The SDR as a Means of Payment Reply to Comments by van den Boogaerde, Callier, and Kenen

TWO OF THE PRECEDING comments (van den Boogaerde, Callier) enlarge upon my earlier article in Staff Papers1 by treating in greater depth specific aspects of the practical implementation of the clearing mechanism described there, and the third (Kenen) offers an alternative approach to establishing the critical interface between private and official SDRs. All these welcome comments share in common with my original article the presumption that: (a) the subsequent development of the official SDR into an important reserve asset depends importantly on its development as a means of payment, which in turn depends importantly on the widespread use of SDRs in one form or another by the private sector; (b) widespread use of the SDR as a means of payment requires an efficient means for settling private transfers of SDRs; (c) the official SDR must in some sense be linked with, and interchangeable with, private SDRs; and (d) the official SDR can play a role in settling private movements without modification of the Fund’s existing Articles of Agreement, which preclude private institutions from directly holding official SDRs.


TWO OF THE PRECEDING comments (van den Boogaerde, Callier) enlarge upon my earlier article in Staff Papers1 by treating in greater depth specific aspects of the practical implementation of the clearing mechanism described there, and the third (Kenen) offers an alternative approach to establishing the critical interface between private and official SDRs. All these welcome comments share in common with my original article the presumption that: (a) the subsequent development of the official SDR into an important reserve asset depends importantly on its development as a means of payment, which in turn depends importantly on the widespread use of SDRs in one form or another by the private sector; (b) widespread use of the SDR as a means of payment requires an efficient means for settling private transfers of SDRs; (c) the official SDR must in some sense be linked with, and interchangeable with, private SDRs; and (d) the official SDR can play a role in settling private movements without modification of the Fund’s existing Articles of Agreement, which preclude private institutions from directly holding official SDRs.

TWO OF THE PRECEDING comments (van den Boogaerde, Callier) enlarge upon my earlier article in Staff Papers1 by treating in greater depth specific aspects of the practical implementation of the clearing mechanism described there, and the third (Kenen) offers an alternative approach to establishing the critical interface between private and official SDRs. All these welcome comments share in common with my original article the presumption that: (a) the subsequent development of the official SDR into an important reserve asset depends importantly on its development as a means of payment, which in turn depends importantly on the widespread use of SDRs in one form or another by the private sector; (b) widespread use of the SDR as a means of payment requires an efficient means for settling private transfers of SDRs; (c) the official SDR must in some sense be linked with, and interchangeable with, private SDRs; and (d) the official SDR can play a role in settling private movements without modification of the Fund’s existing Articles of Agreement, which preclude private institutions from directly holding official SDRs.


Mr. van den Boogaerde’s comments ask how the clearing arrangements described in my earlier article would deal with the failure to make payment in a timely fashion by one of the parties to a transfer of SDRs and proposes some possible answers. Clearly, before a clearing system for the SDR could attain the volume and efficiency of, say, clearing arrangements for the U.S. dollar or other major reserve currencies, assurances for the expeditious handling of such disruptions must be worked out and agreed to.


Mr. Callier’s comments explore the establishment of market equilibrium between the supply of and demand for SDRs as long as the market price, that is, the “administrative definition” of the value of the SDR, is fixed by the Fund. He rightly notes that at a more advanced stage of the SDR’s development and use in international payments, the Fund could determine the supply of official SDRs and leave to the market the determination of its market clearing value, thereby cutting the SDR free of its current currency basket valuation. It is instructive to explore this not necessarily obvious proposition in a bit more detail.

It was once thought that a national currency’s convertibility into a specified amount (weight) of gold or another precious metal was necessary in order that it have value. It is now more common to characterize national currencies as “backed” by the goods and services that are produced by the economies in which they circulate. It is sometimes argued that as the SDR has no such natural home, that is, no economy whose output it can purchase and hence from which it ultimately derives its value, its value results from its convertibility into something else—clearly determined amounts of national currencies, which have natural homes. Its value, so stipulated, must then be given force by appropriate agreements, rules, or laws. Legal tender attributes are sometimes brought into the story. Just as the usability and value of national currencies are ensured by the willingness or obligation of governments to accept them in payment of taxes or other official obligations, so are the value and usability of the SDR ensured by the obligation or willingness of the Fund to accept them in discharge of the obligations of its members to itself and by the obligation of members to accept SDRs in exchange for other currencies through the designation mechanism.

However, the acceptability of and hence demand for any means of payment—national or otherwise—really rests on the faith that it will be accepted by others as payment of a predictable value. This faith depends on many things, but one that has been important in the choice of reserve currencies, and a major factor in the pre-eminence of national currencies (even very “bad” ones) in national markets, is the use of a currency as a unit of denomination in contracts and other statements of value.

While it is natural and common for goods and services to be priced in the same unit as are the factors of production of those goods and services, it need not always be so. Internationally traded goods are often invoiced in a variety of currencies differing from that of the economy producing them. Yet the contractual use of a particular unit of denomination is clearly an important source of the demand for currencies denominated in the same unit. The SDR is no different in this regard, and, hence, despite the absence of a natural national market producing SDR-denominated goods, the widespread use of the SDR as the unit of denomination in internationally traded goods and other contractual statements of value would become the natural base for the demand for the settlement asset or currency also denominated in SDRs. To express a value as a specific number of SDRs is to establish that that many units of SDRs will discharge or settle the obligation. The wider use of the SDR as a unit of denomination is therefore an important element in its development as a means of payment and, hence, widespread use as an international reserve asset.

