Currency Depreciation and Nonclearing Markets in Developing Economies

WILLIAM. white, who joined the International Monetary Fund in 1948, spent his entire professional life in the Research Department. Present and past staff members, many of whom benefited from his advice, have asked that his contribution-to the work of the Fund should receive recognition in Staff Papers. This appreciation draws on excerpts from written recollections of some of his colleagues.

Abstract

WILLIAM. white, who joined the International Monetary Fund in 1948, spent his entire professional life in the Research Department. Present and past staff members, many of whom benefited from his advice, have asked that his contribution-to the work of the Fund should receive recognition in Staff Papers. This appreciation draws on excerpts from written recollections of some of his colleagues.

The exchange rate is an important policy instrument for correcting balance of payments disequilibria, and the role of currency depreciation in economic adjustment is the subject of numerous theoretical and empirical papers (for example, Meade (1951), Alexander (1952), Johnson (1958), and Dornbusch (1973)). But an important strand of the literature has been devoted to questioning the efficacy of currency depreciation within the setting of a developing economy (see Cooper (1971) and Krugman and Taylor (1978)). This paper sheds light on this controversy by developing a two-sector, fixed-price model for analyzing exchange rate policies in developing economies. The model, which distinguishes between tradable and nontradable goods, is used to analyze the scope for currency depreciation to bring about macroeconomic and balance of payments adjustments. Attention is focused not only on the demand side of the economy—the expenditure-switching and expenditure-reducing effects of devaluation—but also on the supply side of the economy. The model takes into account the effect that rationing of consumers or producers in particular markets has on their demands or supplies in other markets.

The central focus of the paper is the adjustment process that follows a currency depreciation in an economy that has wage and price rigidity. The analysis highlights the links between sectoral disequilibrium and domestic employment. One policy issue examined is whether the short-run effects of currency depreciation depend on excess supply or demand in labor and output markets. Another is whether currency depreciation has a contractionary effect on the supply side of an economy that imports intermediate goods and has credit rationing. The paper demonstrates that the regimes of classical and Keynesian unemployment respond in quite different ways to currency depreciation.

The procedure adopted is to organize the discussion of exchange rate policies in developing countries by using a single, integrated analytical framework widely agreed as appropriate for use in dealing with these issues. The broad agreement is embodied in what might be called the standard “Meade-Salter-Swan model” of the open economy, developed in a series of papers by Meade (1956), Salter (1959), and Swan (1963). In this model, which is sometimes also called the “dependent economy model” to emphasize that the country is assumed to be a price taker in the world market for both importables and exportables, industries are conceptually divided into traded- and nontraded-goods sectors. This distinction makes it possible, in turn, to distinguish between the effects of aggregate and relative disturbances, as well as between those of internal and external disturbances. This model is particularly relevant in the case of developing economies, where quantitative adjustments tend to be much more important in the short term than are price adjustments,

The rest of the paper is structured as follows. In Section I, the general equilibrium aspects of currency depreciation are analyzed, including a discussion of the elasticities approach in terms of the Meade-Salter-Swan model. In Section II, the structure and behavior of the Meade-Salter-Swan model are analyzed in a market-clearing framework. In Section III, the framework of analysis is extended from a market-clearing to a disequilibrium framework, thereby permitting an examination of exchange rate policy when markets do not clear. This extension is in the spirit of models developed by Neary (1980) and van Wijnbergen (1984). In Section IV, the disequilibrium model is used to analyze two examples of currency depreciation in developing countries. These examples illustrate that careful distinction between alternative economic environments yields useful insights into the appropriateness of exchange rate policy under different short-run situations. Section V discusses how the analysis alters when credit rationing and intermediate imports are incorporated into the model. Finally, Section VI summarizes the principal results and offers some conclusions.

I. Exchange Rate Policy and General Equilibrium

In the elasticities approach, currency depreciation is viewed as a method of improving a country’s “competitiveness”—in other words, of rendering domestically produced goods cheaper abroad while making goods produced abroad more expensive at home. This shift in the attractiveness of traded goods causes the volume of net exports to rise and domestic employment to increase. A major theoretical objection to the elasticities model, however, is that the analysis is based on partial equilibrium. If the currency depreciation leads to offsetting price increases, relative prices and external competitiveness will remain unchanged, and depreciation will exert no real effect. For instance, there may be real wage resistance to the depreciation-induced price increase in traded-goods prices, with the consequence that a general rise in nominal wages offsets the increased competitiveness attributable to the depreciation. From the many theoretical studies considering whether depreciation serves to improve the balance of trade, the consensus seems to be that full account must be taken of domestic income-expenditure balance (the absorption approach) jointly with the relative price changes immediately attributable to the depreciation (the elasticities approach). (See Johnson (1958) and Dornbusch (1973).)

One useful interpretation of the elasticities approach is provided by the Meade-Salter-Swan model, in which it is assumed that in addition to a traded good, the price of which is determined on the world market, there is also a nontraded good, the price of which is determined domestically. In an economy at full equilibrium, in which both the home-goods market is clearing and the trade balance is in equilibrium, currency depreciation will increase the relative price of traded goods. Productive resources will be moved into the traded-goods industry, and consumers will substitute nontraded for traded goods. But at the higher relative price of traded goods there will be an excess demand for non-traded goods and an excess supply of traded goods, with the result that the price of nontraded goods will increase. In the new long-run equilibrium, all nominal magnitudes will have increased by the same proportion, and the initial relative price structure will have been restored. For currency depreciation to exert real effects, there must be a government policy that controls the nominal price of nontraded goods.

