ruble

The system of payments in transferable rubles has just been described in outline. At present, restrictions prevent the holding of transferable rubles outside the circuit of CMEA member countries. The currency is not exchangeable for the currencies of members27 or of nonmembers. In practice, the holder of transferable rubles can realize their full value only within a bilateral framework, and even within this framework they may only be used to purchase goods similar to those from whose sale they were acquired. The problems associated with such a settlement system have given rise to a number of proposals for its improvement, which are outlined in this section. Finally, certain developments in the system that have taken place in the most recent period are described.

polish proposal, 1965 28

Some Polish economists proposed in 1965 that, under certain conditions, surplus balances earned in transferable rubles should be exchangeable for convertible currency, which would be made available by debtors. The share of the surplus balance liable for conversion should start at the low level of, say, 10 per cent and be gradually increased until all balances become fully convertible. This proposal can be described as a gradual liberalization of the restrictions on the exchange of transferable rubles.

The rationale of the Polish proposal was that it would stimulate exports and make importers more discriminating. It was argued that if the desirability of holding transferable rubles could be increased by ensuring their ultimate usefulness for the purchase of goods, countries would be willing to run up balance of payments surpluses. On the other hand, an importer, knowing that an import was liable for payment in convertible currency, would either insist on higher standards or reduce his demand. Since intra-CMEA trade is characterized by excess demand for hard goods, the Polish scheme would help to create equilibrium on the market29 by encouraging exporters to supply goods against money.

The main objection to the proposal was that, since the CMEA price structure caused goods to be divided into hard and soft categories, it would only make bilateralism more rigid. If applied to the whole of the area’s trade, the possibility that excess imports of soft goods might have to be paid for in hard currency would lead countries to insist on a balance in the value of soft goods traded. If the proposal was limited to the trade in hard goods, the result would be the same as under the existing system, since, even without such a reform, deliveries of hard goods above bilaterally balanced quotas are paid for in convertible currency. 30 A further objection to this proposal was that it would need larger reserves of such currencies than were available.31 As a result, the proposal was rejected by the CMEA.

polish proposal, 1968 32

Whereas the Polish proposal of 1965 aimed directly at increasing the freedom to exchange the transferable ruble, the proposal of 1968 centered on currency’s command over goods. Under this proposal intra-CMEA trade would be divided into liberalized and nonliberalized categories. The former would consist of multilateral trade in certain specified groups of goods, and the latter would consist of trade remaining subject to bilateral quotas. Payment for goods in the liberalized category would be made in a new socialist currency backed by commodity reserves. Thus, claims denominated in this currency would be convertible into hard goods, and, from the start, the usefulness of the new currency would be assured. Since the commodity reserves would consist of goods also in demand on Western markets, the exchangeability of the new currency into convertible currencies would be easy to attain. Non-liberalized trade would remain much as at present, with settlement at IBEC in transferable rubles, but its sphere of operation would be steadily reduced. As this happened, the transferable ruble would be gradually replaced by the new convertible socialist currency.

hungarian proposal, 1969 33

Hungary has proposed a third scheme, which is fairly similar to the more recent Polish proposal. Here, too, trade would be divided into liberalized and nonliberalized categories, but payments for both would remain in transferable rubles. Within trade agreements there should be an increasing volume of trade organized on a quota-free basis or using value, rather than physical, quotas. This would gradually make soft goods harder and increase the monetary functions of the transferable ruble. Finally, the transferable ruble should be linked to other currency systems by means of partial convertibility of the transferable ruble into convertible currency. This proposal aims first at increasing the volume of goods within CMEA trade that is freely available for transferable rubles. After this has been done to a large extent, the proposal calls for the gradual elimination of restrictions on the exchange of transferable rubles for convertible currencies.

Comprehensive program, 1971

Both the Polish proposal of 1968 and the Hungarian proposal of 1969 were influential in the discussions leading to the drafting of the Comprehensive Program of Economic Integration. The CMEA member countries adopted the Comprehensive Program in 1971, after two years of preparatory work.34 It contains sections on the improvement of mutual trade, and on currency and financial problems, and provides a timetable for improvements to be introduced. Very little information on progress made in implementing the Program in these areas has been released, and it is possible that the initial timetable has been substantially modified. However, it remains the most authoritative proposal for extending the role of money in mutual relations of the countries of Eastern Europe.

If the holder of transferable rubles is to be able to use his balances to purchase the goods he wants where he wants, trade negotiations must cease to be exercises in bilateral barter. The Comprehensive Program envisages two simultaneous approaches to the achievement of multilateral trade. First, increased multilateral plan coordination both at the national and sectoral levels should create multilateral trading patterns. The second approach reflects the recent proposals by Poland and Hungary described earlier. Within trade agreements, exchange of goods by value quotas, rather than physical quotas, should be extended. Even more important is the fact that a new category of liberalized nonquota trade is officially sanctioned.35 This trade was scheduled to be introduced between interested countries in 1971 on an experimental basis. Prices in both traditional quota trade and this nonquota trade are to be determined in the same way as in the past—in other words, systematically deviating from world market prices. Press reports indicate that some experimental nonquota transactions have already taken place.36

The Comprehensive Program views the question of exchange of the transferable ruble with other currencies as having two parts. On the one hand, there is exchangeability between the transferable ruble and Western currencies, and, on the other hand, exchangeability of the members’ domestic currencies with each other and with the transferable ruble. To achieve such exchangeability, the Program divides the problem into two parts: (1) the question of a justified exchange rate, and (2) the mechanism of exchange.

A timetable is provided for working out such justified exchange rates between the transferable ruble and national currencies of member countries and among the national currencies themselves. The first step, to be taken in 1971, was to establish a method for calculating these rates and deciding when the rates should be changed. Then, between 1972 and 1974, such rates were to be fixed by multilateral agreement. Whether the rates determined in this way would be used to influence transactions was to be left to the decision of each individual government. Between 1976 and 1979, the countries were to study how to introduce a unified exchange rate for each currency, and finally the decision on whether such a rate would be adopted was to be taken in 1980. Since 1971, much research has been done within the CMEA on exchange rates. A set of exchange rates was agreed upon by the CMEA Standing Committee on Monetary and Financial Problems on October 18, 1973.37

In detailing the mechanism for introducing exchangeability, the Program distinguishes intra-CMEA exchange from exchange of the transferable ruble with Western currencies. In the period 1971 to 1972, CMEA members were to study the measures necessary to realize intra-CMEA exchange, and in 1973 to work out the procedure for its introduction. In doing this, they were to consider “questions relating to the correlation between domestic wholesale prices and foreign trade prices.”38 Extensive contact between the pricing authorities of the countries has taken place, but no measures to coordinate price systems have been announced. On the question of the exchange of the transferable ruble with convertible currencies, the Comprehensive Program has less to say. It talks of the transferable ruble eventually being used for payments with third countries and the necessity of fixing a realistic exchange rate, but does not call for full convertibility to be introduced.

Developments since the comprehensive program

The sharp increases in trade prices of the market economy countries since 1973, and in particular the increase in the world price of petroleum, have had an impact on the pricing system used in intra-CMEA trade. Until 1974, prices in this trade were based on the Bucharest pricing principle described earlier: 39 average world market prices of one five-year period were applied throughout the succeeding five-year period. The difficulties inherent in such a system of pricing were exacerbated by the sharp increase in prices outside the CMEA and, more particularly, by the abrupt movements in relative prices. CMEA exporters of goods whose relative prices had risen found an incentive to divert exports away from the CMEA market where earlier (and lower) prices prevailed. Importers of such goods tried to switch their purchases from the Western markets to the CMEA market. The opposite phenomenon occurred for goods whose relative world prices had fallen.

The CMEA market was, consequently, strained by world price movements, and from the start of 1975 the Bucharest pricing system was modified. Instead of maintaining constant prices for five years, it was decided that new prices should be set annually on the basis of average world prices of the previous five years.40 A consequence of these changes is likely to be that relative transferable ruble prices will be closer to relative world market prices. It is also possible that there will be greater uniformity in the contract prices for a given good in the trade between different pairs of CMEA partners. If this happens, CMEA countries will presumably become increasingly willing to hold transferable rubles, since their partner countries should become increasingly willing to accept such rubles as the distinction between hard goods and soft goods narrows.

