Problem Set 2
SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS TO CHAPTER 4 PROBLEMS
From base price levels of 100 in 2000, Japanese and U.S. price levels in 2003 stood at 102 and 106, respectively.
If the 2000 $:¥ exchange rate was $0.007692, what should the exchange rate be in 2003?
Answer. If e2003 is the dollar value of the yen in 2003, then according to purchasing power parity
e2003/0.007692 = 106/102
or e2003 = $0.007994.
In fact, the exchange rate in 2003 was ¥ 1 = $0.008696. What might account for the discrepancy? (Price levels were measured using the consumer price index.)
Answer. The discrepancy between the predicted rate of $0.007994 and the actual rate of $0.008696 could be due to mismeasurement of the relevant price indices. Estimates based on narrower price indices reflecting only traded goods prices would probably be closer to the mark. Alternatively, it could be due to a switch in investors' preferences from dollar to non dollar assets.
2. Two countries, the United States and England, produce only one good, wheat. Suppose the price of wheat is $3.25 in the United States and is £1.35 in England.
a. According to the law of one price, what should the $:£ spot exchange rate be?
Answer. Since the price of wheat must be the same in both nations, the exchange rate, e, is 3.25/1.35 or e = $2.4074.
b. Suppose the price of wheat over the next year is expected to rise to $3.50 in the United States and to £1.60 in England. What should the one year $:£ forward rate be?
Answer. In the absence of uncertainty, the forward rate, f, should be 3.50/1.60 or f = $2.1875.
c. If the U.S. government imposes a tariff of $0.50 per bushel on wheat imported from England, what is the maximum possible change in the spot exchange rate that could occur?
Answer. If e is the exchange rate, then wheat selling in England at £1.35 will sell in the United States for 1.35e + 0.5, where 0.5 is the U.S. tariff on English wheat. In order to eliminate the possibility of arbitrage, 1.35e + 0.5 must be greater than or equal to $3.25, the price of wheat in the U.S. or e > $2.0370. Thus the maximum exchange rate change that could occur is (2.4074 2.0370)/2.4074 = 15.38%. This solution assumes that the pound and dollar prices of wheat remain the same as before the tariff.
3. If expected inflation is 100 percent and the real required return is 5 percent, what will the nominal interest rate be according to the Fisher effect?
Answer. According to the Fisher effect, the relationship between the nominal interest rate, r, the real interest rate a, and the expected inflation rate, i, is 1 + r = (1 + a)(1 + i). Substituting in the numbers in the problem yields 1 + r = 1.05 x 2 = 2.1, or r = 110%.
4. In early 1996, the short-term interest rate in France was 3.7%, and forecast French inflation was 1.8%. At the same time, the short-term German interest rate was 2.6% and forecast German inflation was 1.6%.
a. Based on these figures, what were the real interest rates in France and Germany?
Answer. The French real interest rate was 1.037/1.018 - 1 = 1.87%. The corresponding real rate in Germany was 1.026/1.016 - 1 = 0.98%.
b. To what would you attribute any discrepancy in real rates between France and Germany?
Answer. The most likely reason for the discrepancy is the inclusion of a higher inflation risk component in the French real interest rate than in the German real rate. Other possibilities are the effects of currency risk or transactions costs precluding this seeming arbitrage opportunity.
5. In July, the one year interest rate is 12% on British pounds and 9% on U.S. dollars.
a. If the current exchange rate is $1.63:1, what is the expected future exchange rate in one year?
Answer. According to the international Fisher effect, the spot exchange rate expected in one year equals 1.63 x 1.09/1.12 = $1.5863.
b.Suppose a change in expectations regarding future U.S. inflation causes the expected future spot rate to decline to $1.52:£1. What should happen to the U.S. interest rate?
Answer. If rus is the unknown U.S. interest rate, and assuming that the British interest rate stayed at 12% (because there has been no change in expectations of British inflation), then according to the IFE, 1.52/1.63 = (1+rus)/1.12 or rus = 4.44%.
