Developing countries' anti-cyclical policies in a globalized world
José Antonio Ocampo
Introduction The volatility and contagion characteristic of international financial markets, which dominated emerging economies during the 1990s, have deep historical roots.1 Indeed, from the mid-1970s to the end of the 1980s, Latin America and many other regions in the developing world experienced a long boom-bust cycle, the most severe of its kind since that of the 1920s and 1930s. The shortening but also the intensity of boom-bust cycles have been distinctive features of the past decade. The latter is reflected, in the words of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, in the fact that the "size of the breakdowns and required official finance to counter them is of a different order of magnitude than in the past" (Greenspan, 1998). Viewed from the perspective of developing countries, the essential feature of instability is the succession of periods of intense capital inflows, in which financial risks significantly increase, facilitated and sometimes enhanced by pro-cyclical domestic macroeconomic policies, and the latter phases of adjustment, in which these risks are exposed and the pro-cyclical character of the measures adopted to "restore confidence" amplify the flow (economic activity)and stock (portfolio) effects of adjustment processes. An essential part of the solution to these problems lies in strengthening the institutional framework to prevent and manage financial crises at the global level.2 This paper, however, looks at the role of developing countries'domestic policies in managing externally generated boom-bust cycles. It draws upon extensive recent literature on the subject 3 and upon the experience of Latin America in the 1990s.4 The discussion is divided into seven sections. The first looks at the macroeconomics of boom-bust cycles in the developing world. The following sections look at the exchange rate regime, liability policies, prudential regulation and supervision, and fiscal stabilization. The final section draws some conclusions.