The second important development in the CMEA market has been a deepening of the process of plan coordination between the member countries. In previous plan periods, such coordination has largely consisted of a dovetailing of the foreign trade plans of the countries. In preparing their plans for the next five-year period (1976–80), there has been an increased amount of coordinated planning by industrial sectors. Trade in products of these sectors is increasingly the result of planned specialization patterns and cooperation agreements, and is correspondingly less motivated by the emergence of surpluses and deficits in the individual countries’ production patterns.

The current (1976–80) five-year plan of each CMEA member includes a section on measures to further CMEA integration. The inclusion of such measures among the published plan targets is intended to raise their status within the hierarchy of plan targets and to reduce the residual character of intra-CMEA trade. The increased emphasis on sectoral plan coordination should strengthen the multilateral element of CMEA trade. This will, in its turn, extend the use of money in payments for such trade, since net sectoral exports will be increasingly settled in money rather than in other goods.

An additional development in the use of money between CMEA countries has been certain new regulations for settlements through IBEC. Previously, whenever a country’s daily payments through IBEC were greater than its receipts, IBEC automatically issued a credit to that country in transferable rubles, with which it could make payments. Efforts have been made in recent years to increase payments discipline by making the granting of credits less automatic. Since 1971, IBEC has drawn up a short-term credit plan to conform to member countries’ payment plans. This allows it to monitor payments performance more closely.

There is some evidence that, under new regulations promulgated at the start of 1975, deficits beyond those planned and deliveries above those contained in annual protocols are subject to settlement in convertible currencies.41 In addition, some IBEC members have concluded an agreement to make part of credit and deficit balances at IBEC subject to settlement in convertible currencies along the lines of the original Polish proposal of 1965.42 It is not known how far either of these agreements has been implemented, but they could serve to hinder the involuntary accumulation of transferable ruble balances. This, in turn, could increase the command of the transferable ruble over goods on the CMEA market.

VI. Concluding Remarks

In a market economy, money actively controls the movement of goods. In a centrally planned economy, money can exercise such control only to the extent that control is not pre-empted by instructions of the planners. Insofar as goods move in direct response to plan commands, money will passively follow such movements. Restrictions on the use of money in the centrally planned economy serve to delineate the respective areas of control by the plan and the market.

In recent years, decision making has been considerably decentralized in the economies of Eastern Europe; the planning authorities have resorted more to “economic levers” and less to administrative instructions in exercising their control over the economy. Corresponding to these developments, money has assumed a more active role, and its command over goods has been substantially extended. Central control over foreign trade has been liberalized to some extent, and this development has been accompanied by an increase in the ability of residents to obtain foreign exchange for the national currency.

Before restrictions on such exchange by residents, and indirectly by nonresidents, can be fully eliminated, however, domestic prices must be more closely linked to foreign prices. Price reforms reducing the disparity between domestic and foreign relative prices have been introduced, or are being introduced, in most countries of the area. In only a few, though, has the price formation mechanism been reformed to a sufficient extent to allow a permanent economic link between relative domestic and relative world prices to emerge.

The functions of the CMEA collective currency (the transferable ruble) in many ways parallel those of the domestic currencies. To the extent that trade between the CMEA countries is the result of bilateral barter, the flows of payments between countries merely accommodate these transactions. The holding of money balances does not guarantee that desired goods can be obtained. In recent years, the development of more flexible market instruments and the closer linking of CMEA prices to world prices have served to increase the command of the transferable ruble over goods.


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Mr. Allen, an economist in the Trade and Payments Division of the Exchange and Trade Relations Department, is a graduate of Cambridge University. He also studied at Yale University and the Karl Marx Higher Economics Institute, Sofia.


The paper deals with Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the U.S.S.R. This group is not quite coexistensive with the members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), as this organization also includes Cuba and Mongolia.

The author is grateful for comments received on earlier drafts from Marcin Wyczalkowski and colleagues in the Fund. The views expressed, however, are the responsibility of the author.


See Holzman (1966), p. 240.


This applies strictly only at a high level of theoretical abstraction. In real centrally planned economies, in particular since the start of the 1960s, enterprise production patterns show some response to effective demand.


See Mládek, Sturc, and Wyczalkowski (1952), pp. 410–16.


In historical centrally planned economies, enterprise managers have always had a small volume of funds that they could dispose of at their discretion, albeit for restricted purposes.


See Pryor (1963), pp. 101–105.


See Grossman (1966), pp. 213–17.


The first country to introduce reforms was Poland in 1957–58. Most other countries’ reforms date from 1962–63, while Romania’s first major reforms were in 1967–68.


Gross output includes the value of all material and labor inputs, profits, taxes, and depreciation of equipment.


This is a simplification, since a high output one year, although bringing a large bonus, meant higher plan targets the next year and thus more difficulty in achieving a high bonus in following years. In practice, managers tried to achieve a reasonable overfulfillment of the gross output target. For a full treatment, see Granick (1975).


See Kaser and Zielinski (1970), pp. 131–43.


These funds are financed by earmarking part of receipts or profits, and each may be used by the manager for certain broadly specified purposes as, for example, research and development, small-scale mechanization, enterprise expansion, raising foreign trade efficiency, and encouraging high labor productivity.


Logically, use of the one principle as a basis for price formation precludes the use of the other. In practice, the second principle has been of more importance than the first. The principle that normally functioning enterprises should be profitable is interpreted to mean that normally functioning enterprises in each branch of economic activity should be profitable. In a closed economy this interpretation is correct; however, in a more open economy, prices would ideally show the branches in which a country could profitably specialize. The use of world market prices in domestic price formation is discussed later.


For a full discussion of recent changes in the organization of foreign trade, see UNECE (1973), pp. 36–49.


The share of exports in national income has been estimated at 35.2 per cent for Bulgaria (1968), 26.0 per cent for Czechoslovakia (1969), 22–25 per cent for the German Democratic Republic (no year), 41.6 per cent for Hungary (1966), 17 per cent for Poland (1965), and 16.8 per cent for Romania (1968). See Petrov (1973), pp. 246–48.


See Francuz (1969), pp. 489–501, and Allen (1975).


See CMEA (1971). A detailed description of the method of applying the Bucharest pricing principle is given in Csikós-Nagy (1974), pp. 21–23.


See Nyers (1975), p. 17.


A similar distinction between hard and soft goods existed in trade within Western Europe immediately after World War II, when most payments were made through bilateral clearing accounts. Hard goods were those that could be easily sold for dollars or that could be purchased only with dollars.


See László (1972), p. 129.


See Tsarevski (1974), p. 503.


Except to a limited degree for noncommercial expenditures.


See Zwass (1972), p. 112.


See Ausch (1972), p. 266.


See Mazanov (1969), p. 76.


See footnote 21.


“The distinction among commodities with physical and money quotas and without quotas corresponds, in fact, to the old domestic practice of centrally-planned economies to distinguish among ‘centrally-funded’ (i.e. administered by central planning organ), ‘resort-funded’ (i.e. administered by relevant economic ministry), and ‘non-funded’ products,” Pindák (1974), pp. 446–47.


See Vincze (1974), p. 459.


The agreed rates are given in Matejka (1974), p. 176.


This system has been applied since the start of 1976. For 1975, prices were based on average prices in the three-year period 1972–74.


See Matejka (1974), p. 176.


Inflation Under Fixed and Flexible Exchange Rates—andrew d. crockett and morris goldstein (pages 509–44)

This paper examines the proposition that flexible exchange rates are more (less) inflationary than a system of fixed exchange rates. In contrast to much of the earlier writing on this issue, care is taken to distinguish between: (i) the effects on a single country’s inflation rate and effects on the world inflation rate; (ii) effects on the mean rate of world inflation and effects on the dispersion of inflation, either across countries or over time; and (iii) effects on the inflation rate that are welfare neutral and those effects that are not.

The paper first discusses possible effects of a change in the exchange rate regime on the price level. In particular, it examines the two arguments that flexible exchange rates will increase world prices both by increasing costs of production (owing to the higher cost of foreign exchange insurance) and by reducing either the official or private demand for money (which in turn is presumed to lead to an excess demand for goods). The general conclusion here is that the net direct effects of the exchange rate regime are likely to be small.

