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Hoarding international reserves versus a Pigovian tax-cum-subsidy scheme: Reflections on the deleveraging crisis of 2008-9, and a cost benefit analysis

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  • Joshua Aizenman

Abstract

In this paper we outline a Pigovian tax-cum-subsidy scheme that deals with concerns about the costs and efficacy of hoarding international reserves (IR) as a means of self-insurance against a deleveraging crisis. We overview the degree to which IR provided self-insurance to Emerging Markets (EMs) during the 2008-9 crisis, pointing out that the fear of losing IR constrained the use of a pre-crisis IR war-chest. The crisis validates the need for external debt management policy. EMs found that their initial large stocks of IR were not enough to prevent runs on their IR and large currency depreciations, runs that were abated in some countries only with the proliferation of deep swap-lines. The experience of EMs during the crisis raises concerns regarding the efficacy of hoarding IR as means of self-insurance. We outline the case for supporting self-insurance by imposing a tax on external borrowing. We focus on a model of an emerging market, where entrepreneurs finance tangible investments via bank intermediation of foreign borrowing. Bank intermediation exposes the economy to the risk of deleveraging, inducing a costly premature liquidation of tangible investments; a risk that increases with the ratio of aggregate external borrowing to IR. In these circumstances, price taking economic agents ignore their marginal impact on the expected cost of a deleveraging crisis, and external borrowing is associated with negative fire-sale congestion externalities. We show that an optimal borrowing tax reduces the distorted activity (external borrowing), and induces borrowers to finance the precautionary hoarding of international reserves.

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  • Joshua Aizenman, 2010. "Hoarding international reserves versus a Pigovian tax-cum-subsidy scheme: Reflections on the deleveraging crisis of 2008-9, and a cost benefit analysis," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Oct.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfpr:y:2010:i:oct:x:2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yin-Wong Cheung & Xingwang Qian, 2009. "Hoarding of International Reserves: Mrs Machlup's Wardrobe and the Joneses," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(4), pages 824-843, September.
    2. Aizenman, Joshua & Pasricha, Gurnain Kaur, 2010. "Selective swap arrangements and the global financial crisis: Analysis and interpretation," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 353-365, June.
    3. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2002. "Fear of Floating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 379-408.
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    5. Paul Krugman, 2000. "Fire-Sale FDI," NBER Chapters,in: Capital Flows and the Emerging Economies: Theory, Evidence, and Controversies, pages 43-58 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Sebastian Edwards & Márcio G. P. Garcia, 2008. "Financial Markets Volatility and Performance in Emerging Markets," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number edwa05-1, January.
    7. Eduardo Levy Yeyati, 2008. "Liquidity Insurance in a Financially Dollarized Economy," NBER Chapters,in: Financial Markets Volatility and Performance in Emerging Markets, pages 185-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Aizenman, Joshua & Lee, Yeonho & Rhee, Youngseop, 2007. "International reserves management and capital mobility in a volatile world: Policy considerations and a case study of Korea," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 1-15, March.
    9. Aizenman, Joshua & Sun, Yi, 2012. "The financial crisis and sizable international reserves depletion: From ‘fear of floating’ to the ‘fear of losing international reserves’?," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 250-269.
    10. Barry Eichengreen & Ricardo Hausmann & Ugo Panizza, 2003. "Currency Mismatches, Debt Intolerance and Original Sin: Why They Are Not the Same and Why it Matters," NBER Working Papers 10036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1998. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 1-40, February.
    12. Joshua Aizenman & Jaewoo Lee, 2007. "International Reserves: Precautionary Versus Mercantilist Views, Theory and Evidence," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 191-214, April.
    13. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Krishnamurthy, Arvind, 2004. "Smoothing sudden stops," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 104-127, November.
    14. Kletzer, Kenneth M, 1984. "Asymmetries of Information and LDC Borrowing with Sovereign Risk," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(374), pages 287-307, June.
    15. Joshua Aizenman & Stephen J. Turnovsky, 2002. "Reserve Requirements on Sovereign Debt in the Presence of Moral Hazard -- on Debtors or Creditors?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 107-132, January.
    16. Bryant, John, 1980. "A model of reserves, bank runs, and deposit insurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-344, December.
    17. Romain Ranciere & Olivier D Jeanne, 2006. "The Optimal Level of International Reserves for Emerging Market Countries; Formulas and Applications," IMF Working Papers 06/229, International Monetary Fund.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joshua Aizenman, 2010. "International Reserves and Swap Lines in Times of Financial Distress: Overview and Interpretations," Working Papers id:3022, eSocialSciences.
    2. Aizenman, Joshua & Jinjarak, Yothin & Park, Donghyun, 2011. "International reserves and swap lines: Substitutes or complements?," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 5-18, January.
    3. Geert Almekinders & Alex Mourmouras & Jianping Zhou & Satoshi Fukuda & Yong Sarah Zhou, 2015. "ASEAN Financial Integration," IMF Working Papers 15/34, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Aizenman, Joshua & Sun, Yi, 2009. "The financial crisis and sizable international reserves depletion: From ‘fear of floating’ to the ‘fear of losing international reserves’?," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt6rf4r8v8, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
    5. Joshua Aizenman & Yothin Jinjarak & Donghyun Park, 2011. "Evaluating Asian Swap Arrangements," Governance Working Papers 23239, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    6. Ilene Grabel, 2013. "The Rebranding of Capital Controls in an Era of Productive Incoherence," Working Papers wp318, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    7. Ilene Grabel, 2015. "The rebranding of capital controls in an era of productive incoherence," Review of International Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 7-43, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets

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