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International Liquidity Management: Sterilization Policy in Illiquid Financial Markets

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  • Ricardo J. Caballero
  • Arvind Krishnamurthy

Abstract

During the booms that precede crises in emerging economies, policy makers often struggle to limit capital flows and their expansionary consequences. The main policy tool for this task is sterilization - essentially a swap of international reserves for public bonds. However, there is an extensive debate on the effectiveness of this policy, with many arguing that it may be counterproductive once the (over-) reaction of the private sector is considered. But what forces account for the private sector's reaction remain largely unexplained. In this paper we provide a model to discuss these issues. We emphasize the international liquidity management aspect of sterilization over the traditional monetary one, a re-focus that seems warranted when the main concern is external crisis prevention. We first demonstrate that policies to smooth expansion in anticipation of downturns can be Pareto improving in economies where domestic financial markets are underdeveloped. We then discuss the implementation and effectiveness of this policy via sterilization. The greatest risk of policy arises in situations where policy is most needed - that is , when financial markets are illiquid. Our mechanism is akin to the implicit bailout' problem, although the central bank acts non-selectively and only intervenes through open markets in our model. Illiquidity replaces corruption and ineptitude. In addition to an appreciation of the currency and the emergence of a quasi-fiscal deficit, the private sector's reaction to sterilization may lead to an expansion rather than the desired contraction in aggregate demand or nontradeables investment and to a bias toward short term capital inflows. The main insights extend to international liquidity management issues more generally.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2000. "International Liquidity Management: Sterilization Policy in Illiquid Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 7740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7740 Note: IFM EFG ME
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    1. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ricardo J.Caballero, 2001. "Macroeconomic volatility in Latin America: a view and three case studies," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 28(1 Year 20), pages 5-52, June.
    2. Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, 2005. "Liquidity Shortages and Banking Crises," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 615-647, April.
    3. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Krishnamurthy, Arvind, 2004. "Smoothing sudden stops," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 104-127, November.
    4. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Krishnamurthy, Arvind, 2001. "International and domestic collateral constraints in a model of emerging market crises," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 513-548, December.
    5. M S Mohanty & Philip Turner, 2005. "Intervention: what are the domestic consequences?," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Foreign exchange market intervention in emerging markets: motives, techniques and implications, volume 24, pages 56-81 Bank for International Settlements.
    6. Raghuram G. Rajan & Ioannis Tokatlidis, 2005. "Dollar Shortages and Crises," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 1(2), September.
    7. Fernando Aportela & Francisco Gallego & Pablo García, 2003. "Reserves Over the Transitions to Floating and to Inflation Targeting: Lessons From the Developed World," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 211, Central Bank of Chile.
    8. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2000. "Dollarization of Liabilities: Underinsurance and Domestic Financial Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 7792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Chiueh, Y. & Chen, M. C., 2003. "An economic analysis of Taiwan water market and water bank establishment," IWMI Books, Reports H033354, International Water Management Institute.
    10. Ricardo Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2001. "A "Vertical" Analysis of Crises and Intervention: Fear of Floating and Ex-ante Problems," NBER Working Papers 8428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2001. "International Liquidity Illusion: On the Risks of Sterilization," NBER Working Papers 8141, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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