NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Competitiveness, Realignment, and Speculation: The Role of Financial Markets

Maurice Obstfeld

NBER Working Paper No. 2539 (Also Reprint No. r1134)
Issued in March 1988
NBER Program(s):   ITI   IFM

Current and planned measures liberalizing the external capital accounts of France and Italy call into question the continued viability of the policy of periodic exchange-rate realignment followed to date in the European Monetary System (EMS). This paper is intended as a first step in studying the real and monetary effects of EMS-style realignments in a setting of free cross-border financial flows. The first set of results derived concerns a situation in which there are no fundamental factors behind domestic inflation. Under a policy regime in which domestic inflation automatically triggers devaluation, the economy can undergo self-fulfilling depreciation-inflation spirals, triggered by speculative attack on the exchange rate. Such spirals do not occur when realignments do not offset past inflation fully. The second set of results shows how an exchange rate collapse can occur after inflation is set off by expansionary fiscal policy. Sometimes, but not always, the crisis will be preceded by a period of capital inflows and real currency appreciation. In other cases fiscal expansion may set off an immediate crisis.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2539

Published: The European Monetary System, edited by Francesco Giavazzi, Stefano Micossi , and Marcus Miller. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

 
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