Uploaded by Louis Cohen

fixed exchange rate

“Discuss whether it is in the UK’s best interest to move towards fixing the value of the
pound to another currency”
1. Avoid currency fluctuations. If the value of currencies fluctuates, significantly this can cause
problems for firms engaged in trade.
For example, if a firm is exporting, a rapid appreciation in Sterling would make its exports
uncompetitive and therefore may go out of business.
If a firm relies on imported raw materials, a devaluation would increase the costs of imports and
would reduce profitability.
2. Stability encourages investment. The uncertainty of exchange rate fluctuations can reduce
the incentive for firms to invest in export capacity. Some Japanese firms have said that the UK’s
reluctance to join the Euro and provide a stable exchange rate makes the UK a less desirable
place to invest. A fixed exchange rate provides greater certainty and encourages firms to invest.
3. Keep inflation low. Governments who allow their exchange rate to devalue may cause
inflationary pressures to occur. Devaluation of a currency can cause inflation because AD
increases, import prices increase and firms have less incentive to cut costs.
AD increases (higher demand for exports), import prices increase, and firms have less incentive
to cut costs.
Import prices increase.
Firms have less incentive to cut costs.
A fixed exchange rate, by contrast, means firms have an incentive to keep cutting costs to
remain competitive.
It is hoped a fixed exchange rate will reduce inflationary expectations.
4. Current account. A rapid appreciation in the exchange rate will badly effect manufacturing
firms who export; this may also cause a worsening of the current account.
1. Conflict with other macroeconomic objectives.
To maintain a fixed level of the exchange rate may conflict with other macroeconomic objectives.
If a currency is under pressure and falling – the most effective way to increase the value of a
currency is to raise interest rates. This will increase hot money flows and also reduce inflationary
pressures. However higher interest rates will cause lower aggregate demand (AD) and lower
economic growth, If the economy is growing slowly this may cause a recession and rising
2. Less flexibility. In a fixed exchange rate, it is difficult to respond to temporary shocks. For
example, if the price of oil increases, a country which is a net oil importer will see a deterioration
in the current account balance of payments. But in a fixed exchange rate, there is no ability to
devalue and reduce current account deficit. Sterling was in the ERM between 1990 and 92. But,
left in Sept 1992, causing large devaluation.
3. Join at the wrong rate. It is difficult to know the right rate to join at. If the rate is too high, it
will make exports uncompetitive. If it is too low, it could cause inflation. In the late 1980s, the UK
chancellor, Nigel Lawson tried to shadow the DM and keep Sterling low; this led to a rise in
“Discuss whether it is in the UK’s best interest to move towards fixing the value of the
pound to another currency”
inflation. In 1990, the UK joined the ERM, but the rate proved too high and trying to keep the
value of the Pound high led to high-interest rates and the recession of 1991/92.
4. Require higher interest rates. If the currency is falling below the exchange rate floor, the
government may be forced to put up interest rates – even if this is unsuitable for the economy.
For example, in 1992, the government was trying to keep Pound Sterling in the ERM, but the
value was falling. Therefore, the government increased interest rates to 15% – but this was very
damaging – causing mortgage defaults and the recession of 1991/92
5. Current account imbalances. Fixed exchange rates can lead to current account imbalances.
For example, an overvalued exchange rate could cause a current account deficit.
6. Difficulty in keeping the value of the currency – If a currency is falling below its band the
government will have to intervene. It can do this by buying sterling but this is only a short-term
measure. If membership of a fixed exchange rate is short-lived in defeats the purpose and rather
than gradual changes in the exchange rate, there is added uncertainty and speculation about the
exchange rate.
7. Encourage speculative attacks. Some argue a fixed exchange rate would encourage
stability and therefore there is no point investors ‘speculating against the currency’ However,
speculators know if the currency is fundamentally misvalued, then the government may have to
leave exchange rate altogether.