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The New Multipolar International Monetary System

Authors: Mansoor Dailami and Paul Masson 

Abstract: Backed by rapid economic growth, growing financial clout, and a newfound sense of assertiveness in recent years, the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—are a driving force behind an incipient transformation of the world economy away from a US-dominated system toward a multipolar one in which developing countries will have a major say. It is, however, in the international monetary arena that the notion of multipolarity—more than two dominant poles— commands renewed attention and vigorous debate. For much of its history, the quintessential structural feature of the international monetary system has been unipolarity—as American hegemony of initiatives and power as well as its capacity to promote a market-based, liberal order came to define and shape international monetary relations. As other currencies become potential substitutes for the US dollar in international reserves and in cross-border claims, exchange rate volatility may become more severe. There are also risks that the rivalry among the three economic blocs may spill over into something more if not kept in check by a strong global governance structure. While the transition will be difficult and drawn out, governments should take immediate steps to prevent financial volatility by enhancing cooperation on monetary policies, currency market intervention and financial regulation.


Exchange rate uncertainty and optimal participation in international trade

Author: Gabriela Mundaca

Abstract: Instead of just focusing on the effect of exchange rate levels (undervalued or overvalued exchange rates) on trade, this paper provides an analysis of the effects of exchange rate volatility levels on international trade. Intuitively, an increase in exchange rate volatility leads to uncertainty for agents participating in international trade, and such uncertainty might have a negative impact on international trade flows and participation, thereby reducing the advantages of world-wide specialization. This is especially crucial for countries where exchange rate derivatives markets are not yet well developed and the costs of hedging exchange rate risk are very high. The model here considers optimal decisions about participation in international trade under uncertainty about the exchange rate. The main conclusion is that a high level of exchange rate volatility can deter entrepreneurs from becoming exporters, even though exporting can be highly profitable. For those already participating in international trade, it is opposite: they may, optimally, choose not to leave the market even though staying in this market is highly unprofitable in the short run.


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