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Exchange rate overvaluation and trade protection - lessons from experience

Author

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  • Shatz, Howard J.
  • Tarr, David G.

Abstract

Despite a trend toward more flexible rates, more than half the world's countries maintain fixed or managed exchange rates. In the 1980s and 1990s, developing countries as a group progressively liberalized their trade regimes, but some governments defend their exchange rate in actions that run counter to long-run plans for liberalization. Without discussing the relative merits of fixed and flexible exchange rate systems, the authors note that exchange rate management in many countries has resulted in overvaluation of the real exchange rate. Roughly twenty five percent of the countries for which data are available have overvalued exchange rates, with black market premiums from 10 percent to more than 100 percent. After surveying the literature, the authors present lessons from experience about what has worked (or not) in response to crises involving external shocks and external trade deficits - and why. Trying to defend an overvalued exchange rate with protectionist trade policies is a classic pattern, but experience shows such protection does significantly retard the country's growth, and delay its integration into the world trading community. In fact, and overvalued exchange rate is often the root cause of protection, preventing the country from returning to more liberal trade policies that allow growth and integration into the world community without exchange rate adjustment. Most developing countries have downward price and wage rigidities and, with an external trade deficit, require some form of nominal exchange rate adjustment to restore external equilibrium. The authors present cross-country econometric and case study evidence - citing examples from Argentina, Chile, Ghana, The Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Turkey, Uruguay, and Sub-Saharan Africa (including the CFA zone) - that overvalued exchange rates reduce economic growth. Defending the exchange rate, they show, has nor no medium-term benefits, since falling reserves will eventually force devaluation. Better to have devaluation occur without further debilitating losses in reserves and lost productivity because of import controls. After devaluation the exchange rate will reach a new equilibrium, strongly influenced by government and central bank policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Shatz, Howard J. & Tarr, David G., 2000. "Exchange rate overvaluation and trade protection - lessons from experience," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2289, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2289
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lavinia Cristescu, 2009. "The Effect of Capital Market Liberalization in Eastern Europe: Economic Growth or Financial Crisis," Advances in Economic and Financial Research - DOFIN Working Paper Series 30, Bucharest University of Economics, Center for Advanced Research in Finance and Banking - CARFIB.
    2. Burton A. Abrams & Russell F. Settle, 2007. "Do Fixed Exchange Rates Fetter Monetary Policy? A Credit View," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(2), pages 193-205, Spring.
    3. Shehu Usman Rano Aliyu, 2010. "Exchange rate volatility and export trade in Nigeria: an empirical investigation," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(13), pages 1071-1084.
    4. Pavel Kadochnikov, 2006. "An Analysis of Import Substitution in Russia after the 1998 Crisis," Research Paper Series, Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, issue 95, pages 148-148.
    5. Anderson, Kym & Kurzweil, Marianne & Martin, Will & Sandri, Damiano & Valenzuela, Ernesto, 2008. "Measuring distortions to agricultural incentives, revisited," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(04), pages 675-704, October.
    6. Alvaro Forteza & Daniel Buquet & Mario Ibarburu & Jorge Lanzaro & Andrés Pereyra & Eduardo Siandra & Marcel Vaillant, 2003. "Understanding reform. The Uruguayan case," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0603, Department of Economics - dECON.
    7. Kym Anderson & Johan Swinnen, 2008. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Europe's Transition Economies," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6502, April.
    8. Juan Ricardo Perilla Jiménez, 2008. "La política económica de las crisis financieras: una aproximación empírica," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 10(18), pages 179-211, January-J.
    9. Zelealem Yiheyis, 2006. "The Effects of Devaluation on Aggregate Output: Empirical Evidence from Africa," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(1), pages 21-45.
    10. J. Love & E. Turner, 2001. "Exports, domestic policy and world markets: a panel study," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(5), pages 615-627.

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