NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Global Capital Market: Benefactor or Menace?

Maurice Obstfeld

NBER Working Paper No. 6559
Issued in May 1998
NBER Program(s):   IFM   ITI

This paper reviews the theoretical functions, history, and policy problems raised by the international capital market. The goal is to offer a perspective on both the considerable advantages the market offers and on the genuine hazards it poses, as well as on the avenues through which it constrains national policy choices. A duality of benefits and risks is inescapable in the real world of asymmetric information and imperfect contract enforcement. I argue, however, that in confronting the global capital market there is no reason to depart from conventional economic wisdom. The way to maximize net benefits is to encourage economic integration while attacking concomitant distortions and other unwanted side-effects at, or close to, their sources.

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Published: Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 12 (Fall 1998): 9-30.

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