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Capital Controls: Protectionism or Market Correction?

By Kevin Gallagher | Political Economy Research Institute | February 15, 2012

Unstable global capital flows to developing countries have been characteristic of the world economy in the wake of the global financial crisis. The nations that have deployed capital controls to mitigate the negative effects of such flows have been branded as "protectionist" by some. This paper argues that such claims are unfounded. There is a long-standing strand of modern economic theory that dates back to Keynes and Prebisch and continues to this day that sees the use of capital controls as essential for macroeconomic stability and in order to deploy an independent monetary policy.

In a most recent development, a "new welfare economics" of capital controls has arisen within the mainstream that sees controls as measures to correct for market failures due to imperfect information, contagion, uncertainty and beyond. Taken as a whole then, rather than the "new protectionism," capital controls could be seen as the "new correctionism" that rejustifies a tool that has long been recognized to promote stability and growth in developing countries.

Read More: Business, Debt, Democracy, Development, Economy, Finance, Globalization, Trade

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