Toward a New Foreign Policy.
Foreign portfolio investments could provide an expanding source of long-term capital in developing countries if surges in capital flows could be moderated to prevent the boom/bust cycles that have characterized the use of this channel to date. U.S. policymakers should consider promoting measures that limit the destabilizing impact of portfolio investments in foreign markets.
Establishing a closed-end investment fund for emerging markets would be an effective way to address the problems associated with foreign portfolio investment. Closed-end funds contain stabilizing features that make them preferable to open-end funds. The typical, open-end mutual fund issues and redeems its shares on demand, buying and selling assets to accommodate purchases and redemptions. A closed-end fund would provide stable, patient capital to emerging markets. Although shares in the closed-end fund could be traded, share price fluctuations would not prompt purchases or sales of the underlying investments in emerging markets. A closed-end fund would, thereby, help countries avoid problems accompanying surges in either inflows (e.g., rising exchange rates and inflated asset prices) or outflows (e.g., collapsing asset prices and exchange rates).
The fund should be adequately capitalized. Between 10-20% of the value of shares sold to investors should be used to purchase and hold government securities of major industrial countries in amounts roughly proportional to the closed-end fund shares owned by residents of those countries. Thus, the fund would provide a channel for retirement investments and other pooled funds to diversify their holdings and earn a basic, guaranteed return in addition to dividends and interest on investments in emerging market securities.
The fund would issue its own liabilities to private investors. In consultation with developing country governments and citizen groups, it would then buy stocks and debt obligations of private enterprises and public agencies in developing countries. Both the number of countries and the size of the pool should be large enough to ensure diversification.
The creation of one or more public international investment funds would reduce the need for capital controls, especially in countries that choose to accept foreign portfolio investment solely through the proposed fund. The proposed fund would also build the capacity of public and private institutional investors in developing countries to manage their own pension funds. Working together, developing country investors and public international funds could share the cost of investment information and collectively combat the lack of disclosure by domestic issuers in these emerging markets.
Governments must take the lead in laying the groundwork for a closed-end fund. The U.S. government has initiated other public-purpose market innovations, beginning with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in the 1930s and culminating in the development of the secondary mortgage market in the 1970s. In today's globalized market, it makes sense to devise similar investment and development instruments on an international level.
Management of the proposed fund would be consistent with the charter of the World Bank Group, which facilitates private investment in developing countries and issues its own liabilities in global capital markets. The World Bank or its affiliate, the International Finance Corporation, could be encouraged to partner with governments and civil society organizations to ensure that needs are met for long-term investment and socially and environmentally sustainable development. Given the shifts in channels for international capital flows and their destabilizing impacts on the economies of emerging market countries, a review of current methods and programs for extending assistance to these countries is long overdue. Rather than blindly staying the course of financial liberalization, the U.S. government should promote a new role for public institutions in managing international financial flows and advancing sustainable development.
* Establishing a closed-end investment fund for emerging markets would eliminate surges in foreign portfolio investment while harnessing the potential of this foreign investment to provide long-term capital for development.
* Managed by a public international agency, such a fund would focus on the economic performance of enterprises and countries rather than seeking short-term financial returns.
* Holdings of government securities of industrialized countries would provide a capital cushion and guarantee for pension funds and other beneficiaries whose savings are currently at risk.
Sources for More Information
Center of Concern 1225 Otis St. NE Washington, DC 20017 Voice: (202) 635-2757 Fax: (202) 832-9494 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.igc.org/coc/ Economic Policy Institute 1660 L St. NW, Ste. 1200 Washington, DC 20036 Voice: (202) 775-8810 Fax: (202) 775-0819 Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.epinet.org Financial Markets Center Box 334 Philomont, VA 20131 Voice: (540) 338-7754 Fax: (540) 338-7757 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.fmcenter.org Globalization Challenge Initiative 9703 Hedin Drive Silver Spring, MD 20903 Voice: (301) 445-2632 Fax: (301) 445-7321 Email: email@example.com New School for Social Research Center for Economic Policy Analysis 80 Fifth Ave., 5th Floor New York, NY 10011-8002 Voice: (212) 229-5901 Fax: (212) 229-5903 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.newschool.edu/cepa Overseas Development Council 1875 Connecticut Ave. NW, Ste. 1012 Washington, DC 20009 Voice: (202) 234-8701 Fax: (202) 745-0067 Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.odc.org Oxfam America 26 West St. Boston, MA 02111 Voice: (800) 77OXFAM Fax: (617) 728-2594 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.oxfamamerica.org Contact: Lucy Nichols
Robert A. Blecker, Taming Global Finance (Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute, 1999).
Jane D'Arista, "Financial Regulation in a Liberalized Global Environment," available at: http://www.newschool.edu/cepa
Jane D'Arista, "The Debt Trap and a Way Out," available at: http://www.fmcenter.org
John Eatwell and Lance Taylor, Global Finance at Risk (New Press, forthcoming, January 2000).
Susan Strange, Mad Money (Manchester, U.K.: University of Manchester Press, 1998).
World Wide Web
Bank for International Settlements http://www.bis.org
International Monetary Fund http://www.imf.org
World Bank http://www.worldbank.org
Jane D'Arista is Director of Programs at the Financial Markets Center.
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|Publication:||Foreign Policy in Focus|
|Date:||Nov 18, 1999|
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