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Real Exchange Rates and the International Mobility of Capital

  • Anwar M. Shaikh

This paper demonstrates that the terms of trade are determined by the equalization of profit rates across international regulating capitals, for socially determined national real wages. This provides a classical/Marxian basis for the explanation of real exchange rates, based on the same principle of absolute cost advantage which rules national prices. Large international flows of direct investment are not necessary for this result, since the international mobility of financial capital is sufficient. Such a determination of the terms of trade implies that international trade will generally give rise to persistent structural trade imbalances covered by endogenously generated capital flows which will fill any existing gaps in the overall balance of payments. It also implies that devaluations will not have a lasting effect on trade balances, unless they are also attended by fundamental changes in national real wages or productivities. Finally, it implies that neither the absolute nor the relative version of the Purchasing Power Parity hypothesis (PPP) will generally hold, with the exception that the relative version of PPP will appear to hold when a country experiences a relatively high inflation rate. Such patterns are well documented, and in contrast to comparative advantage or PPP theory, the present approach implies that the existing historical record is perfectly coherent. Empirical tests of the propositions advanced in this paper have been conducted elsewhere, with good results.

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Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_265.

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Date of creation: Mar 1999
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Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_265
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.levyinstitute.org

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  1. Nakatani, Takeshi, 1980. "The Law of Falling Rate of Profit and the Competitive Battle: Comment on Shaikh," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 65-68, March.
  2. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1989. " Real Exchange Rates and Macroeconomics: A Selective Survey," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 91(2), pages 401-32.
  3. Anwar M. Shaikh & Rania Antonopoulos, 1998. "Explaining Long-Term Exchange Rate Behavior in the United States and Japan," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_250, Levy Economics Institute.
  4. Froot, Kenneth A. & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1995. "Perspectives on PPP and long-run real exchange rates," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 32, pages 1647-1688 Elsevier.
  5. Sven W. Arndt & J. David Richardson, 1987. "Real-Financial Linkages Among Open Economies," NBER Working Papers 2230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bienenfeld, Mel, 1988. "Regularity in Price Changes as an Effect of Changes in Distribution," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 247-55, June.
  7. Shaikh, Anwar, 1980. "Marxian Competition versus Perfect Competition: Further Comments on the So-Called Choice of Technique," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 75-83, March.
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