As with national monies, it is efficient for the public to satiate itself with the transactions services of monies that are supplied at zero resource cost.2 This condition occurs when money pays interest equal to that obtainable on other comparably risky assets. Paying interest on SDRs is sufficient to give them value. Paying a “competitive” interest rate would give the SDR a market price comparable to its administered one.

Until such time as the demand for the SDR is sufficiently established that its value can stand on its own in a market-determined process, Callier rightly notes the Fund’s need to maintain an official valuation. Hence, he argues, clearing the market for the SDR requires adjusting its supply to its demand given by its administered price. He proposes an “SDR Stabilization Fund” operated by a group of central banks.

It is important to distinguish between private and official SDRs in this regard. The private sector’s holdings of SDRs are demand determined in that banks will accept and construct any amount of SDR-denominated liabilities that the public wants. Abstracting from capital controls and other legal restrictions, an SDR is a near-perfect substitute for the appropriate amounts of the five currencies in the basket, and therefore commercial banks are always willing to create any desired amount of SDR-denominated deposits in exchange for other currencies.

It is also necessary that commercial bank holdings of clearing accounts in SDRs be equally demand determined. My paper proposed a mechanism for moving SDRs between banks that relies upon the willingness of central banks to open SDR-denominated clearing accounts for the commercial banks under their jurisdiction. This willingness presupposes rules for constituting, replenishing, and reducing such accounts. It is necessary, as Callier observes, that commercial banks be able, one way or another, to adjust the amounts in their SDR clearing accounts to desired levels.

It is of secondary importance, however, what the rules are by which banks adjust the amounts in their clearing accounts. No particular importance is to be attached, for example, to acquiring SDRs with the central bank against the payment of the appropriate amounts of the five currencies in the basket. The use of any one freely usable foreign currency will work just as well, as the central bank can acquire from other central banks or the Fund the matching amount of official SDRs with any single freely usable currency. For that matter, commercial banks might be allowed to acquire SDR-denominated deposits at the central bank against domestic currency, if the central bank has a policy of intervention. Banks would presumably be allowed to reduce the SDR amounts in their clearing accounts in a symmetrical manner.

It is not even particularly important that central banks observe the rule of backing their private SDR clearing liabilities with official SDR assets. This lapse would give central banks some leeway in creating SDR-denominated liabilities. To some extent, these liabilities are utilized by commercial banks in settling transfers to other commercial banks in the same jurisdiction. These transfers give rise to intraregional transfers of SDRs that do not affect the overall level of the central bank’s SDR liabilities. However, SDRs created at the central bank for the purpose of effecting transfers abroad will generate debits to that central bank’s SDR account with the Fund; hence, the bank’s capacity to support the creation of SDR liabilities of that sort is limited by its holdings of official SDRs or its capacity to replenish such holdings, that is, is limited by its foreign exchange holdings. A central bank can always ensure its capacity to meet such drains, without recourse to any official SDRs that it might hold for other purposes, by limiting its creation of private SDRs to amounts that banks are willing to buy with foreign exchange, because such foreign exchange can be used by the central bank to acquire a like amount of official SDRs. This restriction will tend to limit the creation of private SDRs by commercial banks to deposits of foreign exchange by their customers, although some exceptions and the associated risk are always possible.

The quantity of official SDRs at the pinnacle of the system is not demand determined. Here, the dilemma of an administered price and fixed supply, highlighted by Callier, comes to the fore. The system is currently held together by strict rules and regulations governing the use of official SDRs and backed by the compulsory designation mechanism. However, the Fund has moved increasingly toward a competitive SDR, that is, one whose demand is catching up with and justifying an increasing supply. Only in this way can the restraints on the use of the official SDR be relaxed and designation mothballed.

As long as the Fund continues to administer the SDR’s value, its principal tool for influencing the demand for SDRs is the SDR’s interest rate. To maintain equality between supply and demand, the Fund needs to adjust the SDR’s interest rate flexibly.3

On the supply side, equilibrium could be assured, to the extent that it was not fully attained through interest rate adjustments, as suggested by Callier—through net purchases or sales by the Fund through its own (General Resources) account. Purchases and sales of SDRs by the Fund are allowed under provisions of the Fund’s Articles of Agreement, but the Fund has not yet adopted decisions that would allow it to purchase SDRs. As purchases or sales of SDRs by the Fund would alter the reserve positions with the Fund of the members whose currencies were received in sales or paid out in purchases, the willingness of the Fund’s members to approve such an arrangement would depend on their willingness to relinquish some control over the composition of their foreign reserves. However, maintaining agreed targets for Fund holdings of SDRs and net use by the Fund of individual currencies would insure that changes in the composition of each member’s reserves as a result of the Fund’s buying and selling activity would be limited. Over time, with a balance of purchases and sales, there should be no effect at all on the composition of members’ reserves. If the Fund were, in effect, to become the market maker for its own asset, the tendency for its holdings of SDRs to rise above or fall below desired (targeted) levels would signal the need to adjust the SDR’s interest rate in an equilibrating direction.


Professor Kenen proposes an alternative institutional arrangement for achieving the interface between private and official SDRs. His separate clearinghouse has some advantages and disadvantages over my scheme. As a clearinghouse rather than a central bank, it would necessarily operate under tighter rules with regard to the match of its private SDR liabilities and official SDR assets. It would have to establish itself as an official entity eligible for prescription as a holder of official SDRs, or accomplish the same indirectly by maintaining SDR-denominated assets with a prescribed holder, such as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). It has the advantage that commercial banks could bind themselves together on their own in the creation of such a clearinghouse without the need to persuade their respective central banks to allow the use of the central bank’s facilities for clearing purposes. This idea has a potentially significant legal advantage; it is the course being followed in the European Economic Community in establishing a commercial bank clearinghouse for the European Currency Unit with the BIS.

