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Pegs and Pain

  • Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé
  • Martin Uríbe

We identify a disconnect between historical and model-based assessments of the costs of currency pegs due to nominal rigidities. While the former attribute major contractions and massive unemployment to currency pegs, the latter find miniscule welfare losses. The goal of this paper is to reconcile these two assessments. We refocus attention to downward wage inflexibility as the central source of nominal rigidity. More importantly, our model departs from existing sticky wage models in the Calvo-Rotemberg tradition in that employment is not always demand determined. This departure creates an endogenous connection between macroeconomic volatility and the average level of unemployment and in this way opens the door to large welfare gains from stabilization policy. In a calibrated version of the model, an external crisis, defined as a two-standard-deviation decline in tradable output and a two-standard-deviation increase in the country interest rate premium, causes the unemployment rate to rise by more than 20 percentage points under a peg. Currency pegs are shown to be highly costly also during regular business-cycle fluctuations. The median welfare cost of a currency peg is 4 and 10 percent of consumption per period.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16847.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16847.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16847
Note: EFG IFM ME
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  1. Martín González Rozada & Pablo Andrés Neumeyer & Alejandra Clemente & Diego Luciano Sasson & Nicholas Trachter, 2004. "The Elasticity of Substitution in Demand for Non-Tradable Goods in Latin America: The Case of Argentina," Research Department Publications 3179, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  2. Neumeyer, Pablo A. & Perri, Fabrizio, 2005. "Business cycles in emerging economies: the role of interest rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 345-380, March.
  3. Jonathan D. Ostry & Carmen M. Reinhart, 1992. "Private Saving and Terms of Trade Shocks: Evidence from Developing Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 39(3), pages 495-517, September.
  4. Reinhart, Carmen & Vegh, Carlos, 1995. "Nominal interest rates, consumption booms, and lack of credibility: A quantitative examination," MPRA Paper 13898, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Stockman, Alan C & Tesar, Linda L, 1995. "Tastes and Technology in a Two-Country Model of the Business Cycle: Explaining International Comovements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 168-85, March.
  6. Enrique G. Mendoza & Vivian Z. Yue, 2008. "A Solution to the Disconnect between Country Risk and Business Cycle Theories," NBER Working Papers 13861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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