When the exchange rates are not stabilized by government authorities, the FE market closely resembles the theoretical model of perfect competition. There is a large number of buyers and sellers who act as price takers.
Accordingly, the exchange rates are determined by demand and supply in the foreign exchange (FE) market.
the demand for foreign exchange originates in the debit items in the BP.
The amounts of FE demanded is inversely related to its price.
Debit transactions involve payments by domestic residents to foreign residents.
Imports of merchandise
the supply of FE derives from the credit items in the BP.
Credit transactions involve receipts by domestic residents from foreign residents
exports of merchandise
There is a direct relationship with price.
|pure float (clean float): No intervention by monetary
dirty (managed) float: occasional monetary intervention designed to smooth out fluctuations
|par value||Government officials strive to keep the exchange rates stable even if the rates they choose deviate from the current equilibrium rates. They announce the "par value" and a "band" of exchange rates. The exchange rates are allowed to vary within the band.|
For example, if Bank of England announces that the par value of £ = $2.00 and supports British pound at 2% below the par or supports $ at 2% above the par, they have to get rid of the excess supply or demand at these prices using their international reserve assets.
During the Bretton Woods era, a country's international reserve assets included gold and other foreign currencies. (See for instance, Japan's international reserves (copy)). Since 1973, they included SDRs and foreign currencies.
While gold can be held by the private sector as well as public institutions, gold is no longer used as a means to settle international payments. In countries where gold is held as a reserve asset, its market value is listed, but gold cannot be directly used to settle payments between central banks.
(i) US buys £, this ⇒ increases £ reserve in US
(For example, because of its low dollar peg of RMB, China is buying dollars, about $200 billion a year. China accumulated over $3 trillion at the end of 2011. China is considering selling dollars ⇒ As $ ↓, the value of China's reserve asset declines. )
(ii) UK buys £ (sell $), this ⇒ decreases $ reserve in UK.
Russian ruble was fixed way above the equilibrium level, but it was not convertible into gold.
(i) US sells £ (£ reserve falls in the US)
(ii) UK sells £ ($ reserve increases in UK). China sells RMB and $ reserve increase in China.
|Monetary authorities differ greatly in their approach to maintaining the value of their currency in the FE market. Some central banks intervene on a daily basis. With most banks, intervention is intermittent. Others make no attempt to influence the price of their currencies.|
|Fixed Rates||the government announces an exchange rate, called the parity rate and defends it.|
Hard peg: Permanently fixed rate (the government has no plan to change it): Currency Boards, Dollarization
Adjustable peg: Rates are periodically adjusted (Bretton woods)
High frequency pegging: day-to-day dollar pegging or week-to-week peggingLow frequency pegging: month-to-month pegging or quarter-to-quarter pegging
Exchange control: rates may be maintained through rationing of foreign exchange
wide band: rates are fixed, but a considerable amount of fluctuation is allowed around the parity rate.
crawling peg: at any point in time, a country is committed to maintain its pegged exchange rate within a margin of X percent. The level is equal to its moving average of the exchange rates over a preceding period of Y weeks.
where ZY = mean of Z over Y weeks.
Mexico's arrangement during the early 1990s provides a good example of a crawling peg. Mexico pegged the peso to the US dollar. However, the inflation rates of the two countries diverged considerably, which necessitated a gradual depreciation of the peso. In this case, it is better to adopt a crawling peg than to devalue the peso drastically once in a while.
Similarly, Nicaragua pegged the value of its currency to the US dollar. US inflation rate averaged about 2 to 3 %, but inflation in Nicaragua remained between 10 to 20% a year. Because of this large difference in inflation rates, there would be a tendency for the córdoba to depreciate against the US dollar. Thus, Nicaragua adopted a crawling peg. (Daniels and van Hoose, 2002)
While it is efficient to peg one's currency to a stable currency, relying on a single currency might be risky. For this reason, a nation might peg its currency to a basket of foreign currencies. A basket of currencies is likely to be less variable than a single currency.
If all other currencies were included in the basket, the resulting peg would be most stable. However, managing such a peg can be quite cumbersome. Moreover, not all currencies are equally important, and weights should be assigned to each currency in accordance with the economic power of the nations included in the basket. For this reason, the currency baskets often include a small number of major currencies. For instance, the Czech Republic pegged its currency koruna to a basket of currencies including 0.0125 USD and 0.0329 DM, equivalent to 1 koruna (Kc 1).
|Currency Boards||Some countries do not have a central bank that conduct
monetary policies. Instead they have a currency board, an independent
monetary agency, that links the growth of its money supply to the foreign
exchange holdings; it issues domestic money in exchange for foreign
currency at a fixed exchange rate.
Currency Boards do not engage in discretionary monetary policy. Many small countries have currency boards: Estonia, Hong Kong, Lithuania, and Argentina.
Recently, Lithuania abadoned its currency board because in 1997 a rise in the value of USD resulted in an appreciation of lit against the currencies of its major trading partners and a huge trade deficit.
