Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy in Korea: Assessments and Policy Issues
This Paper considers monetary and exchange rate policy in Korea since the financial crisis of 1997-98. The Bank of Korea has adopted much of the apparatus of inflation targeting, with a band for target inflation and a Monetary Policy Report to the National Assembly. This regime has served the country well. But neither the Bank’s publications nor the statements of its Monetary Policy Committee make more than passing reference to the exchange rate. It would be surprising if in fact the exchange rate played little role in conduct of monetary policy, for in an economy as open and sensitive to foreign trade and investment as Korea, currency movements contain information useful for forecasting inflation and the output gap. My findings suggest that the Bank of Korea does care about the exchange rate – and not only because it movements provide information relevant for the inflation forecast. In addition, the central bank responds to movements in the exchange rate for other reasons, like its implications for the balance of investment in traded and nontraded goods and its implications for financial stability. My recommendations are thus for more clarity on the role of the exchange rate in the formulation and conduct of monetary policy. In particular, if the members of the Monetary Policy Committee are attentive to exchange rate movements, which is what is suggested by the evidence presented here, and especially if they care about such movements for reasons not limited to the utility of that variable for forecasting future inflation, then they should acknowledge this in their monthly press releases communicating the rationale for their decisions to the public and the markets.
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