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Causes of Appreciation and Volatility of the Dollar with Comment by Jacob Frenkel


  • William H. Branson
  • Jacob A. Frenkel


In 1981 real interest rates in the United States increased spectacularly, and the dollar appreciated in real terms by about 20 percent. Since the end of 1981, long-term real interest rates have remained in the range of 5-10 percent, with nominal long rates above short rates. The dollar appreciated further, but more gradually, until early 1985. This paper argues that these movements in real interest rates and the real exchange rate are due to the shift in the high-employment deficit by some $200 billion that was announced in the 1981 budget program. This requires an increase in real interest rates and a real appreciation to generate the sum of excess domestic saving and foreign borrowing to finance it. The argument is a straightforward extension of the idea of "crowding out" at full employment to an open economy.The current situation is not sustainable, however. Eventually international investors will begin to resist further absorption of dollars into their portfolios, so U.S. interest rates will have to rise further, as the markets seem to expect, and the dollar will have to depreciate. This will continue until the current account is back in approximate balance, and the entire load of deficit financing is shifted to excess U.S. saving. In his comments on Branson's paper, Jacob A. Frenkel discusses additional factors that have contributed to the evolution of the dollar since 1980. He concludes that in addition to U.S. fiscal policies, monetary policy in the United States and the fiscal position of the U.K., West Germany and Japan have also contributed to the dollar's strength.

Suggested Citation

  • William H. Branson & Jacob A. Frenkel, 1985. "Causes of Appreciation and Volatility of the Dollar with Comment by Jacob Frenkel," NBER Working Papers 1777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1777
    Note: ITI IFM

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frenkel, Jacob A, 1976. " A Monetary Approach to the Exchange Rate: Doctrinal Aspects and Empirical Evidence," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 78(2), pages 200-224.
    2. William H. Branson & Arminio Fraga & Robert A. Johnson, 1985. "Expected fiscal policy and the recession of 1982," International Finance Discussion Papers 272, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Paul R. Krugman, 1985. "Is the strong dollar sustainable?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 103-155.
    4. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1976. "Expectations and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1161-1176, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martin S. Feldstein, 1986. "The Budget Deficit and the Dollar," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 355-409 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. William H. Branson & Grazia Marchese, 1988. "International payments imbalances in Japan, Germany, and the United States," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 32, pages 19-57.
    3. Jacob A. Frenkel & Assaf Razin, 1986. "Fiscal Policies and Real Exchange Rates in the World Economy," NBER Working Papers 2065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rachel McCulloch, 1988. "Macroeconomic Policy and Trade Performance: International Implications and U.S. Budget Deficits," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in US-EC Trade Relations, pages 349-370 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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