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Exchange Rate Choices

  • Richard N. Cooper
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    By late 1998, 101 countries had declared that their currencies were allowed to float against other currencies, meaning that the currency was not formally pegged to some other currency or basket of currencies. This was up from 38 ten years earlier, suggesting a significant move toward greater flexibility of exchange rates. Yet during the 1990s half a dozen countries installed currency boards, a particular strong form of exchange rate fixity; ten European currencies were eliminated in favor of a common currency, the euro; other countries were actively considering installing currency boards, or even adopting the US dollar for domestic use. After a quarter century of floating among the major currencies, exchange rate policy is sstill a source of vexation, and the appropriate choise is by no means clear. Should a country allows its currency to float, subject perhaps to exchange market intervention from time to time? Or should it fix its currency to some other currency or currencies, and if so to which one(s)? Economists do not offer clear persuasive answers to these questions. Yet for most countries, all but the largest, with the most develoed domestic capital markets, the choise of excahnge rate policy is probably their single most important macro-economic policy decision, strongly influencing their freedom of action and effectiveness of other macro-economic policies, the evolution of their financial systems, and even the evolution of their economies. This paper will not answer these questions, but it will suggest that the responses that have been given by many economists over the past few decades are inadequate and possibly quite poor advice to decision-makers.

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    File URL: ftp://ftp.repec.org/RePEc/fth/harver/hier1877.pdf
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    Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1877.

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    Date of creation: 1999
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    Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1877
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    Web page: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/journals/hier

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    1. Philippe Bacchetta & Eric Van Wincoop, 1998. "Does Exchange Rate Stability Increase Trade and Capital Flows?," NBER Working Papers 6704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ricardo Hausmann & Michael Gavin & Carmen Pagés-Serra & Ernesto H. Stein, 1999. "Financial Turmoil and Choice of Exchange Rate Regime," Research Department Publications 4170, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    3. C. Fred Bergsten & C. Randall Henning, 1996. "Global Economic Leadership and the Group of Seven," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 45, March.
    4. Ronald I. McKinnon, 1996. "The Rules of the Game: International Money and Exchange Rates," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262133180, June.
    5. Ricardo Hausmann & Michael Gavin & Carmen Pagés-Serra & Ernesto H. Stein, 1999. "Financial Turmoil and the Choice of Exchange Rate Regime," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4128, Inter-American Development Bank.
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