On the other hand, such a clearinghouse would need to hold SDR deposits from every commercial bank in the world that is participating in the use of SDRs; as such, it would be subject to all the disadvantages that Professor Kenen put forth for the Fund (with the appropriate amendment to the Articles) in opening up the SDR Department to all commercial banks. While, for its fullest development, my scheme requires the cooperation of all central banks, or at least all major central banks in opening SDR-denominated clearing accounts for their commercial banks, the arrangement could still operate on a more limited basis for those commercial banks that operate in jurisdictions in which central banks did establish such accounts.

Kenen’s clearinghouse does not seem to have the advantage that he claims for it of leaving the central bank with greater control over its own holdings of SDRs. A country’s total foreign exchange holdings changes just as much as a result of a shift in the ownership of official SDRs within the clearinghouse from the commercial bank of one country to that of another as it does from the transfer of official SDRs between those respective central banks. Even from the narrower perspective of official reserves, there is no real difference between Kenen’s clearinghouse and my proposal. If central banks will sell SDR-denominated clearing balances (with themselves or with a separate clearinghouse as in Kenen’s proposal) against their own currencies, then a net clearing drain will tend to cause central banks to gain or lose reserves (initially SDRs) under either arrangement. In the arrangement that I described, this follows directly as Kenen pointed out. If banks in country A lose private SDRs on net to banks in country B, central bank A loses the same amount of official SDRs to central bank B. With Kenen’s clearinghouse, the central banks transfer a part of their official SDRs “up front” when establishing the clearinghouse. However, cumulative net clearings between banks in different countries would lead to additional purchases of official SDRs by commercial banks on the negative side of those clearings and sales of official SDRs back to their central banks by commercial banks on the positive side. If central banks have limits to the reserves that they are willing to gain or lose in this way, they can refuse to sell additional official SDRs to the clearinghouse, in Kenen’s arrangement, or refuse to add to depleted SDR clearing accounts with themselves, in my scheme. The effect is the same in either case. If clearings balance, this point becomes moot, and there is no net movement of reserves (official or total) under either scheme.

More generally, central banks would sell SDRs (official ones to the clearinghouse, or private ones to clearing accounts with themselves) only against foreign currencies. In that case, central banks would not lose foreign exchange as a result of these clearing activities, and any change in the composition of their reserves could be adjusted if desired, that is, any undesired change in their SDR holdings could be corrected with purchases or sales of SDRs against the foreign exchange gained or lost when augmenting or reducing clearing balances for their commercial banks. Of course, limiting the central banks’ dealings in SDRs to transactions against foreign exchange also limits the commercial banks in the way already discussed. There appears to be no significant difference between the consequences for official reserve behavior of the two clearing arrangements.

We are all agreed that a clearing arrangement of some sort that links official and private SDRs is essential to the further development of the SDR.


Conditions for an Active Exchange Rate Policy with a Predetermined Monetary Target—JAMES m. BOUGHTON (pages 461-90)

Monetary policy in the large industrial countries has in recent years focused primarily on the achievement of predetermined growth rates for monetary aggregates. The authorities may also have an exchange rate objective, but the monetary target constrains their ability to influence the exchange rate unless they have two or more independent instruments at their disposal. For example, sterilized intervention in the foreign exchange market may be regarded as the combination of an expansionary and a contractionary transaction designed to affect the exchange rate while not altering the stock of money. This study treats such intervention as an example of a broader class of combination policies that, for convenience, may be called “sterilized policies.” Another typical example would be the raising of bank reserve requirements to offset the monetary effects of open market security purchases.

To determine whether sterilized policies may be expected to be effective, this study examines the role of several specific types of monetary policy instrument in the context of a portfolio-balance model of financial markets. Each of the major countries employs a unique combination of policy instruments, ranging from market-oriented systems largely free of regulation to systems that rely heavily on quantitative ceilings and regulated interest rates. Therefore, solutions are derived for four different versions of the model, incorporating a total of 11 domestic policy instruments. It is shown that—if the financial markets are stable and display normal, nonperverse properties—sterilized changes in at least three of these instruments, as well as exchange market intervention, will have predictable effects on the exchange rate. The potentially effective instruments are reserve requirements on nonresident deposits or on deposits that are included in the targeted monetary aggregate, and controls on interest rates that are payable on such deposits.

“Real” Effective Exchange Rate Indices: A Re-Examination of the Major Conceptual and Methodological Issues—EDOUARD b. MACIEJEWSKI (pages 491-541)

The principal objective of this paper is to investigate the economic meaning of different “real” effective exchange rate indices, defined as relative price or cost indices adjusted for exchange rate movements, and of various alternative domestic relative price or cost indices.

An economically meaningful interpretation of such indices is shown to depend crucially on the choice of the base period, the adequacy of the weighting procedure in terms of the country’s competitive relationships, and the plausibility of the selected price or cost indicator in relation to the policy question addressed and the market conditions involved. In this respect, the paper shows the inherent limitations of any of the calculated indices for the purpose of judging the adequacy of a given exchange rate. In particular, in no case should the results obtained by any of the available adjusted relative price or cost indices be elevated to firm norms and be used as the only indicators of currency overvaluation or undervaluation.

