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Rational speculators and exchange rate volatility

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  • Carol L. Osler
  • John A. Carlson

Abstract

This paper examines whether rational, fully informed speculators will smooth exchange rates. Friedman's (1953) claim that they must do so is challenged, based on the exclusion of interest rate differentials from his interpretation of speculator behavior. Once one recognizes that interest rates matter to speculators, it becomes apparent that rational speculators could sometimes violate Friedman's description of their behavior, and buy currency when its value is relatively high or sell currency when its value is low. For this reason the presence of rational, fully informed speculators may increase exchange rate volatility under floating exchange rates. Whether or not speculators increase exchange rate volatility depends on the extent of speculative activity and the types of economic shocks that dominate. At low levels of speculative activity, speculation will be stabilizing when the dominant shocks to exchange rates are associated exclusively with real economic activity, such as international trade in goods and services. It becomes destabilizing when the dominant shocks are changes in interest rates, perceived risk, or transactions costs--factors whose influence on exchange rates derives in part from their direct effect on speculators' positions.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol L. Osler & John A. Carlson, 1996. "Rational speculators and exchange rate volatility," Staff Reports 13, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:13
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Harald Hau & Hélène Rey, 2006. "Exchange Rates, Equity Prices, and Capital Flows," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 19(1), pages 273-317.
    2. Killeen, William P. & Lyons, Richard K. & Moore, Michael J., 2006. "Fixed versus flexible: Lessons from EMS order flow," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 551-579, June.
    3. Chatrath, Arjun & Adrangi, Bahram & Allender, Mary, 2001. "The impact of margins in futures markets: evidence from the gold and silver markets," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 279-294.
    4. Bjonnes, Geir Hoidal & Rime, Dagfinn & Solheim, Haakon O.Aa., 2005. "Liquidity provision in the overnight foreign exchange market," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 175-196, March.
    5. 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.
    6. Carlson, John A. & Osler, C. L., 2000. "Rational speculators and exchange rate volatility1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 231-253, February.

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