Currency Boards: More than a Quick Fix?

Posted: 27 Nov 2000

See all articles by Atish R. Ghosh

Atish R. Ghosh

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Policy Development and Review Department

Anne-Marie Gulde

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Holger C. Wolf

Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS)

Abstract

Once a popular colonial monetary arrangement, currency boards fell into disuse as countries gained political independence. But recently, currency boards have made a remarkable come-back. This essay takes a critical look at their performance. Are currency boards really a panacea for achieving low inflation and high growth? Or do they merely provide a 'quick fix' allowing authorities to neglect fundamental reforms and thus fail to yield lasting benefits? We have three major findings. First, the historical track record of currency boards is sterling, with few instances of speculative attacks and virtually no 'involuntary? exits. Countries that did exit from currency boards did so mainly for political, rather than economic reasons, and such exits were usually uneventful. Second, modern currency boards have often been instituted to gain credibility following a period of high or hyperinflation, and in this regard, have been remarkably successful. Countries with currency boards experienced lower inflation and higher (if more volatile) GDP growth compared to both floating regimes and simple pegs. The inflation difference reflects both a lower growth rate of money supply (a 'discipline effect'), and a faster growth of money demand (a 'credibility effect'). The GDP growth effect is significant, but may simply reflect a rebound from depressed levels. Third, case studies reveal the successful introduction of a currency board to be far from trivial, requiring lengthy legal and institutional changes, as well as a broad economic and social consensus for the implied commitment. Moreover, there are thorny issues, as yet untested, regarding possible exits from a currency board. Thus currency boards do not provide easy solutions. But if introduced in the right circumstances, with some built-in flexibility, they can be an important tool for gaining credibility and achieving macroeconomic stabilization.

Suggested Citation

Ghosh, Atish R. and Gulde, Anne-Marie and Wolf, Holger C., Currency Boards: More than a Quick Fix?. Economic Policy, Vol. 15, Issue 31, October 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=247412

Atish R. Ghosh (Contact Author)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Policy Development and Review Department ( email )

700 19th St. NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Anne-Marie Gulde

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Holger C. Wolf

Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States
202-687-8079 (Phone)
202-687-8359 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://georgetown.edu/faculty/wolfhc/

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