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Exchange rates, optimal debt composition, and hedging in small open economies

  • Jose M. Berrospide
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    This paper develops a model of the firm's choice between debt denominated in local currency and that denominated in foreign currency in a small open economy characterized by exchange rate risk and hedging possibilities. The model shows that the currency composition of debt and the level of hedging are endogenously determined as optimal firms' responses to a tradeoff between the lower cost of borrowing in foreign debt and the higher risk of such borrowing due to exchange rate uncertainty. Both the composition of debt and the level of hedging depend on common factors such as foreign exchange rate risk and the probability of financial default, interest rates, the size of firms' net worth, and the costs of managing exchange rate risk. Results of the model are broadly consistent with the lending and hedging behavior of the corporate sector in small open economies that recently experienced currency crises. In particular, unlike the predictions of previous work in the literature on currency crises, the model can explain why the collapse of the fixed exchange rate regime in Brazil, in early 1999, caused no major change in the currency composition of debt of the corporate sector.

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    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2008-18.

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    Date of creation: 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2008-18
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    1. Kathryn M. E. Dominguez & Linda L. Tesar, 2001. "A Reexamination of Exchange-Rate Exposure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 396-399, May.
    2. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sergio, 2001. "Hedging and financial fragility in fixed exchange rate regimes," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 1151-1193.
    3. Martins, Betina Guimarães Dodsworth & Pinto, Rodrigo Ribeiro Antunes & Bonomo, Marco Antônio Cesar, 2004. "Debt composition and exchange rate balance sheet effects in Brazil: A firm level analysis," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 535, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    4. Jorge A. Chan-Lau, 2005. "Hedging Foreign Exchange Risk in Chile: Markets and Instruments," IMF Working Papers 05/37, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Aghion, Philippe & Bacchetta, Philippe & Banerjee, Abhijit, 2001. "A Corporate Balance Sheet Approach to Currency Crises," CEPR Discussion Papers 3092, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Jose M. Berrospide & Amiyatosh Purnanandam & Uday Rajan, 2008. "Corporate hedging, investment and value," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-16, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. George Allayannis & Gregory W. Brown & Leora F. Klapper, 2003. "Capital Structure and Financial Risk: Evidence from Foreign Debt Use in East Asia," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(6), pages 2667-2710, December.
    8. Martin Schneider & Aaron Tornell, 2004. "Balance Sheet Effects, Bailout Guarantees and Financial Crises," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71, pages 883-913, 07.
    9. Fukuda, Shin-ichi & Hoshi, Takeo & Ito, Takatoshi & Rose, Andrew, 2006. "International Finance," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 455-458, December.
    10. Martinez, Lorenza & Werner, Alejandro, 2002. "The exchange rate regime and the currency composition of corporate debt: the Mexican experience," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 315-334, December.
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