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Managing the Balance-of-Payments Constraint: Dilemmas and Perspectives

Basil Oberholzer (Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland)

Imperialism and the Political Economy of Global South’s Debt

ISBN: 978-1-80262-484-7, eISBN: 978-1-80262-483-0

Publication date: 20 March 2023


This chapter starts from the issue of debt in the context of a national economy by contrasting two opposed views: policy prescriptions based on the Washington Consensus prioritize low public debt and a limited role of the government in the development process whereas a more heterodox view considers debt as logical, necessary, and helpful in order to allow the government to pursue an ambitious growth and development strategy. However, things change when the economy is considered in its international context: foreign debt is different from domestic debt and while the same heterodox analysis still rejects the Washington Consensus' demand for trade and financial liberalization, its own ambitious development strategies for the domestic economy get constrained by trade deficits, the threat of capital flight, and exchange rate instability. The question arises how the government can still significantly contribute to economic development beyond the limits of a purely private sector–driven approach. This is why this chapter reviews proposals to relax or overcome the balance-of-payments constraint. Finally, it considers a reform of international payments, which can be implemented by a single country unilaterally, and which enables it to stabilize its current account, avoid foreign debt accumulation, and support domestic development strategies.



Oberholzer, B. (2023), "Managing the Balance-of-Payments Constraint: Dilemmas and Perspectives", Sylla, N.S. (Ed.) Imperialism and the Political Economy of Global South’s Debt (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 38), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 165-191.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Basil Oberholzer. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited