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Chapter Twelve The Foreign Exchange Market
Foreign Currency Assets of Canadian Banks Source: The Canadian Banking System, Charles Freedman, 1998
The Foreign Exchange Market • Definitions • Spot exchange rate: The rate at which you can buy or sell currency for settlement today • Forward exchange rate: The rate at which you can buy or sell currency for settlement in the future, at a price agreed upon today • Appreciation: A currency appreciates when it takes less of it to purchase one unit of foreign currency • Depreciation: A currency depreciates when it takes more of it to purchase one unit of foreign currency
The Foreign Exchange Market • When a domestic currency appreciates: • Exports become less competitive • Imports become less expensive • Domestic businesses become less competitive • Consumers benefit from lower prices • FX traded in over-the-counter market • Trade is in bank deposits denominated in different currencies
Law of One Price • An identical good should cost the same, irrespective of the currency it is valued in • Example: • Canadian steel costs $100 per ton, • Japanese steel costs 10,000 yen per ton • What does this infer about the exchange rate between Canadian dollars & yen?
Law of One Price • Law of one price Exchange Rate = 100 yen/$
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) • The theory Purchasing-power parity says that in the long run, exchange rates should move towards rates that would equalize the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in any two countries. • PPP implies that if the domestic price level 10%, the domestic currency should 10% • Application of law of one price to price levels • Works in long run not short run • Problems with PPP • All goods not identical in both countries (i.e., Toyota versus Chevy) • Many goods and services are not traded (e.g., haircuts)
Big Mac Index:The Economist The concept of Purchasing Power Parity is the thinking behind The Economist's Big Mac index. Invented in 1986 as a light-hearted guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level, the “basket” is a McDonalds' Big Mac, which is produced locally in almost 120 countries.
Big Mac Index • Burgernomics is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. • In the long run, the exchange rate between two countries should move towards the rate that equalises the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in each country. • The "basket" is a McDonald's Big Mac, which is produced in about 120 countries. • The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would mean hamburgers cost the same in America as abroad. • Comparing actual exchange rates with PPPs indicates whether a currency is under- or overvalued.
Big Mac Index • The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would leave a burger in any country costing the same as in America. • The first column of the table converts the local price of a Big Mac into dollars at current exchange rates. • The average price of a Big Mac in four American cities is $2.90 (including tax). • The cheapest shown in the table is in the Philippines ($1.23), the most expensive in Switzerland ($4.90). • In other words, the Philippine peso is the world's most undervalued currency, the Swiss franc its most overvalued.
Big Mac Index • The second column calculates Big Mac PPPs by dividing the local currency price by the American price. For instance, in Japan a Big Mac costs ¥262. Dividing this by the American price of $2.90 produces a dollar PPP against the yen of ¥90, compared with its current rate of ¥113, suggesting that the yen is 20% undervalued. • In contrast, the euro (based on a weighted average of Big Mac prices in the euro area) is 13% overvalued. • Perhaps the most interesting finding is that all emerging-market currencies are undervalued against the dollar. The Chinese yuan, on which much ink has been spilled in recent months, looks 57% too cheap.
Big Mac Index • The Big Mac index was never intended as a precise forecasting tool. Burgers are not traded across borders as the PPP theory demands; prices are distorted by differences in the cost of non-tradable goods and services, such as rents. • Yet these very failings make the Big Mac index useful, since looked at another way it can help to measure countries' differing costs of living. That a Big Mac is cheap in China does not in fact prove that the yuan is being held massively below its fair value, as many American politicians claim. It is quite natural for average prices to be lower in poorer countries and therefore for their currencies to appear cheap. • The prices of traded goods will tend to be similar to those in developed economies. But the prices of non-tradable products, such as housing and labour-intensive services, are generally much lower. A hair-cut is, for instance, much cheaper in Beijing than in New York.
Big Mac Index • One big implication of lower prices is that converting a poor country's GDP into dollars at market exchange rates will significantly understate the true size of its economy and its living standards. • If China's GDP is converted into dollars using the Big Mac PPP, it is almost two-and-a-half-times bigger than if converted at the market exchange rate. • Meatier and more sophisticated estimates of PPP, such as those used by the IMF, suggest that the required adjustment is even bigger.
