Capital Account Regulations and Macroeconomic Policy: Two Latin American Experiences
A resurgence of perceived opportunities by international investors has resulted in a new policy debate regarding the regulation of capital flows into certain South American countries. The integrationist camp defends totally open markets on the grounds that they result in a more efficient financial sector, greater asset diversification, and other benefits, while those in the isolationist camp support regulating capital inflows on the grounds that they generate macroeconomic instability and reduce the effectiveness of monetary policy. Noting that there are both costs and benefits associated with external capital flows, Guillermo Le Fort V., international director of the Central Bank of Chile, and Carlos Budnevich L., manager of financial analysis for the Central Bank of Chile, argue against both extremes, opting instead for a policy falling somewhere between the two. An intermediate policy of gradual and limited financial integration has been adopted in Chile and Colombia, two countries experiencing capital account surpluses. Le Fort and Budnevich examine the macroeconomic and financial results during the 1990s of the countries' policies regarding external capital accounts. In the early 1980s the Chilean financial system was wracked by insolvency that was deepened by recession. By 1983 volatile international capital inflows, resulting from the removal of restrictions to such flows, had precipated a widespread crisis. Having weathered this experience, Chile's financial institutions are cautious and concerned about maintaining moderate current account deficits. Policies to accomplish this goal include a targeted range for the medium-term current account deficit, foreign exchange market and capital account regulations, and a limit to the degree of integration of external and domestic markets. The authors note, however, that the reserve requirement cannot stem currency appreciation, which has averaged about 4 percent per year. They also conclude that capital account regul
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