Obstacles to International Macroeconomic Policy Coordination
Coordination of macroeconomic policies among countries is not as straightforward in practice as it appears in theory. This paper discusses three obstacles to successful international coordination: (1) uncertainty as to the correct initial position of the economy, (2) uncertainty as to the correct objective, and (3) uncertainty as to the correct model linking policy actions to their effects in the economy. Previous results (NBER Working Paper No. 2059) showed that coordination under conditions of policy-maker disagreement about the correct model could very well reduce national welfare rather than raise it. This paper extends those results to allow for explicit policy-maker recognition of uncertainty regarding the correct model, as well as uncertainty regarding the model to which other policy-makers subscribe. It also shows that the potential gains from coordination, even when positive, are usually small relative to the gains from unilateral policy changes based on improved knowledge of the model.
Published: From Princeton Studies in International Finance, No. 64, pp. 1-41,(December 1988). Journal of Public Policy, vol. 3, no. 3, 1989 (Condensed version).