By A. Edward Gottesman
It’s only money, for heaven’s sake! The euro is a great convenience for trade and travel, and it is a powerful symbol of unified purpose for countries that have been at each other’s throats for 1000 years. But it doesn’t cure cancer or the common cold. In October, Angela Merkel, German chancellor, said: “If the euro collapses, then Europe collapses.” This hyperbole may have worked as scare politics, but it was bad economics. Keynes identified as long ago as 1923 what we can now call the Merkel mistake:
“Conservative bankers regard it as more consonant with their cloth, and also as economising thought, to shift public discussion of financial topics off the logical on to an alleged ‘moral’ plane, which means a realm of thought where vested interest can be triumphant over the common good without further debate.”
By Kevin P. Gallagher
At the recent annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank Taiwan’s Central Bank governor Perng Fai-nan urged emerging market nations in Asia to use capital controls to promote financial stability.
Yesterday, this call was echoed by Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. She singled out China, India, Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea as the most vulnerable nations in need of controls
These statements would have been unthinkable a decade ago, and shows how much has changed.
Part of the stigma attached to capital controls has been dampened by the new tune at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In a February 2010 staff position note and in the IMF‘s Global Financial Stability Report (GSFR) the IMF said that capital controls are a legitimate part of the toolkit for emerging markets. What’s more, the IMF’s economists found that those countries that deployed capital controls in the run-up to the current crisis were among the least hard hit from the global financial crisis.
It is time for the debate over capital controls to shift from whether to deploy controls to how and when.
The problem is that many of the world’s trade and investment treaties, especially those with the US, make it very difficult to effectively use capital controls. Read more