The effects of the exchange rate regime on the continuing rate of inflation are discussed next, and are divided into those that affect a government’s policy preferences in the demand-management area and those that affect the perceived short-term trade-off between inflation and unemployment. Particular attention is focused on the “reserve discipline” argument and on various “ratchet-effect” arguments—most of which are usually associated with support for fixed exchange rates.

In brief, the paper concludes that despite the numerous arguments and counterarguments and despite the importance attached to this issue in discussions of international monetary reform, the type of exchange rate system is likely to have little influence on the average rate of world inflation.

The Productivity Bias in Purchasing Power Parity: An Econometric Investigation—lawrence h. officer (pages 545–79)

The productivity bias in the purchasing-power-parity (PPP) theory of exchange rates asserts that the ratio of PPP to the exchange rate (number of units of domestic currency per unit of the standard currency) is an increasing function of a country’s income level. In this paper, the productivity-bias hypothesis is tested in two ways: (1) through its operational impact, and (2) in terms of its assumptions.

The operational impact of the productivity bias is tested by regressing the PPP/exchange-rate ratio on productivity cross-sectionally for a sample of developed countries. Three alternative measures of productivity are used: per capita GDP, GDP per employed person, and the ratio of productivity in the traded sector to productivity in the nontraded sector of the economy. Four alternative sets of PPP data are used, and, data permitting, the regression is fitted annually for the period 1950–73. The results of this test are overwhelmingly negative as to the existence of a productivity bias. Out of a total of 156 regressions, only 2 exhibit a significant coefficient of the productivity variable.

The fundamental assumption of the productivity-bias hypothesis is that the ratio of the price index of nontraded goods to that of traded goods is an increasing function of a country’s productivity level. This proposition is tested by calculating the change in each variable over the period 1953–73 for each of a number of developed countries and using the resulting index numbers in a cross-sectional regression. Various alternative measures of the dependent and independent variable are used. The results are mixed for most measures, but for the optimal measures the productivity variable is not significant—that is, the findings of this test also do not support the productivity-bias hypothesis.

A Reform of the European Currency Snake—william h. l. day (pages 580–97)

Since its inception in April 1972, the European currency snake has been beset on a number of occasions by waves of speculation. Large-scale short-term capital movements have forced the withdrawals of the United Kingdom, Italy, and France. Speculation has occasionally been seen as disruptive, in the sense that it has not always been seen as being warranted by underlying economic conditions. This paper examines a reform of the snake that would successfully combat disruptive capital flows without the need for controls on capital movements within the European Economic Community (EEC). Under the reform, official support would be switched to the forward market; spot exchange rates would be free; and partner currencies purchased (sold) through forward support operations would, on maturity, be sold (purchased) in the free spot market.

Pegged forward exchange rates are found to be advantageous in a number of ways: (1) Unlike spot market speculation, forward market speculation involves no movement of funds; exchange controls to restrain speculation in the officially supported exchange markets would not, therefore, interfere with the free flow of capital within the EEC. (2) During the period before maturity of official forward contracts, both strong and weak countries would be encouraged to bring interest rates into line with those in other member countries in order to avoid losses on exchange transactions—that is, a harmonization of monetary policies would be encouraged. (3) The interests of traders are, in general, better served by stability of forward rather than of spot exchange rates.

Free spot exchange rates are found to add still more advantages: (1) Freedom for the authorities to undertake discretionary purchases and sales of partner currencies in the spot market would remove the politically sensitive need for financing and settlements between members. (2) Reserves and money stocks would be unaffected by the whims of transactors in short-term capital. (3) Speculation would be discouraged by the greater risk associated with the stochastic element in the profitability equation of speculators—the expected spot rate.

Alternative Approaches in the Analysis of International Capital Movements: A Case Study of Austria and France—zoran hodjera (pages 598–623)

Two approaches in econometric analysis of capital movements are examined in this paper. The first approach is a partial equilibrium analysis, based on a portfolio selection model that assumes that interest rates, an important component of relative yields, are exogenously determined. An implicit assumption in the model is that monetary authorities adopt sterilization policies so as to counteract the effect of balance of payments developments on the domestic money supply or on interest rates. The other approach incorporates financial flows into a macroeconomic model of a small open economy. The domestic interest rate is treated as an endogenous variable within the system of equations determining the equilibrium in the asset and money markets and satisfying the constraint imposed by the balance of payments. The model is based on an assumption that the authorities do not neutralize the effect of foreign exchange flows on domestic base money. A reduced form of the model is used as the basis for a regression analysis.

These two models are evaluated, and a number of difficulties are pointed out. Austria and France are taken as case studies for estimating determinants of capital movements. A partial equilibrium approach is shown to be useful in the case of Austria, since close contacts between the Austrian National Bank and the major commercial banks provide possibilities for neutralization of foreign exchange flows. The monetary macroeconomic approach does not appear to be useful, as no significant response of capital movements to changes in the money supply was found.

In France, the partial equilibrium approach has not proved to be useful in view of a substantial harmonization of domestic interest rates with the interest rates abroad and particularly those in the Euro-dollar market. The approach based on a reduced form of a macroeconomic model yielded better results and suggests that changes in the domestic component of the base money are moderately offset by induced capital movements. An attempt was made to eliminate the bias caused by the simultaneous relationship between the changes in the domestic component of base money and capital movements, on the one hand, and the policy of neutralization of foreign exchange flows, on the other hand. A simple reaction function for a monetary policy was specified that permitted the use of a two-stage least-squares method of estimation. However, the results obtained by this method were mixed.

Taxation and Multinational Firm Behavior: A Critical Survey—george f. kopits (pages 624–73)

This article reviews the literature on the role of taxation in the principal decisions of the multinational enterprise. After examining the theoretical explanations of the behavior of the multinational firm as well as the present tax treatment of income and remittances from direct foreign investment, the paper focuses on the existing quantitative investigation of the direction and strength of the firm’s response to international differences in tax burdens.

Although much research in this area still lies ahead, the studies under scrutiny—most of which apply the neoclassical theory of the firm to data on U. S. direct investment abroad in manufacturing—tend to corroborate the influence of tax rate differentials. Both the size and statistical significance of the relevant elasticity estimates confirm the impact of taxes on the flow of direct investment (net capital outflow plus retained subsidiary earnings) and the repatriation of subsidiary earnings in the manufacturing sector. Evidence concerning the impact on other financial flows, fixed investment, production, and trade is less conclusive. Discretionary transfer pricing practices have been documented, but the effect of taxation on them has been verified only in transactions in intangibles.

These findings lead to three major policy implications. First, formulation of tax policy toward the multinational firm must take into account the likely effect of any contemplated change in the home or host tax rate on the firm’s decision variables. Second, international harmonization of corporate income taxation would bring about an improvement in world welfare, by eliminating the inefficiency in resource allocation among countries owing to direct investment flows induced by current tax rate differentials. Third, the pursuit of any given tax policy goal (short of implementing certain criteria of inter-country equity) should be buttressed with the enforcement of reasonable guidelines on arm’s-length pricing at home and abroad.

Input-Output Approach to Import Demand Functions: Experiments with Korean Data—v. sundararajan and subhash thakur (pages 674–98)

The most widely used specification of the import demand function is that in which the quantity of imports is explained by the price level of imports, the price level of domestically produced goods, and the level of income. This paper contends that this formulation of import functions, although valid for imports of consumer goods, is not reliable when one deals with intermediate products, the demand for which is mainly derived demand. The traditional import demand functions, which use gross national product (GNP) or a component of it as an explanatory variable, implicitly assume either that the unit import requirements of all components of GNP are equal or that the unit import requirements of several components of GNP are negligible. This assumption can be wrong for most commodity groups, and therefore the traditional approach commits a specification error and consequently results in biased estimates.

The approach adopted is to use input-output analysis to develop an import demand function. The input-output framework can predict the direct and indirect import requirements of a commodity from given components of aggregate final demand. Since the input-output coefficients vary over time, and since, in practice, input-output information is available only at distant intervals of time, the analysis must be modified to the needs of time-series analysis.

The method developed in the paper extends the use of input-output framework to short-run economic forecasting, with particular emphasis on imports. First, the given input-output and other coefficients are used to predict direct and indirect import requirements of a commodity for each of several periods from known components of aggregate final demand for those periods. The predicted total import requirements of the commodity are then modified to allow for trends and cyclical changes in the input-output and other coefficients. Thus, the approach of the paper tries to utilize the interindustry flow of information to improve on estimates of import demand, particularly of intermediate commodities. But since the principle of weighting final expenditure aggregates by their relative import intensity is valid for any commodity, the approach is easily applied to aggregate import demand as well.

