Norges Bank

Working Paper

Revisiting the importance of non-tradable goods’ prices in cyclical real exchange rate fluctuations

By Ida Wolden Bache, Kjersti Næss, and Tommy Sveen
Working Paper

In an influential paper Engel (1999. Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes, Journal of Political Economy 107, 507-538) argues that essentially all the flctuations in the real exchange rate can be attributed to fluctuations in the relative price of traded goods, and that only a small part of the fluctuations can be attributed to changes in the relative price of non-tradables. We instead decompose the real exchange rate into three components: the relative price of traded goods at-the-dock, the difference in the relative price of non-traded to traded goods and the difference in the wedge between retail prices of traded goods and the prices of traded goods at-the-dock. Using data on US bilateral real exchange rates we find that the fluctuations in the relative wedge between retail prices and traded goods prices at-the-dock account for on average between 30 and 70 percent of the movements in the real exchange rate. These findings suggest that the relationship between traded goods prices at-the-dock and retail prices of traded goods is key to understanding real exchange rate fluctuations.

Norges Bank’s working papers present research projects and reports that are generally not in their final form. Other analyses by Norges Bank’s economists are also included in the series. The views and conclusions in these documents are those of the authors.

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ISSN 1502-8190 (online)

Published 30 January 2009 11:00
Published 30 January 2009 11:00