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International Monetary Relations: Taking Finance Seriously

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  • Obstfeld, Maurice
  • Taylor, Alan M.

Abstract

In our book, Global Capital Markets: Integration, Crisis, and Growth, we traced out the evolution of the international monetary system using the framework of the "international monetary trilemma": countries can enjoy at most two from the set {exchange-rate stability, open capital markets, and domestic monetary autonomy}. The events of the past decade or more highlight the further complications for this framework posed by financial stability issues. Here we update and qualify our prior analysis, drawing on recent experience and research. Under the classical gold standard, scant attention was paid to macro management, either to stabilize output and employment or to ensure financial stability. The interwar years highlighted the changing demands for modern central bank interventions in the economy. Financial instability, followed by WWII, left a world with sharply constricted financial markets and little private cross-border capital mobility. Due to this historical accident, the Bretton Woods system agreed in 1944 focused not at all on financial stability, and focused on issues like adjustment, exchange rate misalignment, and international liquidity (defined in terms of official, not private, capital-account transactions). Post 1970s floating rates permitted, but did not require, liberalization of the capital account. But the political equilibrium had shifted in favor of financial interests, signaled by the push toward European integration and the later reform process in emerging markets starting in the 1990s. This development, however, opened the door once again to domestic financial crises and their international transmission. Countries now become more susceptible to a new species of "capital account crises, - fueled by bank and bond lending, and its sudden withdrawal. These developments, in fact, made evident a different, "financial trilemma"�: countries can pick at most two from {financial stability, open capital markets, and autonomy over domestic financial policy}. We distill the main lessons as to the interactions between the monetary and financial trilemmas, and policies that could best address the resulting weaknesses.

Suggested Citation

  • Obstfeld, Maurice & Taylor, Alan M., 2017. "International Monetary Relations: Taking Finance Seriously," CEPR Discussion Papers 12079, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12079
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bis:bisbps:95 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Monica Hernandez, 2017. "An Unintended Consequence of Uncoordinated International Monetary Policy on Central America," Working Papers 1728, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.
    3. Edward Nelson, 2017. "The Continuing Validity of Monetary Policy Autonomy Under Floating Exchange Rates," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-112, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Andersson, Fredrik N. G. & Jonung, Lars, 2018. "Lessons for Iceland from the Monetary Policy of Sweden," Working Papers 2018:16, Lund University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    financial stability; international monetary system; macroeconomic stability; trilemma;

    JEL classification:

    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • B27 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - International Trade and Finance
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E50 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - General
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • F30 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - General
    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General
    • F62 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Macroeconomic Impacts
    • F65 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Finance
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • N - Economic History

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