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Is Real Exchange Rate Mean Reversion Caused By Arbitrage?

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  • Jose M. Campa
  • Holger C. Wolf

Abstract

The presence of purchasing power parity is often attributed to the exploitation of arbitrage opportunities in goods markets. We examine this presumption for a 1960-1996 monthly panel of bilateral exchange rates and trade for the G7 countries. The data exhibit strong mean reversion. However, despite allowing for substantial latitude in specification, we find very limited support for a simple arbitrage view. The deviations of real exchange rates and trade from trend are virtually uncorrelated. Large trade deviations neither trigger nor accelerate mean reversion. Large real exchange rate deviations do not lead to systematic changes in trade. Constricting the sample to eighteen-month episodes of notable mean reversion - large persistent depreciations starting from overvalued levels - does not reveal any systematic relation either. The timing of these episodes does point, however, to an alternative explanation of mean reversion: the majority of episodes occur during periods of nominal exchange rate regime instability, pointing towards exchange rate policy or speculation as the immediate cause of mean reversion. Both may, of course, reflect expectations of trade responses, opening an indirect role for incipient arbitrage in explaining mean reversion.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6162.

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Date of creation: Sep 1997
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6162

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  1. Dumas, Bernard, 1992. "Dynamic Equilibrium and the Real Exchange Rate in a Spatially Separated World," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(2), pages 153-80.
  2. Shang-Jin Wei & David C. Parsley, 1995. "Purchasing Power Disparity During the Floating Rate Period: Exchange Rate Volatility, Trade Barriers and Other Culprits," NBER Working Papers 5032, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mark P. Taylor, 2003. "Purchasing Power Parity," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 436-452, 08.
  4. Obstfeld, Maurice & Taylor, Alan M., 1997. "Nonlinear Aspects of Goods-Market Arbitrage and Adjustment: Heckscher's Commodity Points Revisited," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 441-479, December.
  5. Benninga, Simon & Protopapadakis, Aris, 1988. "The equilibrium pricing of exchange rates and assets when trade takes time," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 129-149, June.
  6. Isard, Peter, 1977. "How Far Can We Push the "Law of One Price"?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 942-48, December.
  7. 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, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1211-36, November.
  8. Charles Engel & Michael K. Hendrickson & John H. Rogers, 1997. "Intra-national, intra-continental, and intra-planetary PPP," International Finance Discussion Papers, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 589, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Froot, Kenneth A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Perspectives on PPP and long-run real exchange rates," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 32, pages 1647-1688 Elsevier.
  10. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
  11. Robert E. Cumby, 1996. "Forecasting Exchange Rates and Relative Prices with the Hamburger Standard: Is What You Want What You Get With McParity?," NBER Working Papers 5675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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