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The Effectiveness of Foreign-Exchange Intervention: Recent Experience

  • Maurice Obstfeld

Since the September 1985 Plaza Hotel announcement by the Group of Five industrial countries, a substantial realignment of exchange rates has been achieved. At the same time, foreign exchange market intervention, much of it concerted and much of it sterilized, has been undertaken on a scale not seen since the early 1970s This paper takes a fresh look at the effectiveness of sterilized intervention in the light of recent experience. The paper concludes that sterilized intervention, in itself, has played an unimportant role in promoting exchange-rate realignment. Instead, clear shifts in patterns of monetary and fiscal policy appear to have been the main medium-term policy factors determining currency values. Over certain shorter time periods, intervention has influenced exchange markets through a signalling channel; but this signalling effect has been operative only as a result of authorities' frequent readiness to adjust monetary policies promptly to counteract unwelcome exchange-market pressures. The paper makes some progress in formalizing reasons why intervention might enhance the credibility of messages that governments could convey as well through simple verbal announcements.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2796.

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Date of creation: Dec 1988
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Publication status: published as Branson, William H., Jacob A. Frenkel, and Morris Goldstein (eds.) International Policy Coordination and Exchange Rate Fluctuations. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2796
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  1. Feldstein, Martin S, 1988. "Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: Thinking about International Economic Coordination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 3-13, Spring.
  2. Sanford J Grossman & Guy Laroque, 2003. "Asset Pricing and Optimal Portfolio Choice in the Presence of Illiquid Durable Consumption Goods," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000803, David K. Levine.
  3. Persson, Mats & Persson, Torsten & Svensson, Lars E O, 1987. "Time Consistency of Fiscal and Monetary Policy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1419-31, November.
  4. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Fiscal and Monetary Policy in an Economy Without Capital," Discussion Papers 532, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Engle, Robert F, 1982. "Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity with Estimates of the Variance of United Kingdom Inflation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 987-1007, July.
  6. Giovannini, Alberto & Jorion, Philippe, 1989. " The Time Variation of Risk and Return in the Foreign Exchange and Stock Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(2), pages 307-25, June.
  7. Robert E. Cumby, 1987. "Is it Risk? Explaining Deviations from Uncovered Interest Parity," NBER Working Papers 2380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1976. "Expectations and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1161-76, December.
  9. Henning Bohn, . "Time Consistency of Monetary Policy in the Open Economy (Revised: 8-90)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 33-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  10. Engel, Charles M & Flood, Robert P, 1985. "Exchange Rate Dynamics, Sticky Prices and the Current Account," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 17(3), pages 312-27, August.
  11. Lewis, Karen K., 1988. "The persistence of the `peso problem' when policy is noisy," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 5-21, March.
  12. Kenneth A. Froot and Jeffrey A. Frankel., 1988. "Forward Discount Bias: Is It an Exchange Risk Premium?," Economics Working Papers 8874, University of California at Berkeley.
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