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Policy decisiveness and responses to speculative attacks in developed countries


Kyung Joon Han, Department of Political Science, University of California, 4289 Bunche Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. E-mail:


Why are some countries able to defend their currencies when there are speculative attacks, while others fail to do so and devalue their currencies? This article suggests that intragovernment factors as well as government-legislature relations should be considered because many of the policy responses to speculative attacks do not require legislative acquiescence, so that intragovernment attributes will have more substantial effects on the policy responses than those of government-legislature relations. This article suggests that cleavages within government and its instability have a negative effect on decisiveness. Data regarding speculative attacks in developed countries from the 1970s to the 1990s and the Heckman selection model show that governments with many veto players and with less durability have had difficulty in defending their currencies in the face of speculative attacks. The article also finds that governmental institutional effects can be constrained by central bank independence. The effects become substantially smaller and statistically insignificant when central banks are very independent. The overall results imply that policy indecisiveness induced by some political factors makes governments less able to adopt a new policy equilibrium that is necessary to respond to an exogenous shock such as speculative attack.