NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Capital Controls as Macro-prudential Policy in a Large Open Economy

J. Scott Davis, Michael B. Devereux

NBER Working Paper No. 25710
Issued in March 2019
NBER Program(s):The International Finance and Macroeconomics Program

The use of international capital flow controls has become increasingly popular in academic and policy circles. But almost all the recent literature studies the case of a small economy, ignoring the spillover effects of capital controls to the rest of the world. This paper re-examines the case for capital controls in a large open economy, where domestic financial constraints may bind following a large negative shock. We consider both ex-ante capital controls (prudential) and ex-post controls (crisis management). In a large open economy, there is a tension between the desire to tax capital inflows to manipulate the terms-of-trade and tax capital outflows for either prudential or crisis management purposes. When capital controls are chosen non-cooperatively, we show that ex-post capital controls are unsuccessful in alleviating financial constraints in a crisis, and ex-ante capital controls are unsuccessful at reducing financial instability before the crisis. Non-cooperative capital controls leave the crisis-hit country even worse off than in an environment with unrestricted capital flows. In addition, a non-cooperative equilibrium with capital controls actually increases the likelihood of a financial crisis occurring. By contrast, capital controls can be effective under international cooperation and can significantly ease financial constraints when applied ex-post for crisis management and reduce the likelihood of a crisis when used ex-ante for prudential purposes.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25710

 
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