November 15, 2001 This article summarizes the proceedings of an international research conference hosted by the Bank of Canada in November 2000. The conference marked the fiftieth anniversary of Canada's adoption of a flexible exchange rate, and its title recognizes the seminal contribution of Professor Milton Friedman's article "The Case for Flexible Exchange Rates." His keynote address to the conference is also summarized in the article. The conference papers re-examine many of the arguments raised by Friedman using recent developments in economic theory and econometric techniques. They investigate the experience of a wide range of industrialized and emerging-market economies. The main findings are that a strong case can be made for flexible exchange rates in economies that are large commodity exporters and that have credible low-inflation monetary policies and relatively well-developed financial systems.
Two aspects of the recent monetary history of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand stand out: the sensitivity of their dollars to prices of resource-based commodities, and inflation targeting. This paper explores various aspects of these phenomena.