Dornbusch (1975) has shown that fiscal policy can be used to maintain a fixed nominal price of nontraded goods if both a unit marginal propensity to spend on nontraded goods and zero cross-price effects (substitution effects) between traded goods are assumed. The essential elements of his analysis are that a devaluation, by raising the relative price of traded goods in terms of nontraded goods, generates a balance of payments surplus. But for the devaluation to be successful, it is essential that there be an “internal balance” policy that validates the relative price change by a reduction in absorption. The implication is that the government has to levy income taxes whenever there is an excess demand for nontraded goods; the increase in income taxes reduces private expenditure, thereby eliminating the excess demand and preventing the price of nontraded goods from rising. Dornbusch’s analysis makes it possible to specify the conditions implicitly assumed in the elasticities approach: that currency depreciation is accompanied by controls over aggregate demand that reduce domestic absorption and release goods for export once expenditure switching occurs.1

Adherents of the monetary approach to the balance of payments criticize the elasticities approach for failing to incorporate the interactions among markets. They argue that partial equilibrium analysis is not suitable for studying the balance of payments because changes in the government budget, private savings, and investment will have significant repercussions for other markets. Any improvements in the current account balance must involve a rise in private saving, a rise in government saving, or a fall in domestic investment, regardless of price changes initially influencing the volume of exports and imports. In adopting a general equilibrium framework as the means for analyzing the balance of payments, however, the literature of the monetary approach chooses a very specific concept of equilibrium. For example, it is assumed that wages and prices are flexible, that real output is at the level of full employment, and that the supply side of the economy is independent of monetary variables.

Krugman and Taylor (1978) have formulated a model that is designed to bring out the income effects suppressed in the elasticities and monetary approaches, and they established the plausibility of a fall in output following a currency depreciation. They showed that neglecting the contractionary effect of currency depreciation amounts to ignoring income effects, especially the transfer of real purchasing power toward economic sectors with a high marginal propensity to save. By redirecting income to high savers, currency depreciation can create an excess of saving over planned investment, ex ante, and a reduction in real output and imports, ex post. Krugman and Taylor focused their analysis on the demand side of the economy and the effects of currency depreciation on income distribution. Nevertheless, currency depreciation also has important supply-side effects in an economy with imported intermediate goods, credit rationing, and wage-price rigidities. These are the characteristics of the developing economies that are the focus of this paper.

The disequilibrium model presented here incorporates the interactions among markets that are emphasized in the monetary approach. It is a non-Walrasian model, however; that is, it does not make the typical assumption that markets clear by means of the rapid adjustment of prices to excess supplies or demands. The disequilibrium model is sufficiently general to incorporate phenomena of both relative prices and sectoral imbalances and yet is specific enough to generate results useful to the policymaker. In the model, the consistency between individual actions is achieved by adjustments of quantities traded rather than prices. Within the unit period of the model, agents adjust their behavior to perceived constraints, which typically include quantity constraints on their transactions, so that their actions are mutually consistent. This is a general equilibrium model that takes into account the short-term quantitative adjustments that are so important in developing economies.

II. The Two-Sector Equilibrium Model

The objective in this section is to clarify the structure and behavior of a simple macroeconomic model for a small open economy, with emphasis on the interaction between the markets for goods and labor. The model developed by Calmfors (1979) will serve as a starting point, but his model has been simplified by abstracting certain inconsequential details to highlight the key points. The Calmfors model itself is in the tradition of the Meade-Salter-Swan model. In the following section, the framework of analysis is extended from a market-clearing to a disequilibrium framework, thereby permitting an examination of exchange rate policy when markets do not clear. Because detailed treatment of the Meade-Salter-Swan model can be found elsewhere (for example, Dornbusch (1973, 1975)), the present discussion will necessarily be brief, focusing on those issues most relevant to the subsequent discussion of the disequilibrium model.

The model consists of the following assumptions. The country produces and consumes two classes of commodities: traded goods, QT, and nontraded goods, QN. The relative prices of goods within each class are fixed; in particular, the terms of trade between different traded goods are determined independently of the home country’s actions on the world market. The two goods are produced by two-factor neoclassical production functions, Fi (Ki, Li), with capital, Ki, and labor, Li, as arguments. The capital stock in each sector is fixed, is specific to that sector, and is immobile between sectors. The labor force is homogeneous and mobile between sectors, thereby ensuring the equalization of money wages between sectors. Table 1 gives definitions of the symbols used; superscript numerals indicate partial derivatives with respect to the various arguments in the functions, whereas subscript letters show whether a certain variable refers to traded goods, T, or to nontraded goods, N. The time rate of change for all X. dX/dt, is denoted by X, and the percentage rate of change of X by X.

