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How Effective are Capital Controls?

  • Sebastian Edwards

In the aftermath of the East Asian crisis a number of authors have argued that capital mobility is highly destabilizing, and that emerging countries would benefit from restricting capital flows. In this paper I investigate, from a historical perspective, the effectiveness of capital controls. I deal with Tobin taxes, controls on outflows and controls on inflows. I argue that controls on outflows have seldom worked as expected. They introduce major distortions and breed corruption. Market-based controls on inflows - similar to those implemented by Chile - have the potential for lengthening the maturity of foreign debt. They are not very effective, however, in achieving other objectives, including a higher degree of monetary policy independence.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7413.

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Date of creation: Nov 1999
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 13, no. 4 (Fall 1999): 65-84.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7413
Note: IFM
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Sebastian Edwards, 1998. "Interest Rate Volatily, Contagion and Convergence: And Empirical Investigation of the Cases of Argentina, Chile and México," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 55-86, November.
  2. Martin Feldstein & Charles Horioka, 1979. "Domestic Savings and International Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 0310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
  4. Sebastian Edwards & Julio A. Santaella, 1992. "Devaluation Controversies in the Developing Countries: Lessons From the Bretton Woods Era," NBER Working Papers 4047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alesina, Alberto F & Grilli, Vittorio & Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 1993. "The Political Economy of Capital Controls," CEPR Discussion Papers 793, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Rudiger Dornbusch & Sebastian Edwards, 1991. "The Macroeconomics of Populism in Latin America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dorn91-1, December.
  7. Rudiger Dornbusch & Sebastian Edwards, 1989. "Macroeconomic Populism in Latin America," NBER Working Papers 2986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Edwards, Sebastian & Edwards, Alejandra Cox, 1991. "Monetarism and Liberalization," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226184890.
  9. Michael P. Dooley & Donald J. Mathieson & Liliana Rojas-Suarez, 1997. "Capital Mobility and Exchange Market Intervention in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 6247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sebastian Edwards, 2000. "Capital Flows, Real Exchange Rates, and Capital Controls: Some Latin American Experiences," NBER Chapters, in: Capital Flows and the Emerging Economies: Theory, Evidence, and Controversies, pages 197-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sebastian Edwards, 1999. "Crisis Prevention: Lessons from Mexico and East Asia," NBER Working Papers 7233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, 1993. "The Unstable EMS," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 24(1), pages 51-144.
  13. Reinhart, Carmen & Montiel, Peter, 1999. "Do capital controls influence the volume and composition of capital flows? Evidence from the 1990s," MPRA Paper 13710, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. James Tobin, 1978. "A Proposal for International Monetary Reform," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 4(3-4), pages 153-159, Jul/Oct.
  15. Montiel, Peter J, 1994. "Capital Mobility in Developing Countries: Some Measurement Issues and Empirical Estimates," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(3), pages 311-50, September.
  16. Kenneth Rogoff, 1999. "International Institutions for Reducing Global Financial Instability," NBER Working Papers 7265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Fischer, S. & Cooper, R.N. & Dornbusch, R. & Garber, P.M. & Massad, C. & Polak, J.J. & Rodrik, D. & Tarapore, S.S., 1998. "Should the IMF Pursue Capital-Account Convertibility?," Princeton Essays in International Economics 207, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
  18. Marcelo Soto & Salvador Valdés, 1996. "¿Es el Control Selectivo de Capitales Efectivo en Chile? Su Efecto sobre el Tipo de Cambio Real," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 33(98), pages 77-108.
  19. Maurice Obstfeld, 1986. "International Finance," NBER Working Papers 2077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Salvador Valdés-Prieto & Marcelo Soto, 1998. "The Effectiveness of Capital Controls: Theory and Evidence from Chile," Empirica, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 133-164, January.
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