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A Theory of Capital Controls as Dynamic Terms-of-Trade Manipulation

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  • Arnaud Costinot
  • Guido Lorenzoni
  • Iván Werning

Abstract

This paper develops a simple theory of capital controls as dynamic terms-of-trade manipulation. We study an infinite horizon endowment economy with two countries. One country chooses taxes on international capital flows in order to maximize the welfare of its representative agent, while the other country is passive. We show that capital controls are not guided by the absolute desire to alter the intertemporal price of the goods produced in any given period, but rather by the relative strength of this desire between two consecutive periods. Specifically, it is optimal for the strategic country to tax capital inflows (or subsidize capital outflows) if it grows faster than the rest of the world and to tax capital outflows (or subsidize capital inflows) if it grows more slowly. In the long-run, if relative endowments converge to a steady state, taxes on international capital flows converge to zero. Although our theory emphasizes interest rate manipulation, the country's net financial position per se is irrelevant.

Suggested Citation

  • Arnaud Costinot & Guido Lorenzoni & Iván Werning, 2011. "A Theory of Capital Controls as Dynamic Terms-of-Trade Manipulation," NBER Working Papers 17680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17680
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin, Alberto & Taddei, Filippo, 2013. "International capital flows and credit market imperfections: A tale of two frictions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 441-452.
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    4. Aoki, Kosuke & Benigno, Gianluca & Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro, 2010. "Adjusting to Capital Account Liberalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 8087, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Jonathan David Ostry & Atish R. Ghosh & Karl F Habermeier & Marcos d Chamon & Mahvash S Qureshi & Dennis B. S. Reinhardt, 2010. "Capital Inflows; The Role of Controls," IMF Staff Position Notes 2010/04, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Olivier Jeanne & Anton Korinek, 2010. "Excessive Volatility in Capital Flows: A Pigouvian Taxation Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 403-407, May.
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    10. Nicolas Magud & Carmen Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff, 2005. "Capital Controls: Myth and Reality A Portfolio Balance Approach to Capital Controls," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2006-10, University of Oregon Economics Department.
    11. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2012. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 94-130, February.
    12. Constantinos Syropoulos, 2002. "Optimum Tariffs and Retaliation Revisited: How Country Size Matters," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 707-727.
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    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions

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