At the same time, the study emphasizes that such calculated indices may provide useful signals about underlying international competitiveness and cost or profitability developments. However, for a number of reasons, such as the degree of approximation involved in the choice of the index and the shortcomings inherent in available price or cost statistics, the calculated values should always be interpreted with caution. In addition, since the calculations can provide only a rough measure of the direction of change, any apparent changes in international competitiveness should also be assessed in conjunction with a forward-looking analysis of underlying balance of payments developments.

The paper also emphasizes that there are as many adjusted relative price or cost indices as there are analytical or policy questions addressed, but that each index can fulfill only a limited number of purposes.

Expansionary Fiscal Policy and the Exchange Rate: A Review—alessandro penati (pages 542-69)

This paper reviews the literature on fiscal policy and the exchange rate—focusing on an expansionary fiscal policy that does not affect market expectations about the future course of monetary policy. It is shown that a few key elements determine the sign and magnitude of the relationship between this policy and the exchange rate.

An expansionary fiscal policy increases output and the price level, thus creating an excess demand for money. The excess demand raises the domestic interest rate, which, in turn, tends to appreciate the exchange rate. In the long run, the domestic interest rate is tied to the world interest rate, which has not changed. The equilibrium in the money market is then restored by a long-run appreciation of the exchange rate that causes both output and the aggregate demand deflator to decline.

An expansionary fiscal policy will also cause an accumulation of debt vis-à-vis the rest of the world. To service the larger stock of debt, and eventually to repay it, private consumption must be cut back and additional resources must be allocated to the production of exports. In the long run, this process leads, by itself, to a depreciation in the real and nominal exchange rates. If expectations about future exchange rates are the main determinants of the present exchange rate, an expansionary fiscal policy can cause the exchange rate to depreciate in the short run.

If financial assets are imperfect substitutes, an expansionary fiscal policy that brings about a budget deficit may also depreciate the exchange rate by creating a relative abundance of assets denominated in domestic currency. Finally, it is also shown that the structure of the real sector will influence the response of the exchange rate to the change in fiscal policy.

Real Exchange Rate Adjustment to Exogenous Terms of Trade Shocks—grant h. spencer (pages 570-600)

This paper considers a small open economy where an external imbalance arises as the result of a sustained shift in the external terms of trade. Such a shift has a permanent effect on the real value of the aggregate domestic product, and a return to external balance requires that real incomes adjust accordingly. If aggregate activity is to be maintained at its original level, then such an adjustment requires a change in the real exchange rate—defined here as the price of foreign output in domestic currency relative to the price of domestic output. With the prices of traded goods fixed in terms of foreign currency, a change in the real exchange rate brings about a shift in the relative price of traded to nontraded goods, which in turn leads to the changes in domestic production and absorption patterns required to correct the initial external imbalance.

The purpose of the paper is to investigate the extent to which real exchange rate adjustments may be required to offset the trade balance effects of terms of trade shocks, given a constant level of total output and employing alternative structural assumptions regarding trade elasticities and shares of traded goods. A simple analytical framework is developed and used to generate a comparative static result, which is then quantified using parameter estimates for five small industrial countries—Australia, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and New Zealand. Differences between country outcomes are used to highlight the sensitivity of the numerical results to variations in underlying structural parameters. Summarizing the range of numerical results, the percentage real depreciation required to offset a fall of 1 percent in the terms of trade was found to lie between 0.9 percent for Ireland and 1.4 percent for Australia. The larger required adjustments were found to be associated with relatively small import price and income elasticities, and with relatively small shares of traded goods in output and absorption.

Social Security and Household Saving in the United States—A Re-Examination—Owen evans (pages 601-18)

This paper examines the impact of the social security system on household saving in the United States. The theoretical properties of the transition period after large changes in benefits have not been sufficiently examined in earlier work; if the long-run result of a change is a fall in the savings rate, then as a natural consequence of stock/flow interactions, there must be a much larger fall in the short run, which may be beyond the bounds of historical experience.

Previous studies, on balance, have found little convincing evidence for the existence of a significant depressing effect of social security wealth on household saving. They had added a social security wealth variable to a consumption function; however, if social security wealth is added, then the corresponding component of current and lagged disposable income should be subtracted. When new empirical work is conducted with this correction, the results—although still far from conclusive—favor the existence of a depressing effect. Another more fundamental problem is that, although the budget of the system must (roughly) balance, no such balanced budget constraint has been imposed in the construction of social security wealth data—a severe shortcoming.

In the final section, a simpler approach is advocated. The earlier empirical research assumed that the social security system affected saving by causing individuals in the work force to alter their retirement saving plans. The empirical work in this section simply assumes that recipients of government transfers, because of their age or relative poverty, are likely to have higher propensities to consume than those who pay contributions. Consequently, transfer payments can have a substantial effect on saving simply by redistributing current income across heterogeneous groups. The empirical work that was conducted supported this approach, with its finding of a propensity to consume of unity out of transfers, compared with about 0.7 for nontransfer disposable income.


Conditions nécessaires à une politique de taux de change active, avec objectifs monétaires prédéterminésjames m. boughton (pages 461-90)

La politique monétaire dans les grands pays industrialisés a essentiellement visé, au cours des dernières années, à atteindre des taux de croissance prédéterminés des agrégats monétaires. Les autorités peuvent aussi avoir fixé un objectif en matière de taux de change, mais l’objectif monétaire limite leur aptitude à influencer le taux de change à moins qu’ils ne disposent d’au moins deux instruments indépendants. Par exemple, une intervention stérilisée sur le marché des changes peut être considérée comme la conjugaison d’opérations expansionnistes et restrictives destinées à influencer le taux de change sans pour autant modifier la masse monétaire. Dans cette étude, l’auteur considère que ce type d’intervention constitue un exemple d’un ensemble plus vaste de mesures conjuguées qui, pour des raisons de simplicité, peuvent être qualifiées de “politiques stérilisées”. Un autre exemple typique consisterait en des mesures prévoyant le relèvement des réserves obligatoires des banques afin de compenser les effets monétaires d’achats de titres sur l’“open market”.

