Trade Reform Under Partial Currency Convertibility: Some Suggestive Results
  • 1 0000000404811396 Monetary Fund

The macroeconomic implications of trade reform in the presence of capital account restrictions are discussed. Such restrictions are modeled by recognizing the prior constraints on free currency convertibility that are imposed under a multiple exchange rate system. The results indicate that the preferred sequence of liberalization need not he of the commonly advocated “current account first” variety, and that real depreciation rather than real appreciation is a more probable outcome following domestic tariff liberalization. [JEL 133, 420, 431]


The macroeconomic implications of trade reform in the presence of capital account restrictions are discussed. Such restrictions are modeled by recognizing the prior constraints on free currency convertibility that are imposed under a multiple exchange rate system. The results indicate that the preferred sequence of liberalization need not he of the commonly advocated “current account first” variety, and that real depreciation rather than real appreciation is a more probable outcome following domestic tariff liberalization. [JEL 133, 420, 431]

The macroeconomic implications of trade reform in the presence of capital account restrictions are discussed. Such restrictions are modeled by recognizing the prior constraints on free currency convertibility that are imposed under a multiple exchange rate system. The results indicate that the preferred sequence of liberalization need not he of the commonly advocated “current account first” variety, and that real depreciation rather than real appreciation is a more probable outcome following domestic tariff liberalization. [JEL 133, 420, 431]

The experiences of some developing countries (especially the Southern Cone countries of Latin America—Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay) with vigorous attempts at economic liberalization have raised the issue of the preferred order of liberalization. In an ideal, frictionless world without externalities, distortions, or other economic and political constraints, this question is very simply answered—all markets and sectors are best liberalized simultaneously. But in the less than perfect real world, simultaneous liberalization of all sectors is often infeasible for various reasons, so that the question naturally arises as to which form of liberalization should first be pursued (from the point of view of the ensuing effects on various domestic macroeconomic variables or on an explicit welfare index).

This question has not escaped the attention of economists, and an extensive literature has recently accumulated on this subject (see Edwards (1984) for a survey). Several authors (McKinnon (1973, 1982), Frenkel (1982, 1983), Krueger (1983)) have advocated a Chile-type “current account first” order of liberalization of the external account.1 Thus, these authors argue that the more prudent strategy is to liberalize the external capital account only after restrictions on the current account, as well as restrictions in the domestic financial sector, have been removed. An opposite and distinctly minority point of view, however, was expressed by Lal (1984), who proposed that full currency convertibility be restored (that is, that the external capital account be liberalized) before commercial reform. The latter sequence was pursued by Argentina and Uruguay during their liberalization efforts.2 Finally, Khan and Zahler (1983) reported—on the basis of a small-scale simulation model—that the sequencing strategy is essentially irrelevant with respect to consequent domestic price and output behavior in the long run, so that there is no a priori presumption preferring one strategy over another.

The purpose of this paper is to re-examine the desirability of the frequently proposed “current account first” sequence of liberalization in the context of a simple macroeconomic theoretic framework. To this end, a model is constructed and analyzed of an open economy characterized by both commercial restrictions (in the form of nominal tariffs) and repression in the external financial sector. The latter is conveniently modeled by recognizing prior restraints on free currency convertibility that result from the use of a multiple exchange rate system. Such a scenario is extremely common in developing countries. With the apparent exception of Aizenman (1985), however, the literature on liberalization appears to have neglected the type of capital controls implied by the use of such multitier exchange rate systems and has instead modeled external financial repression by means of explicit restraints on international capital flows (as for example, in Khan and Zahler (1983)).

In the present framework, the policymaker restricts free convertibility according to the type of transaction for which foreign currency is demanded (earned). In the typical case, a commercial exchange rate applies to current account transactions, and a (usually more depreciated) financial rate governs capital account items.3 In actual practice, however, the inconvertibility restrictions are substantially eroded by intermarket transactions (leakage) between the exchange markets stemming from both legally compelled and fraudulent transactions.4 Thus, the actual degree of currency inconvertibility is often less severe than is immediately apparent, since at least some exchange regulations may be legally avoided or unlawfully circumvented. This aspect of external financial restrictions in general, or of multiple exchange rate regimes in particular, would seem to be an important one and is explicitly incorporated in the present paper. It is noteworthy that the theoretical literature on the subject of economic reform has universally ignored this issue.

