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Fear of Floating

  • Guillermo A. Calvo
  • Carmen M. Reinhart

In recent years, many countries have suffered severe financial crises, producing a staggering toll on their economies, particularly in emerging markets. One view blames fixed exchange rates-- soft pegs'--for these meltdowns. Adherents to that view advise countries to allow their currency to float. We analyze the behavior of exchange rates, reserves, the monetary aggregates, interest rates, and commodity prices across 154 exchange rate arrangements to assess whether official labels' provide an adequate representation of actual country practice. We find that, countries that say they allow their exchange rate to float mostly do not--there seems to be an epidemic case of fear of floating.' Since countries that are classified as having a free or a managed float mostly resemble noncredible pegs--the so-called demise of fixed exchange rates' is a myth--the fear of floating is pervasive, even among some of the developed countries. We present an analytical framework that helps to understand why there is fear of floating.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7993.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Calvo, Guillermo A. and Carmen M. Reinhart. "Fear Of Floating," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2002, v107(2,May), 379-408.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7993
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  1. Amartya Lahiri & Carlos A. Végh, 2002. "Living with the Fear of Floating: An Optimal Policy Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: Preventing Currency Crises in Emerging Markets, pages 663-704 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
  3. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2002. "Fear Of Floating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(2), pages 379-408, May.
  4. Canzoneri, Matthew B, 1985. "Monetary Policy Games and the Role of Private Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1056-70, December.
  5. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  6. Atish R. Ghosh & Anne-Marie Gulde & Jonathan D. Ostry & Holger C. Wolf, 1997. "Does The Nominal Exchange Rate Regime Matter?," Working Papers 97-09, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  7. Stanley Fischer, 2001. "Exchange Rate Regimes: Is the Bipolar View Correct?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 3-24, Spring.
  8. Reinhart, Carmen & Calvo, Guillermo, 2000. "When Capital Inflows Come to a Sudden Stop: Consequences and Policy Options," MPRA Paper 6982, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. 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.
  10. Carmen M. Reinhart, 2000. "Mirage of Floating Exchange Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 65-70, May.
  11. Reinhart, Carmen & Calvo, Guillermo, 2001. "Fixing for your life," MPRA Paper 13873, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Reinhart, Carmen, 2002. "Sovereign Credit Ratings Before and After Financial Crises," MPRA Paper 7410, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Ricardo Hausmann & Ugo Panizza & Ernesto H. Stein, 2000. "Why Do Countries Float the Way They Float?," Research Department Publications 4205, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  14. Jeffrey Frankel & Sergio Schmukler & Luis Serven, 2000. "Verifiability and the Vanishing Intermediate Exchange Rate Regime," NBER Working Papers 7901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Reinhart, Carmen M & Reinhart, Vincent R, 1999. "On the Use of Reserve Requirements in Dealing with Capital Flow Problems," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 4(1), pages 27-54, January.
  16. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 1995. "The Mirage of Fixed Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 5191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Michael Gavin & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 11-72 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Barry Eichengreen & Ricardo Hausmann, 1999. "Exchange Rates and Financial Fragility," NBER Working Papers 7418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Baxter, Marianne & Stockman, Alan C., 1989. "Business cycles and the exchange-rate regime : Some international evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 377-400, May.
  20. Ernesto Talvi & Carlos A. Vegh, 2000. "Tax Base Variability and Procyclical Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 7499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Calvo, Guillermo A & Guidotti, Pablo E, 1993. "On the Flexibility of Monetary Policy: The Case of the Optimal Inflation Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 667-87, July.
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