Since the Asian financial crises, economists are more circumspect in their advocacy of 'financial globalization'. A new consensus emerged which contends that increased financial liberalization and capital account openness may only produce economic benefits when countries are open to trade and have good institutions and policies in place. This paper critically reviews this consensus, which we term the 'thresholds paradigm', through a survey of the available literature and a comparative case study of two African countries that have undertaken financial and capital account liberalization: Nigeria and Botswana. The paper argues that the thresholds paradigm leaves important theoretical and policy-related questions unresolved, in particular, the origins of good institutions and policies. Further, while at first glance the paradigm appears to capture the divergent outcomes of financial globalization policies in Nigeria and Botswana, a deeper investigation reveals important factors that are neglected and occluded. The paper concludes that economists need to be more methodologically ambidextrous and must integrate institutional factors in their theoretical frameworks in order to better understand the outcomes of 'financial globalization' and to provide useful policy advice to developing countries contemplating financial reforms in the future.
- Capital account liberalization
- Financial globalization
- Financial liberalization
- Illicit capital flows