The model represented by equations (1) through (13) is presented in Table 2. Nominal gross national product, GNP, is given by PTQT + PN QN, and real GNP in terms of traded goods is represented in equation (1) as the sum of output values in the two sectors. Real disposable income is the difference between real GNP and real taxes measured in terms of traded goods. Equations (2) and (3) show private consumption demand for traded and nontraded goods, respectively, as functions of the relative price between the two goods, real disposable income, and real wealth. In equations (4) and (6), the supply of traded goods and the demand for labor in the traded-goods sector, respectively, are expressed as functions of the real wage in terms of traded goods, whereas in equations (5) and (7) the corresponding variables in the nontraded-goods sector are functions of the real wage in terms of nontraded goods. These supply functions for the goods and demand functions for labor can be derived from the assumptions of linear homogeneous production functions, competition, and fixed capital stock in each sector. Under these assumptions, producers maximize profits by equating the wage rate with the value of the marginai product of labor in each sector. Equations (8) and (9) are the market-clearing conditions for traded and nontraded goods, respectively. In equation (10), actual employment is the sum of the demands for labor in the two sectors, and equation (11) shows unemployment as the difference between the total supply of labor, which is assumed to be fixed, and actual employment. Equation (12) is the commodity arbitrage condition stating that the price of traded goods in domestic currency is equal to the exogenously given world market price in foreign currency multiplied by the exchange rate. Equation (13) is an expectations-augmented Phillips relation, in which the rate of wage change is taken to be a function of unemployment and the expected rate of wage inflation.

Table 1.

Symbols Used

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Table 2.

The Two-Sector Model

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Equations (1) through (13) may be combined to yield four basic equations determining four endogenous variables (net exports, X; the real wage in terms of nontraded goods, WN = W/PN; unemployment, U; and the rate of change of the real wage in terms of traded goods, W^T=W^/P^T):2

CT[WTWN,QT(WT)+WTWNQN(WN)T,A]+GT+IT+XQT(WT)=0(8a)
CN[WTWN,QT(WT)+WTWNQN(WN)T,A]+GN+INQN(WN)=0(9a)
U=LsLD,T(WT)LD,N(WN)(11a)
W^T=abU+cW^eP^T*e^.(13a)

The reason for substituting WT/WN for PN/PT in the equations above is that the analysis emphasizes the changes in WT and WN, from which output and employment effects can be derived directly. If money wages and prices were adjusting instantly to conditions prevailing in the markets, then all markets would clear. In particular, the wage rate would adjust rapidly so that the demand and supply for labor would be continuously equal, with zero unemployment. In this case, the endogenous variable would be the real wage in terms of traded goods and not unemployment.

The short-run equilibrium determination of the model is shown in Figure 1. To keep the diagrams reasonably uncluttered, especially when the disequilibrium version of the model is presented, the upward-sloping curve indicating trade balance equilibrium and labeled XX by Calmfors is not drawn in Figure 1. The figure does show the pairs of the real wage in terms of traded goods (WT) and the real wage in terms of nontraded goods (WN) that hold the demand for nontraded goods equal to its supply (NN locus) and the total demand for labor equal to its fixed supply (LL locus) for given values of taxes (T) and government and investment expenditures for both traded and nontraded goods (GT, GN, IT, and IN). To obtain the slope of the NN curve, one considers a rise in PT for a given W; this change leads to excess demand for nontraded goods, which can be eliminated by an increase in PN at a given W. (These are standard assumptions.) Accordingly, the NN curve has a positive slope. The slope of the LL curve is explained by considering an increase in WN at an unchanged WT, which causes the demand for labor to decrease in the sector producing nontraded goods. To maintain labor market equilibrium, WT must decrease so as to increase the demand for labor in the traded-goods sector. Therefore, the locus of WN and WT values that is compatible with labor market equilibrium has a negative slope.3

Note that certain changes in labor productivity are endog-enously determined in the model. Such changes are exogenous when they are due to shifts of the production function—for example, capital accumulation and technical progress. But changes in labor productivity are endogenous when caused by movements along a given labor demand function because of a change in the real wage. For example, a rise in the ratio of the money wage to the price of nontraded goods leads to a reduction in the supply of nontraded goods: plants with the highest unit labor cost will be forced to cut production, and average labor productivity in this sector will therefore rise.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Short-Run Equilibrium in the Two-Sector Model

Citation: IMF Staff Papers 1986, 002; 10.5089/9781451946956.024.A004

The locus NN divides the WTWN space into a region of excess supply of nontraded goods (to the left of NN) and an excess demand region (to the right of NN). The locus LL divides the WTWN space into a region of excess supply of labor (to the right of LL) and an excess demand region (to the left of LL). The intersection point of the LL and NN curves is the point of Walrasian equilibrium, W0, where both the labor and nontraded-goods market clear.

To demonstrate how this model works, the effects of an exogenous increase in the money supply are analyzed. The higher money supply will create a stock disequilibrium in the money market and will lead to increased consumption demand. Given the small-country assumption (the price of tradable goods is determined as the product of the exchange rate and the foreign price of tradable goods), the increased demand for traded goods does not cause any change in the price of traded goods but simply causes the trade balance to deteriorate. The higher demand for nontraded goods, however, causes the NN curve to shift to the left, to NN′ (Figure 1), To understand why this shift occurs, one may first note that the relative price of nontraded goods increases, with the result that part of the initial excess demand for nontraded goods is shifted into the traded-goods market. The increase in the relative price of nontraded goods implies a higher real wage in terms of traded goods; the traded-goods sector will therefore shed labor and reduce output under the pressure of increased labor costs. The workers who lost their jobs in the traded-goods sector will have to be absorbed in the nontraded-goods sector, causing the real wage in terms of nontraded goods to decline.