The paper applies these techniques to forecasting import demand for three intermediate commodity categories as well as to forecasting aggregate imports of Korea. The input-output approach avoids the specification bias, and the goodness-of-fit of the input-output approach seems to be as good as, and often better than, the traditional approach.

Trade Credit, Interest Rates, and the Recent Behavior of External Lending by U.S. Banks—ernesto hernándezcatá (pages 699–717)

Following a decade of very modest expansion, external lending by U. S. banks registered a massive increase during the period 1972–75. The article attempts to explain this increase by focusing on U. S. bank claims on Japan, one of the most important borrowers of U. S. funds. Two salient characteristics of the period under consideration are the sharp increase in Japanese import-financing requirements, which followed the late 1973 increase in oil prices, and a substantial degree of flexibility in the yen/dollar exchange rate. Accordingly, the role of external trade financing and the influence of exchange market conditions on the effective cost of international credit are given particular attention.

The Japanese demand for U. S. bank credit is explained along the lines of the “portfolio approach” to international capital movements. The desired stock of borrowing from U. S. banks is a function of the net worth of Japanese city banks, the level of Japanese imports, and a vector of expected credit costs. The elements of this vector include the nominal lending rates charged in the U. S., Euro-dollar, and Japanese markets, the expected change in the yen/dollar exchange rate, and the forward premium on the dollar. The model allows actual and desired levels of borrowing to diverge in response to changes in capital control variables.

The estimation results indicate that total Japanese imports are a key factor in determining the scale of U. S. bank lending to Japan, particularly when trade credit is seen to be influenced by past as well as current import flows. The magnitude of interest rate effects is also found to be substantial, although these effects are estimated to be of a transitory nature. The empirical evidence underlines the important role of covered financial flows and suggests that expectations concerning future changes in spot rates are influenced by the countries’ relative price performance but are unrelated to current or past exchange rate movements.

The Structure and Reform of the Exchange and Payments Systems of Some JEast European Countries—mark allen (pages 718–39)

The paper describes in broad outline the roles of money and foreign trade in the unreformed centrally planned economy. It describes how money used by enterprises performed a different function and was isolated from that used by consumers, and how each was shielded from foreign influences. The separation of the domestic and external economies was achieved by the state’s foreign trade and foreign exchange monopolies, while the separation of the domestic consumption and production spheres was achieved by applying the law on cashless payments.

Certain reforms of the economic mechanism have been implemented in most countries of the region since the mid-1960s. Insofar as decision making has been decentralized, enterprise managers have been given the right to make some discretionary use of money balances, and thus money has acquired more active functions. The isolation of the domestic economy from the world market has also been reduced. The profitability of export sales now influences the results of productive enterprises, and the domestic price formation system now takes into account movements in world prices. However, strict import and exchange controls remain in force, since price reform has not eliminated the incentive for arbitrage between domestic and foreign markets.

The use of money in settlements between members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) is also restricted, since bilateral commodity exchange is the primary form of trade. With increased concern for efficient management of the domestic economy, efforts have been made to liberalize trade and payments on the CMEA market. The paper discusses proposals to increase the use of money in this area made by Poland and Hungary and in the CMEA’s Comprehensive Program for economic integration, and concludes by describing some recent developments in this market.


L’inflation en régime de taux de change fixes et en régime de taux de change flexibles — andrew d. crockett et morris goldstein (pages 509–44)

Le présent document examine la question de savoir si des taux de change flexibles sont plus (ou moins) inflationnistes qu’un système de taux de change fixes. Contrairement à la plupart des études déjà publiées sur cette question, on a pris soin de faire une distinction entre : i) les effets sur le taux d’inflation d’un pays et les effets sur le taux d’inflation mondial; ii) les effets sur le taux moyen de l’inflation mondiale et les effets sur la dispersion de l’inflation, soit par pays, soit dans par période et iii) les effets sur le taux d’inflation qui sont neutres par rapport au bien-être et ceux qui ne le sont pas.

Les auteurs examinent tout d’abord les effets éventuels d’une modification du régime des taux de change sur le niveau des prix. Ils étudient, en particulier, les deux arguments selon lesquels les taux de change flexibles font monter les prix mondiaux en augmentant les coûts de production (en raison du coût plus élevé de l’assurance des risques de change) et, en même temps, en réduisant soit la demande publique soit la demande privée de monnaie (laquelle, à son tour, est censée conduire à une demande de biens excédentaires). La conclusion générale, qui est tirée ici, est que les effets directs nets du régime des taux de change seront probablement faibles.

Les effets du régime des taux de change sur la persistance du taux d’inflation sont ensuite examinés et sont divisés entre ceux qui influent sur les préférences du gouvernement dans le domaine de la gestion de la demande et ceux qui affectent les dosages à court terme entre inflation et chômage tels qu’ils sont perçus. Les auteurs portent une attention particulière à l’argument en faveur d’une «discipline relative aux réserves» et aux divers arguments relatifs à «l’effet de crémaillère» — la plupart d’entre eux étant généralement avancés à l’appui des taux de change fixes.

En résumé, l’étude conclut que, malgré les nombreux arguments et contre-arguments, et malgré l’importance accordée à cette question dans les débats sur la réforme du système monétaire international, le genre de système de taux de change n’a guère d’influence sur le taux moyen d’inflation mondiale.

Le biais de la productivité dans la parité des pouvoirs d’achat : étude économétrique — lawrence h. officer (pages 545–79)

L’hypothèse d’un biais de la productivité dans la théorie de la parité des pouvoirs d’achat (PPA) des taux de change pose que le rapport PPA/taux de change (nombre d’unités de monnaie nationale pour une unité de monnaie type) est une fonction croissante du niveau du revenu du pays. Dans la présente étude, l’hypothèse du biais de la productivité est testée de deux façons : 1) d’après son incidence opérationnelle et 2) d’après les suppositions sur lesquelles elle se fonde.

L’incidence opérationnelle du biais de la productivité est testée en régressant le rapport PPA/taux de change sur la productivité en coupe transversale pour un échantillon de pays développés. On utilise trois différentes mesures de la productivité : le PIB par habitant, le PIB par personne employée et le coefficient de la productivité du secteur marchand par rapport à la productivité du secteur non marchand de l’économie. Quatre groupes différents de données relatives à la PPA sont utilisés et, si les données le permettent, la régression est ajustée chaque année pour la période 1950–73. Les résultats de ce test sont pratiquement tous négatifs quant à l’existence d’un biais de la productivité. Sur un total de 156 régressions, deux seulement font ressortir un coefficient significatif de la variable productivité.

L’hypothèse du biais de la productivité repose essentiellement sur le fait qu’on suppose que le rapport entre l’indice des prix de la production non marchande et celui de la production marchande est une fonction croissante du niveau de la productivité du pays. On teste cette supposition en calculant la variation de chaque variable au cours de la période 1953–73 pour chaque pays de l’échantillon des pays développés et en se servant des nombres-indices en résultant pour effectuer une régression en coupe transversale. Diverses méthodes sont utilisées pour mesurer les variables dépendantes et indépendantes. Les résultats sont mitigés pour la plupart de ces mesures, mais pour les mesures optimales la variable productivité n’est pas significative, c’est-à-dire que les conclusions tirées de ce test ne vérifient pas l’hypothèse du biais de la productivité.

Réforme du serpent monétaire européen — william h. l. day (pages 580–97)

Depuis sa création en avril 1972, le serpent monétaire européen a fait l’objet, à plusieurs occasions, d’attaques spéculatives. Des mouvements massifs de capitaux à court terme ont obligé le Royaume-Uni, l’Italie et la France à l’abandonner. On a considéré que cette spéculation avait parfois été perturbatrice, en ce sens qu’elle n’était pas toujours justifiée par les conditions économiques sous-jacentes. Le présent article examine une réforme du serpent qui permettrait de combattre les flux de capitaux perturbateurs sans qu’il y ait besoin d’imposer des contrôles sur les mouvements de capitaux au sein de la Communauté économique européenne (CEE). En vertu de cette réforme, l’intervention officielle serait reportée sur le marché à terme, et les taux de change au comptant seraient libres; les monnaies des partenaires achetées (vendues) par l’intermédiaire d’opérations d’intervention à terme seraient, à échéance, vendues (achetées) au marché libre au comptant.

