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Reflections on the South African rand crisis of 1996 and its consequences

  • Janine Aron
  • Ibrahim Elbadawi

After South Africa's democratic elections in 1994, large capital inflows were induced by the cessation of trade and financial sanctions, improved creditworthiness and a liberalised capital account for foreigners. The flows were managed in a classic trade-off between currency stability, and raised interest rates to counter inflation resulting from a credit boom and partially sterilised intervention. In early 1996, the currency suffered a speculative attack. Using a theoretical model of currency crises, we present some empirical results suggesting the importance of economic fundamentals and policy credibility as determinants of investors' devaluation expectations prior to the crisis. Poor growth associated with subsequent protracted currency volatility and high interest rates argues for a range of complementary policies to manage inflows in South Africa. These include reserve requirements on certain inflows, prudent further liberalisation of domestic exchange controls, improved private and government savings policies, a medium-term public debt framework and closer monitoring of risk management by banking and other financial institutions.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 1999-13.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:1999-13
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  1. Ozkan, F Gulcin & Sutherland, Alan, 1995. "Policy Measures to Avoid a Currency Crisis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(429), pages 510-19, March.
  2. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Balance-of-Payments Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 311-25, August.
  3. Maurice Obstfeld, 1995. "Models of Currency Crises with Self-Fulfilling Features," NBER Working Papers 5285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kaminsky, Graciela & Lizondo, Saul & Reinhart, Carmen M., 1997. "Leading indicators of currency crises," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1852, The World Bank.
  5. Flood, Robert P. & Garber, Peter M., 1984. "Collapsing exchange-rate regimes : Some linear examples," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 1-13, August.
  6. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584.
  7. Leonardo Leiderman & Carmen Reinhart & Guillermo Calvo, 1992. "Capital Inflows and Real Exchange Rate Appreciation in Latin America; The Role of External Factors," IMF Working Papers 92/62, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Adam, Christopher, 1995. "Fiscal adjustment, financial liberalization, and the dynamics of inflation: Some evidence from Zambia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 735-750, May.
  9. Masson, Paul R, 1995. "Gaining and Losing ERM Credibility: The Case of the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 571-82, May.
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