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Institute for Policy Studies

Report Info

  • Released February 9, 2009

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Policy Handcuffs in the Financial Crisis

A new report finds that bans on capital controls are outdated and a hindrance to developing nations.

handcuffsAlthough many countries have used capital controls effectively to address financial market volatility, 52 national governments lack the power to control money flows across their borders as the result of U.S. trade pacts or bilateral investment treaties. The International Monetary Fund abandoned its blanket opposition to capital controls after the Asian financial crisis that erupted in 1997, but the U.S. government forged ahead, initiating agreements restricting capital controls with 22 more countries.

The report quotes numerous noted economists, including two Nobel prize winners and close advisors to President Barack Obama, in support of allowing governments to use capital controls. It also lays out five key opportunities for change, including renegotiating trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties, rolling back World Trade Organization commitments on financial deregulation, and reforming World Bank and IMF policies.