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How Strong is the Case for Dollarization in Central America? An Empirical Analysis of Business Cycles, Credit Market Imperfections and the Exchange Rate

In this paper, we contrast two different views in the debate on official dollarization. The Mundell (1961) framework of optimal currency areas and a model on boom-bust cycles, by Schneider and Tornell (2004), who take account of credit market imperfections prevalent in middle income countries. We highlight that the role of the exchange rate is strikingly different in the two models. While in the Mundell framework the exchange rate is expected to smooth the business cycle, the other model predicts that the exchange rate plays an amplifying role. We empirically evaluate both models for eight highly dollarized Central American economies, and find that the main benefit of official dollarization derives from avoiding a mismatch between foreign currency liabilities and domestic revenues, as well as the boom-bust episodes that are likely to follow from it. Using a new method of Cubadda (1999, 2007), we furthermore test for cyclical comovement and reject the hypothesis that the countries form an optimal currency area with the United States according to the Mundell definition.

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Paper provided by Institute of Empirical Economic Research in its series Working Papers with number 83.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: 05 Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iee:wpaper:wp0083
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  1. Kaminsky, Graciela L & Reinhart, Carmen M, 1998. "Financial Crises in Asia and Latin America: Then and Now," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 444-48, May.
  2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
  3. Robert Mundell, 2000. "Currency Areas, Exchange Rate Systems and International Monetary Reform," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 217-256, November.
  4. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Landerretche, Oscar & Valdés, Rodrigo, 2001. "Lending Booms: Latin America and the World," CEPR Discussion Papers 2811, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Fabian Valencia & Luc Laeven, 2008. "Systemic Banking Crises; A New Database," IMF Working Papers 08/224, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Freund, Caroline & Spatafora, Nikola, 2008. "Remittances, transaction costs, and informality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 356-366, June.
  7. Mishkin, Frederic S. & Savastano, Miguel A., 2001. "Monetary policy strategies for Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2685, The World Bank.
  8. Luis Ignacio Jácome, 2008. "Central Bank Involvement in Banking Crises in Latin America," IMF Working Papers 08/135, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Cheung, Yin-Wong & Lai, Kon S, 1995. "Lag Order and Critical Values of the Augmented Dickey-Fuller Test," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(3), pages 277-80, July.
  10. Yin-wong Cheung & Jude Yuen, 2005. "An Output Perspective on a Northeast Asia Currency Union," Working Papers 162005, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
  11. Gourieroux, Christian & Peaucelle, Irina, 1989. "Detecting a long run relationship (with an application to the p.p.p. hypothesis)," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 8902, CEPREMAP.
  12. Vahid, Farshid & Engle, Robert F., 1997. "Codependent cycles," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 199-221, October.
  13. Ahmed, Shaghil, 2003. "Sources of economic fluctuations in Latin America and implications for choice of exchange rate regimes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 181-202, October.
  14. Cubadda, Gianluca, 1999. "Common Cycles in Seasonal Non-stationary Time Series," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(3), pages 273-91, May-June.
  15. Aaron Tornell & Frank Westermann, 2005. "Boom-Bust Cycles and Financial Liberalization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262201593, June.
  16. Åke Lönnberg & Luis Ignacio Jácome, 2010. "Implementing official Dollarization," IMF Working Papers 10/106, International Monetary Fund.
  17. Helge Berger & Henrik Jensen & Guttorm Schjelderup, 2001. "To Peg or Not To Peg? A Simple Model of Exchange Rate Regime Choice In Small Economies," CESifo Working Paper Series 468, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. Cubadda, Gianluca, 2007. "A unifying framework for analysing common cyclical features in cointegrated time series," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 896-906, October.
  19. Edgar L. Feige & Vedran Šošiæ & Michael Faulend & Velimir Šonje, 2002. "Unofficial Dollarization in Latin America: Currency Substitution, Network Externalities and Irreversibility," International Finance 0205002, EconWPA.
  20. Urga, Giovanni, 2007. "Common Features in Economics and Finance: An Overview of Recent Developments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 2-11, January.
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