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When Is It Optimal to Abandon a Fixed Exchange Rate?


  • Sergio Rebelo
  • Carlos A. Vegh


The influential Krugman-Flood-Garber (KFG) model of balance of payment crises assumes that a fixed exchange rate is abandoned if and only if international reserves reach a critical threshold value. From a positive standpoint, the KFG rule is at odds with many episodes in which the central bank has plenty of international reserves at the time of abandonment. We study the optimal exit policy and show that, from a normative standpoint, the KFG rule is generally suboptimal. We consider a model in which the fixed exchange rate regime has become unsustainable due to an unexpected increase in government spending. We show that, when there are no exit costs, it is optimal to abandon immediately. When there are exit costs, the optimal abandonment time is a decreasing function of the size of the fiscal shock. For large fiscal shocks, immediate abandonment is optimal. Our model is consistent with evidence suggesting that many countries exit fixed exchange rate regimes with still plenty of international reserves in the central bank's vault.

Suggested Citation

  • Sergio Rebelo & Carlos A. Vegh, 2006. "When Is It Optimal to Abandon a Fixed Exchange Rate?," NBER Working Papers 12793, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12793
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2001. "Prospective Deficits and the Asian Currency Crisis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(6), pages 1155-1197, December.
    2. Reinhart, Carmen M. & Vegh, Carlos A., 1995. "Nominal interest rates, consumption booms, and lack of credibility: A quantitative examination," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 357-378, April.
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    9. Flood, Robert P. & Jeanne, Olivier, 2005. "An interest rate defense of a fixed exchange rate?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 471-484, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eduardo J. J. Ganapolsky, 2003. "Optimal fear of floating: the role of currency mismatches and fiscal constraints," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2003-31, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    2. Post, Erik, 2007. "Macroeconomic imbalances and exchange rate regime shifts," Working Paper Series 2007:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    3. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sergio, 2006. "Government finance in the wake of currency crises," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 401-440, April.
    4. Eduardo J. J. Ganapolsky, 2003. "Reserve requirements, bank runs, and optimal policies in small open economies," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2003-39, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    5. Ahmet Atil Asici & Nadezhda Ivanova & Charles Wyplosz, 2008. "How to exit from fixed exchange rate regimes?," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(3), pages 219-246.
    6. Amartya Lahiri & Carlos A. Végh, 2007. "Output Costs, Currency Crises and Interest Rate Defence of a Peg," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 216-239, January.
    7. Ahmet Atil Asici, 2010. "Parametric and non-parametric approaches to exits from fixed exchange rate regimes," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 381-406.
    8. Ahmet Asici & Charles Wyplosz, 2003. "The Art of Gracefully Exiting a Peg," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 34(3), pages 211-228.
    9. Eduardo J. J. Ganapolsky, 2004. "Optimal Fear of Floating: The Role of Currency Mismatches and Fiscal Constraints," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 85, Econometric Society.
    10. Pierre-Richard Agenor, 2004. "Orderly exits from adjustable pegs and exchange rate bands," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(2), pages 83-108.

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    JEL classification:

    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange

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