Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Debt, Growth, and Poverty in the International Monetary System (The Quaid-i-Azam Memorial Lecture)

This paper explores the relationship between debt, growth, and poverty and the international monetary system. With a well-functioning international monetary system, economic policy works well, instruments are assigned to targets appropriately, and discipline is maintained. The fixed exchange rate is contrasted with alternative monetary rules. The monetary rule is the weakest system; monetary targeting has failed in every country in which it has been tried. An advantage of the fixed exchange rate is the clue it provides to the price level, interest rate, and future monetary policy. Other things being equal, the use of a currencies basket is inferior to a single currency peg, while a freely floating exchange rate system puts itself at the mercy of speculators. The paper points out the conditions for a successful currency area as a consensus on a common inflation rate; a common basket of goods with which to measure inflation; exchange rate that must be locked; member countries must adopt a common monetary policy; and a formula must be devised for distributing and using the seigniorage profits from monetary expansion. There is a need to study the possibility of an Asian currency area and the links between the APEC and the SAARC. Regular and mutual surveillance on monetary, fiscal, and exchange rate convergence, and policies that minimise exchange rate uncertainty and work towards a currency club area based on a common anchor— initially the dollar—are needed. Setting up of an Asian Monetary Fund is also suggested, one that is closely modelled on the original IMF articles of agreement and will provide an anchored fixed exchange rate system.

Robert A. Mundell