L’auteur estime que la fixation de marges de fluctuation pour les taux à terme fixes présenterait plusieurs avantages : 1) A l’inverse de la spéculation sur le marché au comptant, la spéculation sur le marché à terme n’implique aucun mouvement de capitaux; les mesures de contrôle des changes destinées à limiter la spéculation sur le marché des changes bénéficiant de l’intervention officielle ne feraient donc pas obstacle au libre mouvement de capitaux à l’intérieur de la CEE. 2) Au cours de la période précédant l’échéance des contrats officiels à terme, les pays à monnaies fortes et à monnaies faibles seraient encouragés à aligner les taux d’intérêt sur ceux d’autres pays membres afin d’éviter des pertes sur les transactions de change — c’est-à-dire qu’une harmonisation de la politique monétaire serait encouragée. 3) Les intérêts des opérateurs sont, en général, mieux servis par la stabilité des taux à terme que par celle des taux au comptant.

A ces avantages, viendraient s’ajouter, selon l’auteur, ceux qui résulteraient de la liberté des taux au comptant, à savoir : 1) La liberté pour les autorités d’effectuer des achats et des ventes discrétionnaires sur le marché au comptant éliminerait la nécessité de faire des opérations de financement et de règlement entre les membres qui pose des problèmes politiques délicats. 2) Les réserves et la masse monétaire ne seraient pas influencées par les humeurs des opérateurs en mouvements de capitaux à court terme. 3) La spéculation serait découragée par le risque accru inhérent à l’élément stochastique qui serait introduit dans l’équation de rentabilité des spéculateurs — pour la prévision du taux au comptant.

Différentes méthodes d’analyse des mouvements internationaux de capitaux : etude de cas de l’Autriche et de la France — zoran hodjera (pages 598–623)

Le présent document examine deux méthodes d’analyse économétrique des mouvements de capitaux. La première méthode représente une analyse d’équilibre partiel fondée sur un modèle de sélection des portefeuilles qui suppose que les taux d’intérêt, élément important des rendements relatifs, sont déterminés de façon exogène. Le modèle repose sur une hypothèse implicite : les autorités monétaires adoptent des politiques de neutralisation des flux de devises afin de contrebalancer l’effet de l’évolution de la balance des paiements sur la masse monétaire intérieure ou sur les taux d’intérêt. La seconde méthode introduit des flux financiers dans un modèle macroéconomique d’une petite économie ouverte. Le taux d’intérêt intérieur est traité comme une variable endogène au sein du système d’équations qui détermine l’équilibre sur les marchés financiers et monétaires, les contraintes imposées par la balance des paiements étant satisfaites en même temps. Le modèle est fondé sur l’hypothèse suivante : les autorités ne neutralisent pas l’effet des flux de devises sur la base monétaire intérieure. Une forme réduite du modèle constitue la base d’une analyse de régression.

Ces deux modèles font chacun l’objet d’une évaluation et un certain nombre de difficultés sont soulignées. L’Autriche et la France ont servi d’étude de cas pour estimer les facteurs déterminant les mouvements de capitaux. L’auteur démontre l’utilité de la méthode d’équilibre partiel dans le cas de l’Autriche, les relations étroites entre la Banque nationale d’Autriche et les grandes banques commerciales offrant la possibilité de neutraliser les flux de devises. La méthode monétaire macro-économique ne semble pas utile; en effet, on n’a constaté aucune réaction significative des mouvements de capitaux aux variations de la masse monétaire.

En ce qui concerne la France, la méthode d’équilibre partiel ne s’est pas révélée utile en raison du degré considérable d’harmonisation des taux d’intérêt intérieurs et des taux d’intérêt étrangers, notamment ceux du marché de l’euro-dollar. La méthode fondée sur un modèle macro-économique réduit a produit de meilleurs résultats et laisse supposer que les variations de la composante intérieure de la base monétaire sont modérément compensées par les mouvements de capitaux induits. On a essayé d’éliminer la distorsion causée par l’existence d’une relation simultanée entre les variations de la composante intérieure de la base monétaire et les mouvements de capitaux, d’une part, et la politique de neutralisation des flux de devises, d’autre part. Pour la politique monétaire, on a spécifié une fonction de réaction simple qui a permis d’utiliser la méthode des doubles moindre-carrés. Les résultats obtenus ont cependant été inégaux.

L’imposition et le comportement des entreprises multinationales : revue critique — george f. kopits (pages 624–73)

Le présent article passe en revue les écrits qu’a inspirés le rôle de la fiscalité dans les principales décisions que prennent les entreprises multinationales. Après avoir examiné les explications théoriques du comportement des entreprises multinationales ainsi que le régime fiscal actuel dont bénéficient le revenu des investissements étrangers directs et les transferts de fonds effectués à ce titre, cet article traite des enquêtes quantitatives effectuées sur la façon dont les entreprises réagissent aux différences internationales de la charge fiscale et sur l’ampleur de leur réaction.

Bien qu’il faille encore se livrer à une recherche considérable dans ce domaine, les études passées en revue — qui pour la plupart appliquent la théorie néo-classique de l’entreprise aux données relatives à l’investissement direct des Etats-Unis dans l’industrie manufacturière à l’étranger — tendent à corroborer l’influence des différences de taux d’imposition. L’ordre de grandeur et la signification statistique des estimations pertinentes d’élasticité confirment l’incidence des impôts sur le flux des investissements directs (sorties nettes de capitaux plus bénéfices non distribués des filiales) et sur le rapatriement des bénéfices des filiales dans le secteur manufacturier. Les éléments dont on dispose au sujet de leur incidence sur les autres flux financiers, la formation brute de capital fixe, la production et le commerce sont moins concluants. Des données sur les pratiques consistant à fixer de façon discrétionnaire les prix des biens et services transférés ont été réunies, mais l’influence que la fiscalité exerce sur ces pratiques n’a été vérifiée que dans le cas de transactions sur biens incorporels.

Ces conclusions permettent de dégager pour la politique fiscale trois implications majeures. Tout d’abord, la formulation de cette politique à l’égard des entreprises multinationales doit tenir compte de l’effet probable qu’exercera sur les variables sur lesquelles se fondent les décisions des entreprises toute modification du taux de l’impôt envisagée par le pays hôte ou le pays d’origine. Deuxièmement, une harmonisation internationale de la fiscalité en matière de revenu des sociétés améliorerait le bien-être de par le monde parce qu’elle éliminerait entre les pays l’inefficience dans la répartition des ressources qui découle des flux d’investissement direct provoqués par les différences qui existent actuellement entre les taux d’imposition. Troisième- ment, la poursuite de n’importe quel objectif donné de politique fiscale (sans aller jusqu’à appliquer certains critères de justice entre les pays) devrait être soutenue par la mise en oeuvre dans le pays et à l’étranger de directives raisonnables concernant la fixation de prix similaires à ceux qui auraient été établis librement sur le marché, pour les biens et services transférés.

Application de l’analyse «entrées-sorties» aux fonctions de demande d’importations : tests réalisés à l’aide de données coréennes — v. sundararajan et subhash thakur (pages 674–98)

La formule la plus utilisée pour la fonction de demande d’importations est celle où le volume des importations est expliqué par le niveau des prix des importations, le niveau des prix des biens produits dans le pays et le niveau du revenu. Les auteurs de la présente étude affirment que cette formule des fonctions d’importations, bien que valable pour les importations de biens de consommation, n’est pas certaine lorsqu’il s’agit de produits intermédiaires, leur demande étant essentiellement une demande obtenue par dérivation. Les fonctions classiques de demande d’importations, qui utilisent le produit national brut (PNB) ou l’une de ses composantes comme variable explicative, supposent soit que les besoins d’unités d’importation de toutes les composantes du PNB sont égaux, soit que les besoins d’unités d’importation de plusieurs composantes du PNB sont négligeables. Cette hypothèse peut se révéler fausse pour la plupart des groupes de produits et, par conséquent, la méthode classique commet une erreur de formulation, ce qui aboutit à des estimations biaisées.