The model developed in the paper is used to examine the macroeconomic effects of a reduction in tariff rates (both domestic and external) given the presence of external financial restrictions, as characterized by the use of imperfectly segmented dual exchange markets. In keeping with the knowledge that real world constraints most often limit policy-makers to second-best adjustments, this paper evaluates the macroeconomic implications of commercial reform (tariff reduction) under alternative positive degrees of external financial repression.5 Such a scenario would seem to characterize the liberalization attempts of many countries more realistically than one in which commercial reform under financial repression is compared with a situation of tariff liberalization when no financial restrictions remain (as in Aizenman (1985), for example).

Although a detailed statement of the results of this paper unfolds in the text, the following summary observations are in order now. First, when free currency convertibility is restricted by means of a dual exchange rate regime involving a pegged commercial rate and a floating financial rate, domestic tariff liberalization leads to financial nominal appreciation coupled with price deflation and an increase in output. Because the nominal commercial exchange rate is fixed, the price deflation necessarily implies commercial real depreciation. The effect on the financial real exchange rate, however, is far less clear and seems largely to depend on the penalty costs associated with fraudulent cross-transactions between the two exchange markets, although the degree of legally compelled leakage also plays a contributory role. Specifically, financial real appreciation is a probable outcome in very limited circumstances. These results (with respect to the financial real exchange rate) are in sharp contrast to those obtained by other authors such as Aizenman (1985) and Khan and Montiel (1987).

The present paper also indicates that tariff liberalization that occurs under more severe financial restrictions generates larger output increases as well as greater financial nominal appreciation; however, such tariff liberalization may also lead to sharper or reduced domestic price movements, depending again on the penalty costs referred to above. Thus, if the policymakers’ preference function is defined in terms of price, output, and real commercial rate adjustments, it is clear that a general unqualified statement about the sequencing of commercial versus financial reform cannot be made. Further elaboration of specific circumstances in which the desirability of a particular sequencing scenario can be clearly indicated is provided in the paper.

Finally, although the discussion in this paper involves a dual exchange rate system wherein the commercial exchange rate is fixed, the principal substantive results carry over to the two-tier-float variant as well. This variant is not discussed in the paper because of its limited applicability to developing countries.

In what follows, Section I describes the analytical framework, and the implications of tariff reform under varying degrees of external financial repression are discussed in Section II. The concluding section deals with some of the implications of the analysis and with areas for extension.

I. Analytical Framework

Consider an economy characterized by the presence of both commercial and financial restrictions. Commercial repression takes the form of an ad valorem tariff imposed on domestic imports. In addition, it is assumed that domestic exporters are also subject to a tariff imposed by the foreign country. Thus, domestic commercial reform consists of reducing the domestic tariff rate, whereas worldwide commercial liberalization involves the simultaneous reduction of both domestic and foreign tariffs. Along with commercial repression, the domestic economy is also encumbered by financial restrictions in its external capital account. To model the latter, it is assumed that the policymaker imposes restrictions on free convertibility of foreign assets by the use of an officially sanctioned dual exchange rate system. Under this two-tier regime, current account items are subject to a commercial exchange rate, and capital account items are to be settled at a (depreciated) financial exchange rate.

A key feature of the model to be presented is that the actual degree of currency inconvertibility in the economy is substantially less severe than its apparent degree, owing to both legal and fraudulent cross-transactions between the two exchange markets. This phenomenon of leakage between the two markets has been analytically modeled in an earlier paper by Bhandari and Decaluwe (1987). The present paper represents a departure from the earlier work in that the framework is specifically amended to permit evaluation of competing economic reform sequences. There are also substantive differences between the earlier work and the present paper: for example, asset accumulation equations in the present context are specified in terms of beginning-of-period, ex ante equilibrium rather than in end-of-period, ex post terms. This modification permits considerable simplification and avoids troublesome problems of nonlinearities in the model.

