This paper assesses the stabilization properties of fixed versus flexible exchange rate regimes and aims to answer this research question: Does greater exchange rate flexibility help an economy’s adjustment to weather shocks? To address this question, the impact of weather shocks on real per capita GDP growth is quantified under the two alternative exchange rate regimes. We find that although weather shocks are generally detrimental to per capita income growth, the impact is less severe under flexible exchange rate regimes. Moreover, the medium-term adverse growth impact of a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature under a pegged regime is about –1.4 percentage points on average, while under a flexible regime, the impact is less than one half that amount (–0.6 percentage point). This finding bolsters the idea that exchange rate flexibility not only helps mitigate the initial impact of the shock but also promotes a faster recovery. In terms of mechanisms, our findings suggest that the depreciation of the nominal exchange rate under a flexible regime supports real export growth. In contrast to standard theoretical predictions, we find that countercyclical fiscal policy may not be effective under pegged regimes amid high debt, highlighting the importance of the policy mix and precautionary (fiscal) buffers.
The COVID-19 crisis raises the risk of renewed financial sector pressures in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) region in the period ahead. Bank distress and its economic and fiscal fallout have been recurring features of many CCA countries, as seen after the global financial crisis and the 2014–15 oil price shock. Strong policy responses have delayed the full impact of the COVID crisis so far, but financial sector risks will increase once public support is phased out. If these risks are not preemptively addressed, banks’ ability to lend during the recovery phase could be impaired and there may be a need for costly public interventions, as in the past.
Some central banks have maintained overvalued official exchange rates, while unable to ensure that supply of foreign exchange meets legitimate demand for current account transactions at that price. A parallel exchange rate market develops, in such circumstances; and when the spread between the official and parallel rates is both substantial and sustained, price levels in the economy typically reflect the parallel market exchange rate. “Recognizing reality” by allowing economic agents to use a market clearing rate benefits economic activity without necessarily leading to more inflation. But a unified, market-clearing exchange rate will not stabilize without a supportive fiscal and monetary context. A number of country case studies are included; my thanks to Jie Ren for pulling together all the data for the country case studies, and the production of the charts.
This paper estimates the extent and speed of exchange rate pass-through (ERPT) in seven Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) countries using monthly data over the January 1995–May 2020 period. The estimations are performed using the local projections method. We find that the average pass-through in the CCA is about 10 percent on impact and about 25 percent after 12 months. There is no evidence of asymmetric ERPT with respect to the size and the sign of exchange rate changes. The pass-through is broadly unchanged in fixed versus floating exchange rate regimes. There has been a downward shift in the speed of ERPT in the aftermath of the global financial crisis as CCA countries have entered a relatively low inflation environment. The pass-through estimates could be used by the CCA monetary authorities for inflation projections. The absence of non-linearities in the pass-through with respect to the exchange rate regime suggests that transition from fixed to floating exchange rate regimes in the region is not likely to impose additional inflationary costs.
Mr. Joseph E. Gagnon, Mr. Tamim Bayoumi, Juan M. Londono, Christian Saborowski, and Horacio Sapriza
This paper explores the effects of unconventional monetary and exchange rate policies. We find that official foreign asset purchases have large effects on current accounts that diminish as capital mobility rises and spill over to financially integrated countries. There is an additional effect through the stock of central bank assets. Domestic asset purchases have an effect on current accounts only when capital mobility is low. We also find that rising US bond yields drive foreign yields, stock prices and depreciations, but less so on days of policy announcements. We develop a theoretical model that is broadly consistent with our results.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The first paper is on the oil boom in Azerbaijan, which presents a unique opportunity to speed up the development agenda, but at the same time poses challenges to the management of macroeconomic policy. A new fiscal framework to sustain macroeconomic stability and achieve fiscal sustainability is required. The second paper is on Azerbaijan's managed exchange rate policy and the need for an orderly and durable transition to more flexible exchange rate arrangements that can mitigate risks. Even if greater flexibility is not introduced in the short term, improved monetary policy framework needs to be put in place.
This Selected Issues paper on Azerbaijan highlights that rapid non-oil growth since the onset of the oil boom has contributed to substantial reduction in poverty and inequality. To keep growth inclusive, there is a need to accelerate economic diversification and make the nonhydrocarbon private sector a self-sustaining engine of growth. Policy priorities include strengthening governance and the business environment and improving human capital and productive infrastructure to enhance the productivity of private investment. Expanding the relatively well-targeted social safety net will ensure coverage of the vulnerable groups.
In recent years, the South Caucasus and Central Asia countries (CCA-6) have received significant foreign exchange inflows. While a healthy reserve buffer is desirable to selfinsure against external crises, holding international reserves also involves costs. We analyze the adequacy of CCA-6 reserves using widely recognized rules of thumb, and simulate optimal reserve levels applying the Jeanne (2007) model. Both the adequacy measures and the model-based simulations indicate that, with the exception of Tajikistan, CCA-6 reserves had increased to broadly comfortable levels by 2006. More recently, reserve adequacy has been tested in Kazakhstan, which has been affected by the 2007 global liquidity crunch.
This Selected Issues paper reviews the financial sector development in Georgia in recent years, and investigates why it has lagged behind economic development, as well as developments in more advanced transition economies. The paper briefly reviews recent financial sector development in Georgia, comparing it with developments in its neighboring countries in the Caucasus, the seven poorest countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS-7), the Baltics, and central and eastern Europe. The paper also analyzes possible factors constraining financial intermediation in Georgia and in some of the CIS countries more generally.