November 19, 2002 This article examines the concept of purchasing-power parity (PPP) and its implications for the equilibrium value of the Canadian exchange rate. PPP has two main applications, as a theory of exchange rate determination and as a means to compare living standards across countries. Concerning exchange rate determination, PPP is mainly useful as a reminder that monetary policy has no long-run impact on the real exchange rate, since the exchange rate can deviate persistently from its PPP value in response to real shocks. To compare living standards across countries, PPP exchange rates constructed by comparing the prices of national consumption baskets are used to translate per capita national incomes into a common currency. These rates are useful because they offset differences in national price levels to obtain comparable measures of purchasing power, but they are not an accurate measure of the equilibrium value of the exchange rate. The authors conclude that the current deviation of the Canadian exchange rate from the PPP rate does not imply that the exchange rate is undervalued, but that this deviation reflects the impact of persistent real factors, in particular, lower commodity prices.
May 18, 2002 Since 1995, acquisitions of foreign firms by Canadian residents and acquisitions of Canadian firms by foreign residents have increased. Through most of this period, the dollar has depreciated, but the cumulative net balance of foreign direct investment acquisition flows has remained close to zero. The recent upward trend in bilateral acquisition flows is part of the globalization process as firms consolidate and rationalize their operations, and is not related to the value of the Canadian dollar. Standard models of international asset pricing imply that there should not be a relationship between the Canadian exchange rate and foreign takeovers of Canadian firms because an exchange rate movement does not give foreign buyers a systematic advantage over domestic buyers. Purchases of domestic firms by foreign residents are likely to be welfare-improving. Transactions between foreign and domestic residents are voluntary, and they imply that the foreign buyers expect to obtain higher profits from the firms' assets.