The Case For Capital Controls

The standard economic view used to be that capital controls were a damaging relic from the past. Almost all economists opposed them as they believed they discouraged foreign investment, created barriers to trade and lead to an inefficient allocation of resources. The notion that the government could restrict how people used their money was found abhorrent by many. However, since the Financial Crisis, there has been a shift in opinions. Many economists support some capital controls to reduce instability in the economy, particularly in the financial sector. 250 economists from around the world signed a petition calling on the US government to reconsider its opposition to capital controls. Even major institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the Federal Reserve and the European Union have admitted that there may be some cases in which capital controls are beneficial. Continue reading “The Case For Capital Controls”

The Impossible Trinity

Most economic concepts are pretty dry, but the Impossible Trinity sounds like one of those dilemmas where you are in a burning house and can only save two out of three people. The term refers not to religion (that Trinity is impossible in its own way) but international trade and how governments can only two out of three options, each of which is desirable in its own way. The three options are fixed exchange rates, independent monetary policy and free movement of capital. If they don’t sound that exciting, they are crucial to understanding the crisis with the Euro and what we can do about it. Continue reading “The Impossible Trinity”