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A "Vertical" Analysis of Crises and Intervention: Fear of Floating and Ex-ante Problems


  • Ricardo Caballero
  • Arvind Krishnamurthy


Emerging economies are prone to crises triggered by external shocks. During these crises, should the central bank stabilize the currency or domestic interest rates? If the choice is outside the central bank's control, as in a currency board, are there good policy substitutes? We argue that these questions are best analyzed in a 'vertical' framework, where the supply of external funds faced by the country is inelastic during the crisis and monetary policy affects mostly the domestic cost of scarce international liquidity. This is in contrast to the standard 'horizontal' framework where supply is elastic at the (now higher) international interest rate. In this vertical view, raising domestic interest rates during a crisis has relatively limited output consequences, while not doing so causes a sharp exchange rate overshooting. This asymmetry naturally leads to the widely observed fear of floating. However, while this response is ex-post rationalizable, it has negative ex-ante consequences as it exacerbates the structurally insufficient private sector incentives to insure against crises. Ex-ante, optimal monetary policy is countercyclical, and increasingly so as financial development falls. The silver lining for countries with limited financial development that cannot (or should not) overcome this conservative-central-bank time inconsistency problem, is that since the main role of monetary policy in the vertical view is one of incentives, it can be substituted by ex-ante measures to induce the private sector to insure against crises.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8428
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
    2. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2002. "Fear of Floating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 379-408.
    3. 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.
    4. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist & Fabio M. Natalucci, 2007. "External Constraints on Monetary Policy and the Financial Accelerator," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(2-3), pages 295-330, March.
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    6. 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.
    7. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Krishnamurthy, Arvind, 2004. "Smoothing sudden stops," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 104-127, November.
    8. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1987. "Reputational constraints on monetary policy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 141-181, January.
    9. Bernanke, Ben S. & Gertler, Mark & Gilchrist, Simon, 1999. "The financial accelerator in a quantitative business cycle framework," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 21, pages 1341-1393 Elsevier.
    10. Hausmann, Ricardo & Panizza, Ugo & Stein, Ernesto, 2001. "Why do countries float the way they float?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 387-414, December.
    11. Luis Felipe Céspedes & Roberto Chang & Andrés Velasco, 2004. "Balance Sheets and Exchange Rate Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1183-1193, September.
    12. 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.
    13. Frederic S. Mishkin & Andrew Crockett & Michael P. Dooley & Montek S. Ahluwalia, 2003. "Financial Policies," NBER Chapters,in: Economic and Financial Crises in Emerging Market Economies, pages 93-154 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
    15. Ricardo J. Caballero & Arvind Krishnamurthy, 2000. "Dollarization of Liabilities: Underinsurance and Domestic Financial Underdevelopment," NBER Working Papers 7792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Krishnamurthy, Arvind, 2004. "Smoothing sudden stops," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 104-127, November.
    2. Eduardo J. J. Ganapolsky, 2003. "Optimal fear of floating: the role of currency mismatches and fiscal constraints," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2003-31, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    3. Fujiki, Hiroshi & Otani, Akira, 2002. "Do Currency Regimes Matter in the 21st Century? An Overview," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 20(S1), pages 47-79, December.
    4. Devereux, Michael B. & Lane, Philip R., 2003. "Understanding bilateral exchange rate volatility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 109-132, May.
    5. Berg, Andrew & Borensztein, Eduardo & Mauro, Paolo, 2002. "An evaluation of monetary regime options for Latin America," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 213-235, December.
    6. Vieira, Fabrício A.C. & Holland, Márcio & Resende, Marco F., 2012. "Financial dollarization and systemic risks: New empirical evidence," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1695-1714.
    7. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Shang-Jin Wei, 2004. "Managing Macroeconomic Crises," NBER Working Papers 10907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Bersch, Julia & Klüh, Ulrich H., 2007. "When countries do not do what they say: Systematic discrepancies between exchange rate regime announcements and de facto policies," Discussion Papers in Economics 2072, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    9. repec:onb:oenbwp:y::i:67:b:1 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Pelin Berkmen & Eduardo A. Cavallo, 2007. "Exchange Rate Policy and Liability Dollarization; An Empirical Study," IMF Working Papers 07/33, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Eduardo J. J. Ganapolsky, 2004. "Optimal Fear of Floating: The Role of Currency Mismatches and Fiscal Constraints," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 85, Econometric Society.

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    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates

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