Dans la présente étude, les auteurs ont utilisé l’analyse «entrées-sorties» pour mettre au point une fonction de demande d’importations. Le tableau entrées-sorties permet de prévoir les besoins directs et indirects d’importation d’un produit à partir de composantes données de la demande globale finale. Etant donné que les coefficients techniques varient avec le temps et que, dans la pratique, les statistiques d’entrées-sorties ne sont disponibles qu’à intervalles éloignés, il convient d’adapter cette analyse aux besoins de l’analyse des séries chronologiques.

La méthode élaborée dans l’étude étend l’application de l’analyse «entrées-sorties» à la prévision économique à court terme, en s’attachant notamment aux importations. Tout d’abord, les coefficients techniques et autres coefficients donnés sont utilisés pour prévoir les besoins directs et indirects d’importation d’un produit sur plusieurs périodes à partir des éléments connus de la demande globale finale pour ces périodes. Le total prévu des besoins d’importation du produit dont il s’agit est alors modifié pour tenir compte des tendances et des variations cycliques des coefficients techniques et autres coefficients. Ainsi, la méthode décrite dans l’étude cherche à utiliser les données des échanges interindustriels pour améliorer les estimations de la demande d’importations, en particulier de produits intermédiaires. Mais étant donné que le principe qui consiste à pondérer les agrégats de dépenses finales d’après leur intensité relative d’importation est valable pour n’importe quel produit, il est facile d’appliquer aussi la méthode à la demande globale d’importations.

La présente étude applique ces techniques à la prévision de la demande d’importations de trois catégories de produits intermédiaires ainsi qu’à la prévision d’importations globales de la Corée. L’analyse «entrées-sorties» évite de biaiser la formulation, et la qualité de l’ajustement de l’analyse «entrées-sorties» semble tout aussi bonne, et souvent même meilleure, que celle de la méthode classique.

Crédits commerciaux, taux d’intérêt et le comportement récent des prêts extérieurs des banques américaines — ernesto hernândez-catâ (pages 699–717)

Après une décennie d’expansion très modeste, les prêts extérieurs des banques américaines ont enregistré une augmentation massive au cours de la période 1972–75. Dans son article, l’auteur essaie d’expliquer cette augmentation en concentrant son attention sur les créances des banques américaines sur le Japon, l’un des plus importants emprunteurs de fonds américains. Deux faits saillants caractérisent la période considérée : la forte augmentation des besoins de financement des importations japonaises, qui a suivi la hausse des prix du pétrole fin 1973, et une marge considérable de flexibilité dans le rapport de change yen/dollar. Par conséquent, le rôle du financement du commerce extérieur et l’influence de la situation du marché des changes sur le coût effectif du crédit international font l’objet d’une attention particulière.

L’auteur explique la demande de crédit bancaire américain du Japon d’après la «théorie du choix de portefeuille» appliquée aux mouvements de capitaux internationaux. Le stock souhaité d’emprunts auprès des banques américaines est une fonction de l’actif net des grandes banques commerciales japonaises, du niveau des importations japonaises et d’un vecteur des coûts escomptés du crédit. Les éléments de ce vecteur comprennent les taux d’intérêt nominaux sur les prêts bancaires, perçus aux Etats-Unis, sur le marché de l’euro-dollar et au Japon, la variation escomptée du rapport de change yen/dollar et la prime du dollar à terme. Le modèle permet à l’écart entre les niveaux effectif et souhaité des emprunts de changer en fonction de variables exprimant l’intensité des contrôles sur les mouvements de capitaux.

Les résultats estimatifs indiquent que les importations totales du Japon sont un facteur clé pour déterminer l’ampleur des prêts des banques américaines au Japon, en particulier lorsqu’on reconnaît que les crédits commerciaux sont influencés par les niveaux d’importations passés, de même que présents. On constate également que l’importance des effets des taux d’intérêt est considérable, encore que ces effets soient, estime-t-on, temporaires. Les données empiriques dont on dispose soulignent le rôle important que jouent les mouvements de capitaux avec couverture à terme, et indiquent que les prévisions relatives aux futures variations des cours au comptant sont influencées par le comportement des prix relatifs des pays concernés, mais qu’elles sont sans rapport avec les fluctuations actuelles ou passées du taux de change.

Structure et réforme du régime des changes et des paiements de certains pays d’Europe de l’Est — mark allen (pages 718–39)

Dans cette étude, l’auteur décrit dans ses grandes lignes le rôle de la monnaie et du commerce extérieur dans les économies à planification centrale, avant les réformes. Il explique comment la monnaie utilisée par les entreprises était séparée de celle utilisée par les consommateurs et jouait un rôle différent, et comment chacune était protégée des influences extérieures. La séparation entre l’économie intérieure et l’économie extérieure était réalisée par l’existence d’un monopole de l’Etat sur le commerce extérieur et les changes, cependant que la séparation entre les sphères de consommation et de production intérieures était réalisée par l’application de la législation sur les paiements sans monnaie.

Certaines réformes du système économique ont été mises en oeuvre dans la plupart des pays de la région depuis le milieu des années 1960. Dans la mesure où la prise de décisions a été décentralisée, les directeurs d’entreprises se sont vu accorder un certain pouvoir discrétionnaire sur l’emploi des encaisses monétaires, et la monnaie a ainsi acquis un rôle plus actif. L’isolation de l’économie intérieure par rapport au marché mondial a également été réduite. La rentabilité des ventes d’exportation influence à présent les résultats des entreprises productrices, et le système de formation des prix intérieurs tient maintenant compte des fluctuations des cours mondiaux. Toutefois, des contrôles stricts sur les importations et les changes restent en vigueur, puisque la réforme des prix n’a pas supprimé l’incitation à l’arbitrage entre les marchés intérieur et extérieur.

L’usage de la monnaie dans les règlements entre membres du Conseil d’assistance économique mutuelle (CAEM) fait également l’objet de restrictions, étant donné que les échanges bilatéraux de marchandises constituent la principale forme de commerce. L’intérêt se portant davantage sur la gestion efficace de l’économie intérieure, des efforts ont été faits pour libéraliser le commerce et les paiements sur le marché du CAEM. L’étude examine les propositions faites par la Pologne et la Hongrie pour accroître l’utilisation de la monnaie dans cette région ainsi que le Programme Complexe d’intégration économique du CAEM, et elle se termine par la description de l’évolution récente de ce marché.


Inflación con tipos de cambio fijos y flexibles — andrew d. crockett y morris goldstein (páginas 509–44)

En este trabajo se examina la hipótesis de que los tipos de cambio flexibles son más (menos) inflacionarios que los tipos de cambio fijos. A diferencia de mucho de lo que se ha escrito antes sobre este asunto, se ha tenido cuidado en distinguir entre: i) los efectos en la tasa de inflación de un solo país y los efectos en la tasa de inflación mundial; ii) los efectos en la tasa media de inflación mundial y los efectos en la dispersión de la inflación, ya sea entre países o en el transcurso del tiempo, y iii) los efectos de bienestar en la tasa de inflación que son neutrales y los efectos que no lo son.

En el estudio se analizan en primer lugar las posibles repercusiones de una variación del régimen cambiario en el nivel de precios. En particular, se examinan los dos argumentos de que los tipos de cambio flexibles aumentan los precios mundiales tanto aumentando los costos de producción (debido al mayor costo del seguro cambiario) como reduciendo la demanda oficial o la privada de dinero (lo que a su vez se supone que produce un exceso de demanda de bienes). La conclusión general es que los efectos directos netos del régimen cambiario probablemente sean pequeños.

Luego se examinan los efectos del régimen cambiario en la tasa persistente de inflación y se dividen dichos efectos en los que repercuten en las preferencias de política de un gobierno en materia de gestión de la demanda y los que afectan la forma en que se percibe la relación de compensación a corto plazo entre la inflación y el desempleo. Se presta particular atención al argumento de “disciplina de las reservas” y a varios argumentos de “efectos de trinquete”, de los cuáles la mayoría suelen favorecer a los tipos de cambio fijos.

En resumen, en el trabajo se llega a la conclusión de que pese a numerosos argumentos a favor y en contra y a la importancia que se da a este asunto en las deliberaciones sobre la reforma monetaria internacional, el tipo de sistema cambiario probablemente tenga poca influencia en la tasa media de inflación mundial.

