Capital Controls and Recovery from Financial Crises: Lessons from the 1930s
Kris Mitchener and Kirsten Wandschneider
We examine the first widespread use of capital controls in response to a global or regional financial crisis. In particular, we analyze whether capital controls mitigated capital flight in the 1930s and assess their causal effects on macroeconomic recovery from the Great Depression. We find evidence that they stemmed gold outflows in the year following their imposition; however, time-shifted, difference-in-differences (DD) estimates of industrial production, prices, and exports suggest that capital controls did not accelerate macroeconomic recovery relative to countries that went off gold and floated. Countries imposing capital controls also appear to perform similar to the gold bloc countries once the latter group of countries finally abandoned gold. Time series analysis suggests that countries imposing capital controls refrained from fully utilizing their newly acquired monetary policy autonomy.