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The Curious Case of the Yen as a Safe Haven Currency: A Forensic Analysis

  • Dennis P. J. Botman
  • Irineu E. Carvalho Filho
  • Raphael W. Lam

During risk-off episodes, the yen is a safe haven currency and on average appreciates against the U.S. dollar. We investigate the proximate causes of yen risk-off appreciations. We find that neither capital inflows nor expectations of the future monetary policy stance can explain the yen’s safe haven behavior. In contrast, we find evidence that changes in market participants’ risk perceptions trigger derivatives trading, which in turn lead to changes in the spot exchange rate without capital flows. Specifically, we find that risk-off episodes coincide with forward hedging and reduced net short positions or a buildup of net long positions in yen. These empirical findings suggest that offshore and complex financial transactions should be part of spillover analyses and that the effectiveness of capital flow management measures or monetary policy coordination to address excessive exchange rate volatility might be limited in certain cases.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 13/228.

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Length: 21
Date of creation: 06 Nov 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:13/228
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  1. Broner, Fernando A & Didier, Tatiana & Erce, Aitor & Schmukler, Sergio, 2011. "Gross Capital Flows: Dynamics and Crises," CEPR Discussion Papers 8591, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Forbes, Kristin J. & Warnock, Francis E., 2012. "Capital flow waves: Surges, stops, flight, and retrenchment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 235-251.
  3. Takatoshi Ito, 2007. "Myths and reality of foreign exchange interventions: an application to Japan," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 133-154.
  4. Bussière, Matthieu & Lopez, Claude & Tille, Cédric, 2014. "Do Real Exchange Rate Appreciations Matter for Growth?," CEPR Discussion Papers 9938, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. John C Bluedorn & Rupa Duttagupta & Jaime Guajardo & Petia Topalova, 2013. "Capital Flows are Fickle; Anytime, Anywhere," IMF Working Papers 13/183, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Geert Bekaert & Marie Hoerova & Marco Lo Duca, 2010. "Risk, Uncertainty and Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 16397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Habib, Maurizio M. & Stracca, Livio, 2012. "Getting beyond carry trade: What makes a safe haven currency?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 50-64.
  8. Reinout De Bock & Irineu E. Carvalho Filho, 2013. "The Behavior of Currencies during Risk-off Episodes," IMF Working Papers 13/8, International Monetary Fund.
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