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Why the Middle is Unstable: The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Regimes and Currency Crises

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  • Thomas D. Willett

Abstract

The contribution of sticky exchange rates to the rash of currency crises over the past decade has become a major topic of international monetary analysis and policy discussion. While there is widespread agreement among economists that the middle of the exchange rate spectrum, adjustable pegs, is highly crisis-prone in a world of substantial capital mobility, Jeffrey Frankel has recently argued that, surprisingly, we lack a clear theoretical rationale for why this is so. This paper attempts to fill that void. It argues that Frankel is correct in terms of economic analysis alone, but that when political economy considerations are introduced then a satisfactory explanation is at hand. Key aspects of this political economy perspective are laid out and implications for exchange rate policy are considered. The analysis suggests that for promoting currency stability the traditionally debated distinctions between crawling bands and managed floats are likely less important than the political environments in which they are operated. Copyright 2007 The Author Journal compilation Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2007 .

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas D. Willett, 2007. "Why the Middle is Unstable: The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Regimes and Currency Crises," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(5), pages 709-732, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:30:y:2007:i:5:p:709-732
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joshua Aizenman & Nancy Marion, 2004. "International Reserve Holdings with Sovereign Risk and Costly Tax Collection," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 569-591, July.
    2. Mongelli, Francesco Paolo & Vega, Juan Luis, 2006. "What effects is EMU having on the euro area and its member countries? An overview," Working Paper Series 599, European Central Bank.
    3. Ernesto H. Stein & Natalia Salazar & Roberto Steiner & Eugenio Díaz-Bonilla & Marco Bonomo & Juan C. Jaramillo & Hector E. Schamis & Alberto Pascó-Front & Piero Ghezzi & Maria Cristina Terra & José De, 2001. "The Currency Game: Exchange Rate Politics in Latin America," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 77398 edited by Ernesto H. Stein & Jeffry Frieden, February.
    4. Aasim M. Husain & Ashoka Mody & Nienke Oomes & Robin Brooks & Kenneth Rogoff, 2003. "Evolution and Performance of Exchange Rate Regimes," IMF Working Papers 03/243, International Monetary Fund.
    5. John Williamson, 2000. "Exchange Rate Regimes for Emerging Markets: Reviving the Intermediate Option," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa60.
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    7. Andrews, David M. & Willett, Thomas D., 1997. "Financial Interdependence and the State: International Monetary Relations at Century's End," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(03), pages 479-511, June.
    8. Federico Sturzenegger & Mariano Tommasi (ed.), 1998. "The Political Economy of Reform," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262194007, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wong, Clement Yuk-pang & Cheung, Yin-Wong, 2008. "Are All Measures of International Reserves Created Equal? An Empirical Comparison of International Reserve Ratios," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 2, pages 1-61.
    2. Muammer Wali & Meher Manzur, 2013. "Exchange Rate Volatility Before and After the Float," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(8), pages 1091-1097, August.
    3. Walter, Stefanie, 2008. "A New Approach for Determining Exchange-Rate Level Preferences," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(03), pages 405-438, July.
    4. Apanard P. Angkinand & Thomas D. Willett, 2011. "Exchange rate regimes and banking crises: the channels of influence investigated," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(3), pages 256-274, July.
    5. Russell Jesse R., 2012. "Disequilibrium in the International Balance of Payments," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 18(1), pages 1-17, May.

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