All Hands on Deck: Confronting the Challenges of Capital Flows

By Atish R. Ghosh, Jonathan D. Ostry, and Mahvash S. Qureshi

August 2, 2017

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Exchange rates board, Australian Securities Exchange: Emerging economies have several tools to manage capital flows. The most common are foreign exchange intervention and monetary policy (photo: wx-bradwang/iStock by Getty Images)

The global financial crisis and its aftermath saw boom-bust cycles in capital flows of unprecedented magnitude. Traditionally, emerging market economies were counselled not to impede capital flows. In recent years, however, there has been growing recognition that emerging market economies may benefit from more proactive management to avoid crisis when flows eventually recede. But do they adopt such a proactive approach in practice?

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The Case for a Managed Float under Inflation Targeting

It is often claimed that inflation targeting , to be successful, needs to include a high degree of exchange rate flexibility, with the policy rate geared to stabilizing inflation and the exchange rate allowed to fluctuate freely. But a new paper from the IMF examines the case for using two policy instruments—the policy interest rate and sterilized foreign exchange market intervention—in emerging market countries aiming to maintain low inflation while avoiding the damage that large and abrupt currency movements may engender. It argues that in a world of volatile capital movements, and sharp ups and downs in exchange rates, there are important benefits to making use of all available policy instruments, both from a single country’s perspective, and from a global standpoint. Provided policymakers are clear about their objectives, there is no conflict between an inflation targeting framework and making use of the foreign exchange market intervention instrument to attenuate deviations of exchange rates.

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