Some countries use the currencies of another nation as their legal tender. Other nations may also abandon their domestic currencies. This practice is called dollarization, i.e., the use of any other currency (dollar or not) as the legal tender.
|Euroization||Some European countries now consider euroization, namely to use euro as a legal tender in their countries unilaterally without consulting European Union. The new member states are expected to use euro as legal tender sooner or later. There is as yet no movement to use euro as legal tender in other European countries.|
|Organizing BP accounts||The majority of countries publish payments accounts. The items can be grouped into three categories.|
Merchandise Balance = merchandise exports - merchandise imports
Services = transportation, insurance, travel, investment services (interest income, dividends, profits), royalties and other services
Unilateral transfers = gifts to foreigners
government transfers = tax receipts from nonresidents, nonmilitary grants, but the largest is government aid toward developing countries (net military transactions)
records the net changes in the country's international financial assets and liabilities
Capital inflow occurs when residents' financial liabilities increase, e.g. selling bonds to foreigners
Capital outflow occurs when residents' financial claims on foreigners increase (or liabilities decrease)
Direct Investment = long term capital outflow. This includes only foreign branches + subsidiaries effectively controlled. (US residents control 50% or more of the voting stock)
Portfolio Investment = long term capital outflow that do not give effective control over investments. covers all international financial transactions with maturity exceeding one year.
Short term capital flows = transactions of international assets with maturity of one year or less. short term borrowing from foreign banks/short term deposits in foreign banks. Most volatile component/ errors & Omissions
|Official Reserve Account||
records the transactions of the central bank (Federal Reserve system, Treasury, exchange stabilization agency) when it buys/sells foreign currencies.
The central bank has only two purposes for these transactions:
(i) delay a change in the exchange rate.
(ii) counter disorderly conditions in the FE market.
4. Concepts of BP surplus/deficit
Surplus and deficit are economic concepts that are used to measure disequilibrium in the balance of payments.
Autonomous activities by the private sector generally cause a gap in the balance of payments. Accommodating activities are by the monetary authorities intended to fill the gap.
This balance measures only exports and imports of merchandise by putting them above the line, i.e., treating them as autonomous decisions. Available monthly, and hence popular.
Xg - Mg
|Goods & Service Balance||
X - M.
|Current Account Balance||
This measure covers all transactions that are current,
X - M - T
If surplus, it represents the amount of international lending and
corresponds to net foreign investment.
The basic balance is the sum of the current account balance and the net movement of long term capital (direct and portfolio investments).
X - M - T - LTC
LTC = long term capital outflow
Basic Balance is intended to measure structural changes in a country's balance of payments
insensitive to short run changes in economic variables such as interest rates, exchange rates, expectations.
responsive only to long term changes in productivity, international competitiveness. This concept is close to the theoretical concept of fundamental equilibrium.
This balance measures the liquidity position of the US,
X - M - T - LTC - STCUS.
STCUS = short term US capital outflow
In case of trouble, STCUS cannot be mobilized, but STCforeign can be quickly retrieved from the US. Appropriate measure in a crisis, but not in a steady state.
|Official Reserve Transactions Balance||
This balance puts the transactions of monetary authorities below the line, and all others above the line. X - M - T - LTC - STCprivate. If the monetary authorities engage in no transactions to manipulate exchange rates, the official reserve transactions are zero by definition. This balance measures the extent of actions by monetary authorities to delay a change in exchange rates.
intended to measure the exchange market pressure on the country's currency
useful when the monetary authorities are in charge of maintaining a stable exchange rate
If ORTB (was a deficit) = -$10B, then the monetary authorities were compelled to intervene in the FE market for the same amount to prevent a depreciation of the country's currency by
(i) depleting FE reserve by $10 B, (ii) obtaining FE by exporting $10 B of gold, or (iii) borrowing FE from foreign central banks.
5. BP Accounting under Flexible Exchange Rate
|US BP accounts||
Since 1978 the US decided not to intervene in the FE market, except in emergency. However, several countries have intervened in the FE markets occasionally, when a currency appreciated or depreciated too much relative to other currencies (e.g., Plaza accord in 1985). Accordingly, BP accounts are prepared in a different way. In a country with a clean float, no reserve transactions occur, so the official reserve transactions account is zero by definition.
If there are no reserve movements, then the current account and capital account must total zero.
If there is a shock in the payments system, the adjustment is made through exchange rates, i.e., a change in the foreign price of a domestic currency. If clean floats were in operation, then payments accounts would include only current and capital accounts.
For instance, the downgrading of Greek sovereign debt to junk bond status in 2010 precipitated a crisis, which spread to other countries (Italy, Spain, Portgal, etc.) Consequently, euro was weakened for a while.
However, the US and many industrial countries maintain dirty or managed floats.
Since 1977 in the US, BP accounts have been published in a different format which reflects the nonintervention policy of the Federal Reserve Bank. (No reserve transactions)
Exports of goods, services, and income
income receipts on US assets abroad
Imports of goods, services, and income
income payments on foreign assets in US
US Assets Abroad US official reserve asset (gold, SDR, reserve position in the IMF) US government assets US private assets Foreign Assets in the US Foreign official assets in the US other foreign assets Statistical discrepancy
|No reserve account transactions|