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Twin fallacies about exchange rate policy: A note

  • Reinhart, Carmen
  • Reinhart, Vincent

Two assertions about exchange rate regimes circulate with some frequency in policy circles. The first, which could be called the hypothesis of the excluded middle, holds that authorities must either choose perfectly floating exchange rates or a hard peg. The second, seemingly unrelated, notion attempts to explain why policy makers in some countries have little credibility. That mistrust, exemplified by the inability of emerging market economies to borrow at long maturities in their own currencies (original sin), transcends current fundamentals and traces back to the failure of prior policy makers. We argue that the theories of the excluded middle and original sin are twin and related fallacies that are contrary to theory and evidence. The sense that credibility problems stem from a simple and irrational source–failures of prior generations of policy makers–lends credence to alternative regimes that seem to allow the easy purchase of investor confidence–an exchange rate regime at one of the corners. Two decades of theory and empirical evidence cumulate to argue that this is too simple an answer. As to the theory, the literature on time inconsistency has amply demonstrated that the inability to precommit future policy decisions gives reason to doubt that the current regime will be maintained. That doubt stems, not from the record of prior failures, but from the inconsistency of incentives in the future.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 13763.

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Date of creation: Sep 2003
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:13763
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  1. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Balance-of-Payments Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 311-25, August.
  2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent R. Reinhart, 2003. "Twin Fallacies About Exchange Rate Policy in Emerging Markets," NBER Working Papers 9670, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Reinhart, Carmen & Calvo, Guillermo, 2002. "Fear of floating," MPRA Paper 14000, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Obstfeld, Maurice & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Exchange Rate Dynamics Redux," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 624-60, June.
  5. 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.
  6. Reinhart, Carmen, 2000. "The mirage of floating exchange rates," MPRA Paper 13736, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1978. "On the Time Consistency of Optimal Policy in a Monetary Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1411-28, November.
  8. Barry Eichengreen & Ricardo Hausmann, 1999. "Exchange Rates and Financial Fragility," NBER Working Papers 7418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, March.
  10. Wilson, Charles A, 1979. "Anticipated Shocks and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 639-47, June.
  11. 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.
  12. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1979. "On Models of Money and Perfect Foresight," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 20(1), pages 83-103, February.
  13. Lawrence H. Summers, 2000. "International Financial Crises: Causes, Prevention, and Cures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 1-16, May.
  14. Mussa, Michael, 1982. "A Model of Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 74-104, February.
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