Exchange Rate Volatility and Trade: A Survey

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This paper provides an extensive survey of the literature on exchange rate volatility and trade, examining both the theory that underlies the work in this area and the results of empirical studies published since 1988.

Despite the widespread view that an increase in volatility will reduce the level of trade, this review reveals that the effects of volatility are ambiguous. There is no real consensus on either the direction or the size of the exchange rate volatility - trade level relationship. Overall, a larger number of studies find that volatility tends to reduce the level of trade, but when the effect is measured, it is found to be relatively small.

Several reasons can explain this tenuous relationship: (i) even for risk-averse businesses, an increase in risk does not necessarily lead to a reduction in the risky activity, (ii) the availability of hedging techniques makes it possible for traders to avoid most of exchange risk at little cost, (iii) exchange rate volatility may actually offset some other forms of business risk, and (iv) exchange rate volatility can create profitable trading and investment opportunities.

Topic(s): Exchange rates