A Framework for Exchange Rate Policy in Korea

Michael Dooley
Rudi Dornbusch
Yung Chul Park
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The monetary policy and exchange rate regime that served Korea well for many years ended in crisis in 1997. The regime that collapsed was characterized by a tightly managed nominal exchange rate and domestic financial markets that were controlled by the government and largely closed to international transactions. The practical question for authorities over the next few years is what monetary and exchange rate regime will best promote the objectives of maintaining economic and financial stability as financial markets are liberalized. Our basic proposal is that the powerful policy tool, interest rate policy, be used to attain a "flexible" inflation target. Flexibility in this context means that the authorities also care about short-run fluctuations in domestic output and employment. The less powerful policy tool, sterilized intervention in the foreign exchange market, would be used to limit day to day changes in exchange rates. We argue that the government should continue to be an important participant in the foreign exchange market but not attempt to establish a level for the exchange rate. Our proposal will involve intervention that is triggered by exchange rate volatility but constrained by an announced target for the government's overall net foreign asset position. The objective of this regime is to allow the government to participate in the foreign exchange market in a way that contributes to economic stability and promotes the development of the private sector's participation in foreign exchange and financial markets.