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A brief empirical history of U.S. foreign-exchange intervention: 1973-1995


  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Owen F. Humpage
  • Anna J. Schwartz


This paper assesses U.S. foreign-exchange intervention since the inception of generalized floating. We find that intervention was by and large ineffectual. We first identify which interventions were successful according to three criteria. Then, we test whether the number of observed successes significantly exceeds the amount that would randomly occur given the near-martingale nature of daily exchange-rate changes. Finally, we investigate whether the various characteristics of an intervention - its size, frequency, or coordination - can increase the probability of success. We find that intervention did tend to moderate same-day exchange-rate movements relative to the previous day, but this effect is not robust across subperiods or currencies and it occurs infrequently. Increasing the size of an intervention increases the probability of success, but no other variable consistently makes a difference, including coordinating interventions with other central banks.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Owen F. Humpage & Anna J. Schwartz, 2009. "A brief empirical history of U.S. foreign-exchange intervention: 1973-1995," Working Paper 0903, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:0903

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Humpage, Owen F., 2000. "The United States as an informed foreign-exchange speculator," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 10(3-4), pages 287-302, December.
    2. Humpage, Owen F, 1999. "U.S. Intervention: Assessing the Probability of Success," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(4), pages 731-747, November.
    3. Christopher J. Neely, 2001. "The practice of central bank intervention: looking under the hood," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 1-10.
    4. LeBaron, Blake, 1999. "Technical trading rule profitability and foreign exchange intervention," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 125-143, October.
    5. Dominguez, Kathryn M. E., 2003. "The market microstructure of central bank intervention," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 25-45, January.
    6. Rasmus Fatum & Michael Hutchison, 2002. "ECB Foreign Exchange Intervention and the EURO: Institutional Framework, News, and Intervention," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 413-425, October.
    7. Baillie, Richard T. & Humpage, Owen F. & Osterberg, William P., 2000. "Intervention from an information perspective," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 10(3-4), pages 407-421, December.
    8. Humpage, Owen F. & Osterberg, William P., 1992. "Intervention and the foreign exchange risk premium: An empirical investigation of daily effects," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 23-50.
    9. Edison, H.J., 1993. "The Effectiveness of Central-Bank Intervention: A Survey of the Litterature after 1982," Princeton Studies in International Economics 18, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
    10. Alain P. Chaboud & Owen F. Humpage, 2003. "An analysis of Japanese foreign exchange interventions, 1991-2002," Working Paper 0309, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    11. Christopher J. Neely, 2005. "An analysis of recent studies of the effect of foreign exchange intervention," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 685-718.
    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. 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.
    14. Bonser-Neal, Catherine & Roley, V Vance & Sellon, Gordon H, Jr, 1998. "Monetary Policy Actions, Intervention, and Exchange Rates: A Reexamination of the Empirical Relationships Using Federal Funds Rate Target Data," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 71(2), pages 147-177, April.
    15. Chang, Yuanchen & Taylor, Stephen J., 1998. "Intraday effects of foreign exchange intervention by the Bank of Japan1," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 191-210, February.
    16. Martin D. D. Evans & Richard K. Lyons, 2001. "Portfolio Balance, Price Impact, and Secret Intervention," NBER Working Papers 8356, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Popper, Helen & Montgomery, John D., 2001. "Information sharing and central bank intervention in the foreign exchange market," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 295-316, December.
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