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Foreign exchange intervention when interest rates are zero: does the portfolio balance channel matter after all?


  • Rasmus Fatum


The Japanese zero-interest rate period provides a "natural experiment" for investigating the effectiveness and transmission channels of sterilized intervention when traditional monetary policy options are constrained. This paper takes advantage of the fact that all interventions in the JPY/USD market during the zero-interest rate period are sterilized sales of JPY and, therefore, none of these interventions can signal a future interest rate decrease. In order to further assess through which transmission channel these interventions work, the analysis integrates official daily Japanese intervention data with a comprehensive set of rumors data that capture interventions of which the market is aware. Market awareness is a necessary condition for intervention to disseminate information and work through channels other than the portfolio balance channel. The results of the time series analysis show that intervention, on average, induces a statistically and economically significant same-day depreciation of the JPY. Market awareness is shown to be unimportant. Consequently, the effects of Japanese interventions during the zero-interest rate period are consistent only with the portfolio balance channel. This is a remarkable finding, demonstrating that sterilized intervention is, in principle, an independent policy instrument.

Suggested Citation

  • Rasmus Fatum, 2010. "Foreign exchange intervention when interest rates are zero: does the portfolio balance channel matter after all?," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 57, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:feddgw:57

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Takatoshi Ito, 2005. "Interventions and Japanese economic recovery," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 219-239, November.
    3. 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,.
    4. Fischer, Andreas M., 2006. "On the inadequacy of newswire reports for empirical research on foreign exchange interventions," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(8), pages 1226-1240, December.
    5. Kumhof, Michael, 2010. "On the theory of sterilized foreign exchange intervention," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1403-1420, August.
    6. Ito, Takatoshi & Yabu, Tomoyoshi, 2007. "What prompts Japan to intervene in the Forex market? A new approach to a reaction function," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 193-212, March.
    7. Owen F. Humpage, 2003. "Government intervention in the foreign exchange market," Working Paper 0315, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    8. Fatum, Rasmus & Hutchison, Michael, 1999. "Is Intervention a Signal of Future Monetary Policy? Evidece from the Federal Funds Futures Market," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(1), pages 54-69, February.
    9. Rasmus Fatum & Michael M. Hutchison, 2004. "Foreign Exchange Intervention and Monetary Policy in Japan, 2003-04," EPRU Working Paper Series 05-05, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Jan 2005.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Kathryn Dominguez & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1990. "Does Foreign Exchange Intervention Work?," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 16.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerlach-Kristen, Petra & McCauley, Robert N. & Ueda, Kazuo, 2016. "Currency intervention and the global portfolio balance effect: Japanese lessons," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 1-16.
    2. Rasmus Fatum & Jesper Pedersen & Peter Norman Sørensen, 2010. "Are the Intraday Effects of Central Bank Intervention on Exchange Rate Spreads Asymmetric and State Dependent?," Discussion Papers 10-20, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    3. Engel, Charles, 2014. "Exchange Rates and Interest Parity," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier.
    4. Capraro Rodríguez Santiago & Perrotini Hernández Ignacio, 2012. "Intervenciones cambiarias esterilizadas, teoría y evidencia:el caso de México," Contaduría y Administración, Accounting and Management, vol. 57(2), pages 11-44, abril-jun.

    More about this item


    Monetary policy - Japan ; Transmission mechanism (Monetary policy) ; Foreign exchange ; Financial markets ; Interest rates - Japan;

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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