On the Unstable Relationship between Exchange Rates and Macroeconomic Fundamentals

HKIMR Working Paper No.27/2009

51 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2009

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: August 31, 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 (August 31, 2009). HKIMR Working Paper No.27/2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1466683 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1466683

Philippe Bacchetta (Contact Author)

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

c/o University of Geneva
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1211 Geneva 4
Switzerland

Eric Van Wincoop

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

Rouss Hall 114
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Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States
804-924-3997 (Phone)
804-982-2904 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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