The Political Economy of International Finance in an Age of Inequality
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The Political Economy of International Finance in an Age of Inequality

Soft Currencies, Hard Landings

Edited by Gerald A. Epstein

The essays in this book describe and analyze the current contours of the international financial system, covering both developed and developing countries, and focusing on the ways in which the current international financial system structures, and is affected by, profound inequalities in the international system. This keen analysis of key topics in international finance takes a heterodox perspective, with focus on the role of inequalities in power in shaping the structure and outcomes in the international sphere.
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Chapter 5: Capital controls in a time of crisis

Ilene Grabel


The chapter highlights five factors that have contributed to the evolving rebranding of capital controls during the global crisis. These are: (1) the rise of increasingly autonomous developing states; (2) the increasing assertiveness of their policymakers; (3) a pragmatic adjustment by the IMF to its constrained geography of influence; (4) the need for controls not just by countries facing fragility or implosion, but also by those that fared “too well” during the crisis; and (5) the evolution in the ideas of academic economists and IMF staff. The chapter also explores tensions around rebranding as exemplified by efforts to develop a hierarchy in which controls on inflows that are a last resort and are targeted, temporary, and non-discriminatory are more acceptable than those that are blunt, enduring, discriminatory, and that target outflows. In addition, tensions have increasingly emerged over whether controls should be used by capital-source rather than just capital-recipient countries.

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