III. The Disequilibrium Model

This section introduces the possibility of disequilibrium or the lack of market clearing in the labor and nontraded goods markets. The disequilibrium model, which is also referred to in the literature as a “temporary equilibrium model with rationing,” yields a solution commonly referred to as a “fixed-price” equilibrium (see Barro and Grossman (1971), Grandmont (1977), and Malinvaud (1977)). Adherents of the disequilibrium approach argue that Walrasian models in which prices quickly adjust to excess supplies or demands are inadequate for short-run macroeconomic analysis. This point is particularly relevant in the case of developing economies, in which quantitative adjustments tend to be much more important in the short term than are price adjustments. When economic activity is attempted at sticky prices, it is the adjustment of quantities that leads to a short-run or temporary equilibrium. In a market where the price fails to adjust, the “short” side of the market determines the actual amount transacted, and the “long” side is rationed. Transactors who have failed to satisfy their initial demands or supplies in one market recalculate their actions in other markets. This “dual-decision hypothesis” implies a distinction between situations in which realized transactions do appear as arguments in the excess demand functions and those in which they do not. The disequilibrium model presented here uses this hypothesis for studying the balance of payments problems in developing countries.

The dual-decision hypothesis drops the Walrasian assumption that transactions are not made until the short-run market equilibrium price is established. In the Walrasian analysis, wage and price responses are thought of as instantaneous as well as simultaneous; this analytical framework is conveyed more strictly by assuming an “auctioneer” whose task it is to announce “trial values” of money wages and prices, adjusting each before trade commences in response to the excess demands and supplies. But in the dual-decision hypothesis of the disequilibrium model, trading can take place at an incorrect set of wages and prices, since individuals presume that the price they face is the best one then available. When trading begins at an incorrect set of wages and prices, the commitments entered into will prevent the realization of market clearing. In analyzing interrelationships among markets when disequilibrium exists, the conventional equilibrium model needs to be revised so that the excess demand function for one good depends on the excess demands in other markets. For example, the individual consumer’s demand is a function of prices and realized or effective income—the amount actually received— rather than of notional income or the amount that would be received in an equilibrium situation. Since effective income in a certain market is determined by realized transactions in other markets, the discrepancies between an individual’s planned and realized transactions will cause spillover effects from one market to another.

It is convenient at this stage to define the taxonomy of the disequilibrium model, which derives from Malinvaud (1977). In situations of classical unemployment (C), there is excess supply in the labor market accompanied by excess demand for nontraded goods because the real wage is too high. In this region, households are on the long side in both markets, and the firms’ notional or unconstrained demands are realized. Firms do not hire more labor to satisfy the excess demand for goods because it is unprofitable to do so at the given high real wages. In contrast, Keynesian unemployment (K) is characterized by excess supply in the labor market as well as in the nontraded-goods market. This outcome could occur if consumers find that the labor services they are offering at the going wage do not allow them to demand a level of output that corresponds to equilibrium. At the same time, firms find that, even though real wage costs are less than the marginal product of labor, hiring more labor to produce more output would be inappropriate in the absence of a demand for the extra output. In the Keynesian unemployment regime, therefore, demand constraints force firms and households to hire less and to spend less, respectively, than they would at equilibrium. In situations of repressed inflation (R), wages and prices are below their market-clearing levels. Consequently, there is excess demand for both labor and nontraded goods— for labor because the real wage is fixed below the Walrasian equilibrium level. Firms want to hire more labor, but they face a constraint on the available labor supply.

In the fourth case, which Muellbauer and Portes (1978) call underconsumption (U), there is excess demand for labor and excess supply of nontraded goods. In the present model, however, this case will not arise if it is assumed that at least some of the labor rationing falls on firms producing nontraded goods. If this assumption is dropped, then it would be possible that firms producing nontraded goods could not sell all their supply at the going wages and prices but had hired all the labor they wanted; whereas firms producing traded goods, which do not encounter sales constraints, would have excess demand for labor. However, there is no reason to assume that rationing of labor would be confined to firms only in the traded-goods sector, and this possibility is therefore excluded. When labor rationing takes place in both sectors, the distinction between the Keynesian and underconsumption cases disappears, and the LL and NN curves collapse into one curve, LN, separating the repressed inflation region from the Keynesian unemployment region (Figure 2). The slope of the LN curve is likely to be positive, and its derivation is provided in the Appendix. The value of the marginal product of labor is greater than the wage rate in the regions of both repressed inflation and Keynesian unemployment. More workers are not hired in the case of repressed inflation because there is no more labor available. Under Keynesian unemployment, in contrast, more workers are not hired because their output cannot be sold for lack of effective demand.

Figures 1 and 2 show loci of notional or unconstrained equilibria; when effective demands and supplies are considered, the shape of the figures is altered. An agent’s effective demand on a given market is that which he expresses on that market, taking account of constraints on his transactions in other markets. If he encounters no such quantity constraints on other markets, then his effective demand will be the same as his notional demand. Excess supply in one market lowers the effective demand in the other market relative to the notional demand there; thus, the region of general excess effective supply (which is denoted by K) must not only contain that of general excess notional supply but also extend beyond it. An analogous argument applies for general excess demand (region R). Hence, when effective demands are considered instead of notional demands, regions K and R expand, so that region C must contract, as is shown in Figure 3 (see Dixit (1978)).

