The International Monetary System: A Time of Turbulence

By Jacob S. Dreyer; American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research | Go to book overview

Introdutory Remarks

Throughout the conference a great many measures were suggested that were aimed at improving the operation of the international monetary system and, more specifically, at achieving greater stability of the international economy. The participants in the conference were in virtual agreement that the absolutely necessary condition for a more stable international environment is the pursuit of appropriate policies by authorities of (at least) the major industrial countries. No amount of tinkering with the international monetary system will result in its stability unless national economies themselves become much more stable.

At the same time, as it was clearly emphasized at the conference, flexible exchange rates, though providing a good deal of insulation among national economies (as compared to a fixed-rates regime), by no means eliminate completely interdependence among the policies and developments in various national economies. This interdependence gave rise in recent years to an intense controversy over the need for greater policy coordination among major countries. It has been suggested that a failure to coordinate sufficiently national macroeconomic policies contributed significantly to the stagflation and exchange-rate instability of recent years. Many specific private and official proposals for coordinated policy strategies, the locomotive and convoy strategies being most prominent among them, have been passionately promoted.

Such issues were the topic of the concluding session of the conference. This session, part 6, is organized differently from parts 1-5. Instead of invited papers and commentaries on specific subjects, a background paper in which Jacob Dreyer outlines major issues arising in discussions of the optimal scope of coordination of national economic policies is offered. These issues are then debated by a panel of experts consisting of Sven Arndt, Rudiger Dornbusch, Armin Gutowski, and Allan Meltzer. The session concludes with extensive floor discussion.

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