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The Backus-Smith Puzzle: The Role of Expectations

Efficient risk-sharing dictates a positive relationship between the real exchange rate and relative consumption across countries: consumption should be relatively high where consumption is relatively cheap. However, contrary to the positive relationship predicted by most models, the empirical correlation between bilateral real exchange rates and relative consumptions is typically negative (see Backus and Smith, 1993). In this paper I extend a standard two-country, two-good international business cycle model with internationally incomplete financial markets to incorporate public signals about future innovations to total factor productivity. In this environment, a positive signal increases the relative present value of domestic lifetime income, implying that current consumption can increase by more than current output. This increase in demand in turn generates an appreciation in the real exchange rate, suggesting a potential resolution to the Backus-Smith puzzle. When the economy is calibrated to the United States versus the rest of the industrialized world, numerical simulations deliver a correlation between the exchange rate and relative consumption that is similar to that observed empirically.

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Paper provided by Central Bank of Chile in its series Working Papers Central Bank of Chile with number 395.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchwp:395
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  1. Cole, Harold L. & Obstfeld, Maurice, 1991. "Commodity trade and international risk sharing : How much do financial markets matter?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 3-24, August.
  2. Engel, C., 1996. "Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes," Working Papers 96-02, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  3. Robert Kollmann, 1995. "Consumption, real exchange rates and the structure of international asset markets," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7642, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  4. Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Financial autarky and international business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 601-627, April.
  5. Baxter, Marianne & Crucini, Mario J, 1995. "Business Cycles and the Asset Structure of Foreign Trade," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(4), pages 821-54, November.
  6. Alan C. Stockman & Linda L. Tesar, 1991. "Tastes and technology in a two-country model of the business cycle: explaining international co-movements," Working Paper 9019, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  7. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  8. David K. Backus & Gregor W. Smith, 1993. "Consumption and Real Exchange Rates in Dynamic Economies with Non-Traded Goods," Working Papers 1252, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  9. Daron Acemoglu & Jaume Ventura, 2001. "The World Income Distribution," NBER Working Papers 8083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jorge Selaive & Vicente Tuesta, 2003. "Net foreign assets and imperfect pass-through: the consumption real exchange rate anomaly," International Finance Discussion Papers 764, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Jorge Selaive & Vicente Tuesta, 2003. "Net Foreign Assets And Imperfect Financial Integration: An Empirical Approach," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 252, Central Bank of Chile.
  12. Acemoglu, Daron & Scott, Andrew, 1994. "Consumer Confidence and Rational Expectations: Are Agents' Beliefs Consistent with the Theory?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(422), pages 1-19, January.
  13. Batchelor, Roy & Dua, Pami, 1992. "Survey Expectations in the Time Series Consumption Function," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(4), pages 598-606, November.
  14. Danthine, Jean-Pierre & Donaldson, John B & Johnsen, Thore, 1998. "Productivity Growth, Consumer Confidence and the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 1779, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. 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.
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