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Liberalization and Regulation of Capital Flows: Lessons for Emerging Market Economies

  • Mohan, Rakesh

    (Asian Development Bank Institute)

  • Kapur, Muneesh

    (Asian Development Bank Institute)

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    Capital flows to emerging market economies (EMEs) have been characterized by high volatility since the 1980s. In recent years (especially since 2003), although gross as well as net capital flows to the EMEs have increased, they could not be absorbed domestically. Overall, savings have flowed uphill from EMEs to advanced economies, challenging the conventional view that capital flows to EMEs are always beneficial through augmentation of their resources leading to greater investment. Full capital account liberalization can impart avoidable volatility and have an adverse impact on growth prospects of EMEs. Available evidence is strongly in favor of a calibrated and well-sequenced approach to opening up the capital account and its active management, along with complementary reforms in other sectors. Greater caution is needed in the liberalization of debt flows. Despite much advice to the contrary, most EMEs manage their capital accounts actively to cushion their economies from undue volatility, including interventions in the foreign exchange markets accompanied by sterilization. Sound macroeconomic and financial policies-accompanied by prudent capital account management, greater exchange rate flexibility, purposive use of prudential regulation, and continued financial market development practiced by most Asian EMEs over the past decade-have cushioned their economies from the current global financial crisis that started in 2007. They have successfully achieved a virtuous circle of continuing growth, low and stable inflation, and financial stability. How these elements can be best combined will depend on the country and on the period: There is no "one size fits all." Such a discretionary approach does put a great premium on the skill of policymakers and can run the risk of markets perceiving central bank actions becoming uncomfortably unpredictable. Such risk is mitigated by a record of successful management.

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    Paper provided by Asian Development Bank Institute in its series ADBI Working Papers with number 186.

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    Length: 45 pages
    Date of creation: 14 Jan 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ris:adbiwp:0186
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    1. Cardarelli, Roberto & Elekdag, Selim & Kose, M. Ayhan, 2010. "Capital inflows: Macroeconomic implications and policy responses," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 333-356, December.
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    4. Richard N. Cooper, 1999. "Should Capital Controls be Banished?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(1), pages 89-142.
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    6. Henry, Peter B., 2007. "Capital Account Liberalization: Theory, Evidence, and Speculation," Research Papers 1974, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    7. M. Ayhan Kose & Eswar S. Prasad & Marco E. Terrones, 2008. "Does Openness to International Financial Flows Raise Productivity Growth?," NBER Working Papers 14558, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2008. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," CEMA Working Papers 595, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    9. Peter Henry, 2007. "Capital Account Liberalization: Theory, Evidence, and Speculation," Discussion Papers 07-004, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    10. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian, 2009. "Why Did Financial Globalization Disappoint?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 56(1), pages 112-138, April.
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