With Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, tariffs and exchange rates are back at the centre stage of policy debates. This column revisits the assumptions economists make when estimating how tariffs and exchange rates affect exporters’ performance. It argues that the elasticity of firm-level exports to firm-level export prices is an important factor that should be taken into account. Using French firm-level data, it finds that exporters react even more strongly to firm-level electricity cost shocks than to tariff or exchange rate shocks.
Lionel Fontagné, Philippe Martin, Gianluca Orefice, 07 April 2017
Willem Buiter, 22 March 2017
A border tax adjustment from origin-based taxation to destination-based taxation is under consideration for corporate profit tax in the US. This column investigates the implications of such an adjustment for the nominal exchange rate, assuming the real equilibrium of the economy is unchanged. While conventional wisdom is that the currency of the country implementing the adjustment will appreciate by a percentage equal to the VAT or corporate profit tax rate, a depreciation of the same magnitude is just as likely.
Yan Carrière-Swallow, Bertrand Gruss, Nicolas Magud, Fabian Valencia, 13 March 2017
The rate at which consumer prices rise following a depreciation of the currency, known as the exchange rate pass-through, has been declining. The column uses a decomposition of exchange rate pass-through into the component that can be attributed to pricing of imported goods at the dock, and the second-round effects on domestically produced goods and services, to show that reductions in second-round effects are largely responsible for the decline in pass-through. Enhanced monetary policy credibility is strongly associated with this reduction.
Kazunobu Hayakawa, HanSung Kim, Taiyo Yoshimi, 05 March 2017
Some exporters prefer to use most-favoured nation rates even when exporting to a fellow member of a free trade agreement. This column analyses the effect of exchange rates on the utilisation of free trade agreements, focusing on the ASEAN-Korea agreement. A depreciation of an (ASEAN) exporter’s currency against the (Korean) importer’s currency enhances utilisation rates of the trade agreement’s tariffs, with implications for the design of rules of origin.
Michele Ca' Zorzi, Marcin Kolasa, Michał Rubaszek, 03 March 2017
Macroeconomic models have been criticised for their inability to forecast exchange rates better than the random walk model. This column argues that open-economy DGSE models are useful in forecasting the real exchange rate but not the nominal exchange rate, owing to their failure to capture adequately the international co-movement of prices. They correctly predict, however, that the bulk of the real exchange rate adjustment occurs through the nominal rate. The central role of the nominal rate in restoring price competitiveness in flexible exchange rate regimes can be exploited from a forecasting perspective.
Massimiliano Marcellino, Angela Abbate, 04 February 2017
Exchange rates are important contributors to business cycle fluctuations in open economies. Forecasting exchange rates is not an easy task, however, perhaps due to the instability of their relationship with economic drivers. This column introduces a model that also allows for changing volatility when forecasting exchange rates. Modelling time variation in the cross-rate relationships, and in the volatilities of the shocks hitting the economic system, significantly improves forecasts.
Adrian Jäggi, Martin Schlegel, Attilio Zanetti, 18 January 2017
Identifying the exact triggers for safe-haven flows in not easy, nor is tracking the ways in which demand for safe havens materialises. This column uses an empirical analysis of movements of the Swiss franc and Japanese yen since 2000 to show that these safe-haven currencies reacted strongly to non-domestic macro surprises, especially during the Global Crisis, and that this is in addition to the expected reaction to general changes in the risk environment. Oddly, for European macro surprises, only German data influence safe-haven currencies.
Hiro Ito, Masahiro Kawai, 24 June 2016
China’s authorities have been promoting the renminbi as an international currency for international trade, investment, and finance. This column examines the experiences of the dollar, yen, and deutschmark from the 1970s to the 1990s. As long as China’s neighbouring economies keep using the dollar for international trade and financial activities, the rise of the renminbi as a trade invoicing currency may be as fast as the rise of China itself.
Stefan Gerlach, Edoardo Di Giamberardino, 10 June 2016
The outcome of the UK’s referendum on EU membership could have a significant effect on sterling. This column estimates the potential size of this effect by looking at the relationship between daily changes in the sterling exchange rate and bookmakers’ odds of Brexit. Movements of between 5% and 15% seem plausible.
Alberto Cavallo, Roberto Rigobon, 24 April 2016
Big Data is changing the world, even economics. This column describes MIT’s Billion Prices Project and discusses key lessons for both inflation measurement and some fundamental research questions in macro and international economics. Online prices can be used to construct daily price indexes in multiple countries and to help avoid measurement biases.