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

The Disequilibrium Model

Citation: IMF Staff Papers 1986, 002; 10.5089/9781451946956.024.A004

IV. Trade Deficits, Exchange Rate Policy, and Macroeconomic Adjustment

The disequilibrium model developed in the preceding section may now be used to study the role of exchange rate policy in correcting a balance of payments problem. The effectiveness of exchange rate policy in correcting a balance of payments disequilibrium depends crucially on the cause of that disequilibrium. Accordingly, two examples of balance of payments deficits and the role of exchange rate policy are provided.4 The first example is a developing economy in which central bank credit is used to finance large government budget deficits, resulting in an excessive growth of the money supply. The second example is a developing economy in which export receipts drop because of uncontrollable external factors such as recession in the industrial countries.

Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Regimes in the Disequilibrium Model

Citation: IMF Staff Papers 1986, 002; 10.5089/9781451946956.024.A004

Monetary Expansion

In the first example, the monetary expansion causes an increase in domestic expenditures relative to output. The supply of traded goods required by the increased demand will be met by decreased net exports at the exogenously given world market price of traded goods. The increased demand for nontraded goods, however, can only be met from domestic supply; if supplies of nontraded goods are unchanged, their relative price must rise, so that the LN and NN curves shift upward. But the LL curve to the right of and below W0 does not depend on disposable income or private sector wealth and, therefore, will not shift (see Figure 4). The new equilibrium position is given by W1. Because prices and wages do not immediately change, the economy will move toward W1 only gradually. Thus, if the economy is at point W0 (which initially represents Walrasian equilibrium), after an increase in the money supply the economy will remain on the LL curve, with labor demand equal to labor supply, but will shift off the NN curve into the regions of excess demand for nontraded goods. The excess demand for nontraded goods does not immediately translate itself into labor market disequilibrium. Whether the economy will slide into repressed inflation (R) or classical unemployment (C) depends on the wage-price dynamics of the system, which are represented in equation (13) (Table 2). Two important effects of the monetary expansion—the spending effect and the resource-movement effect—must be emphasized. For the first, the extra spending on nontraded goods raises the relative price of non-traded goods and leads to further adjustments. For the second, labor is drawn out of the traded-goods sector into the nontraded-goods sector because the real wage in terms of nontraded goods declines. However, the wage rate measured in terms of traded goods and the real wage rate (that is, in terms of all goods consumed) both rise because of the resource-movement effect. This increase in the cost of labor has an adverse effect on external competitiveness.

Figure 4.
Figure 4.

Adjustment in the Disequilibrium Model

Citation: IMF Staff Papers 1986, 002; 10.5089/9781451946956.024.A004

If the share of traded goods in the consumption basket is small, it is the price of nontraded goods that is important in the dynamics of wage increases.5 When the money supply is increased and the equilibrium position shifts from W0 to W1, the new equilibrium has lower real wages in terms of nontraded goods and a higher price of nontraded goods in relation to traded goods. This is because the price of traded goods is fixed by the small-country assumption, whereas the price of nontraded goods is assumed to move gradually upward in response to the excess demand in the nontraded-goods market. The higher relative price of nontraded goods implies a higher real wage in terms of traded goods and a lower real wage in terms of nontraded goods. Thus, the traded-goods sector will decline under the pressure of increased labor costs. Since the expenditure share in traded goods is relatively small, however, the decline in WN will not be large enough to absorb fully the labor released by the traded-goods sector. Therefore, when the money supply is increased and the equilibrium position shifts from W0 to W1, the economy will move into the region of classical unemployment, C (excess supply in the labor market accompanied by excess demand for nontraded goods).

In this situation, a currency depreciation will cause an improvement in the balance of trade.6 In region C all firms are unconstrained in their sales, and the level of employment is determined by their notional demand for labor. In particular, since firms producing nontraded goods are unconstrained on the goods market, their labor demand is the neoclassical demand LD, N(WN) given in equation (7) (Table 2). This region has unambiguously classical properties, and a fall in the real wage rate will promote employment. Depreciation will raise the domestic currency price of traded goods and make it profitable for firms producing traded goods to hire labor, thereby helping the economy in its movement toward full employment. As for external balance in region C, the balance of trade equals the difference between the notional supply of traded goods and the effective demand for traded goods on the part of households, which are constrained in both the labor market and the nontraded-goods market. To distinguish effective demands and supplies from the corresponding notional demands and supplies, a bar is placed above the relevant variables to indicate the constraint level. When the agent encounters constraints in both the labor market and the nontraded-goods market, then a double tilde (=) is placed above the function; when only one constraint is operative, then a single tilde (-) is placed above the function. Thus, the balance of trade in the region of classical unemployment C is obtained by rearranging equation (8a) and denoting the constraint levels:

X=QTC˜˜T[L˜()C˜N,PT,PN,W,A]GTIT.(14)

The second term on the right-hand side denotes the effective demand for traded goods; L and CN represent the constraint levels households face in the labor market and the nontraded goods market, respectively.

