This work analyzes the phenomenon of macroeconomic adjustment, with special emphasis on selected Latin American countries facing stabilization programmes. It provides a historical description of the origins, functioning and collapse of exchange-rate regimes from the international classical gold standard period to modern arrangements. The author supports the argument that systemic asymmetries in the worldwide adjustment mechanism are inherent in the international monetary system. The recent theoretical literature dealing with the rules vs discretion debate and its interaction with the credibility issue is reviewed. This topic is intrinsically related to the dispute over the appropriate role of exchange-rate anchors in disinflation programmes. Against a background of academic dispute between advocates of exchange-rate prescriptions and monetary conceptions, the contrasting views of different theorists regarding the choice of exchange rate regimes are presented and assessed. Finally, a comparative analysis of recent experiments in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico with exchange-rate based disinflation stabilization programmes is undertaken.
The problems that have arisen while establishing new institutional arrangements, such as new currency or a policy rule for monetary base creation, are examined.