Barthélémy Bonadio, Andreas Fischer, Philip Sauré, 21 April 2016
According to standard estimates, exchange rate shocks affect import prices only slowly. This column presents evidence that challenges this view. Focusing on the large, unanticipated change in the Swiss franc in 2015, it shows that a change in import prices materialised very quickly. Prices started to move on the second working day after the exchange rate shock, and the medium-run pass-through of roughly 50% was reached after six additional working days.
Kristin Forbes, Ida Hjortso, Tsvetelina Nenova, 12 February 2016
A major challenge for monetary policy is predicting how exchange rate movements will impact inflation. This column explains why rules of thumb could be misleading and proposes a new approach that incorporates the source of exchange rate movements when evaluating how they pass through to import prices and inflation.
Jörg Decressin, Prakash Loungani, 02 December 2015
Internal devaluations have been suggested as a possible policy option for countries in a currency union facing large external deficits. These policy actions seek to restore competitiveness by replicating the outcomes of an external devaluation. This column examines wage moderation as a potential means of internal devaluation for EZ countries. If pursued by several countries, wage moderation can work if monetary policy is not constrained by the zero lower bound, or if supported by quantitative easing. Without sufficient monetary accommodation, it will not deliver much of a boost to output, and may hurt overall EZ output.
Javier Cravino, Andrei Levchenko, 23 November 2015
Large exchange rate swings remain a prominent and recurring feature of the world economy. This column uses household consumption patterns to examine the distributional impact of the devaluation of the peso during Mexico’s ‘Tequila Crisis’. Cost of living increases are found to be 1.25 to 1.6 times higher for the poor compared to the rich. In the interests of equity, exchange rate policy should take account of such distributional impacts.
Exchange rates movements are again attracting a lot of attention as a focal point in the policy debate. Prolonged recession following the global financial crisis has pushed most advanced economies into liquidity traps where domestic monetary policy is severely limited. The exchange rate offers an alternative option for boosting aggregate demand in a liquidity trap. However, the exchange rate channel may have global repercussions through spillover effects on international goods and financial markets. Emerging market policymakers, in particular, have raised warnings about excessive exchange rate movements arising from advanced economy stimulus. A further risk arises from the exchange rate implications of US monetary policy `normalization’. This conference hopes to bring together new empirical and theoretical research on all aspects of exchange rates, their role in domestic macroeconomic policy as well as the global trade and financial system.
Gino Cenedese, Richard Payne, Lucio Sarno , Giorgio Valente, 17 July 2015
Various theories suggest that exchange rate fluctuations and stock returns are linked. In this column, the authors find little evidence of a relationship between the two. Thus, a simple trading strategy that invests in countries with the highest expected equity returns and shorts those with the lowest generates substantial risk-adjusted returns.
Sascha Bützer, Maurizio Habib, Livio Stracca, 07 March 2015
The large dip in oil prices reverberated across asset markets, contributing to the depreciation of the Russian rouble. This column argues that the recent fall of the rouble may be more an exception than the norm. Oil shocks have only a limited impact on global exchange rate configurations, since oil exporters tend to lean against exchange rate pressures by running down or accumulating foreign exchange reserves.
Anusha Chari, Peter Blair Henry, 06 March 2015
In the wake of the Great Recession, a contentious debate has erupted over whether austerity is helpful or harmful for economic growth. This column compares the experiences of the East Asian countries – whose leaders responded to the East Asian financial crisis with expansionary fiscal policy – with those of the European periphery countries during the Great Recession. The authors argue that it was a mistake for the European periphery countries to pivot from fiscal expansion to consolidation before their economies had recovered.
Plamen Iossifov, Jiří Podpiera, 16 February 2015
The ongoing, synchronised disinflation across Europe raises the question of whether non-Eurozone EU countries are affected by the undershooting of the Eurozone inflation target, by other global factors, or by synchronised domestic, real sector developments. This column argues that falling world food and energy prices have been the main disinflationary driver. However, countries with more rigid exchange-rate regimes and/or higher shares of foreign value added in domestic demand have also been affected by disinflationary spillovers from the Eurozone.
Sebastian Edwards, 04 February 2015
The conventional ‘trilemma’ view is that countries that allow free capital flows can still pursue independent monetary policies as long as they allow flexible exchange rates. This column examines the pass-through of Federal Reserve interest rates to policy rates in Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. The author concludes that, to the extent that central banks take into account other central banks’ policies, there will be ‘policy contagion’ and that, even under flexible rates, monetary policy will not be fully independent.