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IMF's New View on Capital Controls


By Kevin P. Gallagher and Jose Antonio Ocampo

"Weeks before the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington next month, GDAE Senior Researcher Kevin P. Gallagher and Colombia University economist Jose Antonio Ocampo offer a critical analysis of the IMF's new view on capital account liberalization and the management of capital flows. The article, “The IMF’s New View on Capital Controls,” appears in India's Economic and Political Weekly (see here).

In the 1970s the International Monetary Fund became an advocate of capital account liberalization, and in 1997 it tried to change its Articles of Agreement to include capital account convertibility among its mandates. In contrast, the IMF embraced in December 2012 a new "institutional view" on this issue. While it remains wedded to eventual financial liberalization, it now acknowledges that free movement of capital rests on a weak intellectual foundation. Gallagher and Ocampo claim that this is a step in the right direction, but that the new institutional view still suffers from a number of shortcomings that will need to be addressed in national capitals and in other international fora.

Although a significant step forward, the new institutional view is still out of step with country experience and economic thinking in many respects. In particular, it continues to insist on eventual capital market liberalization despite the lack of evidence supporting it, is too narrow concerning the sanctioned use of capital account regulations on inflows and outflows, and does not deal with the implications for multilateral aspects of regulating cross-border finance."

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