Rare Disasters and Exchange Rates

47 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2008 Last revised: 22 Sep 2010

See all articles by Emmanuel Farhi

Emmanuel Farhi

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Xavier Gabaix

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2008

Abstract

We propose a new model of exchange rates, which yields a theory of the forward premium puzzle. Our explanation combines two ingredients: the possibility of rare economic disasters, and an asset view of the exchange rate. Our model is frictionless, has complete markets, and works for an arbitrary number of countries. In the model, rare worldwide disasters can occur and affect each country's productivity. Each country's exposure to disaster risk varies over time according to a mean-reverting process. Risky countries command high risk premia: they feature a depreciated exchange rate and a high interest rate. As their risk premium mean reverts, their exchange rate appreciates. Therefore, currencies of high interest rate countries appreciate on average. To make the notion of disaster risk more implementable, we show how options prices might in principle uncover latent disaster risk, and help forecast exchange rate movements. We then extend the framework to incorporate two factors: a disaster risk factor, and a business cycle factor. We calibrate the model and obtain quantitatively realistic values for the volatility of the exchange rate, the forward premium puzzle regression coefficients, and near-random walk exchange rate dynamics. Finally, we solve a model of stock markets across countries, which yields a series of predictions about the joint behavior of exchange rates, bonds, options and stocks across countries. The evidence from the options market appears to be supportive of the model.

Suggested Citation

Farhi, Emmanuel and Gabaix, Xavier, Rare Disasters and Exchange Rates (February 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w13805. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1092854

Emmanuel Farhi

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Xavier Gabaix (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

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