DP14186 Capital Controls: A Survey of the New Literature

Author(s): Chang Ma, Alessandro Rebucci
Publication Date: December 2019
Keyword(s): capital controls, Capital Flows, financial crises, Pecuniary and Demand Externalities, Terms of Trade Manipulation
JEL(s): F38, F41
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics and Finance
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14186

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 net gain or losses 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.