Factors Affecting The Exchange Rate in the Long Run • Basic Principle: If a factor increases demand for domestic goods relative to foreign goods, the exchange rate should rise (i.e. the domestic currency will appreciate) • Domestic price level – if the domestic price level rises while the foreign price level remains fixed, domestic goods become relatively more expensive. Demand for the foreign goods will rise; demand for domestic goods will fall.
Factors Affecting The Exchange Rate in the Long Run • Trade barriers – Two forms • Tariffs – taxes on imported goods • Quotas – limits on the amount of foreign goods that can enter the country • Both tariffs & quotas tend to increase demand for domestic goods & reduce demand for foreign goods
Factors Affecting The Exchange Rate in the Long Run • Import demand – if import demand rises (Canadians prefer to purchase Japanese cars rather than cars made in Canada), the exchange rate will depreciate • Export demand – if foreigners demand more of Canada’s natural resources, the demand for Canadian goods rises, pushing the exchange rate higher.
Factors Affecting The Exchange Rate in the Long Run • Productivity – If a country becomes more productive than its foreign counterparts (produces more units of output per unit of input), then domestic businesses can lower their prices and still earn a profit. • The demand for domestic goods rises and the domestic currency appreciates
Factors Affecting The Exchange Rate in the Short Run • We know of five factors that affect LR exchange rate behaviour • What factors affect the spot exchange rate? • A spot exchange rate is the price of a domestic bank deposit (denominated in Canadian dollars) in terms of a foreign bank deposit (denominated in the foreign currency) • Earlier models of exchange rate determination emphasized the flow of imports & exports. However, total yearly foreign exchange transactions in Canada are approximately 25 times as large as the flow of imports & exports. • Therefore, want to focus on the decision whether to hold a domestic or a foreign asset (T bill or bank deposit)
Comparing Expected Returns on Domestic & Foreign Deposits • Expected return drives the demand for both domestic & foreign assets (bank deposits) • If foreign assets have a higher expected return, investors will shift deposits from Canadian dollar assets into foreign currency assets • When comparing expected returns, must consider two things • The interest rate earned • The impact of an appreciating or depreciating currency (when the return is earned in a foreign currency)
Comparing Expected Returns on Domestic & Foreign Deposits Where: RForeign = the total expected return on a foreign asset IForeign = the interest rate in the foreign country
Comparing Expected Returns on Domestic & Foreign Deposits • Example: Assume that you have the following information • Yield on 90 day US dollar investments = 4% • Yield on 90 Canadian dollar investments = 4.25% • Spot exchange rate = 1.1500 Canadian dollars / US dollar • 90 Forward exchange rate = 1.1550 Canadian $/US $ • Should we invest in Canada or US?
Comparing Expected Returns on Domestic & Foreign Deposits Since the yield on Canadian dollar investments is 4.25%, we should sell Canadian dollars & invest in US dollar instruments on a fully hedged basis.
Interest Rate Parity • Interest rate parity states: • The domestic interest rate must equal the foreign interest rate plus the expected appreciation in the foreign currency • If this were not the case, investors would be able to make risk-free profits through arbitrage • The corollary of this is that the forward exchange rate is driven strictly by interest rate differentials between two countries
Interest Rate Parity • Example (Globe & Mail, March 29, 2006) • Spot exchange rate = 1.1698 Canadian dollars / US dollar • 1 year forward rate = 1.1584 Canadian dollars / US dollar • Yield on one year Canadian T bills = 4.07% • Yield on one year US T bills = 4.77% Our calculation would suggest a one year forward rate of 1.1620, which is higher than the quoted rate of 1.1584, although it does show the expected appreciation of the Canadian dollar vis-à-vis the US dollar. The difference is probably due to the nature of the data I used.
Profiting from FX Forecasts • Forecasters look at factors discussed here • FX forecasts affect financial institutions managers' decisions • If forecast Euro to appreciate & yen to depreciate • Sell yen assets & buy Euro assets • Make more euros loans & less yen loans • FX traders sell yen & buy euros