Exchange rates

Willem Thorbecke, Atsuyuki Kato, 01 July 2017

Since 2007, there have been large changes in the Swiss franc. This column shows that exchange-rate appreciations do not affect the exports, profits, or stock returns of Swiss companies making sophisticated products. In contrast, rises in the franc decrease the exports, profits and stock returns of firms producing medium-high-technology goods. An economy’s production structure is important for weathering exchange-rate fluctuations.

Neil Gandal, JT Hamrick, Tyler Moore, Tali Oberman, 22 June 2017

The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has attracted widespread interest, in large part due to wild swings in its valuation. This column considers an earlier rise in the Bitcoin price to investigate what is driving the currency’s price spikes. The 2013 rise was caused by fraudulent trades taking place at the largest Bitcoin currency exchange at the time. This finding has implications for policymakers as they weigh what, if anything, to do about regulating cryptocurrencies in light of the record high Bitcoin valuation that many fear is a bubble.

Takeshi Kimura, Teppei Nagano, 30 May 2017

While non-US entities pay dollar funding premiums in the FX swap market, the US earns profits on FX-hedged investments in non-US sovereign securities. This column argues that this new form of the ‘exorbitant privilege’ presents a modern version of the ‘Triffin dilemma’. If the distributional effect of US privilege becomes large enough to induce non-US entities to take excessive risk, the stability of the global financial system will come under threat. 

Woo Jin Choi, Alan Taylor, 22 May 2017

Widening global imbalances, driven by reserve accumulation, can help us investigate how real exchange rates are determined. Standard theory would predict real exchange rate appreciation when there is an increase in net foreign assets. This column uses recent data from 75 countries to argue that, in practice, there is the opposite correlation in the particular case of reserve accumulation, notably in countries with higher capital controls and in developing countries.

Kris Mitchener, Gonçalo Pina, 04 May 2017

Fixed exchange-rate regimes reduce uncertainty, which may increase trade and encourage investment and capital flows. This column identifies and tests one reason why markets expect countries to abandon pegs and devalue their currencies – shocks to the value of their output. During the classical gold standard era, commodity price fluctuations determined expected devaluation by investors, as measured by currency risk. These results highlight how trade shocks in an integrated world may undermine fixed exchange rate regimes under limited fiscal adjustments.

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