Macroeconomic Management in Emerging Economies and the International Financial Architecture
In the last few years, and most recently with the crisis in Argentina, views about emerging markets and the international financial institutions have changed significantly. This paper reviews macroeconomic management in emerging economies and the role of the international financial institutions in helping to secure their stability. It discusses the role of macroeconomic policies, in particular exchange rate policies, arguing that a very strong case can be made for exchange rate flexibility. However, as recent evidence confirms, this choice requires an institutional framework that credibly commits the economy to low inflation, preventing price instability even in the presence of strong fluctuations in the exchange rate. Also discussed is the role of the international financial institutions in a world of recurrent currency crises and contagion. Despite the need for increased transparency, accountability, and greater independence for the International Monetary Fund, to avoid its being seen as an institution that primarily serves the political goals of its main shareholders, and despite the need for improved procedures to handle crises, the best recipe for stability is at the domestic level. Good macroeconomic policies are those that bring about low inflation, fiscal prudence, and a strong financial system: these are necessary and almost sufficient conditions to avoid the type of crisis experienced repeatedly in the last decade. However, strong institutions must support this set of policies. The ultimate goal of macroeconomic policy is to serve as the basis for prosperity and for improving the well-being of the entire population, and here there is no substitute for macroeconomic stability.
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