El sesgo de productividad en la paridad del poder adquisitivo: Una investigación econométrica — lawrence h. officer (páginas 545–79)

El sesgo de productividad en la paridad del poder adquisitivo (PPA) como teoría del tipo de cambio afirma que la razón entre la PPA y el tipo de cambio (número de unidades de la moneda nacional por unidad de la moneda que sirva de medida) es una función creciente del nivel del ingreso de un país. En este estudio, la hipótesis del sesgo de productividad ha sido sometida a dos pruebas: 1) por medio de su impacto operativo y 2) en cuanto a sus propios supuestos.

El impacto operativo del sesgo de productividad se somete a prueba mediante una regresión de la razón PPA/tipo de cambio con respecto a la productividad de una sección representativa para una muestra de países desarrollados. Se utilizan tres medidas distintas de la productividad: el PIB per capita, el PIB por persona empleada y la razón entre la productividad en el sector de bienes intercambiados y la productividad en el sector de la economía de bienes no intercambiados. Se utilizan cuatro conjuntos distintos de datos de la PPA y, cuando lo permiten los datos, se ajusta anualmente la regresión para el período 1950–73. Los resultados de esta prueba son claramente negativos en cuanto a la existencia de un sesgo de productividad. De un total de 156 regresiones, solamente se obtiene un coeficiente significativo de la variable productividad en dos de ellos.

El supuesto fundamental de la hipótesis del sesgo de productividad es que la razón entre el índice de precios de los bienes no intercambiados y el de los bienes intercambiados es una función creciente del nievel de productividad de un país. Esta afirmación se comprueba calculando la variación de cada variable durante el período 1953–73 para cada uno de una serie de países desarrollados, y utilizando en una regresión de sección representativa los números índice resultantes. Se usan varias mediciones distintas de la variable dependiente e independiente. Los resultados en la mayor parte de las mediciones son mixtos, pero en las mediciones óptimas la variable productividad no es significativa; es decir, los resultados de esta prueba no apoyan tampoco la hipótesis del sesgo de productividad.

Reforma de la serpiente europea de monedas — william h. l. day (páginas 580–97)

Desde sus comienzos en abril de 1972 la serpiente europea de monedas ha sido objeto en varias ocasiones de numerosas especulaciones. El Reino Unido, Italia y Francia se han visto obligados a retirarse debido a grandes movimientos de capital a corto plazo. La especulación se ha considerado a veces perturbadora, en el sentido de que no siempre se ha creído que la justifican las condiciones económicas básicas. En este trabajo se examina una reforma de la serpiente que permitiría combatir con éxito las corrientes perturbadoras de capital sin necesidad de establecer controles sobre los movimientos de capital dentro de la Comunidad Económica Europea (CEE). Conforme a la reforma, el apoyo oficial se prestaría al mercado a término; serían libres los tipos de cambio al contado; y las monedas compradas (vendidas) por participantes en una transacción mediante operaciones de apoyo a término se venderían (comprarían) en el mercado libre al contado.

Por varias razones se han encontrado ventajosos los tipos de cambio estabilizados a término: 1) A diferencia de la especulación en el mercado al contado, la especulación en el mercado a término no supone movimiento de fondos; los controles cambiarios para restringir la especulación en los mercados cambiarios que tienen apoyo oficial no estaría, por tanto, en conflicto con el libre flujo de capital dentro de la CEE. 2) Durante el período anterior al vencimiento de los contratos oficiales a término, se estimularía tanto a los países fuertes como a los débiles para que fijen sus tipos de interés de modo que éstos guarden proporción con los de otros países miembros y evitar así pérdidas en las transacciones cambiarías, es decir, se fomentaría la armonización de las políticas cambiarías. 3) Mediante la estabilidad de los tipos de cambio a término se atenderían los intereses de los participantes en transacciones mejor que con la de los tipos de cambio al contado.

Se ha descubierto que con los tipos de cambio libres al contado se conseguirían además otras ventajas: 1) La libertad de las autoridades para llevar a cabo compras y ventas discrecionales de las monedas de los participantes en el mercado al contado eliminaría la necesidad, delicada desde el punto de vista político, de financiamiento y liquidación entre países miembros. 2) Las reservas y los stocks monetarios no se verían afectados por los caprichos de los que realizan transacciones en capital a corto plazo. 3) Se desalentaría la especulación debido al mayor riesgo relacionado con el elemento estocástico de la ecuación de lucro de los especuladores: el tipo al contado esperado.

Distintos métodos de análisis de los movimientos internacionales de capital: Estudio monográfico de Austria y Francia — zoran hodjera (páginas 598–623)

En el presente trabajo se examinan dos métodos de análisis econométrico de los movimientos de capital. El primero consiste en un análisis del equilibrio parcial, basado en un modelo de selección de cartera en el que se supone que los tipos de interés, uno de los componentes principales de los rendimientos relativos, se determinan en forma exógena. En el modelo, el supuesto implícito es que las autoridades monetarias adoptan políticas de esterilización para contrarrestar el efecto de la evolución de la balanza de pagos en la oferta interna de dinero o los tipos de interés. En el otro método, se integran los flujos financieros en el modelo macroeconómico de una pequeña economía abierta. El tipo interno de interés se trata como una variable endógena dentro del sistema de ecuaciones que determina el equilibrio en los mercados de activos y de dinero y cumple la restricción impuesta por la balanza de pagos. El modelo se funda en la suposición de que las autoridades no neutralizan el efecto de los flujos de divisas en el dinero base interno. Una forma reducida del modelo sirve de base a un análisis de regresión.

Se evalúan ambos modelos, indicándose diversas dificultades. Austria y Francia se consideran como casos monográficos para estimar los determinantes de los movimientos de capital. Se demuestra que el método de equilibrio parcial resulta útil en el caso de Austria, pues los estrechos contactos entre el Banco Nacional de Austria y los bancos comerciales de mayor importancia ofrecen posibilidades de neutralizar los flujos de divisas. El método monetario macroeconómico no parece ser útil, pues no se advirtió ninguna reacción significativa de los movimientos de capital ante la variación de la oferta de dinero.

En Francia, el método de equilibrio parcial no ha resultado eficaz, en vista de la considerable armonización de las tasas internas de interés con las tasas de interés en el extranjero y, sobre todo, en el mercado de eurodólares. El método basado en una forma reducida de modelo macroeconómico rindió mejores resultados e indicó que la variación del componente interno del dinero base se compensa moderadamente con los movimientos inducidos de capital. Se ha tratado de eliminar el sesgo originado por la relación simultánea entre las variaciones del componente interno del dinero base y los movimientos de capital, por una parte, y la política de neutralizar los flujos de divisas, por la otra. Se ha determinado la función simple de reacción correspondiente a una política monetaria específica, lo cual ha permitido aplicar un método de mínimos cuadrados de fase doble. Ahora bien, los resultados obtenidos con este método han sido desiguales.

La tributación y el comportamiento de la empresa multinacional: Un análisis crítico—george f. kopits (páginas 624–73)

Se analizan los estudios realizados sobre el papel que desempeña la tributación en las principales decisiones de la empresa multinacional. Se examinan las explicaciones teóricas postuladas sobre el comportamiento de la empresa multinacional así como el tratamiento tributario actual de la renta y remesas de la inversión directa extranjera, y se evalúa luego especialmente la investigación cuantitativa del grado y la forma en que reacciona la empresa ante las diferencias internacionales de las cargas tributarias.

Aunque queda mucho por investigar en la materia, los estudios analizados—la mayoría de los cuales aplican la teoría neoclásica de la empresa a los datos sobre la inversión directa estadounidense en el extranjero en la industria manufacturera— tienden a corroborar la influencia de las diferencias de tasas tributarias. Tanto la magnitud como la significación estadística de las estimaciones pertinentes de elasticidad confirman el impacto de los impuestos en el flujo de la inversión directa (salida neta de capital más utilidades no distribuidas de las subsidiarias) y la repatriación de las utilidades de las subsidiarias en el sector manufacturero. Los datos relativos al impacto en otros flujos financieros, la inversión fija, la producción y el comercio son menos concluyentes. Se ha documentado el uso de precios de transferencia discrecionales, pero el efecto que tiene en ellos la tributación sólo se verificó en transacciones en bienes intangibles.

