A New Stage in the Debate on the Effects of Capital Controls
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Publication date: 2017-12-31
GNPJE 2017;292(6):5-29
Arguments for and against capital controls have long attracted attention not only of economists but also of politicians, being part of a broader debate about the optimal scope of the state in economic processes. It is understandable that this controversy has become even more difficult to settle at a time of financial and economic crisis that first adversely affected developed economies countries and later spread to other groups of countries. The aim of this article is to show whether and to what extent a frequent policy recommendation for emerging market economies to adopt specific capital control measures is well grounded in theoretical research. Two largely complementary lines of recent research are surveyed. On the one hand, the survey covers those theoretical contributions that depart from the monetary policy “trilemma” approach and try to incorporate some new aspects that affect the costs and benefits of capital controls. On the other hand, the article discusses those new theoretical advances that focus on the efficiency of capital controls relative to alternative policy tools. The survey emphasizes those lines of theoretical research that help better understand the changing role of middle-income countries in the world economy. One can draw a general conclusion that, in spite of considerable progress in research, a broad theoretical framework is still missing that could make it possible to assess the macroeconomic consequences of capital control policies and offer clear criteria of their success. From the middle-income countries’ perspective, a recent research effort aimed at shedding new light on linkages between capital controls, structural change and economic reform seems to be particularly promising.
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