Sunday, May 11, 2008

Floats are as fragile as pegs

The Dynamics of Exchange Rate Regimes: Fixes, Floats, and Flips;

Abstract: The impermanence of fixed exchange rates has become a stylized fact in international finance. The combination of the “mirage” view that pegs do not really peg with the “fear of floating” view that floats do not really float generates the conclusion that exchange rate regimes are, in practice, unimportant for the behavior of the exchange rate. This is consistent with evidence on the irrelevance of exchange rate regimes for general macroeconomic performance. Recent studies, however, show that the exchange rate regime matters. This can be understood by considering the dynamics of exchange rate regimes. We demonstrate that the “mirage” view is somewhat misleading and incomplete. Pegs frequently break, but many do last. Also, there is a high degree of flipping, that is, the re-formation of pegs that have broken. Thus, a fixed exchange rate today is a good predictor that one will exist in the future. We also investigate the quantitative effect of fixed exchange rates. While the “fear of floating” view suggests little actual difference in fixed and floating rates with respect to exchange rate volatility, we show that fixed exchange rates exhibit considerably greater bilateral exchange rate stability than flexible rates, both today and in the future.

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