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The Real Exchange Rate, Mercantilism and the Learning by Doing Externality

  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Jaewoo Lee

This paper examines the degree to which the learning by doing externality [LBD] calls for an undervalued exchange rate, a policy suggested by recent empirical studies which concluded that mildly undervalued real exchange rate may enhance growth. We obtain mixed results. For an economy where LBD externality operates in the traded sector, real exchange rate undervaluation may be used in order to internalize this externality, if the LBD calls for subsidizing employment in the traded sector. Yet, we also find that these results are not robust to changes in the nature of the LBD externality. If the LBD externality is embodied in aggregate investment, the optimal policy calls for subsidizing the cost of capital in the traded sector, and there is no room for undervalued exchange rate policy. In addition, a deliberate undervaluation by means of hoarding reserves may backfire if the needed sterilization would increase the cost of investment in the traded sector.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13853.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Publication status: published as REAL EXCHANGE RATE, MERCANTILISM AND THE LEARNING BY DOING EXTERNALITY Joshua Aizenman1, Jaewoo Lee2,* Article first published online: 16 JUL 2010 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0106.2010.00505.x © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd Issue Pacific Economic Review Pacific Economic Review Volume 15, Issue 3, pages 324–335, August 2010
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13853
Note: ITI
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  1. Young, Alwyn, 1991. "Learning by Doing and the Dynamic Effects of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 369-405, May.
  2. Leahy, Dermot & Neary, J Peter, 1999. "Learning by Doing, Precommitment and Infant-Industry Promotion," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 447-74, April.
  3. Jaewoo Lee & Joshua Aizenman, 2006. "Financial Versus Monetary Mercantilism: Long-Run View of the Large International Reserves Hoarding," IMF Working Papers 06/280, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Arvind Subramanian & Jonathan David Ostry & Simon Johnson, 2007. "The Prospects for Sustained Growth in Africa: Benchmarking the Constraints," IMF Working Papers 07/52, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Prasad, Eswar & Rajan, Raghuram G. & Subramanian, Arvind, 2007. "Foreign Capital and Economic Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 3186, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Ambler, Steve & Cardia, Emanuela & Farazli, Jeannine, 1999. "Export promotion, learning by doing and growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(5-6), pages 747-772, April.
  7. Joshua Aizenman & Jaewoo Lee, 2008. "Financial versus Monetary Mercantilism: Long-run View of Large International Reserves Hoarding," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(5), pages 593-611, 05.
  8. Joshua Aizenman & Daniel Riera-Crichton, 2006. "Real Exchange Rate and International Reserves in the Era of Growing Financial and Trade Integration," NBER Working Papers 12363, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Alwyn Young, 1991. "Learning by Doing and the Dynamic Effects of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 3577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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