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A Prism into the PPP Puzzles: The Micro-Foundations of Big Mac Real Exchange Rates

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  • Parsley, David
  • Wei, Shang-Jin

Abstract

The real exchange rate has been called the single most important price in an economy, yet its behaviour exhibits several puzzles. In this project, we use Big Mac prices as a unique prism to study the movement of real exchange rates. Part of our innovation is to match these prices to the prices of individual ingredients. There are a number of advantages associated with the approach. First, unlike the CPI real exchange rate, we can measure the Big Mac real exchange rate in levels in an economically meaningful way. Second, unlike the CPI real exchange rate, for which the attribution to tradable and non-tradable components involves assumptions on the weights and the functional form, we know (almost) the exact composition of a Big Mac, and can estimate the tradable and non-tradable components relatively precisely. Third, we can study the dynamics of the real exchange rate in a setting free of several biases inherent in examinations of aggregate CPI based real exchange rates. These biases – the product-aggregation bias (Imbs, Mumtaz, Ravn, and Rey, 2002), the temporal aggregation bias (Taylor, 2001), and the bias generated by non-compatible consumption baskets across countries – are candidate explanations for the puzzlingly slow mean reversion alluded to by Rogoff (1996). Finally, we show that Engel's result that deviations from the law of one price are sole explanation for real exchange rate movements does not hold generally. We offer some evidence that departure from the Engel effect can be systematically linked to economic factors.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4486.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4486

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Keywords: beta-convergence; real exchange rate decompositions; real exchange rates; sigma-convergence; TAR models;

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References

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  1. Franses,Philip Hans & Dijk,Dick van, 2000. "Non-Linear Time Series Models in Empirical Finance," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521770415, October.
  2. Rudiger Dornbusch, 1990. "Real Exchange Rates and Macroeconomics: A Selective Survey," NBER Working Papers 2775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Parsley, David C & Wei, Shang-Jin, 1996. "Convergence to the Law of One Price without Trade Barriers or Currency Fluctuations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1211-36, November.
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  7. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
  8. Mendoza, Enrique G., 2000. "On the Instability of Variance Decompositions of the Real Exchange Rate Across Exchange- Rate-Regimes: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," Working Papers 00-05, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  9. Haroon Mumtaz & Jean Imbs & Morten O. Ravn & Helene Rey, 2003. "PPP Strikes Back: Aggregation and the Real Exchange Rate," IMF Working Papers 03/68, International Monetary Fund.
  10. Ken Froot & Kenneth Rogoff, . "Perspectives on PPP and Long-Run Real Exchange Rates," Working Paper 32027, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  11. Charles Engel, 1995. "Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes," NBER Working Papers 5394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476.
  13. Paul G. J. O'Connell & Shang-Jin Wei, 1997. ""The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall": How Price Differences Across U.S. Cities Are Arbitraged," NBER Working Papers 6089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Sarno, Lucio & Taylor, Mark P, 2001. "Purchasing Power Parity and the Real Exchange Rate," CEPR Discussion Papers 2913, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Matthias Lutz, 2002. "Beyond Burgernomics and MacParity: Exchange Rate Forecasts Based on the Law of One Price," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 D4-1, International Conferences on Panel Data.
  16. Click, Reid W., 1996. "Contrarian MacParity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 209-212, November.
  17. Puumanen, Kari, 1989. " Real Exchange Rates and Macroeconomics: A Selective Survey," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 91(2), pages 433-34.
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