Afin de déterminer s’il faut s’attendre que les politiques stérilisées soient efficaces, l’auteur examine le rôle joué par plusieurs types particuliers d’instruments de politique monétaire dans le contexte d’un modèle des marchés financiers avec équilibre des portefeuilles. Chacun des principaux pays recourt à une conjugaison unique d’instruments de politique économique, instruments qui vont de mécanismes axés sur le marché et essentiellement exempts de réglementations à des mécanismes qui font largement appel aux plafonds quantitatifs et aux taux d’intérêt réglementés. C’est pourquoi des solutions sont calculées pour quatre différentes versions du modèle, qui comptent au total onze instruments de politique économique intérieure. Le document montre que—si les marchés financiers sont stables et ont des propriétés normales et non perturbatrices—des modifications stérilisées apportées à au moins trois de ces instruments, ainsi qu’une intervention sur le marché des changes, auront des effets précis sur le taux de change. Les instruments potentiellement efficaces sont les réserves obligatoires pour les dépôts de non-résidents ou les dépôts qui sont inclus dans l’agrégat monétaire pour lequel un objectif a été fixé, et la régulation des taux d’intérêt servis sur ces dépôts.

Les indices de taux de change effectifs “réels”: un réexamen des principales questions conceptuelles et méthodologiquesEdouard b. maciejewski (pages 491-541)

L’objet principal de ce document est d’étudier la signification économique de différents indices de taux de change effectifs “réels”, définis comme étant des indices de coûts ou de prix relatifs corrigés des variations de taux de change, et de divers indices de coûts ou de prix relatifs intérieurs.

L’étude montre qu’une interprétation significative de ces indices, du point de vue économique, dépend essentiellement des éléments suivants : choix de la période de référence; caractère adéquat de la méthode de pondération compte tenu des relations de concurrence du pays; et plausibilité des indicateurs de coûts et de prix retenus compte tenu de la question de politique économique et des conditions de marché qui sont étudiées. A cet égard, le document met en évidence les limites inhérentes à chacun des indices calculés lorsqu’il s’agit de juger du niveau adéquat d’un taux de change donné. En particulier, les résultats obtenus à l’aide de l’un quelconque des indices disponibles de coûts et de prix relatifs ajustés ne doivent en aucun cas être considérés comme des normes établies et être utilisés en tant que tels comme les seuls indicateurs disponibles en vue d’apprécier la surévaluation ou la sous-évaluation d’une monnaie.

D’autre part, l’étude souligne que de tels indices calculés peuvent être révélateurs de tendances fondamentales en matière de compétitivité internationale et d’évolution des coûts ou de la rentabilité. Toutefois, pour un certain nombre de raisons—notamment le degré d’approximation concernant le choix de l’indice et les lacunes inhérentes aux statistiques disponibles sur les coûts et les prix—les valeurs calculées doivent toujours être interprétées avec prudence. En outre, étant donné que les calculs ne peuvent donner qu’une mesure approximative du sens de la variation, toute modification apparente de la compétitivité internationale doit aussi être évaluée en liaison avec une analyse prospective des tendances fondamentales de la balance des paiements.

L’étude souligne également qu’il y a autant d’indices ajustés de coûts et de prix relatifs qu’il y a de questions analytiques ou de politique économique examinées, mais que chaque indice ne peut servir qu’à un nombre limité de fins.

Politique budgétaire expansionniste et taux de change: une analysealessandro penati (pages 542-69)

Dans ce document l’auteur passe en revue les écrits consacrés à la politique budgétaire et au taux de change, en examinant tout particulièrement une politique budgétaire expansionniste qui n’influence pas les anticipations sur le marché. II montre que quelques éléments fondamentaux déterminent le sens et l’ampleur du lien entre une telle politique et le taux de change.

Une politique budgétaire expansionniste a pour effet d’accroître la production et le niveau des prix, suscitant ainsi une demande excédentaire de monnaie. La demande excédentaire provoque une hausse du taux d’intérêt intérieur, phénomène qui, à son tour, a tendance à entraîner une appréciation du taux de change. A long terme, le taux d’intérêt intérieur est lié au taux d’intérêt international, qui, lui, n’a pas changé. L’équilibre sur le marché monétaire est alors rétabli par une appréciation à long terme du taux de change, appréciation qui suscite une baisse tant de la production que du déflateur de la demande globale.

Une politique budgétaire expansionniste entraînera aussi une accumulation de la dette vis-à-vis du reste du monde. Pour permettre au pays d’assurer le service du montant accru de la dette, et, plus tard, de le rembourser, la consommation privée doit être réduite et des ressources additionnelles doivent être affectées à la production de biens d’exportation. A long terme, ce processus aboutit, de lui-même, à une dépréciation des taux de change réel et nominal. Si les anticipations concernant les taux de change futurs sont le facteur principal qui détermine le taux de change actuel, une politique budgétaire expansionniste peut donner lieu à une dépréciation du taux de change à court terme.

