NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Capital Controls: A Survey of the New Literature

Alessandro Rebucci, Chang Ma

NBER Working Paper No. 26558
Issued in December 2019
NBER Program(s):Asset Pricing Program, Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program, International Finance and Macroeconomics Program, Monetary Economics Program, Political Economy Program

This paper reviews selected post-Global Financial Crisis theoretical and empirical contributions on capital controls and identifies three theoretical motives for the use of this policy tools: pecuniary externalities in models of financial crises, aggregate demand externalities in new-Keynesian models of the business cycle, and terms of trade manipulation in open economy models with pricing power. Pecuniary and demand externalities offer the most compelling case for the adoption of capital controls, but macroprudential policy can also address the same distortion. So, in general, capital controls are not the only instrument that can do the job. If evaluated through the lenses of the new theories, the empirical evidence reviewed suggests that capital controls can have the intended effects, even though the extant literature is inconclusive as to whether the effects documented amount to a net gain or loss for the economies that adopted these policies. Terms of trade manipulation also provides a clear cut theoretical case for the use of capital controls, but this motive is less compelling because of the spillover and coordination issues inherent with the use of control on capital flows for this purpose.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26558

 
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