Are Capital Flows Expansionary or Contractionary? It Depends What Kind

By Olivier Blanchard, Jonathan D. Ostry, Atish R. Ghosh, and Marcos Chamon

(Version in Español)

With the expected move by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates before the end of the year, many are asking about the effects on emerging market countries. Will outflows increase, and how will this affect economic activity in emerging markets? To answer that, we need to know if capital inflows are in general expansionary or contractionary.

One would think that the question was settled long ago. But, in fact, it is not. It is a case where theory suggests one thing and practice another. The workhorse model of international macro (the Mundell-Fleming model), for example, suggests that, for a given monetary policy rate, inflows lead to an appreciation, and thus to a contraction in net exports—and a decrease in output. Only if the policy rate is decreased sufficiently can capital inflows be expansionary. Symmetrically, using a model along these lines, Paul Krugman argued in his 2013 Mundell-Fleming lecture that capital outflows are expansionary.

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Rethinking Economic Principles: Join the Debate

The global financial crisis caused hardship and suffering all over the world. To prevent a repeat, we need to rethink… "… what we know about economic theory …. We need to rethink, following this, the policies … coming from the analytical work. And then we will need also to rethink multilateralism." IMF Managing Director Dominique Straus-Kahn (April, 2011) A wholesale reexamination of macroeconomic principles in the wake of the crisis was the goal of a conference at the IMF in early March. But, for Olivier Blanchard and others, the conference was merely “the beginning of a conversation, the beginning of an exploration.” Here is our list of recommended reads to help you be part of the conversation.

By | May 2nd, 2011|Economic Crisis, Economic research, International Monetary Fund|

Who’s Talking About the Future of Macroeconomic Policies

Last month's conference at the IMF spurred plenty of discussion about the future of macroeconomic policies after the global financial crisis. Economic models, policy tools, and how they are applied need to catch up with changes in the global economic and financial system. You've heard here about views from the conference, but there's been plenty of discussion going on outside the IMF. Here's a snapshot....

By | April 5th, 2011|Economic research, International Monetary Fund|

Observations on the Evolution of Economic Policies

It was a privilege to participate in the IMF conference devoted to rethinking policy frameworks in the wake of the crisis. Highly encouraging was the openness of the discussion, the range of views, the willingness to question orthodoxy, and the posture of humility. One gets the impression that the crisis triggered the response that it should. We have embarked on a path of rethinking conceptual frameworks and policy choices in a way that will contribute to the stability of the system. Returning to old patterns, while waiting for different or more complete models to be developed and tested, would be a risky mistake. Here, I offer five thoughts stimulated by the spirit of the conference, as a contribution to the broader discussion that we all hope might stimulate further research and policy analysis. And, ultimately, progress.

By | March 25th, 2011|Economic Crisis, Economic research, International Monetary Fund|

A Balanced Debate About Reforming Macroeconomics

The most remarkable aspect of the recent conference at the IMF was the broad consensus that the macroeconomic models that had been relied upon in the past and had informed major aspects of monetary and macro-policy had failed. They failed to predict the crisis and they provided limited guidance on how the economy should respond. There was also remarkable consensus about many elements of policy in responding to the crisis, and there were even large areas of policy consensus for the longer run. In short, the conference made an important contribution in invigorating a balanced debate about reforming macroeconomics.

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