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How to Reduce Inflation: An Independent Central Bank or A Currency Board? The Experience of the Baltic Countries


  • Jacob De Haan
  • Helge Berger
  • Erik Van Fraassen


Countries in transition often face high levels of inflation. This paper discusses two ways to reduce inflation: the creation of an independent central bank and the introduction of a currency board. It is shown that both options have advantages and disadvantages. This framework is used for a normative analysis of the policy choices of the Baltic states. It is argued that, while Estonia's currency board based on the D-mark is very much in line with the criteria for an optimal monetary regime, Lithuania's initial choice of a US-dollar based currency board is not. The peg to the SDR - which very much looks like a currency board - as (eventually) adopted by Latvia is an intermediate case. Some policy recommendations and the problem of exit strategies towards the Euro zone are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob De Haan & Helge Berger & Erik Van Fraassen, 2001. "How to Reduce Inflation: An Independent Central Bank or A Currency Board? The Experience of the Baltic Countries," LICOS Discussion Papers 9601, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  • Handle: RePEc:lic:licosd:9601

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sikken, Bernd Jan & de Haan, Jakob, 1998. "Budget Deficits, Monetization, and Central-Bank Independence in Developing Countries," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 493-511, July.
    2. John Williamson, 1995. "What Role of Currency Boards?," Peterson Institute Press: Policy Analyses in International Economics, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa40, October.
    3. Fleming, Alex & Talley, Samuel, 1996. "The Latvian banking crisis : lessons learned," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1590, The World Bank.
    4. Richard W. Kopcke, 1999. "Currency boards: once and future monetary regimes?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 21-37.
    5. Berger, Helge & de Haan, Jakob & Eijffinger, Sylvester C W, 2001. " Central Bank Independence: An Update of Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 3-40, February.
    6. Berger, Helge & Jensen, Henrik & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2001. "To peg or not to peg?: A simple model of exchange rate regime choice in small economies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 161-167, November.
    7. Iikka Korhonen, 2000. "Currency Boards in the Baltic Countries: What Have We Learned?," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 25-46.
    8. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "No Single Currency Regime is Right for All Countries or At All Times," NBER Working Papers 7338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Loungani, Prakash & Sheets, Nathan, 1997. "Central Bank Independence, Inflation, and Growth in Transition Economies," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(3), pages 381-399, August.
    10. Eijffinger, Sylvester & Haan, Jakob de, 2000. "European Monetary and Fiscal Policy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198776161, June.
    11. Eijffinger, S. & De Hann, J., 1995. "The Political Economy of Central Bank Independence," Papers 9587, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
    12. Atish R. Ghosh & Anne-Marie Gulde & Holger C. Wolf, 2000. "Currency boards: More than a quick fix?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(31), pages 269-335, October.
    13. Donal McGettigan, 2000. "Current Account and External Sustainability in the Baltics, Russia, and Other Countries of the Former Soviet Union," IMF Occasional Papers 189, International Monetary Fund.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alain Raybaut & Dominique Torre, 2004. "Unions monétaires, caisses d'émission et dollarisation : les fondements analytiques des systèmes de change « ultra-fixes »," Revue d'Économie Financière, Programme National Persée, vol. 75(2), pages 37-54.
    2. M. Berlemann & Nikolay Nenovsky, 2003. "Lending of First Versus Lending of Last Resort: The Bulgarian Financial Crisis of 1996/1997," Post-Print halshs-00260241, HAL.
    3. Katsimi, Margarita, 2008. "Exchange rate strategies towards the euro-zone for new EU member states with currency boards," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1043-1063, September.
    4. Uz, Idil & Ketenci, Natalya, 2008. "Panel analysis of the monetary approach to exchange rates: Evidence from ten new EU members and Turkey," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 57-69, March.
    5. Masso, Jaan & Staehr, Karsten, 2005. "Inflation dynamics and nominal adjustment in the Baltic States," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 281-303, June.
    6. Lucio Vinhas de Souza, 2002. "Integrated monetary and exchange rate frameworks: are there empirical differences?," Bank of Estonia Working Papers 2002-2, Bank of Estonia, revised 12 Oct 2002.
    7. Sõrg, Mart, 2004. "Estonian Monetary System: Reconstruction, Performance, and Future Prospects," Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Diskussionspapiere 11/2004, University of Greifswald, Faculty of Law and Economics.
    8. Slavov, Slavi T., 2008. "Measuring and modeling the effects of G-3 exchange rate fluctuations on small open economies: A natural experiment," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 253-273, September.

    More about this item


    currency board; central bank independence; Baltics;

    JEL classification:

    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange

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