Parallel Exchange Rates In Developing Countries

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World Bank Research Observer


Dual exchange rates and black markets for foreign exchange are common in developing countries, and a body of evidence is beginning to emerge on the effects that such parallel foreign exchange systems have on macroeconomic performance. This article presents a simple typology of parallel systems, discusses their emergence, and looks at why countries prefer these arrangements to the main alternatives. The article examines the ability of parallel markets to insulate international reserves and domestic price from shocks to the balance of payments. Drawing on the findings from eight detailed case studies, the authors discuss the determination of the parallel premium in the short and long terms, the relationship between the premium and illegal transactions, and the fiscal effects of parallel rates. They compare the experiences of countries that have attempted to unify their foreign exchange markets and discuss the implications for policy alternatives.