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Stopping "Hot Money" or Signaling Bad Policy? Capital Controls and the Onset of Currency Crises

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  • Reuven Glick
  • Michael Hutchison

Abstract

Restrictions on international capital transactions and other payments are usually designed to limit volatile short-term capital flows (“hot money”) and stabilize the exchange rate. Their imposition, however, may have the opposite effect by inadvertently signaling the continuation of macroeconomic imbalances and inconsistent (“bad”) future policy (Bartolini and Drazen, 1997a,b). This paper investigates these alternative hypotheses by testing the impact of restrictions on international capital flows and other payments controls on the likelihood of currency crises. We employ a comprehensive sample of 90 developing and emerging-market economies over the 1975-1997 period, identifying 160 currency crises. Restrictions on international capital flows, current accounts, and international payments are associated with a higher probability of the onset of a speculative attack on the currency. This finding is robust to alternative measures of liberalization on international payments and the exchange rate regime, controlling for macroeconomic determinants of currency instability, and taking into account instability emanating from the banking sector. There may be some individual exceptions but the weight of the evidence suggests that countries imposing capital restrictions are sending a “bad signal” to markets, in turn increasing the likelihood of a net capital outflow and a currency crisis.

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Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 00-14.

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Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:00-14

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  1. Graciela L. Kaminsky & Carmen M. Reinhart, 1996. "The twin crises: the causes of banking and balance-of-payments problems," International Finance Discussion Papers 544, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Sebastian Edwards, 1999. "How Effective are Capital Controls?," NBER Working Papers 7413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Glick, Reuven & Rose, Andrew K., 1999. "Contagion and trade: Why are currency crises regional?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 603-617, August.
  4. Andrew Berg & Catherine Pattillo, 1999. "Are Currency Crises Predictable? A Test," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 46(2), pages 1.
  5. Allan Drazen, 1997. "Policy Signaling in the Open Economy: A Re-Examination," NBER Working Papers 5892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dani Rodrik & Andres Velasco, 1999. "Short-Term Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 7364, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Dooley, Michael P & Isard, Peter, 1980. "Capital Controls, Political Risk, and Deviations from Interest-Rate Parity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 370-84, April.
  8. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Andrew K. Rose, 1996. "Currency crashes in emerging markets: an empirical treatment," International Finance Discussion Papers 534, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Leonardo Bartolini & Allan Drazen, 1996. "Capital Account Liberalization as a Signal," NBER Working Papers 5725, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. De Gregorio, Jose & Edwards, Sebastian & Valdes, Rodrigo O., 2000. "Controls on capital inflows: do they work?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 59-83, October.
  11. Barry Eichengreen & Andrew K. Rose, 1998. "Staying Afloat When the Wind Shifts: External Factors and Emerging-Market Banking Crises," NBER Working Papers 6370, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Takatoshi Ito, 1999. "Capital Flows in Asia," Discussion Paper Series a371, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    • Takatoshi Ito, 2000. "Capital Flows in Asia," NBER Chapters, in: Capital Flows and the Emerging Economies: Theory, Evidence, and Controversies, pages 255-296 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Leonardo Bartolini & Allan Drazen, 1996. "When Liberal Policies Reflect External Shocks, What Do We Learn?," NBER Working Papers 5727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Calvo, Guillermo A. & Mendoza, Enrique G., 1996. "Mexico's balance-of-payments crisis: a chronicle of a death foretold," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-4), pages 235-264, November.
  15. Sebastian Edwards, 1999. "Crisis Prevention: Lessons from Mexico and East Asia," NBER Working Papers 7233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Takatoshi Ito & Kathryn M. Dominguez & Moeen Qureshi & Zhang Shengman & Masaru Yoshitomi, 1999. "Capital Flows to East Asia," NBER Chapters, in: International Capital Flows, pages 111-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. James Tobin, 1978. "A Proposal for International Monetary Reform," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 4(3-4), pages 153-159, Jul/Oct.
  18. Vittorio Grilli & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 1995. "Economic Effects and Structural Determinants of Capital Controls," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(3), pages 517-551, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Forbes, Kristin J., 2004. "Capital Controls: Mud in the Wheels of Market Discipline," Working papers 4454-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  2. James L. Butkiewicz & Halit Yanikkaya, 2003. "Capital Account Openness, International Trade, and Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Investigation," Working Papers 03-06, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.

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