Exchange Rate Risk Management: Evidence from East Asia
47 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2000
Date Written: February 2001
The recent East Asian (EA) financial crisis provides a natural experiment for investigating foreign-exchange risk management by non-financial corporations. During this period, the financial crisis exposed local firms to large depreciations in exchange rates and decreased access to foreign capital. We explore the exchange rate hedging practices of firms that hedge foreign debt exposure in eight EA countries between 1996 and 1998. Our paper makes three primary contributions. First, we identify and characterize EA companies that use foreign currency derivatives. This includes documenting differences in size, domestic and foreign debt exposures, and financial characteristics. Second, we investigate the factors important in the use of foreign currency derivatives. In contrast to studies of US firms, we find limited support for existing theories of optimal hedging. Instead, we find that firms use foreign earnings as a substitute for hedging with derivatives and evidence that EA firms engage in "selective" hedging. Third, we investigate the relative performance of hedgers during and after the crisis. We find no evidence that EA firms eliminate their foreign exchange exposure by using derivatives. More specifically, firms using derivatives before the crisis perform just as poorly as nonhedgers during the crisis. Post-crisis, firms that hedged performed somewhat better than nonhedgers, but this result appears to be explained by a larger post-crisis currency exposure for hedgers (an exchange rate risk premium), due to limited access to derivatives during that period.
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