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

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  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Jaewoo Lee

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Aizenman & Jaewoo Lee, 2008. "The Real Exchange Rate, Mercantilism and the Learning by Doing Externality," NBER Working Papers 13853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13853
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eswar S. Prasad & Raghuram G. Rajan & Arvind Subramanian, 2007. "Foreign Capital and Economic Growth," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 153-230.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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, May.
    5. Alwyn Young, 1991. "Learning by Doing and the Dynamic Effects of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 3577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Dermot Leahy & J. Peter Neary, 1999. "Learning by Doing, Precommitment and Infant-Industry Promotion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(2), pages 447-474.
    7. Alwyn Young, 1991. "Learning by Doing and the Dynamic Effects of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 369-405.
    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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Samba Mbaye, 2012. "Real Exchange Rate Undervaluation and Growth: Is there a Total Factor Productivity Growth Channel?," Working Papers halshs-00687948, HAL.
    2. Laura Alfaro & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Vadym Volosovych, 2014. "Sovereigns, Upstream Capital Flows, And Global Imbalances," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(5), pages 1240-1284, October.
    3. Kappler, Marcus & Reisen, Helmut & Schularick, Moritz & Turkisch, Edouard, 2013. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Large Exchange Rate Appreciations," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 471-494.
    4. Mbaye, Samba, 2012. "Currency Undervaluation and Growth: Is there a Productivity Channel?," MPRA Paper 44261, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Jeanne, Olivier, 2013. "Macroprudential policies in a global perspective," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov, pages 1-38.
    6. Mai Dao & Ruo Chen, 2011. "The Real Exchange Rate and Employment in China," IMF Working Papers 11/148, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Samba MBAYE, 2012. "Real Exchange Rate Undervaluation and Growth: Is there a Total Factor Productivity Growth Channel?," Working Papers 201211, CERDI.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies

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