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

  • Arnaud Costinot
  • Guido Lorenzoni
  • Iván Werning

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17680.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17680.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Publication status: published as Arnaud Costinot & Guido Lorenzoni & Iv�n Werning, 2014. "A Theory of Capital Controls as Dynamic Terms-of-Trade Manipulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(1), pages 77 - 128.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17680
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  1. Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare & Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," 2010 Meeting Papers 433, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Martin, Alberto & Taddei, Filippo, 2010. "International Capital Flows and Credit Market Imperfections: A Tale of Two Frictions," CEPR Discussion Papers 8131, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Jonathan David Ostry & Atish R. Ghosh & Karl Friedrich Habermeier & Marcos Chamon & Mahvash Saeed Qureshi & Dennis B. S. Reinhardt, 2010. "Capital Inflows; The Role of Controls," IMF Staff Position Notes 2010/04, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Nicolas E. Magud & Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2011. "Capital Controls: Myth and Reality - A Portfolio Balance Approach," NBER Working Papers 16805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Olivier Jeanne & Anton Korinek, 2010. "Excessive Volatility in Capital Flows: A Pigouvian Taxation Approach," NBER Working Papers 15927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Maurice Obstfeld & Jay C. Shambaugh & Alan M. Taylor, 2010. "Financial Stability, the Trilemma, and International Reserves," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 57-94, April.
  7. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, June.
  8. Aoki, Kosuke & Benigno, Gianluca & Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro, 2010. "Adjusting to Capital Account Liberalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 8087, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Christian Broda & Nuno Limao & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "Optimal Tariffs and Market Power: The Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2032-65, December.
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