This paper examines the effect transactions with the IMF have on the monetary situation within a country when the foreign exchange purchased from the IMF is used to meet a balance of payments deficit. In some countries, the national currency counterpart is kept on deposit to the credit of the IMF at the central bank. In other countries, the government substitutes a noninterest-bearing note for the national currency counterpart of a transaction with the IMF. It is with the effects of the latter practice that this paper is primarily concerned. The effect of a balance of payments deficit on the money supply will be offset if credit is expanded to finance a government deficit, investment by business, or spending by consumers. The ultimate effect on the money supply will depend upon how the government deals with the national currency turned over to it by the Exchange Equalization Account. Considerable caution is required in concluding that a balance of payments deficit is likely to be moderate and temporary.
This paper highlights various problems and policies related to latent inflation. Disappointment will undoubtedly be widespread if, after 10 years of inflation control, latent inflation is permitted to become active and there is a considerable rise in prices. It is not unlikely that some governments will feel they simply cannot accept such a policy. However, the prospect of wiping out or working off latent inflation in any moderate period is very slight. There is every reason to deal with the latent inflation as far as possible by absorbing it through taxation and by measures to reduce liquidity. At the same time, with increased output it should be possible to work off part of the latent inflation. Even if it becomes generally recognized that all or most of such inflation cannot be wiped out or worked off, its immediate activation may be unwise. At some stage soon, governments must face the difficulties presented by latent inflation and recognize that a comprehensive program for dealing with it must be put into effect. Unless such programs are adopted, there can be no great confidence that international payments problems can be solved simply by imposing more rigorous and more extensive controls.
This paper focuses on various aspects of inflation in Latin America. Among short-run factors, World War II considerably affected the balance of payments of Latin American countries and thus indirectly their inflationary situation. Inflation in a greater or less degree has long been characteristic of many Latin American countries. A high propensity to consume implies either a high multiplier or a high propensity to import. In normal times, the latter was more usual, since the supply of consumers' goods in these countries was rather inelastic. In countries where controls over consumption and investment are strict and efficient, there is a tendency for inflation to give rise to substantial holdings of cash, bank deposits, and other relatively liquid assets in excess of those which would voluntarily be held by business and consumers. In countries such as those of Latin America, where controls have not been very effective, this tendency toward excess liquidity is noticeably smaller. Nevertheless, it is still a factor to reckon with, because involuntary hoarding may be the result of the impossibility of obtaining desired commodities or supplies, even though there is no rationing or similar system in operation. In Latin America during the war the inevitable curtailment of imports did in this way bring about a condition of latent inflation.