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):International Finance and Macroeconomics

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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