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Limits of Floating Exchange Rates; the Role of Foreign Currency Debt and Import Structure

  • Pascal Towbin
  • Sebastian Weber

A traditional argument in favor of flexible exchange rates is that they insulate output better from real shocks, because the exchange rate can adjust and stabilize demand for domestic goods through expenditure switching. This argument is weakened in models with high foreign currency debt and low exchange rate pass-through to import prices. The present study evaluates the empirical relevance of these two factors. We analyze the transmission of real external shocks to the domestic economy under fixed and flexible exchange rate regimes for a broad sample of countries in a Panel VAR and let the responses vary with foreign currency indebtedness and import structure. We find that flexible exchange rates do not insulate output better from external shocks if the country imports mainly low pass-through goods and can even amplify the output response if foreign indebtedness is high.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 11/42.

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Length: 51
Date of creation: 01 Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:11/42
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  1. Charalambos G. Tsangarides, 2010. "Crisis and Recovery; Role of the Exchange Rate Regime in Emerging Market Countries," IMF Working Papers 10/242, International Monetary Fund.
  2. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2007. "Are Shocks to the Terms of Trade Shocks to Productivity?," NBER Working Papers 13111, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2004. "The modern history of exchange rate arrangements: A reinterpretation," MPRA Paper 14070, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Mathias Hoffmann, 2007. "Fixed versus Flexible Exchange Rates: Evidence from Developing Countries," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(295), pages 425-449, 08.
  5. Raddatz, Claudio, 2007. "Are external shocks responsible for the instability of output in low-income countries?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 155-187, September.
  6. Hausmann, Ricardo & Panizza, Ugo & Stein, Ernesto, 2001. "Why do countries float the way they float?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 387-414, December.
  7. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim Ruhl, 2008. "Data Appendix to "Are Shocks to the Terms of Trade Shocks to Productivity?"," Technical Appendices 07-40, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  8. Aasim M. Husain & Ashoka Mody & Nienke Oomes & Robin Brooks & Kenneth Rogoff, 2003. "Evolution and Performance of Exchange Rate Regimes," IMF Working Papers 03/243, International Monetary Fund.
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