Si les actifs financiers ne peuvent pas parfaitement se substituer les uns aux autres, une politique budgétaire expansionniste qui entraîne un déficit budgétaire peut aussi provoquer une dépréciation du taux de change en créant une abondance relative d’actifs libellés en monnaie nationale. Enfin, l’auteur montre également que la structure du secteur réel influencera la manière dont le taux de change réagira à la modification de la politique budgétaire.

Ajustement du taux de change réel aux chocs exogènes subis par les termes de l’échangegrant h. spencer (pages 570-600)

Ce document analyse le cas d’une petite économie ouverte où apparaît un déséquilibre extérieur du fait d’un glissement persistant des termes de l’échange. Ce glissement a des effets permanents sur la valeur réelle du produit intérieur global et le retour à l’équilibre extérieur exige que les revenus réels s’ajustent en conséquence. Si l’activité globale doit être maintenue à son niveau initial, cet ajustement exige une modification du taux de change réel—qui est défini ici comme le prix de la production étrangère exprimé en monnaie nationale par rapport au prix de la production intérieure. Les prix des biens échangés étant fixés en monnaie étrangère, une modification du taux de change réel provoque une variation des prix relatifs des biens échangés par rapport aux prix des biens non échangés, phénomène qui se traduit à son tour par des changements dans les structures de production et d’absorption intérieures nécessaires pour corriger le déséquilibre extérieur initial.

L’objet de ce document est d’examiner dans quelle mesure des ajustements du taux de change réel peuvent s’imposer pour compenser les effets sur la balance commerciale des chocs subis par les termes de l’échange, pour un niveau constant de production totale et sur la base de différentes hypothèses structurelles en ce qui concerne les élasticités du commerce et les parts relatives des biens échangés. Le document établit et utilise un cadre analytique simple pour produire un résultat statique comparatif, lequel est ensuite quantifié au moyen d’estimations relatives aux paramètres pour cinq petits pays industrialisés : Australie, Danemark, Finlande, Irlande et Nouvelle-Zélande. Les différences entre les résultats pour chaque pays sont utilisées pour mettre en lumière la sensibilité des résultats numériques aux variations des paramètres structurels de base. Au vu de l’ensemble des résultats numériques, il apparaît que le pourcentage de dépréciation réelle nécessaire pour compenser une détérioration de 1 % des termes de l’échange se situe entre 0,9 % pour l’Irlande et 1,4 % pour l’Australie. L’étude conclut également que les cas qui demandent les ajustements les plus importants sont ceux où les élasticités par rapport aux prix et aux revenus sont relativement faibles et où la part des biens échangés dans la production et l’absorption est, elle aussi, relativement peu élevée.

Sécurité sociale et épargne des ménages aux Etats-Unis—Un réexamenowen evans (pages 601-18)

Cette étude est consacrée à l’incidence du système de sécurité sociale sur l’épargne des ménages aux Etats-Unis. Les propriétés théoriques de la période de transition qui suit de profondes modifications des avantages procurés par le système n’ont pas été suffisamment examinées dans les travaux antérieurs; si le résultat à long terme d’une telle modification est un fléchissement du taux d’épargne, il doit donc se produire—conséquence naturelle des interactions stocks/flux—une chute beaucoup plus sensible à court terme, qui se situe peut-être en dehors des limites de ce qui a pu être constaté dans le passé.

Les études précédentes n’ont en général dégagé que peu de preuves convaincantes de l’existence d’un effet dépressif significatif qu’exercerait le patrimoine de sécurité sociale sur l’épargne des ménages. Dans ces études, une variable représentant le patrimoine de sécurité sociale était ajoutée à la fonction de consommation; toutefois, si l’on ajoute ce patrimoine de sécurité sociale, il convient alors de retrancher les composantes correspondantes du revenu disponible courant et décalé. Lorsque l’on effectue de nouveaux travaux empiriques compte tenu de cette correction, les résultats—bien que toujours loin d’être concluants—laissent entendre l’existence d’un effet dépressif. Autre problème plus fondamental encore, bien que le budget du système doive être (en gros) équilibré, aucune contrainte correspondant à un budget équilibré n’a été imposée pour l’établissement des données relatives au patrimoine de sécurité sociale, ce qui constitue là une grave lacune.

Dans la dernière section, l’auteur préconise une approche plus simple. Dans les recherches empiriques antérieures, on supposait que le système de sécurité sociale influait sur l’épargne en incitant les individus appartenant à la population active à modifier leurs plans d’épargne pour leur retraite. Les travaux empiriques de cette section supposent simplement que les bénéficiaires de transferts publics, du fait de leur âge ou de leur pauvreté relative, ont probablement une propension plus élevée à consommer que les individus qui cotisent au système. En conséquence, les paiements de transferts peuvent avoir un effet sensible sur l’épargne, simplement en redistribuant les revenus courants parmi des groupes hétérogènes. Les travaux empiriques effectués sont venus appuyer cette approche puisqu’ils concluent à l’existence d’une propension à consommer égale à l’unité pour les revenus provenant de transferts, contre une propension de 0,7 pour les revenus disponibles autres que les transferts.


Condiciones para una política activa de tipo de cambio con un objetivo monetario predeterminado—james m. boughton (páginas 461-90)

En los últimos años la política monetaria de los grandes países industriales ha estado orientada principalmente hacia la consecución de tasas predeterminadas de crecimiento de los agregados monetarios. Puede suceder que las autoridades tengan también un objetivo en relación con el tipo de cambio, pero la meta monetaria constriñe su capacidad de influir en él, salvo que dispongan de dos o más instrumentos independientes. Por ejemplo, la intervención esterilizada en el mercado de divisas puede verse como la combinación de dos transacciones, una expansiva y otra contractiva, para afectar al tipo de cambio sin modificar la masa monetaria. En este estudio se trata tal intervención como ejemplo de una clase más amplia de políticas combinadas que, por razones de conveniencia, se pueden llamar “políticas esterilizadas”. Otro ejemplo típico sería aumentar el encaje legal de los bancos con el fin de contrarrestar los efectos monetarios de las operaciones de compra de valores en el mercado abierto.