The effect of a devaluation can be obtained by differentiating equation (14) with respect to the price of traded goods. In differentiating the equation for the trade balance, effects on the different parts of the goods and labor market that operate through variations in the rationing constraints are taken into consideration:

XPT=QTPTC˜˜TPT(C˜˜TL˜L˜PT).(15)

It has been assumed that government demand and investment demand for traded goods are exogenously given. Equation (15) shows that devaluation has both a price effect, which tends to improve the balance of trade by increasing the supply of and reducing the demand for traded goods, and an income or absorption effect, which tends to cause the balance of trade to deteriorate. The first term on the right-hand side of equation (15) is the increase in the domestic supply of traded goods attributable to the increase in the domestic currency price of traded goods following the devaluation, whereas the second term is the reduction in consumption demand attributable to the price increase. The third term represents the increase in the demand for traded goods that is due to the increase in income caused by the increased employment. In region C the labor market constraint facing households is the unconstrained demand for labor by the two sectors. Because the firms perceive no quantitative constraints on the goods markets, their demand for labor has the neoclassical form:

L˜=LD,T(WT)+LD,N(WN)<Ls.(16)

In this region, the increase in employment will occur only in the traded-goods sector (∂¯L/∂PT = ∂LD, T/∂PT) because the firms producing nontraded goods are on their notional demand schedule for labor. Firms producing traded goods hire more labor because real wages decline in that sector. This outcome implies that the third term in equation (15) is the marginal propensity to consume traded goods times the increase in employment (or income) in the traded-goods sector. If the marginal propensity to consume traded goods is assumed to be less than unity, the third term is smaller than the first term. That is, the income effect is smaller than the price effect, and there will be an improvement in the trade balance.

Fall in Export Receipts

The second example of the use of exchange rate policy is the case of a developing economy in which export earnings decline because of uncontrollable external factors such as recession in the industrial countries. Two points should be made here. First, the fall in export earnings is caused by a decrease in the world price of traded goods. The small-country assumption that has been used in the analysis precludes the possibility that the developing country faces constraints on the volume of its exports. The domestic price of traded goods is determined as the product of the world price of traded goods and the exchange rate, and the producers of the traded goods are able to sell any quantity of output they desire at the prevailing world price. Second, the decrease in the price of traded goods will lower the aggregate price index and, therefore, increase the real value of money balances in the economy. As is emphasized in the monetary approach to the balance of payments, this outcome has a positive effect on real absorption and on the real demand for nontraded goods. But the substitution effect of the decrease in the price of traded goods will operate in the opposite direction. When the price of traded goods decreases, there is substitution in domestic demand away from nontraded and toward traded goods. Furthermore, there will be a relative price effect that will reduce the supply of traded goods. The decline in the traded-goods sector reduces income, which lowers demand in the nontraded-goods sector. In the analysis that follows, the substitution effect is assumed to be large enough to offset the positive absorption effect. This assumption facilitates the analysis without affecting the results in a substantial way.

The decline in the traded-goods sector after a reduction in foreign demand reduces income, which lowers demand in the nontraded-goods sector as well. Because nontraded-goods prices and wages do not change immediately, potential output in the nontraded-goods industry does not change. Inspection of the expressions for the equilibrium loci shows that this lag causes excess supply in both the labor and output markets, and the economy shifts into the region of Keynesian unemployment, K. In region K, employment is constrained by demand. But the demand for labor on the part of firms producing nontraded goods depends on the sales constraint these firms face, and this sales constraint in turn depends on the employment constraint facing households. In this situation, when the economy is in region K, it is not clear that currency depreciation will have a favorable effect on the balance of trade.

Because in region K the firms producing traded goods are unconstrained in both markets—and because households are constrained in the labor market, and firms producing nontraded goods are constrained in the goods market—the equation for the balance of trade is

X=QTC˜T[L˜(),PT,PN,W,A]GTIT.(17)

To obtain the effect of currency depreciation on the balance of trade, differentiate equation (17) with respect to the price of traded goods:

XPT=QTPTC˜TPT(C˜TL˜L˜PT).(18)

The first two terms on the right-hand side are positive and lead to an improvement in the balance of trade because of the price effects of the depreciation in increasing the supply of, and reducing the domestic demand for, tradables. The supply of tradables increases because depreciation lowers the real wage in terms of traded goods and increases profitability in that sector. The domestic demand for traded goods declines because there is substitution of nontraded goods for traded goods. The third term, however, may reverse the positive effect. That term represents an additional effect of depreciation that could worsen the trade balance in the region of Keynesian unemployment. This additional effect is the increased demand for traded goods that is due to the higher employment and income in both tradables and nontradables. In region K, the labor market constraint facing households is the unconstrained demand for labor by the traded-goods sector but the constrained demand for labor by the nontraded-goods sector. Producers of nontraded goods face a sales constraint ¯QN on their output because domestic demand is less than the unconstrained profit-maximizing supply of nontraded goods. Thus, the effective demand for labor is found by inserting the short-run production function and evaluating it at the point where output equals the sales constraints:

L˜=LD,T(WT)+QN1(C˜N+GN+IN)<Ls.(19)

By increasing the demand for nontradables, depreciation relaxes the goods market constraint facing firms in the nontraded-goods sector. The expansion in employment and income following the depreciation will therefore occur in both sectors. The change in demand for labor resulting from a depreciation is represented by

L˜PT=(QN1CNCNPT)+LTPT.(20)

The first term on the right-hand side represents the employees of firms producing nontraded goods for which the demand for goods was less than the unconstrained profit-maximizing level. Because these firms are now able to sell more goods, they will demand the corresponding amount of labor. The second term is the expansion in employment in the traded-goods sector because of the lower real wages. Unlike the previous example, however, there is no presumption that the third term in equation (18) will be smaller than the first two terms. Indeed, the resultant expansion in employment and income could lead to a sufficiently large increase in spending on traded goods to offset the first two terms and thereby worsen the balance of trade.

The two examples presented here show that external disequilibrium is only one facet of the total economic situation and that it is intimately linked with domestic aggregate employment and sectoral disequilibrium. They illustrate that careful distinction between alternative economic environments permits a better evaluation of the appropriateness of a given policy. Hence, analysis of the balance of payments must be integrated into a broader macro-economic framework for the economy.

