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New Measures of the Trilemma Hypothesis : Implications for Asia


  • Hiro Ito

    (Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI))

  • Masahiro Kawai


We develop a new set of indexes of exchange rate stability, monetary policy independence, and financial market openness as the metrics for the trilemma hypothesis. In our exploration, we take a different and more nuanced approach than the previous indexes developed by Aizenman, Chinn, and Ito (2008). We show that the new indexes add up to the value two, supporting the trilemma hypothesis. We locate our sample economies’ policy mixes in the famous trilemma triangle—a useful and intuitive way to illustrate the state and evolution of policy mixes. We also examine if the persistent deviation of the sum of the three indexes from the value two indicates an unsustainable policy mix and therefore needs to be corrected by economic disruptions such as economic and financial crises. We obtain several findings. First, such a persistent deviation can occur particularly in emerging economies that later experience an inflation (or potentially a general or a currency) crisis, and dissipates in the postcrisis period. Second, there is no evidence for this type of association between deviations from the trilemma constraint and general, banking, or debt crises. Third, Thailand experienced such a deviation from the trilemma constraint in the period leading to the baht crisis of 1997, but not other East and Southeast Asian economies. This last result suggests that the main cause for the Thai baht crisis was an unsustainable policy mix in the precrisis period, while other affected economies experienced crises mainly due to contagion from Thailand.

Suggested Citation

  • Hiro Ito & Masahiro Kawai, 2012. "New Measures of the Trilemma Hypothesis : Implications for Asia," Finance Working Papers 23331, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:eab:financ:23331

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    1. Chinn, Menzie D. & Ito, Hiro, 2006. "What matters for financial development? Capital controls, institutions, and interactions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 163-192, October.
    2. Maurice Obstfeld & Jay C. Shambaugh & Alan M. Taylor, 2005. "The Trilemma in History: Tradeoffs Among Exchange Rates, Monetary Policies, and Capital Mobility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 423-438, August.
    3. Eichengreen, Barry & Rose, Andrew & Wyplosz, Charles, 1996. " Contagious Currency Crises: First Tests," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(4), pages 463-484, December.
    4. Huizinga, John & Mishkin, Frederic S, 1984. " Inflation and Real Interest Rates on Assets with Different Risk Characteristics," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 699-712, July.
    5. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2001. "The external wealth of nations: measures of foreign assets and liabilities for industrial and developing countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 263-294, December.
    6. Dennis Quinn & Martin Schindler & A Maria Toyoda, 2011. "Assessing Measures of Financial Openness and Integration," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 59(3), pages 488-522, August.
    7. Garcia, Rene & Perron, Pierre, 1996. "An Analysis of the Real Interest Rate under Regime Shifts," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 111-125, February.
    8. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters,in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
    9. Kawai, Masahiro & Akiyama, Shigeru, 1998. "The Role of Nominal Anchor Currencies in Exchange Rate Arrangements," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 334-387, December.
    10. Lane, Philip R. & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2007. "The external wealth of nations mark II: Revised and extended estimates of foreign assets and liabilities, 1970-2004," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 223-250, November.
    11. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jimfin:v:74:y:2017:i:c:p:258-282 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ito, Hiro & Kawai, Masahiro, 2014. "Determinants of the Trilemma Policy Combination," ADBI Working Papers 456, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    3. Ohno, Sanae & Shimizu, Junko, 2015. "Do exchange rate arrangements and capital controls influence international capital flows and housing prices in Asia?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 1-18.
    4. Masahiro Kawai & Victor Pontines, 2014. "The Renminbi and Exchange Rate Regimes in East Asia," Macroeconomics Working Papers 24218, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    5. Aizenman, Joshua & Chinn, Menzie D. & Ito, Hiro, 2016. "Monetary policy spillovers and the trilemma in the new normal: Periphery country sensitivity to core country conditions," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 298-330.
    6. International Monetary Fund, 2016. "Asean-5 Cluster Report; Evolution of Monetary Policy Frameworks," IMF Staff Country Reports 16/176, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Aizenman, Joshua & Chinn, Menzie D. & Ito, Hiro, 2017. "Balance sheet effects on monetary and financial spillovers: The East Asian crisis plus 20," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 258-282.
    8. Joshua Aizenman & Hiro Ito, 2016. "East Asian Economies and Financial Globalization In the Post-Crisis World," NBER Working Papers 22268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    exchange rate stability; monetary policy independence; financial market openness; the trilemma hypothesis; emerging economies; Southeast Asian; Thailand;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F - International Economics
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy

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