Para determinar si las políticas de esterilización pueden resultar eficaces, en este trabajo se examina el papel que cumplen varios tipos específicos de instrumentos de política monetaria en el contexto de un modelo de mercados financieros de equilibrio de cartera. Cada uno de los países importantes emplea una combinación propia de instrumentos de política, que van de los sistemas orientados por el mercado—que en gran medida no están reglamentados—a sistemas que se basan mayormente en el establecimiento de topes cuantitativos y tipos regulados de interés. Por eso se obtienen soluciones para cuatro versiones diferentes del modelo, en las que se utilizan en total once instrumentos de política interna. Se demuestra que, si los mercados financieros son estables y presentan características normales, no desfavorables, los cambios esterilizados en por lo menos tres de estos instrumentos, así como la intervención en el mercado de cambios, tendrá efectos previsibles sobre el tipo de cambio. Los instrumentos potencialmente eficaces son el encaje legal para los depósitos de no residentes o para los depósitos incluidos en el agregado monetario programado, y los controles sobre los tipos de interés pagaderos por esos depósitos.

Indices de tipos de cambio efectivos “reales”: reconsideración de los principales aspectos conceptuales y metodológicos—EDOUARD B. MACIEJEWSKI (páginas 491-541)

El principal objetivo de este documento es investigar el valor económico de diferentes índices de tipos de cambio efectivos “reales”, definidos como los índices de precios o costos relativos ajustados en función de las variaciones del tipo de cambio, y de otros diversos índices internos de precios o costos relativos.

Se demuestra que la interpretación útil de esos índices desde el punto de vista económico depende en forma decisiva del período base que se elija, del grado en que el sistema de ponderación aplicado sea compatible con la posición competitiva internacional del país, y de la verosimilitud del indicador escogido de precios o costos con respecto a la cuestión de política que se ha de abordar o a las condiciones de mercado que existan. En este sentido, el documento pone de relieve las limitaciones inherentes a cualquiera de los índices calculados para evaluar la justeza de un tipo de cambio dado. Es importante sobre todo que los resultados obtenidos con los índices de precios o costos relativos ajustados no se eleven nunca a la categoría de normas definitivas, ni se usen como indicadores exclusivos de la sobrevaloración o subvaloración de una moneda.

Al mismo tiempo, el estudio destaca que dichos índices pueden revelar información útil acerca de la situación básica en materia de competitividad internacional y de la evolución de los costos o de la rentabilidad. Sin embargo, debido a varias causas, como el grado de aproximación que entraña la elección del índice y las limitaciones inherentes a las estadísticas disponibles de precios o costos, los valores calculados deben interpretarse siempre con cautela. Además, como los cálculos sólo permiten obtener una aproximación burda de la dirección del cambio, la percepción de cualquier variación en la competitividad internacional debe complementarse con un análisis prospectivo de la evolución fundamental de la balanza de pagos.

En este documento se destaca también que hay tantos índices de precios o costos relativos ajustados como hay cuestiones de análisis o de política que se han de abordar, pero cada índice tiene un número limitado de aplicaciones.

Políticas fiscales expansionistas y el tipo de cambio: un examen de la cuestión— ALESSANDRO PENATI (páginas 542-69)

Este artículo pasa revista a las publicaciones sobre política fiscal y el tipo de cambio, centrando la atención en las políticas fiscales expansivas que no afectan a las expectativas del mercado sobre el sesgo futuro de la política monetaria. Se demuestra que sólo unos cuantos elementos clave determinan el signo y la magnitud de la relación entre estas políticas y el tipo de cambio.

Una política fiscal expansiva incrementa el producto y eleva el nivel de precios, creando así una demanda excesiva de dinero. Este exceso de demanda eleva el tipo de interés interno, con lo cual, a su vez, el tipo de cambio tiende a apreciarse. A largo plazo, el tipo de interés interno queda vinculado al tipo de interés mundial, que no ha cambiado. El equilibrio del mercado monetario se restablece con una apreciación a largo plazo del tipo de cambio que hace descender tanto el producto como el deflactor de la demanda agregada.

Una política fiscal expansiva también producirá una acumulación de deuda frente al resto del mundo. Para atender el servicio de este mayor volumen de deuda, y en su día amortizarla, debe reducirse el consumo privado y asignarse nuevos recursos a la producción de exportaciones. A largo plazo, este proceso desemboca, por sí mismo, en una depreciación de los tipos de cambio real y nominal. Si las expectativas sobre los tipos de cambio futuros constituyen los determinantes principales del tipo de cambio presente, una política fiscal expansiva puede provocar la depreciación del tipo de cambio a corto plazo.

Si los activos financieros son sustitutos imperfectos, una política fiscal expansiva que produce un déficit presupuestario puede también depreciar el tipo de cambio al crear una abundancia relativa de activos denominados en la moneda nacional. Por último, el artículo también demuestra que la estructura del sector real influirá en la reacción del tipo de cambio ante las modificaciones de la política fiscal.

Ajuste del tipo de cambio real a las conmociones exógenas de la relación de intercambio—GRANT H. SPENCER (páginas 570-600)

En este estudio se analiza una pequeña economía abierta donde surge un desequilibrio externo como consecuencia del desplazamiento sostenido de la relación de intercambio externa. Ese desplazamiento tiene efectos permanentes en el valor real del producto interno agregado y para poder restablecer el equilibrio externo es necesario ajustar debidamente el ingreso real. Si se desea mantener la actividad agregada en su nivel original, ese ajuste requerirá que se modifique el tipo de cambio real, definido en este caso como el precio del producto extranjero en moneda nacional en comparación con el precio del producto interno. Fijándose los precios de los productos comerciables en moneda extranjera, la modificación del tipo de cambio real provoca un desplazamiento del precio relativo de los bienes comerciables con respecto al de los bienes no comerciables, lo cual, a su vez, origina los cambios de la configuración interna de la producción y la absorción necesarios para corregir el desequilibrio externo inicial.

El objetivo del trabajo es investigar la medida en que sería necesario ajustar el tipo de cambio real para compensar el efecto de las conmociones de la relación de intercambio en la balanza comercial, dado un nivel constante de producto total, y empleando diversos supuestos estructurales sobre las elasticidades comerciales y la proporción de bienes comerciables. Se usa un marco analítico sencillo para producir un resultado estático comparativo que luego se cuantifica usando parámetros estimados para cinco pequeños países industriales: Australia, Dinamarca, Finlandia, Irlanda y Nueva Zelandia. Las diferencias entre los resultados obtenidos para cada país se usan para subrayar que las magnitudes numéricas obtenidas son sensibles a las variaciones de los parámetros estructurales subyacentes. Resumiendo la gama de resultados numéricos, la depreciación porcentual real necesaria para compensar una disminución del 1 por ciento en la relación de intercambio reside entre 0,9 por ciento para Irlanda y 1,4 por ciento para Australia. El estudio reveló que era menester efectuar los mayores ajustes cuando la elasticidad-ingreso y la elasticidad-precio de las importaciones eran relativamente bajas y la proporción de bienes comerciables en el producto y la absorción era relativamente pequeña.

Seguridad social y ahorro familiar en Estados Unidos: un nuevo examen— OWEN EVANS (páginas 601-18)

En este estudio se examinan las repercusiones del sistema de seguridad social en el ahorro familiar en Estados Unidos. En trabajos anteriores no se han examinado detenidamente los aspectos teóricos del período de transición posterior a la introducción de modificaciones importantes en materia de prestaciones; si el resultado a largo plazo de una modificación de este tipo es una baja de la tasa de ahorro, debe producirse a corto plazo—como consecuencia natural de la interacción de la masa y las corrientes monetarias—una disminución de la tasa de ahorro mucho mayor, que puede ir más allá de los límites habituales.

Los estudios anteriores, en realidad, han aportado pocas pruebas convincentes de que la seguridad social tenga un importante efecto depresivo en el ahorro familiar. Se ha agregado una variable, que representa el ahorro canalizado a través de la seguridad social, a una función que representa el consumo; sin embargo, al introducir esa variable, habría que sustraer el respectivo componente de ingreso corriente y desfasado disponible. Los resultados del nuevo trabajo empírico, una vez efectuada esta corrección, si bien distan de ser definitivos, confirman la existencia de un efecto depresivo. Otro problema fundamental, que constituye una grave falla, es el siguiente: pese a que el presupuesto del sistema debe estar equilibrado (en términos generales), no se tomó en cuenta esta condición al elaborar los datos relativos a la riqueza de la seguridad social.

En la última parte del estudio se propone un enfoque más sencillo. En las investigaciones empíricas previas se supuso que el sistema de seguridad social afectaba al ahorro al llevar a los individuos que integran la fuerza de trabajo a modificar sus planes de ahorro vinculados a la jubilación. En el trabajo empírico presentado en esta parte del estudio se supone simplemente que los beneficiarios de las transferencias públicas, en razón de su edad o grado relativo de pobreza, probablemente tendrán mayor propensión al consumo que los que hacen aportaciones. Por consiguiente, los pagos de transferencias pueden tener un pronunciado efecto en el ahorro al redistribuir el ingreso corriente entre varios grupos heterogéneos. El trabajo empírico realizado respalda este enfoque al determinar que existe una propensión al consumo igual a la unidad cuando el ingreso proviene de transferencias, frente a un consumo de aproximadamente 0,7, cuando el ingreso disponible no proviene de transferencias.

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 single 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., 1977-79 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., 1978/79) to indicate a fiscal year or a crop year;

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

International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C. 20431 U.S.A.

Telephone number: 202 477 7000

Cable address: Interfund


Chief of the Operations Division for SDRs and Administered Accounts in the Treasurer’s Department.


“The SDR as a Means of Payment,” Staff Papers, Vol. 29 (September 1982), pp. 422-36.


Robert E. Hall, “Optimal Fiduciary Monetary Systems” (mimeographed, January 5, 1983; revised version of paper prepared for Conference on Alternative Monetary Standards, held at the University of Rochester, October 15-16, 1982); Milton Friedman, “The Optimum Quantity of Money,” Chap. 1 in his The Optimum Quantity of Money and Other Essays (Chicago, 1969), pp. 1-50.


A market-oriented technique for adjusting the interest rate is discussed briefly in “Possible Further Improvements in the Existing SDR,” in International Money and Credit: The Policy Roles, ed. by George M. von Furstenberg, International Monetary Fund (Washington, 1983), pp. 537-59.