V. Extensions: Imported Intermediate Inputs and Credit Rationing

Imported intermediate goods and credit rationing are important characteristics of developing economies and must be taken into account when building a theory of short-term equilibrium and balance of payments adjustment (see Bruno (1979, 1982)). In many developing countries, imports are necessary to avoid underutilization of existing resources because machinery, intermediate goods, and spare parts are a major component of the import bill. The import requirement includes maintenance imports necessary to keep existing capacity fully utilized, as well as imports of capital goods for the expansion of industries. Furthermore, many developing countries have been attracted to a development strategy that results in the accumulation of financial assets at a slower pace than the accumulation of nonfinancial wealth or total output. By imposing controls or ceilings on interest rates, excess demand for savings is created, which must be resolved by rationing. The system of financial intermediation is relatively underdeveloped, with the public holding few primary securities, and short-term credit from commercial banks is rationed through official interest rate ceilings. Sometimes an informal “curb” market exists as a marginal and very high-cost source of short-term financing for firms. In an economy with these characteristics, currency depreciation will have two important adverse effects on the supply side. First, by raising the price of key intermediate imports in the production process and, second, by raising prices that cause a liquidity squeeze in the bank-oriented capital market, currency depreciation will force some factories to cut back on production. The balance of payments position will improve if aggregate demand for goods and services is reduced relative to aggregate supply. But the reduction of aggregate demand by means of currency depreciation may affect the aggregate supply of goods and services because of imported intermediate goods and credit rationing.

To incorporate these considerations into the model developed earlier, an imported intermediate input, IN, is introduced into the production of the nontraded goods, and its price is denoted by PIN. It is assumed, as is usually done, that an increase of one input in the production process will increase the marginal product of the other. The increase in PIN after a devaluation will lead to a reduction in the use of intermediate imports. Using a smaller quantity of intermediate imports, however, adversely affects the value of the marginal product of labor. Real wages must go down so that equilibrium in the labor market will be maintained, or the LL curve will shift to the left. When real wages are sticky downward, there will be a reduction in employment. Whether the unemployment is Keynesian or classical depends on the nontraded-goods market. The increase in the price of intermediate imports reduces the supply not only of nontraded goods but also of income, and therefore the demand for nontraded goods. If the supply effect dominates, then the LN and NN curves shift to the left, and the initial Walrasian equilibrium point will be in the C region. But if the demand effect is sufficiently strong (investment demand also falls in response to lower profitability), then the curves will shift to the right, and the economy will be in the K region.

If credit rationing in the economy is superimposed on this situation, it magnifies the existing adjustment problem. When the purchase of variable inputs takes place some time before product sales, then the costs of finance have to be taken into account. The idea is that firms need working capital because they pay their factors of production before they receive revenues from sales. Furthermore, firms wishing to borrow must borrow from banks or the curb market because the commercial paper market is in an early stage of development. Suppose that firms can obtain only a limited amount of credit from the official financial market at a rate of interest (government-imposed ceiling) that does not clear the market. For financing the difference, the firms have to go to a curb market that is risky and highly segmented, so that the rate of interest facing firms will be increasing with the amount of borrowing. In this situation currency depreciation increases intermediate import costs, resulting in an increase in domestic financing. Since more firms will now be forced to go to the curb market to finance their working capital, marginal borrowing rates will be driven up. This increase in the cost of finance will magnify the contractionary effects that the increase in the price of imported intermediate goods had on the supply side of the economy. Thus, when the economy is in the C or K regions, the contractionary effects of currency depreciation on the supply side will make the goal of internal equilibrium (full employment) more difficult to attain.

Although the focus here has been on the complications arising from introducing intermediate imports and credit rationing within the disequilibrium model, it should be clear that the analysis can be extended fruitfully in other directions as well. The analysis in the paper has been of the short run. Any extension to a longer-run frame of reference must pay particular attention to the relationship between stocks and flows in the system—including, in particular, the effects of asset accumulation. In such a framework, surpluses or deficits in the balance of trade change the money balances held by the consumers, with implications for the dynamic adjustment of the economy in the labor and goods markets and also for the impact of a currency depreciation on the trade balance. Similarly, a government deficit must be financed, with consequent changes in the stock of government debt held by the private sector. As these examples make clear, the dynamics of the adjustment path followed by the economy when it moves to its long-run equilibrium position can be quite complicated, and the long-term adjustment mechanism depends on many factors. These factors include, among others, institutional features, such as the speed with which wage and price contracts are changed; the behavior of economic agents and, in particular, the way in which they form their expectations; the policy reactions of monetary and fiscal authorities and, especially, the role of sterilization policies. These long-run considerations and financial relationships have been given only sketchy treatment in this paper, and future research will have to integrate the role of the financial sector into the model in greater detail. The integration of the financial sector into a similar model of temporary equilibrium with rationing would provide a useful framework for the discussion of the effects of exchange rate changes in developing countries.

VI. Conclusions

The disequilibrium model developed in this paper yields useful insights into the characteristics of short-run situations and the potential efficacy of exchange rate policy in developing economies. Once it is realized that prices do not always equilibrate demand and supply continuously and that part of the economy’s adjustment to an exogenous shock will be in quantities, it becomes important to know how market imbalances are likely to condition the economy’s adjustment to policy intervention. The disequilibrium model takes into account the effect that rationing of consumers or producers in particular markets has on their demands or supplies in other markets. Because it was assumed in the model that agents are not myopic about the existence of rationing and take account of it when forming their demands and supplies, the interactions between the different markets included variations in price as well as variations in the rationing constraints.

