Capital Flows and Crises by Barry Eichengreen

By Barry Eichengreen

An research of the connections among capital flows and monetary crises in addition to among capital flows and fiscal development.

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Still, these are no grounds for selfcongratulation. At the national level, governments and societies have made considerable headway since World War II in enhancing economic and financial stability. Automatic fiscal stabilizers have moderated cyclical fluctuations. Deposit insurance has all but eliminated bank runs and banking panics. Central banks have recognized and acted upon the need to backstop payments systems. But, in the international domain, there has been less progress. All this is to say that policymakers have not yet succeeded in coming to terms with the growth of international financial markets.

They established bond departments and securities affiliates, opened store-front sales offices, and took out newspaper ads. Investment-trust and insurancecompany balance sheets expanded rapidly, and these non-bank intermediaries provided the same portfolio management and diversification services as their British counterparts. Foreign securities were increasingly among their holdings. Because the majority of this borrowing was by governments, and because market access required only hooking up to an existing infrastructure, these capital inflows did less to stimulate the development of financial markets than in Canada or the United States before 1913.

Thus, when economic conditions deteriorated in Britain, investment was redeployed from home to overseas markets (Cairncross 1953). British imports might decline, worsening conditions in the periphery, but when they did, British capital exports would rise, exercising an offsetting effect. Capital flows were stabilizing, in other words, because they were countercyclical. Thus, the operation of the financial system was eased by the economic context in which the capital transfer took place. The Political Context Whereas Fishlow attributes the stability of prewar capital markets to the economic context, Feis (1930) emphasizes instead the political context.

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