Similarities yet Divergence in South Asian Macroeconomic Performance




Stylized business cycle facts for South Asia are both similar and different from other regions. They show the dominance of supply shocks, often amplified by macroeconomic policies and procyclical current accounts. Interest and exchange rate volatility rose initially on liberalization, but fell as markets deepened. A gradual approach to openness and market development, with flexible exchange rates, that avoided complete liberalization, worked well initially. But a combination of excessive government/foreign borrowing and inadequate reserves made it difficult for smaller countries to withstand the multiple external shocks that began with the global pandemic. Domestic ability to smooth shocks and global safety nets are both essential. India benefitted from growing diversity, evolution to countercyclical macroeconomic policy better suited to structure and a good coordination of monetary and fiscal policies, with balance between demand stimulus and continuing supply-side reforms. Reserves and capital flow management policies helped insulate from global shocks. Intervention damped excess exchange rate volatility, reducing risk premiums.


South Asia, Supply shocks, Flexible Exchange Rates, Diversity, Smoothing


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Author Bio

Ashima Goyal, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

Ashima Goyal is an Emeritus Professor at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research.


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