On the Unstable Relationship between Exchange Rates and Macroeconomic Fundamentals

56 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2009 Last revised: 6 Jul 2010

See all articles by Philippe Bacchetta

Philippe Bacchetta

University of Lausanne; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Swiss Finance Institute

Eric van Wincoop

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

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2009

Abstract

It is well known from anecdotal, survey and econometric evidence that the relationship between the exchange rate and macro fundamentals is highly unstable. This could be explained when structural parameters are known and very volatile, neither of which seems plausible. Instead we argue that large and frequent variations in the relationship between the exchange rate and macro fundamentals naturally develop when structural parameters in the economy are unknown and change very slowly. We show that the reduced form relationship between exchange rates and fundamentals is driven not by the structural parameters themselves, but rather by expectations of these parameters. These expectations can be highly unstable as a result of perfectly rational "scapegoat" effects. This happens when parameters can potentially change much more in the long run than the short run. This generates substantial uncertainty about the level of parameters, even though monthly or annual changes are small. This mechanism can also be relevant in other contexts of forward looking variables and could explain the widespread evidence of parameter instability found in macroeconomic and financial data. Finally, we show that parameter instability has remarkably little effect on the volatility of exchange rates, the in-sample explanatory power of macro fundamentals and the ability to forecast out of sample.

Suggested Citation

Bacchetta, Philippe and van Wincoop, Eric, On the Unstable Relationship between Exchange Rates and Macroeconomic Fundamentals (May 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1412020

Philippe Bacchetta

University of Lausanne ( email )

Faculty of Business and Economics
Internef 523
1015 Lausanne
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.hec.unil.ch/pbacchetta/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Swiss Finance Institute

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Eric Van Wincoop (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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