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The Advantage to Hiding One's Hand: Speculation and Central Bank Intervention in the Foreign Exchange Market

Listed author(s):
  • Bhattacharya, Utpal
  • Weller, Paul

Using a portfolio balance model of exchange rate determination, this paper develops a theoretical explanation of why central banks do not make precise announcements of their exchange rate targets. In foreign exchange markets, where it is common knowledge that the central bank intervenes to stabilize the spot exchange rate around some target level, foreign exchange traders can exploit this fact to earn speculative profits from the central bank: this may cause the bank's reserves to fall to dangerous levels. We show that if the central bank is imprecise about its exchange rate targeting, it can use this informational advantage not only to reduce its reserve losses, but also to extract all relevant `fundamental' information from the traders. The imprecision, however, cannot be too large. There exist circumstances where the central bank finds it advantageous to reduce the market's ex ante uncertainty about the exchange rate target.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 737.

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Date of creation: Nov 1992
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:737
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  1. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "The law of large numbers with a continuum of IID random variables," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 19-25, February.
  2. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Maskin, Eric S, 1990. "The Efficient Market Hypothesis and Insider Trading on the Stock Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 70-93, February.
  3. Cukierman, Alex & Meltzer, Allan H, 1986. "A Theory of Ambiguity, Credibility, and Inflation under Discretion and Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1099-1128, September.
  4. Bhattacharya, Utpal & Spiegel, Matthew, 1991. "Insiders, Outsiders, and Market Breakdowns," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 4(2), pages 255-282.
  5. Milgrom, Paul & Stokey, Nancy, 1982. "Information, trade and common knowledge," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 17-27, February.
  6. Stephen A. Ross, 1977. "The Determination of Financial Structure: The Incentive-Signalling Approach," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 8(1), pages 23-40, Spring.
  7. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1990. "Insider Trading in a Rational Expectations Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1022-1041, December.
  8. Dominguez, Kathryn Mary, 1990. "Market responses to coordinated central bank intervention," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 121-163, January.
  9. Maurice Obstfeld, 1990. "The Effectiveness of Foreign-Exchange Intervention: Recent Experience, 1985- 1988," NBER Chapters,in: International Policy Coordination and Exchange Rate Fluctuations, pages 197-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Grossman, Sanford J, 1976. "On the Efficiency of Competitive Stock Markets Where Trades Have Diverse Information," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(2), pages 573-585, May.
  11. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1976. "Expectations and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1161-1176, December.
  12. Dominguez, Kathryn M & Frankel, Jeffrey A, 1993. "Does Foreign-Exchange Intervention Matter? The Portfolio Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1356-1369, December.
  13. Sanford J. Grossman, 1977. "The Existence of Futures Markets, Noisy Rational Expectations and Informational Externalities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 431-449.
  14. Kyle, Albert S, 1985. "Continuous Auctions and Insider Trading," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1315-1335, November.
  15. Stein, Jeremy C, 1989. "Cheap Talk and the Fed: A Theory of Imprecise Policy Announcements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 32-42, March.
  16. Donald B. Adams & Dale W. Henderson, 1983. "Definition and measurement of exchange market intervention," Staff Studies 126, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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