Fiscal and monetary policy in a commodity‐based economy1
Jeffrey Frankel (),
Ben Smit and
The Economics of Transition, 2008, vol. 16, issue 4, 679-713
A rough description of macroeconomic policy in South Africa would be that monetary policy concentrates on building nominal credibility through focusing on inflation, while the brunt of the responsibility for output stabilization rests on fiscal policy. This aricle discusses the convenience of such a policy mix. First, we estimate the business cycle impact of fiscal and monetary policy to find that so far fiscal policy has been mostly pro‐cyclical, whereas monetary policy has been, over the last couple of years, mildly counter‐cyclical. We argue that fiscal policy should be made significantly more counter‐cyclical than it has been – a strategy that would deliver more macroeconomic stability and potentially higher growth. Furthermore, we believe the Central Bank has earned the credibility to operate macro policy with a more decisive output stabilization objective, and we discuss several reinterpretations of the inflation targeting regime that provide the flexibility to do so without risking the strong anti‐inflationary credibility of the SARB. On exchange rate policy we recommend that the authorities take a pragmatic approach to floating, mostly allowing the currency to move freely, but intervening to avoid overvaluation. We explain why and discuss how this objective could be achieved.
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