Banks' Foreign Currency Exposure and the Real Effects of Exchange Rate Shocks

62 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2018 Last revised: 3 Jun 2021

See all articles by Isha Agarwal

Isha Agarwal

University of British Columbia

Date Written: June 4, 2018


In contrast to standard theory, recent empirical evidence shows that currency depreciations are not always expansionary. I show that a bank lending channel of exchange rates can explain this disconnect. I provide causal evidence on the importance of this channel using a large and unanticipated currency appreciation shock from Switzerland. I construct a novel dataset on foreign currency exposure of Swiss banks and bank-firm relationships, and show that the currency appreciation shock enabled banks with net foreign currency liability exposure to increase lending, allowing firms to increase investment. The bank lending channel thus partially offsets the negative effect of currency appreciation on exports, explaining the muted response of aggregate output to the shock. I also construct a new historical database on banks' foreign currency exposure for a sample of 43 countries and provide evidence on the general importance of this channel across historical global currency depreciations.

Keywords: Bank Lending, Exchange Rates, Currency Mismatch, Open Economy

JEL Classification: G15, G21, F30, F65

Suggested Citation

Agarwal, Isha, Banks' Foreign Currency Exposure and the Real Effects of Exchange Rate Shocks (June 4, 2018). Paris December 2018 Finance Meeting EUROFIDAI - AFFI, Available at SSRN: or

Isha Agarwal (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia ( email )

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