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The Failure of Uncovered Interest Parity: Is it Near-rationality in the Foreign Exchange Market?

  • David W.R. Gruen

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

  • Gordon D. Menzies

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

A risk-averse US investor adjusts the shares of a portfolio of short-term nominal domestic and foreign assets to maximize expected utility. The optimal strategy is to respond immediately to all new information which arrives weekly. We calculate the expected utility foregone when the investor abandons the optimal strategy and instead optimizes less frequently. We also consider the cases where the investor ignores the covariance between returns sourced in different countries, and where the investor makes unsystematic mistakes when forming expectations of exchange rate changes. We demonstrate that the expected utility cost of sub-optimal behaviour is generally very small. Thus, for example, if investors adjust portfolio shares every three months, they incur an average expected utility loss equivalent to about 0.16% p.a. It is therefore plausible that slight opportunity costs of frequent optimization may outweigh the benefits. This result may help explain the failure of uncovered interest parity.

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Paper provided by Reserve Bank of Australia in its series RBA Research Discussion Papers with number rdp9103.

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Date of creation: May 1991
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Handle: RePEc:rba:rbardp:rdp9103
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  1. Cumby, Robert E., 1988. "Is it risk? : Explaining deviations from uncovered interest parity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 279-299, September.
  2. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Kenneth A. Froot, 1985. "Using Survey Data to Test Some Standard Propositions Regarding Exchange Rate Expectations," NBER Working Papers 1672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Frankel, Jeffrey A., 1988. "Recent estimates of time-variation in the conditional variance and in the exchange risk premium," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 115-125, March.
  4. Frankel, Jeffrey & Engel, Charles M., 1984. "Do asset-demand functions optimize over the mean and variance of real returns? A six-currency test," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3-4), pages 309-323, November.
  5. Baillie, Richard T & Bollerslev, Tim, 1989. "The Message in Daily Exchange Rates: A Conditional-Variance Tale," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 7(3), pages 297-305, July.
  6. Froot, Kenneth A & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Foreign Exchange," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 179-92, Summer.
  7. Goodhart, Charles, 1988. "The Foreign Exchange Market: A Random Walk with a Dragging Anchor," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 55(220), pages 437-60, November.
  8. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1985. "Can Small Deviations from Rationality Make Significant Differences to Economic Equilibria?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 708-20, September.
  9. Frankel, Jeff & Froot, Ken, 1986. "Using Survey Data to Test Standard Propositions Regarding Exchange Rate Expectations," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1972q8wm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  10. Richard E. Baldwin, 1990. "Re-Interpreting the Failure of Foreign Exchange Market Efficiency Tests:Small Transaction Costs, Big Hysteresis Bands," NBER Working Papers 3319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Cecchetti, Stephen G & Mark, Nelson C, 1990. "Evaluating Empirical Tests of Asset Pricing Models: Alternative Interpretations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 48-51, May.
  12. Jeffrey A. Frankel and Richard Meese., 1987. "Are Exchange Rates Excessively Variable," Economics Working Papers 8738, University of California at Berkeley.
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