This paper presents new stylized facts about exchange rates and their relationship with macroeconomic fundamentals. We show that macroeconomic surprises explain, on average, about 70 percent of variation in nominal exchange rate changes at quarterly frequency. Using a novel present value decomposition of exchange rate changes that is disciplined with survey forecast data, we further show that macroeconomic surprises are also a very important driver of the currency risk premia component and explain about 50 percent of its variation. These surprises have even greater explanatory power during periods of economic downturns and financial uncertainty.
The negative relationship between inflation and unemployment (also known as the Phillips curve) has been repeatedly challenged in the last decades: missing inflation in 2013-2019, missing deflation in 2007-2010, missing inflation in the late 1990s, stagflation in the 1970s, contrasting with always strong regional Phillips curves. Using data from multiple sources, this paper helps to solve many empirical puzzles by distinguishing between fixed and flexible exchange rate regimes: in fixed exchange rate regimes, inflation is negatively correlated with unemployment but this relationship does not hold in flexible regimes. By contrast, there is a negative correlation between real exchange rate appreciation and unemployment, which remains consistent in both fixed and flexible regimes. These crucial observations have important implications for identifying the source of business cycle fluctuations, for normative analysis, and imply a significant departure from rational-expectation-based solutions to Phillips curve puzzles.
Introducing heterogeneous households to a New-Keynesian small open economy model amplifies the real income channel of exchange rates: the rise in import prices from a depreciation lowers households’ real incomes, and leads them to cut back on spending. This channel counteracts the standard expenditure-switching channel of exchange rates, and can result in a contractionary effect of a depreciation on domestic output. We study the monetary policy implications of a large and dominant real income channel.