The model involves a relatively uncomplicated structure. Domestic output is limited to a single final commodity. The price of domestic output (that is, the exportable commodity) is endogenously determined.6 The country in question is small in the market for imports, however, so that the foreign currency price of importables is exogenously given. It is assumed that domestic financial liberalization has already proceeded to such an extent that the country’s residents have free access to a worldwide capital market dealing in internationally issued, one-period, risk-less government securities. The assumption that domestic financial re form has already been accomplished is a standard one made by most other authors writing in this area (see Khan and Zahler (1983)).7 The menu of assets available to the country’s residents is limited to domestically issued money and the internationally issued security. There is no currency substitution, no physical capital accumulation, and no transaction or transport costs. All markets clear continuously, and expectations are rationally formed. The central authorities intervene continuously to defend a specific commercial (official) exchange rate. Meanwhile, the financial (parallel) exchange rate is permitted to float freely. As indicted previously, the convertibility restraints that are imposed by the use of the two exchange markets are less onerous than is apparent in view of the presence of intermarket transactions.

The principal element in the description of such an economy is the specification of aggregate demand. In accord with prevailing economic reality in the countries reported to be maintaining dual exchange rate arrangements, the analysis distinguishes commercially settled export and import (as well as service account) items from those that occur in the parallel (financial) market. Examination of the data for relevant countries clearly reveals that specified proportions of both export and import items (as well as service account proceeds) are assigned by law to the financial exchange market.8 This variety of leakage thus, is, legally compelled. In addition, given a relatively depreciated financial (commercial) exchange rate, exporters (importers) find it profitable to circumvent exchange regulations by illegally surrendering (acquiring) export receipts (import exchange) at the more favorable financial rate.9 For present purposes, it is the separation of trade items into commercially settled and financially settled components that is important, not the distinction between legal and illegal transactions.

Total exports comprise commercially settled exports (X’) and financially settled exports (X”); that is,


Define (1—α) as the initial value of the ratio of financially settled exports to total exports; that is,


where the degree symbol (°) denotes an initial value. For expositional purposes it is convenient to interpret the initial value (1—α) as the policy-controlled or legally compelled extent of export leakage. The actual extent of total leakage, in contrast, is an endogenous variable that is determined by the relevant factors affecting commercially settled and financially settled transactions. For example, an increase in the exchange rate spread induced by financial depreciation will lead to an increase in the volume (and proportion) of export transactions settled in the financial market. The degree of import leakage is defined as


where Q’ and Q” denote, respectively, the real tariff-ridden commercial and real tariff-ridden financial exhange rates; that is,


where E¯ and F denote the nominal commercial and financial rates, respectively; t is the domestic ad valorem tariff rate levied on imports; P and P* refer to domestic and foreign price levels; and M’ and M” indicate physical volumes of commercially and financially settled imports, respectively. It can be shown that the aggregate demand function for the economy in question can be reduced to the following log-linear form:

yd =γ1y+γ2(wp)+δ1(e¯+p*p)+δ2(f+p*p)+δ3tδ4t*+δ5(fe¯),(1)

where lowercase letters denote logarithmic values. All parameters are defined positively as follows:


The following (logarithmic) hypothesized functions were used in deriving equation (1):10


As the above equations make clear, a depreciation of the tariff-adjusted real commercial exchange rate—that is, E¯P*/P(1+t*)—increases commercially settled exports in standard fashion (that is, potential J-curve effects are ignored). For reasons of convenience, the effects of pure real depreciation are delineated from those of a pure increase in the applicable tariff rate: clearly, the same elasticities apply with respect to both. In addition, another margin of substitution is also operative. A depreciation of the nominal financial rate relative to the commercial rate leads to a decrease in commercially settled exports as traders (illegally) divert export proceeds to the more favorable financial market. Similar considerations apply to the import functions m’ and m", except that the effects of variations in the exchange rate spread are qualitatively opposite to those for exports. Thus, an increase in the exchange rate spread (fe¯) now encourages importers to use the more favorable commercial exchange market.11 It is also clear that the magnitudes of the elasticities x2,x2",m3 and m3" are inversely related to the penalty costs attributable to such fraudulent transactions, with high penalty costs resulting in low values of these elasticities (and conversely). The concept of penalty costs is rather an amorphous one: at the very least, penalty costs subsume both the probability of detection and the severity of punitive sanctions. Nevertheless, it is assumed that, whatever their underlying determinants, penalty costs (and hence the elasticities x2,x2", and so forth) are properly identifiable. The next set of equations describes aggregate supply, the price index, money market equilibrium, and a statement of international capital mobility.