Disequilibrium analysis shows that the short-run effects of currency depreciation depend critically on whether the labor and output markets are in equilibrium. The explicit manner in which the assumptions about the state of the markets are expressed is an important advantage of the disequilibrium model. In contrast to the implication of the elasticities approach—that a currency depreciation improves the trade balance of a small open economy— the analysis shows that in some disequilibrium states the effect of a depreciation on the trade balance can be ambiguous. Furthermore, by including credit rationing and imported intermediate goods in the model, it was shown that the contractionary effects of devaluation on the supply side of the economy have important implications for macroeconomic equilibrium and full employment. Hence, the analysis of the balance of payments must be integrated into a broader macroeconomic analysis of the economy, and a currency depreciation is then most usefully seen not as an isolated action but as part of a policy package.

A basic message of the temporary equilibrium models with rationing is that it is important for policymakers to diagnose accurately the state of excess supply or demand in labor and output markets if appropriate policies are to be recommended. This paper has demonstrated that, under the regimes of classical and Keynesian unemployment, the economy responds in quite different ways to currency depreciation. However, if information regarding economic disturbances can be obtained in advance of information about market disequilibrium, then it would be helpful to derive results linking the states of market disequilibrium to various types of disturbances. Such analysis would require information on the key parameters that characterize the short-run functioning of the economy. In this respect, the analysis of temporary equilibrium models with rationing could provide some clues about the important parameters in the econometric model under the different rationing regimes.

APPENDIX Derivation of the Slope of the LN Curve

The LN curve is the locus of WN and WT values compatible with both labor market equilibrium under excess supply of nontraded goods and nontraded-goods market equilibrium under excess demand for labor. The slope of the LN curve depends on the particular rationing scheme used for allocating labor. If it is assumed that rationing of labor falls only on the firms producing nontraded goods, then the slope of the LN curve will be positive. Because there is an excess supply of nontraded goods in this region, firms must produce less than their notional supply of nontraded goods, and their effective demand for labor is given by the inverse of their supply function for nontraded goods:

LD,N=QN1(CN+GN+IN).(21)

But, given the assumptions that firms producing traded goods are not rationed in either the labor market or the goods market, their labor demand is equal to their notional demand for labor, which implies that the equilibrium condition for the labor market will be of the following form:

Ls=QN1(CN+GN+IN)+LD,T(WT).(22)

The condition for equilibrium in the nontraded-goods market is also straight-forward:

CN+GN+IN=QN[LsLD,T(WT)].(23)

But under excess demand for labor, the firms producing nontraded goods will be able to hire only the labor that is left ovar after the firms producing traded goods have hired their notional labor demand or Ls-LD, T (WT). Hence equation (23) also describes the nontraded-goods market equilibrium under excess demand for labor, and the two loci collapse to give the LN curve.

The positive slope of the LN curve can be shown by substituting for CN in equation (23):

CN{WTWN,QT(WT)+WTWNQN[LsLD,T(WT)T,A]}+GN+INQN[LsLD,T(WT)]=0.(24)

Differentiating, one has

M1dWT+M2dWNCN2dT+CN3dA+dGN+dIN=0,(25)

where

()(+)()(+)(+)()(+)(+)M1=CN1WN(+)+CN2QT1+(1CN2WTWN)QN1LD,N1+CN2QNWN(+)()(+)(+)(+)(+)M2=CN1WT(WN)2(+)CN2QN(WN)2(+),

and where superscript numerals indicate partial derivatives with respect to the various arguments in the functions, and the expected signs appear in parentheses above or below terms. C1N/WN and CN1WT/(WN)2 measure the relative price effects on demand for nontraded goods; C2N Q1T measures the income effect on demand for nontraded goods of a change in the output of traded goods; (1CN2WT/WN)QN1LD,N1 measures the income effect on excess supply of non-traded goods of a change in the output of nontraded goods; and CN2QN/WN and CN2WTQN/(WN)2 give the income effects on demand for nontraded goods of a change in the relative price. If these last income effects are small in relation to the other effects, then M1 <0 and M2 >0. implying that

dWTdWN|LN=M2M1.(26)

The LN curve will therefore have a positive slope.

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*

Mr. Zaidi, economist in the Developing Country Studies Division of the Research Department, is a graduate of Haverford College and Princeton University. The author acknowledges beneficial comments that the paper received from William Branson. Stephen Goldfeld. and Sweder van Wijnbergen, as well as from his colleagues in the Fund.

1

A detailed discussion of the effect of the government budget on the current account balance is provided by Branson (1976) and McKinnon (1981).

2

In the substitution, use is made of the following definitions: W/ePT=W/PT=WT;W/PN=WN;PN/ePT=PN/PT=WT/WN; and W^e^P^T=W^P^T=W^T

3

Mathematical derivations of the NN and LL curves are provided in Calmfors (1979).

4

In a very useful paper, Neary (1980) has derived the comparative static multipliers for the various regimes in a similar model.

5

Many developing countries have prohibitively high tariff barriers on imported consumer goods.

6

The introduction of intermediate imports and credit rationing into the model, however, will reduce the effectiveness of devaluation even in this situation. This point is discussed further in Section V.

IMF Staff papers: Volume 33 No. 2
Author: International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.