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A Scapegoat Model of Exchange-Rate Fluctuations

  • Philippe Bacchetta
  • Eric Van Wincoop

While empirical evidence finds only a weak relationship between nominal exchange rates and macroeconomic fundamentals, forex markets participants often attribute exchange rate movements to a macroeconomic variable. The variables that matter, however, appear to change over time and some variable is typically taken as a scapegoat. For example, the current dollar weakness appears to be caused almost exclusively by the large current account deficit, while its previous strength was explained mainly by growth differentials. In this paper, we propose an explanation of this phenomenon in a simple monetary model of the exchange rate with noisy rational expectations, where investors have heterogeneous information on some structural parameter of the economy. In this context, there may be rational confusion about the true source of exchange rate fluctuations, so that if an unobservable variable affects the exchange rate, investors may attribute this movement to some current macroeconomic fundamental. We show that this effect applies only to variables with large imbalances. The model thus implies that the impact of macroeconomic variables on the exchange rate changes over time.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 94 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 114-118

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:2:p:114-118
Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828041301849
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  1. Eric van Wincoop & Philippe Bacchetta, 2003. "Can Information Heterogeneity Explain the Exchange Rate Determination Puzzle?," NBER Working Papers 9498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Cheung, Yin-Wong & Chinn, Menzie David & Garcia Pascual, Antonio, 2003. "Empirical Exchange Rate Models of the Nineties: Are Any Fit to Survive?," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt12z9x4c5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  3. Cheung, Yin-Wong & Chinn, Menzie David, 2001. "Currency traders and exchange rate dynamics: a survey of the US market," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 439-471, August.
  4. Meese, Richard A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1983. "Empirical exchange rate models of the seventies : Do they fit out of sample?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 3-24, February.
  5. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:2:p:537-569 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Franklin Allen & Stephen Morris & Hyun Song Shin, 2006. "Beauty Contests and Iterated Expectations in Asset Markets," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 19(3), pages 719-752.
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