Using Survey Data to Resolve the Exchange Risk Exposure Puzzle: Evidence from U.S. Multinational Firms
32 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2007 Last revised: 26 Aug 2009
Date Written: April 2009
While in previous literature foreign currency exposure is estimated to be surprisingly small and insignificant, we question in this paper the rationality assumption and show that the traditional use of realized exchange rate changes to approximate unexpected currency shocks leads to a strong underestimation of the influence that exchange rates play in determining firm valuations. In light of a unique survey data base of individual exchange rate expectations, we distinguish between 'realized' and 'unexpected' foreign currency movements and find that half of our sample of 935 U.S. firms with real operations in foreign countries is significantly exposed to 'unexpected' exchange rate movements. In line with previously reported results, foreign exchange risk exposure is found to become increasingly perceptible when the return horizon is lengthened. The difference between the exposure to 'realized' versus 'unexpected' exchange rate movements is however decreasing when lengthening the horizon, suggesting that the more market participants disagree about the future path of currency values, the less investors and/or managers are likely to use the publicly available forecasts in their pricing and hedging decisions.
Keywords: foreign exchange risk, survey-based exchange rate expectations, heterogeneity, U.S. multinational firms
JEL Classification: F3, G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation