U.S.-European Monetary Relations

By Samuel I. Katz; American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Georgetown University | Go to book overview

COMMENTARIES
John WilliamsonBefore turning to the subjects on which I disagree with Willett, I would like to stress the areas in which I endorse the views he expresses in his paper:
His proposition that managed floating has performed markedly better than the adjustable peg could have been expected to
His advocacy of a positive but cautious role for the IMF in underwriting stabilization programs
His recognition that "there are no easy statistical shortcuts to monitoring the operation of the international adjustment process" (It is not clear who has ever claimed there are, apart possibly from those who saw reserve indicators serving in what I have elsewhere termed a "diagnostic" role.1)
His assertion that rapid exchange-rate changes are not per se evidence of disequilibrium or disorderly markets.2

There are other points where I am open to persuasion that Willett is correct, although I would have found some empirical documentation more convincing than his unsubstantiated opinions. I refer in particular to his dismissal of the vicious circle hypothesis, where the essential question seems to be the empirical one of how frequently an exogenous decline in the exchange rate provokes additional cost-push inflation that is subsequently validated by monetary policy, and his judgment that excessive intervention tending to prevent desirable rate changes may

____________________
1
John Williamson, The Failure of World Monetary Reform, 1971-74 ( New York: New York University Press, 1977), chap. 5.
2
I would, however, challenge his assertion that the IMF guidelines treated them as such. Guideline 2 permitted but did not encourage "leaning against the wind." Marcus Fleming, the principal architect of the guidelines, held views about the desirability of prompt adjustment when the occasion demanded very similar to those expressed by Willett.

-273-

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