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  • Haruhiko Kuroda, the governor of the bank of Japan said last week that

  • China should use capital controls to stabilize its currency.

  • Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Nigeria have all introduced or tightened capital controls this month,

  • formally much despise they may be making a comeback.

  • Policy makers often grapple with what is called the impossible trinity.

  • You can have your own monetary policy, you can have a floating exchange rate,

  • and you can have the free movement of capital.

  • But you can't have all three.

  • Often it's the free movement of capital that gets ditched first.

  • India brought in restrictions on foreign exchange markets in 2013,

  • and they were credited with helping to keep its currency stable.

  • Brazil used them temporarily on its fixed income market, apparently without much damage.

  • And in 2011, the international monetary fund published guidelines on how to use capital controls,

  • which was taken as quite a turnaround and as an endorsement.

  • Many investors and economists still dislike them because they can go so badly wrong.

  • Venezuela's dysfunctional currency regime is one example.

  • But capital controls are no longer the mark of the devil.

  • Christine Lagarde, the IMF's managing director was on the same panel as Mr. Kuroda

  • when he made his suggestion in Davos.

  • She didn't reject the idea and that's been taken as tacit approval.

  • Also this month Agustín Carstens, the governor of Mexico's central bank

  • said it was time for emerging markets' central bankers to become unconventional.

  • And China is already doing it.

  • It imposed restrictions on offshore bank accounts this month.

  • The fact is that the world's economic problems are becoming harder and harder to tackle

  • and policy makers are turning to whatever tools are in the tool box.

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