For an economist interested in examining the evolution of monetary and exchange rate regimes, Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) provides a habitat of unparalleled diversity. Almost every type of regime can be found in the region: from floating and inflation targeting over various pegs to the unilateral use of the euro and full euro area membership.
Falling global commodity prices and the normalization of monetary policy in the United States have contributed to widespread currency depreciations in Latin America. In theory, a falling currency is expected to create inflation by driving up the price of imported goods and services—triggering what economists call exchange rate pass-through.
Abundant global liquidity and high exposure to capital movements have put foreign exchange intervention at center stage of the policy debate in Latin America. Although intervention is widely used, there is limited evidence about its effects on the exchange rate (particularly in terms of slowing the pace of currency appreciation). In the latest Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere we took a fresh look at intervention practices and effectiveness for a group of economies in Latin America and other regions during 2004-10. Our analysis suggests that foreign exchange market interventions may help to mitigate appreciation temporarily. However, the impact depends on the circumstances and characteristics of each country.
For a decade or more, we at the IMF have grappled with the idea that very large capital flows into successful emerging market countries were almost inevitable and would prove extremely difficult to manage. Since these topics were first broached at a theoretical level, we have witnessed developments in a number of emerging economies in Europe that reinforce the concerns and underscore the implications for policy. Two lessons may be learned from the experience. First, the choice between fixed and flexible exchange rates is important, but perhaps not for reasons that are usually put forward. Second, monetary policy—and policy to stabilize the economy more generally—needs substantial reinforcement.
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Countries rich in natural resources are often looked at with envy: they face few financial constraints and that should speed their development path. But the reality is less rosy. Countries with an abundance of natural resources—typically oil, gas or minerals—have, on average, performed less well than comparable non-resource rich countries.
That raises one of the perennial questions in economic policymaking. How to manage the economic and social challenges that stem from resource wealth? Or, to borrow the words of Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason (University of Iceland), how to prevent “nature’s bounty” from “becoming the curse of the common people”? Continue reading “Today’s Bounty, Tomorrow’s Promise: Better Policies to Manage Natural Resources” »