Estos resultados tienen tres principales consecuencias para la política tributaria. Primero, la formulación de dicha política frente a la empresa multinacional debe tener en cuenta el posible efecto de un cambio de la tasa tributaria del país de origen o del país anfitrión en las variables de decisión de la empresa. Segundo, la armonización internacional de los impuestos sobre la renta de las sociedades contribuiría a mejorar el bienestar mundial, ya que remediaría la asignación ineficaz de los recursos entre los países causada por los flujos de inversión directa que resultan de las actuales diferencias entre las tasas tributarias. Tercero, la formulación de una determinada meta de política tributaria (sin implicar la puesta en práctica de ciertos criterios de equidad entre países) debe reforzarse con la aplicación de normas razonables sobre el uso de precios de transferencia que reflejen condiciones de mercado abierto en el país de origen y en el anfitrión.

El método de insumo-producto aplicado a las funciones de la demanda de importación: Experimentos con datos de Corea—v. sundararajan y subhash thakur (páginas 674–98)

El requisito más generalmente exigido de la función de la demanda de importación es que la cuantía de la importación venga explicada por el nivel de precios de la misma, el nivel de precios de los bienes de producción interna y el nivel de ingreso. En el presente trabajo se mantiene que esta formulación de las funciones de importación, si bien válida para importar bienes de consumo, no es fidedigna cuando se trata de productos intermedios cuya demanda es principalmente derivada. En las funciones tradicionales de la demanda de importación, que utilizan el producto nacional bruto (PNB) o un componente del mismo como variable explicatoria, se supone implícitamente que las necesidades unitarias de importación de todos los componentes del PNB son iguales, o bien que dichas necesidades de importar varios componentes del PNB son desdeñables. Este supuesto puede ser erróneo para la mayoría de los grupos de productos primarios y, por consiguiente, en el método tradicional se comete un error de especificación y, en consecuencia, se obtienen estimaciones tendenciosas.

El método adoptado es el de utilizar el análisis de insumo-producto para establecer una función de la demanda de importación. Con el sistema insumo-producto cabe predecir las necesidades directas e indirectas de importar un producto básico partiendo de componentes determinados de la demanda agregada final. Como los coeficientes insumo-producto varían con el tiempo y puesto que, en la práctica, sólo se dispone de los datos insumo-producto a intervalos muy separados entre sí, el análisis debe modificarse para ajustarlo a las necesidades analíticas de las series cronológicas.

Con el método seguido en el trabajo se extiende el uso del sistema insumo-producto a la previsión económica a corto plazo, haciendo hincapié particular en la importación. En primer lugar, el insumo-producto dado y otros coeficientes se utilizan para pronosticar las necesidades directas e indirectas de la importación de un producto básico para cada uno de varios períodos, partiendo de componentes conocidos de la demanda agregada final correspondiente a dichos períodos. Las necesidades totales previstas de importación del producto básico se modifican luego para tener en cuenta las tendencias y modificaciones cíclicas del insumo-producto y otros coeficientes. Así, pues, en el planteamiento del trabajo se intenta utilizar el flujo de información interindustrial para mejorar las estimaciones de la demanda de importación, sobre todo de productos básicos intermedios. Pero como el principio de ponderar los agregados del gasto final por su relativa intensidad de importación es válido para cualquier producto básico, el método también se aplica fácilmente a la demanda agregada de importación.

En el trabajo se aplican estas técnicas a pronosticar la demanda de importación de tres categorías de productos básicos intermedios, así como para predecir la importación global de Corea. El sistema insumo-producto evita la especificación tendenciosa, y la bondad de ajuste del método insumo-producto parece ser tan buena como la del sistema tradicional y, con frecuencia, incluso mejor.

Crédito comercial, tipos de interés y el comportamiento reciente de los préstamos externos de bancos estadounidenses—ernesto hernándezcatá (páginas 699–717)

Tras un decenio de expansión muy modesta, los préstamos al exterior de bancos estadounidenses registraron un incremento masivo en el período 1972–75. El artículo trata de explicar este incremento examinando los créditos de bancos estadounidenses al Japón, uno de los prestatarios más importantes de fondos de EE.UU. Dos características sobresalientes del período estudiado son el pronunciado aumento de los requisitos de financiamiento de importación en Japón, impuestos después del alza de precios del petróleo de fines de 1973, y el grado apreciable de flexibilidad del tipo de cambio entre el yen y el dólar. De ahí que se examinen en especial la función del financiamiento del comercio exterior y la influencia de las condiciones del mercado cambiario en el costo efectivo del crédito internacional.

La demanda japonesa de crédito bancario de EE.UU. se explica según la teoría del “equilibrio de cartera” aplicada a los movimientos internacionales de capital. La masa óptima de préstamos de bancos estadounidenses es función del activo neto de los grandes bancos comerciales japoneses, el nivel de la importación japonesa y un vector de costos previstos del crédito. Entre los elementos de este vector figuran los tipos de interés nominales sobre préstamos bancarios en los mercados estadounidenses, eurodólar y japonés, la variación prevista del tipo de cambio entre el yen y el dólar y la prima a término sobre el dólar. El modelo permite que diverjan el nivel real y deseado de los préstamos al modificarse las variables que miden la intensidad de los controles de capital.

Los resultados de la estimación indican que la importación japonesa total es un factor clave en la determinación de la escala de préstamos bancarios estadounidenses a Japón, en particular cuando se tienen en cuenta la influencia de los flujos de importación, tanto pasados como actuales, en la determinación del crédito al intercambio comercial. También se establece que los efectos de las variaciones de los tipos de interés son de magnitud considerable, aunque de carácter transitorio. Los resultados empíricos subrayan la importante función de los flujos financieros con cobertura a término y sugieren que las expectativas sobre las futuras variaciones de los tipos de cambio al contado están influidas por los movimientos relativos de precios de los países afectados, pero no tienen relación con los movimientos pasados ni actuales de los tipos de cambio.

Estructura y reforma de los sistemas cambiarios y de pagos de algunos países de la Europa oriental—mark allen (páginas 718–39)

El trabajo describe a grandes rasgos la función del dinero y el comercio exterior en las economías de planificación central no reformadas. Explica cómo el dinero que usaban las empresas desempeñaba una función diferente y se aislaba del que usaban los consumidores, y cómo se protegía a ambos de influencias extranjeras. La separación entre la economía interna y la externa se consiguió con el monopolio estatal del comercio exterior y las divisas, en tanto que la separación entre las esferas de producción y consumo interno se obtuvo aplicando la ley de pagos sin el uso de efectivo.

Desde mediados del decenio de 1960, casi todos los países de la región reformaron ciertos aspectos del mecanismo económico. En el grado en que se descentralizaron las decisiones, se dió a los gerentes de empresa el derecho de hacer cierto uso discrecional de los saldos de dinero, con lo cual el dinero asumió una función más activa. También se redujo el aislamiento de la economía nacional frente al mercado mundial. La rentabilidad de las ventas de exportación influye actualmente en los resultados de las empresas productivas, y el sistema de formación de precios internos ahora tiene en cuenta los movimientos de precios mundiales. No obstante, siguen en vigor estrictos controles de importación y cambiarios, ya que la reforma de precios eliminó el incentivo para el arbitraje entre mercados interno y extranjeros.

El uso de dinero en los pagos entre países miembros del Consejo de Ayuda Mutua Económica (CAME) también es restringido, ya que la forma primordial de comercio es el intercambio bilateral de productos. Con creciente preocupación por la gestión eficiente de la economía interna, se ha tratado de liberalizar el comercio y los pagos del mercado del CAME. El trabajo examina las propuestas presentadas por Polonia y Hungría, para aumentar el uso del dinero en estas esferas y en el Programa Complejo de integración económica del CAME y concluye describiendo algunas modificaciones recientes en la organización de este mercado.

In statistical matter (except in the résumés and resúmenes) throughout this issue,

Dots (…) indicate that data are not available;

A dash (—) indicates that the figure is zero or less than half the final digit shown, or that the item does not exist;

A singe dot (.) indicates decimals;

A comma (,) separates thousands and millions;

“Billion” means a thousand million;

A short dash (–) is used between years or months (e.g., 1971–74 or January–October) to indicate a total of the years or months inclusive of the beginning and ending years or months;

A stroke (/) is used between years (e.g., 1973/74) to indicate a fiscal year or a crop year;

Components of tables may not add to totals shown because of rounding.

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IMF Staff papers: Volume 23 No. 3
Author: International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.