NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes

Charles Engel

NBER Working Paper No. 5394
Issued in December 1995
NBER Program(s):   IFM

This study measures the proportion of U.S. real exchange rate movements that can be accounted for by movements in the relative prices of non-traded goods. The decomposition is done at all possible horizons that the data allow -- from one month up to thirty years. The accounting is performed with five different measures of non-traded goods prices and real exchange rates, for exchange rates of the U.S. relative to a number of other high income countries in each case. The outcome is surprising -- relative prices of non-traded goods appear to account for essentially none of the movement of U.S. real exchange rates at any horizon. Only for one crude measure, which uses the aggregate producer price index as an index of traded goods prices, do non-traded goods prices seem to account for more than a tiny portion of real exchange rate changes. This pattern appears to be true even during fixed nominal exchange rate episodes. Special attention is paid to the U.S. real exchange rate with Japan. The possibility of mismeasurement of traded goods prices is explored.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5394

Published: Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 107, no.3 (June 1999): 507-538. citation courtesy of

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