The supply of domestic output is governed by the following supply function:


where y is the trend level of output, q is the consumer price index (to be defined below), and E is an expectations operator, with the subscript indicating the period in which the expectation is formed. It is straightforward to derive equation (2) on the basis of a firm’s profit-maximizing behavior if it is assumed that nominal wages are fully indexed to the expected price index. The price index q is based on domestic currency prices of domestic and foreign goods and is defined by


where 0 <g<1. It can readily be shown that


The logarithm of the expected opportunity cost of holding domestic money as opposed to internationally issued securities can be shown to be approximated by


where i¯t* is the mean value of the foreign interest rate and ω measures the proportion of foreign interest receipts repatriated through the commercial market. Thus, 1 –ω measures the prevailing degree of service account leakage. In consonance with the earlier assumption about the degrees of merchandise trade leakage cx and 3, w is also treated in what follows as a parameter that varies only with the policy-controlled extent of external financial repression. Domestic money market equilibrium is defined in logarithmic terms by


Next, domestic nominal wealth can be approximated in logarithmic form by


where d1(M/W)ο is an arbitrary linearization point and k is the logarithm of the domestically held stock of foreign assets. By assumption, the principal on foreign securities is acquired at the financial rate, but interest proceeds on these securities—a current account item—may be repatriated through either market, depending on the values of ω.

The final ingredient of the model is the specification of the accumulation processes governing the economy. Specifically, the model involves two distinct sources of accumulation—money (or reserve) accumulation and foreign asset accumulation. Note that the accumulation of foreign assets occurs despite the flexibility of the financial rate and is attributed solely to the presence of cross-market transactions. Hence, total wealth accumulation occurs by means of two components of saving in this model. One component is the commercially settled trade surplus (XQM), which results in money (reserve) accumulation. The other component of saving is the financially settled trade balance (X"Q"M"), the counterpart of which is foreign asset accumulation. Thus, the accumulation equations that express the equality of planned saving (of each type) with the appropriate component of real wealth accumulation can be shown by the following: 12


where Ψ’ and Ψ” are stock-flow conversion factors defined as


and the coefficients hi are given by


where η(βem/αex). The gi coefficients are defined analogously to the hi, with x1",m1",m2",andη", replacing x1,m1,m2,andη, respectively, and where η"(1β)em/(1α)ex. As may be verified, these equations are consistent with the requirement that total planned saving equals aggregate expected real wealth accumulation.

The model is completed by specifying the nature of the processes governing variations in domestic and foreign tariffs. Although a dichotomy between the possible transitory and permanent components of tariffs may be interesting in that it may involve issues of the credibility of the reform (as, for example, considered by Calvo (1987)), for present purposes it proves sufficient to hypothesize that all variations in tariffs (both domestic and foreign) are of the permanent variety and that, although changes in domestic tariffs are fully perceived, those relating to foreign tariffs are only imperfectly anticipated by domestic residents (because of the higher costs of acquiring information on the actions of foreign governments). In this sense, the model incorporates the fact that domestic information sets contain spatially diverse information with respect to domestic versus foreign variables.13 Accordingly, the domestic and foreign tariff structures are given by


where i¯* and ξi* respectively denote the perceived and unanticipated components of foreign tariffs.

The next section discusses the implications of tariff reform under varying degrees of external financial repression.

II. Implications of Trade Reform Under Alternative Degrees of External Financial Repression

To isolate the effects of domestic and external tariff reform on the domestic economy, the model described above is solved by the use of the familiar rational expectations technique. Given the relatively complicated form of the model, however, the resultant expressions turned out to be analytically cumbersome. Thus, it proved more useful to explore the properties of the model by means of numerical methods. Accordingly, the model was solved numerically for various hypothetical sets of scenarios corresponding to alternative values of the penalty cost parameters x2 and m2 For each scenario, the effects of a 1 percent reduction in the domestic tariff rate and the effects of 1 percent reduction in both the perceived and unperceived components of foreign tariffs on various domestic variables (such as the nominal financial rate, the price level, output level, and both real exchange rates) were computed. The results were separately computed for alternative values of the leakage parameters α,β, and ω ranging from α = β = ω = 0.10 to α = β = ω = 0.90 for each configuration of penalty costs. The results are presented in Table 1.14

Table 1.

