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Navigating Capital Flows in Brazil and Chile

Kevin Gallagher, Brittany Baumann

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In the wake of the global financial crisis, many emerging market countries have been the recipients of unstable capital flows. Indeed, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has gone so far as to refer to post-crisis capital flows as a ‘tsunami’ that is a cause of great concern in the developing world. Different nations have responded to this challenge with different tools. Some nations have deployed capital account regulations, others have intervened in currency markets, and others have refrained from any activity at all. This paper analyzes the actions of Brazil and Chile between 2009 and the third quarter of 2011. During this period Brazil deployed capital account regulations and Chile intervened in its currency markets. We examine the effectiveness of each of these actions and the extent to which the actions of Brazil caused capital flow spillovers in the Chilean market. Consistent with the peer-reviewed literature on the subject, we find that capital account regulations had small but significant impacts on the shifting the composition of capital inflows toward longer-term investment, on the level and volatility of the exchange rate, on asset prices, and on the ability of Brazil to have independence in monetary policy. Brazil’s regulations did also temporarily cause an increase in capital flows into Chile. Chile’s interventions did not have a lasting impact on the Chilean exchange rate or on asset prices beyond the initial announcements of the policies. In Brazil’s case we thus conclude that Brazil’s regulations helped the nation ‘lean against the wind,’ but were not enough to tame the tsunami.

About the Author

Kevin P. Gallagher
Associate Professor
Department of International Relations
Boston University


Dr. Kevin P. Gallagher is an associate professor of international relations at Boston University, and senior researcher at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University. He specializes in global economic and development policy, with an emphasis on Latin America.

Professor Gallagher is the author of The Dragon in the Room: China and the Future of Latin American Industrialization (with Roberto Porzecanski), The Enclave Economy: Foreign Investment and Sustainable Development in Mexico's Silicon Valley (with Lyuba Zarsky), and Free Trade and the Environment: Mexico, NAFTA, and Beyond. He writes a monthly column on globalization and development for the The Guardian (UK) newspaper.

Professor Gallagher is also a research fellow at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future where he directs the Global Economic Governance Initiative. In 2010 he served on the US Department of State’s investment subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy.

Publication Information

Type Working Papers
Program Capital Market Liberalization
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Posted 06/29/12