Exchange Rate Policies

Self-Check Questions

How would a contractionary monetary policy affect the exchange rate, net exports, aggregate demand, and aggregate supply?


A contractionary monetary policy, by driving up domestic interest rates, would cause the currency to appreciate. The higher value of the currency in foreign exchange markets would reduce exports, since from the perspective of foreign buyers, they are now more expensive. The higher value of the currency would similarly stimulate imports, since they would now be cheaper from the perspective of domestic buyers. Lower exports and higher imports cause net exports (EX – IM) to fall, which causes aggregate demand to fall. The result would be a decrease in GDP working through the exchange rate mechanism reinforcing the effect contractionary monetary policy has on domestic investment expenditure. However, cheaper imports would stimulate aggregate supply, bringing GDP back to potential, though at a lower price level.

A central bank can allow its currency to fall indefinitely, but it cannot allow its currency to rise indefinitely. Why not?


For a currency to fall, a central bank need only supply more of its currency in foreign exchange markets. It can print as much domestic currency as it likes. For a currency to rise, a central bank needs to buy its currency in foreign exchange markets, paying with foreign currency. Since no central bank has an infinite amount of foreign currency reserves, it cannot buy its currency indefinitely.

Is a country for which imports and exports comprise a large fraction of the GDP more likely to adopt a flexible exchange rate or a fixed (hard peg) exchange rate?


Variations in exchange rates, because they change import and export prices, disturb international trade flows. When trade is a large part of a nation’s economic activity, government will find it more advantageous to fix exchange rates to minimize disruptions of trade flows.