Effects of Trade Reform Under Varying Degrees of Capital Controls

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The first block of entries in Table 1 (the first three rows) represent the results in the benchmark case, which is designed to facilitate comparison and involves the following parameter values:

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Thus, the interest rate semielasticity of money demand (λ) is assumed to be 10, corresponding to an interest elasticity of 0.50 and a semiannual nominal interest yield of 5 percent (the horizon of the model is assumed to extend over six months). The output supply curve parameter is given by b = 3. It can be shown that b = (1— θ)/θ, where 1—θ is the share of labor in the productive process; most empirical studies indicate that this share is approximately 0.75. The initial shares of exports and imports to income (that is, ex and em) are assumed to be 0.25 and 0.25, respectively. Note that these values correspond to an arbitrary initial linearization point, so that the implied assumption of an initial trade surplus is fairly innocuous (although necessary in order to proceed with the required log-linearization of the model). The elasticities of commercially settled exports and imports with respect to the real exchange rate(x1 and m2) are assumed to be 0.75 each. These numbers are in broad conformity with the results typically reported (see, for example, Goldstein (1980)). No empirical evidence is available for the real exchange rate elasticities of financially settled exports and imports (that is, x1" and m2"); the parameters here are assumed to be 0.90 each. The elasticity of imports with respect to consumption is fixed at 0.80 for both commercially and financially settled imports. Similarly, the income elasticity of consumption (c1) is 0.80, but the wealth elasticity of consumption (c2) is known to be much smaller and is assumed to be 0.10. The average propensity to consume (that is, C/Y) is 0.90, and the initial ratio of money to wealth (that is, d,) is 0.80. Finally, the mean value of the semiannual foreign interest rate, i¯* is 4 percent.

In the benchmark case (the first portion of Table 1), the penalty cost parameters (x2 and m3) are fixed at unity.15 Other scenarios involve lower and higher values of these elasticities, respectively, and the results corresponding to these cases are reported in the remaining portions of Table 1. For each scenario, the effects on selected domestic variables are computed and presented for several alternative values of the leakage parameters α, β, and ω.

An increased degree of financial repression in the external sector of the domestic country involves a more regimented and more effectively administered dual exchange rate system wherein, as a result, the degree of currency inconvertibility is increased. Thus, such circumstances involve higher penalty costs (lower values of x2 and m2 so that the separate exchange markets are more effectively policed and, in addition, larger fractions of current account transactions are assigned by law to the financial market. Accordingly, such a regime could be described by the first row in the second block of Table 1. By contrast, a liberalized external financial section means that the regime in question functions more closely as a unified rate system. Thus, penalty costs associated with private cross-transactions are low; at the same time, official segmentation of the two markets is also limited. Thus, this scenario could be represented by the last row in the last block of Table 1. Other comparisons within each block of the table are also of interest.

First, consider the results stated in the first block of Table 1 for the benchmark case. Inspection of these results reveals that domestic tariff reform—as represented by a decrease in the domestic tariff rate t—leads to nominal financial appreciation coupled with price deflation, which in turn stimulates output.16 Because the commercial exchange rate is pegged, the price deflation leads a fortiori to commercial real depreciation. At the same time, the financial real exchange rate also undergoes depreciation, with the extent of the financial real rate in general exceeding that of the commercial real rate.

