Policy lessons from a simple open - economy model
The authors show how two-sector models can be used to derive policy lessons about adjustment in developing economies. In the past two decades, changes in the external environment and in economic policies have been the key factors in the performance of developing economies. By and large the shocks have involved the external sector: terms-of-trade shocks or cutbacks in foreign capital. The policy responses most commonly proposed have targeted the external sector: depreciating the real exchange rate or reducing distortionary taxes to make the economy more competitive. The authors provide a starting point for analyzing the relation between external shocks and policy responses. Starting from a small, one-country, two-sector, three-good (1-2-3) model, the authors outline how the effects of a foreign capital inflow and terms-of-trade shock can be analyzed. They derive the assumptions underlying the conventional policy recommendation of real exchange rate depreciation in response to adverse shocks. The implications of such trade and fiscal policy instruments as export subsidies, import tariffs, and domestic indirect taxes can also be studied in this framework. The authors show that the standard advice to depreciate the real exchange rate in the wake of an adverse terms-of-trade shock rests on the condition that the income effect of the external shock dominates its substitution effect. But, depending on the characteristics of the economy (for example, the trade elasticities), policy results may run counter to received wisdom. For example, when the substitution effect ofan adverse external shock dominates, real depreciation is inappropriate. An infusion of foreign capital does not necessarily benefit the nontradable sector, as the results of"Dutch disease"models suggest (for example, in the extreme case of nearly infinite substitution elasticity between imports and domestic goods). When import tariffs are significant sources of public revenue, potential revenue losses from tariff cuts must be offset by other revenue sources to maintain the external current account balance. The paper shows a simple way to calculate the necessary tax adjustment. A major advantage of small models is their simplicity. The example in this paper can be solved analytically - either graphically or algebraically. It also can be solved numerically, using such widely available PC-based spreadsheet programs as Excel. The numerical implementation involves only modest data requirements. The data that governments normally release on national income, fiscal, and balance of payments accounts are sufficient.
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