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Understanding the Backus-Smith puzzle: It's the (nominal) exchange rate, stupid

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  • Hess, Gregory D.
  • Shin, Kwanho

Abstract

Backus, Kehoe and Kydland (BKK 1992) demonstrated that if international capital markets are complete, consumption growth correlations across countries should be higher than their corresponding output growth correlations. In stark contrast to the theory, however, in actual data the consumption growth correlation is lower than the output growth correlation. By assuming trade imperfections due to non-traded goods, Backus, D.K., Smith, G.W. [1993 Consumption and real exchange rates in dynamic economies with non-traded goods. Journal of International Economics 35(3-4), 297-316] showed that there is an additional impediment at work that can lower the consumption growth correlation. While their argument was successful in partially explaining the puzzlingly low cross country correlation of consumption growth rates, it contributed to generating another puzzle because the data forcefully show that consumption growth is negatively correlated with the real exchange rate, which is also a violation of the theory. Using data for OECD countries, we decompose real exchange rate growth into its nominal exchange rate growth and inflation differential components, and find that nominal exchange rate movements are the main source for the Backus-Smith puzzle. We demonstrate the robustness of this finding by examining sub-samples of the data, by allowing for imperfect risk sharing due to 'rule of thumb' consumers, and by examining intranational data across the U.S. states where the nominal exchange rate is fixed.

Suggested Citation

  • Hess, Gregory D. & Shin, Kwanho, 2010. "Understanding the Backus-Smith puzzle: It's the (nominal) exchange rate, stupid," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 169-180, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jimfin:v:29:y:2010:i:1:p:169-180
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    1. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 339-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giancarlo Corsetti & Luca Dedola & Francesca Viani, 2012. "Traded and Nontraded Goods Prices, and International Risk Sharing: An Empirical Investigation," NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 403-466.
    2. Gianluca Benigno & Pierpaolo Benigno & Salvatore Nisticò, 2012. "Risk, Monetary Policy, and the Exchange Rate," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 247-309.
    3. Aloosh, Arash, 2014. "Global Variance Risk Premium and Forex Return Predictability," MPRA Paper 59931, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio, 2014. "Assessing International Efficiency," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier.
    5. Predrag Petrović, 2016. "Backus–Smith puzzle and the European Union: It’s not just the nominal exchange rate," Zbornik radova Ekonomskog fakulteta u Rijeci/Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics, University of Rijeka, Faculty of Economics, vol. 34(2), pages 393-418.
    6. Matthew Canzoneri & Robert Cumby & Behzad Diba, 2013. "Addressing International Empirical Puzzles: the Liquidity of Bonds," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 197-215, April.
    7. Devereux, Michael B. & Smith, Gregor W. & Yetman, James, 2012. "Consumption and real exchange rates in professional forecasts," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 33-42.
    8. Michael B. Devereux & Viktoria Hnatkovska, 2011. "Consumption Risk-Sharing and the Real Exchange Rate: Why does the Nominal Exchange Rate Make Such a Difference?," NBER Working Papers 17288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Aidan Corcoran, 2008. "International Financial Integration and Consumption Risk Sharing," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp241, IIIS.
    10. Nagayasu, Jun, 2017. "Inflation and consumption of nontradable goods: Global implications from regional analyses," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 478-491.
    11. M. Hadzi-Vaskov, 2007. "Does the Nominal Exchange Rate Explain the Backus-Smith Puzzle? Evidence from the Eurozone," Working Papers 07-32, Utrecht School of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Risk sharing Exchange rate Consumption growth correlation Output growth correlation Non-trade goods;

    JEL classification:

    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange

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