These qualitative properties obtain regardless of the values of the leakage parameters (see the various rows in the first block of Table 1) and may be reconciled with the structural model as follows.17 A decline in the domestic tariff rate (t) stimulates domestic aggregate demand through equation (1), since θ3 > 0. At the same time, the expected domestic price index (Et1,qt) declines (see equation (3)), so that aggregate supply is also stimulated (equation (2)). In net terms, however, excess supply is created in the goods market and is consequently eliminated by means of a combination of price deflation and real commercial and financial depreciation.18 In the final equilibrium, real output is higher after the reduction in tariffs. Because output is stimulated, the money market is characterized by excess demand after tariff reform (notwithstanding the price deflation); as result, the yield on assets denominated in domestic currency increases to ensure the continued maintenance of money market equilibrium. The increase in the domestic asset yields is consistent with the nominal financial appreciation that is observed in every case. Finally, since the nominal commercial rate is fixed, a decline in the nominal financial rate must lead to a decline in the exchange rate spread (fe¯).

When the domestic economy is characterized by increasing legislated financial repression (in the sense of lower values of α, β, and ω, which, it will be recalled, are the officially sanctioned degrees of leakage), then for fixed levels of penalty costs, domestic tariff reform is accompanied by exacerbated effects on the nominal financial rate and output levels, but the responses of the price level and both real exchange rates are qualitatively muted—that is, a trade-off is apparent. A decrease in the value of α leads to a decline in δ3 (for the hypothesized values of m2 and m3"), so that a given reduction in the tariff rate now stimulates aggregate demand less than previously. Because there is no change in the degree of the supply-expansive effect of a decline in a α (equations (2) and (3)), it is clear that the resultant excess supply in the goods market is reduced with lower values of the official leakage parameters α, β, and ω. Not surprisingly, then, the extents of the observed price deflation and commercial and financial real depreciation are reduced. Finally, because the extent of price deflation is reduced, the net excess demand created in the money market is greater, thus calling forth a sharper increase in the domestic asset yield and, hence, a sharper nominal financial appreciation to ensure continued money market equilibrium.

The last block of entries in Table 1 states the results for much higher values of the elasticities x2 and m3—that is, for much lower values of penalty costs associated with fraudulent cross-transactions. A glance at Table 1 clearly reveals that there is no qualitative difference between the responses listed in the first and last blocks of the table. In particular, note that the nature of various trade-offs associated with alternative values of α remains unchanged across these subtables.

When penalty costs are substantially higher (that is, lower values of x2 and m3) than in the benchmark case, then in the case of the financial real exchange rate these results are qualitatively affected, whereas for other variables the responses associated with changing values of α are altered. Specifically, the second and third blocks of Table 1 reveal that real financial depreciation occurs as a result of a tariff reduction for values of α that are low or high. For intermediate values of α however, financial real appreciation is observed (see the third subtable). Table 1 also reveals that increasing officially sanctioned leakage (as characterized by lower values of α) is now accompanied by larger absolute price declines, whereas (it will be recalled) in the benchmark case lower values of a led to reduced price realignments. The effect on the nominal financial rate is similar in all the results reported: lower values of α are associated with sharper nominal financial appreciation in every case.

The complex nature of these results indicates that the issue of the preferred order of liberalization is not one for which a simple unambiguous statement is possible. For example, if an increased degree of financial repression is characterized by low values of x2 and m3 (that is, high penalty costs) along with low values of α (that is, high official leakage), then a comparison of the first row in the second block of Table 1 with the last row in the relevant portion of the last block reveals that the “current account first” sequence is preferable only if the policymakers’ preference function were defined exclusively in terms of domestic price-output movements.19 Alternative welfare criteria clearly affect this property, however. For example, if the policymaker were to regard real financial depreciation as a substantially favorable development, then it is clear from the same comparison that trade reform is best initiated after some measure of external financial liberalization has already been achieved (see Table 1, last row). This sequence is also desirable if attention is to be paid to eliminating the exchange rate spread.

Thus, the general point that emerges is that a “current account first” sequence is preferable if the policymakers’ objective function is limited to domestic price-output targets. By contrast, if the policymakers’ sole concern were with external competitiveness or with the exchange rate spread, then the “capital account first” scenario should be chosen.20 In the general case wherein both domestic and external targets matter, the choice between competing reform sequences depends on the relative weights attached by the policymaker to the various targets. This finding contrasts with that of Khan and Zahler (1985), wherein the sequencing strategy is apparently irrelevant (in the stationary state).

