Exchange rates

Filippo di Mauro, Vlad Demian, Jan-Paul van de Kerke, 08 December 2017

It is well-established in theoretical and empirical models that an exchange rate movement affects exports, but we are far from a consensus on the size and relevance of this effect. Macro-based analyses tend to yield very low values for the elasticity of exports to the exchange rate, while micro- or sectoral-based estimations tends to be higher. This column shows that one reason for the disagreement is that macro estimations fail to incorporate the characteristics of the underlying distribution of firm productivity and its asymmetries. Doing so generates higher elasticity estimates than the macro estimations, and greater country-level diversification.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Gernot Müller, Keith Kuester, 16 September 2017

The classic rationale for flexible exchange rates was that policymakers would be unconstrained by currency targets. The Great Recession, however, saw numerous central banks constrained instead by the zero lower bound. This column considers which exchange rate regime is best for small open economies in a global recession. The model suggests that if the source of the shock is abroad and foreign interest rates become constrained at their zero lower bound, then flexible exchange rates do provide a great deal of insulation to the domestic economy.

Cécile Couharde, Anne-Laure Delatte, Carl Grekou, Valérie Mignon, Florian Morvillier, 02 September 2017

Academics have traditionally computed their own measure for assessing whether a currency is over- or undervalued, while policymakers rely on scarce public information with inconsistent data. This column introduces a new database, EQCHANGE, which includes nominal and real effective exchange rates, as well as equilibrium real effective exchange rates for more than 180 countries from 1973 onwards. It represents the longest and largest publicly available database on equilibrium exchange rates and corresponding misalignments.

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.

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