Between Fixed Exchange Rates and Floating Exchange Rates System
With regard to the Asian financial crisis, others argue that the fixed exchange rates (implemented well before the crisis) had become so immovable that it had masked valuable information needed for a market to function properly. That is, the currencies did not represent their true market value. This masking of information created volatility which encouraged speculators to “attack” the pegged currencies and as a response these countries attempted to defend their currency rather than allow it to devalue. These economists also believe that had these countries instituted floating exchange rates, as opposed to fixed exchange rates, they may very well have avoided the volatility that caused the Asian financial crisis in the first place. Countries like Malaysia adopted increased capital controls, believing that the volatility of capital was the result of technology and globalization, rather than ill-conceived macroeconomic policies. This resulted not in better stability and growth in the aftermath of the crisis, but sustained pain and stagnation.
Countries adopting a fixed exchange rate must exercise careful and strict adherence to policy imperatives, and keep a degree of confidence of the capital markets in the management of such a regime, or otherwise the peg can fail. Such was the case of Argentina, where unchecked state spending and international economic shocks unbalanced the system resulting in an extremely damaging devaluation (see Argentine Currency Board, Argentine economic crisis, and the 1994 economic crisis in Mexico). On the opposite extreme, China’s fixed exchange rate with the US dollar until 2005 led to China’s rapid accumulation of foreign reserves, placing an appreciating pressure on the Chinese yuan.