The effects of external tariff reform are represented by t¯* and ξt*. Space considerations preclude presentation of the results here, but a decrease in foreign tariffs, whether anticipated or unanticipated, leads in all cases to domestic price inflation coupled with an output increase. The domestic price inflation a fortiori implies commercial real appreciation. These properties obtain for all values of penalty costs and for all degrees of officially sanctioned leakage. It can also be shown that an anticipated external tariff reduction leads to sharper price, output, and commercial real exchange rate adjustments than those from a corresponding unanticipated (from the domestic viewpoint) reduction in external tariffs. Beyond these general observations, the effects on the nominal and real financial exchange rates are apparently dependent on the nature of the external tariff reform (that is, whether domestically anticipated or unanticipated) as well as on the degrees of leakage and penalty costs.21

III. Conclusions

This paper has discussed the implications of domestic tariff reduction in the presence of financial restrictions modeled as imperfectly segmented dual exchange markets. The principal results of the paper indicate that the commonly proposed “current account first” sequence of liberalization may not be a preferred strategy if any attention is to be paid by the policymaker to external competitiveness or to the exchange rate spread, and that financial real depreciation rather than real appreciation is a more probable outcome after domestic tariff liberalization. The results suggest, therefore, the need for caution on the part of countries embarking on liberalization programs, in the sense that the appropriate reform sequence can only be ascertained after careful assessment of domestic versus external targets for the country in question.

Finally, several caveats about the analysis should be noted. First, the results of this paper are based on numerical simulation and, although a wide variety of parameter values were used, the usual cautionary statements applicable to all simulation results are also applicable here. Second, it is apparent that the focus of this paper is solely on external (trade and financial) reform. In reality, of course, the domestic financial sector is also repressed along with the external sectors, so that the choice of an appropriate reform sequence is a more complex one, involving liberalization in three sectors of the economy (the domestic financial sector, the external financial sector, and the external trade sector). The development of a model wherein these issues can be examined rates high on the agenda for future work. Third, the present paper has chosen to characterize external financial repression as an imperfectly segmented dual exchange rate system (with its attendant implications for currency inconvertibility). It is also possible, however, to view external financial repression as the result of the imposition of specific capital controls (as, for example, in Khan and Zahler (1985)). Last, this paper has excluded considerations of both physical growth and external debt accumulation. A framework that is properly applicable to a longer horizon would clearly need to recognize such considerations. The need to develop such medium-term models is especially important in view of the Fund’s recent emphasis on structural adjustment in its lending programs.


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Mr. Bhandari, an economist in the Research Department, holds graduate degrees in economics from the Delhi School of Economics, University of Rochester, and Southern Methodist University. He also holds a J.D. degree from Duquesne University. Mr. Bhandari is currently on leave from West Virginia University, where he is Professor of Economics.


Chile followed this order of liberalization. The Chilean experiment’s failure was due perhaps not to an incorrect sequence of liberalization but to improper macroeconomic management during the reform period. See Edwards (1985) for a detailed discussion of the Chilean case.


The Argentine and Uruguayan efforts also resulted in failure, although, again, extraneous factors may have contributed (see Dornbusch (1983), Hanson and de Melo (1983), and Sjaastad (1983)). Khan and Zahler (1985) listed in general terms the likely reasons for the failure of both types of liberalization strategies. A primary reason is the pursuit of inconsistent domestic policies during the reform effort. More specifically, the inconsistency is in the form of domestic real appreciation that was permitted to develop and thereby undermine the longer-term goals of liberalization (noted also in Edwards (1987)). Dornbusch (1986) appears to suggest that the intervening real appreciation may have been the result of a calculated political stance rather than unintentional mismanagement. The results of the present analysis indicate that a domestic tariff reduction is more likely to lead to real depreciation rather than to appreciation. This in turn would suggest that, to the extent that real appreciation did actually occur, it can be attributed to factors other than domestic tariff reform. These extraneous overriding factors are styled as “inconsistent policies” in Khan and Zahler (1985).


No less than 18 countries were reported by the International Monetary Fund to be employing legal dual exchange markets in 1985–86. In addition, at least two dozen other countries authorized the use of multiple rates for various limited transaction categories over the same period.


