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Exchange Arrangements Entering the Twenty-First Century: Which Anchor will Hold?

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  • Ethan Ilzetzki
  • Carmen M Reinhart
  • Kenneth S Rogoff

Abstract

This article provides a comprehensive history of anchor or reference currencies, exchange rate arrangements, and a new measure of foreign exchange restrictions for 194 countries and territories over 1946–2016. We find that the often cited post–Bretton Woods transition from fixed to flexible arrangements is overstated; regimes with limited flexibility remain in the majority. Even if central bankers’ communications jargon has evolved considerably in recent decades, it is apparent that many still place a large implicit weight on the exchange rate. The U.S. dollar scores as the world's dominant anchor currency by a very large margin. By some metrics, its use is far wider today than 70 years ago. In contrast, the global role of the euro appears to have stalled. We argue that in addition to the usual safe assets story, the record accumulation of reserves since 2002 may also have to do with many countries’ desire to stabilize exchange rates in an environment of markedly reduced exchange rate restrictions or, more broadly, capital controls: an important amendment to the conventional portrayal of the macroeconomic trilemma.

Suggested Citation

  • Ethan Ilzetzki & Carmen M Reinhart & Kenneth S Rogoff, 2019. "Exchange Arrangements Entering the Twenty-First Century: Which Anchor will Hold?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(2), pages 599-646.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:134:y:2019:i:2:p:599-646.
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    JEL classification:

    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance
    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions

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