Chile's Peso: Better Than (Just) Living with the Dollar?
The choice between maintaining or giving up the national currency is determined by putting on balance the benefits of macroeconomic flexibility derived from a floating exchange rate and an independent monetary policy, and the microeconomic benefits derived from joining a currency union or adopting unilaterally a foreign currency. This paper assesses this choice for Chile. The country’s financial development and macroeconomic stability imply low microeconomic and efficiency costs in sticking to the peso. An evaluation of optimal currency-area criteria shows that Chile is not a natural candidate for joining a monetary union with prospective partners in Latin America, NAFTA, or the European Union. Unilateral dollarization is even less beneficial. Among Southern Hemisphere countries with various exchange rate regimes, Chile would gain the least from giving up its national currency. For a country like Chile, subject to large idiosyncratic shocks and significant temporary price and wage rigidity, a flexible exchange rate and an independent monetary policy anchored to an inflation target comprise the dominant regime choice.
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