Illegal trade transactions have, of course, been recognized in the literature on smuggling; see, for example, Pitt (1984) and Branson and de Macedo (1987). These authors do not, however, deal with intermarket transactions that are the result of sovereign compulsion and are not concerned with the issues of reform and liberalization.


From a microeconomic welfare point of view, such second-best comparison may well be treacherous. However, as Krueger (1983) and Edwards (1984) have pointed out, on a macroeconomic level there are indeed well-founded conjectures about the effect that partial liberalization (that is, a second-best adjustment) will lead to a determinate effect on welfare.


Thus, the country in question is assumed to possess some market power with respect to its exports. Typical examples of such a situation may include, say, Brazil with respect to the market for its coffee exports. The model can easily be modified so as to eliminate the distinction between exports and imports by the use of an appropriate purchasing power parity relation in place of the aggregate demand specification. This modification is merely a special case of the more general scenario employed here and does not yield any additional insights.


The issue of reform in domestic financial markets is dealt with in McKinnon (1973) and Mathieson (1979, 1980), among others.


Sec International Monetary Fund, Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements (Washington, various years).


There are virtually no reported cases wherein the commercial rate is relatively depreciated in relation to the financial rate. Isolated instances of such relative depreciation have sometimes been noted during periods of exchange rate turbulence or of substantial exchange rate realignment.


The following additional notation is involved in equation (1) and the accompanying unnumbered equations: c, logarithm of domestic consumption; y, logarithm of domestic output; w, logarithm of domestic nominal wealth; C°/Y° average propensity to consume; ex initial ratio of total exports to income (that is, X°/Y°); em, initial ratio of total imports to income (that is (QM+Q"M")ο/Yο); and c1,c2,x1,x1",x2,m1,m1",m2,m2",m3 and m3 are parameters. It can also be shown that x2"=[α/(1α)]x2 and m3"=[β/(1B)]m3. Finally, it should be recognized that tariff revenue is properly included in gross income. Nevertheless, the discrepancy between income and output is disregarded in order to avoid additional problems of nonlinearity. The export functions are to be viewed as being linearizations of the following functions:


Similar considerations apply to the import functions.


Recall that certain export and import transactions are officially assigned by law to the financial market by the exchange authorities. Thus, financially settled imports (M”) are nonzero despite the fact that the financial exchange rate may be relatively depreciated compared with the commercial rate.


Details regarding the derivation of this equation are available from the author on request. The procedure is similar to that described in Flood and Marion (1982).


Several recent models recognize the possibility of differentiated information; see, for example, Flood and Hedrick (1985).


Space constraints preclude the presentation of results for variations in foreign tariffs. A brief description of these results, however, is given at the end of the paper. Additional details are available in a longer version of the paper, which may be obtained from the author.


Note that once x2 and m3 are chosen, values for x2" m3" are implied by the relations defined earlier.


It also can be shown that the yield on securities denominated in domestic currency increases after domestic tariff reform.


These results obtain irrespective of the value of penalty cost parameters x2, m3, and so on—with the exception of the financial real exchange rate, which may either depreciate or appreciate depending on the values of these penalty costs.


Note that some of these results—in particular, the observed real financial depreciation—stand in sharp contrast to those obtained by various previous authors such as Khan and Montiel (1987) and Aizenman (1985), who found that commercial reform results in real financial appreciation. The former authors, however, obtained that result in the context of a unified fixed-rate regime, whereas in Aizenman (1985) dual exchange markets are indeed incorporated but are assumed to be perfectly segmented. As will be seen below, the present analysis indicates that the response of the real financial rate after domestic tariff reform is fairly complex and is nonlinear in a for specified low values of x2 and m3 (that is, the penalty costs). When real appreciation is observed, it occurs for intermediate values of α only (see the third block of entries in Table 1). However, for higher values of the parameters x2, m3, financial real depreciation is observed for all values of α.


Thus, sharper price declines and output increases are observed in the first row of the second block in Table 1 (the financially repressed economy) than in the last row of the last block (the liberalized case).


Recall that, because certain trade transactions are settled in the commercial market, aggregate external competitiveness involves both the commercial and financial real exchange rates.


Additional details may be obtained from a longer version of this paper, available from the author on request.