6. Suppose that in Japan the interest rate is 8% and inflation is expected to be 3%. Meanwhile, the expected inflation rate in France is 12%, and the English interest rate is 14%. To the nearest whole number, what is the best estimate of the one year forward exchange premium (discount) at which the pound will be selling relative to the French franc?
Answer. Based on the numbers, Japan's real interest rate is about 5% (8% 3%). From that, we can calculate France's nominal interest rate as about 17% (12% + 5%), assuming that arbitrage will equate real interest rates across countries and currencies. Since England's nominal interest rate is 14%, for interest rate parity to hold, the pound should sell at around a 3% forward premium relative to the French franc.
9. Suppose three year deposit rates on Eurodollars and Eurofrancs (Swiss) are 12 percent and 7 percent, respectively. If the current spot rate for the Swiss franc is $0.3985, what is the spot rate implied by these interest rates for the franc three years from now?
Answer. If rus and rsw are the associated Eurodollar and Eurofranc nominal interest rates, then the international Fisher effect says that
et/e0 = (1 + rus)t/(1 + rsw)t
where et is the period t expected spot rate and e0 is the current spot rate (SFr1 = $e). Substituting in the numbers given in the problem yields e3 = $0.3985 x (1.12/1.07)3 = $0.4570.
10. Assume the interest rate is 16 percent on pounds sterling and 7 percent on euros. At the same time, inflation is running at an annual rate of 3 percent in Germany and 9 percent in England.
a. If the euro is selling at a one-year forward premium of 10 percent against the pound, is there an arbitrage opportunity? Explain.
Answer. According to interest rate parity, with a euro rate of 7% and a 10% forward premium on the euro against the pound, the equilibrium pound interest rate should be
1.07 x 1.10 - 1 = 17.7%
Since the pound interest rate is only 16%, there is an arbitrage opportunity. It involves borrowing pounds at 16%, converting them into euros, investing them at 7%, and then selling the proceeds forward, locking in a pound return of 17.7%.
b. What is the real interest rate in Germany? in England?
Answer. The real interest rate in Germany is 1.07/1.03 -1 = 3.88%. The real interest rate in England is 1.16/1.09 -1 = 6.42%.
c. Suppose that during the year the exchange rate changes from €1.8/£1 to €1.77/£1. What are the real costs to a German company of borrowing pounds? Contrast this cost to its real cost of borrowing euros.
Answer. At the end of one year, the German company must repay £1.16 for every pound borrowed. However, since the pound has devalued against the euro by 1.67% (1.77/1.80 - 1 = -1.67%), the effective cost in euros is 1.16 x (1 - 0.0167) - 1 = 14.07%. In real terms, given the 3% rate of German inflation, the cost of the pound loan is found as 1.1385/1.03 -1 = 10.74%.
As shown above, the real cost of borrowing euros equals 3.88%, which is significantly lower than the real cost of borrowing pounds. What happened is that the pound loan factored in an expected devaluation of about 9% (16% - 7%), whereas the pound only devalued by about 2%. The difference between the expected and actual pound devaluation accounts for the approximately 7% higher real cost of borrowing pounds.
d. What are the real costs to a British firm of borrowing euros? Contrast this cost to its real cost of borrowing pounds.
Answer. During the year, the euro appreciated by 1.69% (1.80/1.77 - 1) against the pound. Hence, a euro loan at 7% will cost 8.81% in pounds (1.07 x 1.0169 - 1). In real pound terms, given a 9% rate of inflation in England, this loan will cost the British firm -0.2% (1.0881/1.09 - 1) or essentially zero. As shown above, the real interest on borrowing pounds is 6.42%.
15. Suppose today's exchange rate is $1.55/€. The six-month interest rates on dollars and euros are 6 percent and 3 percent, respectively. The six-month forward rate is $1.5478. A foreign exchange advisory service has predicted that the euro will appreciate to $1.5790 within six months.
a. How would you use forward contracts to profit in the above situation?
Answer. By buying euros forward for six months and selling them in the spot market, you can lock in an expected profit of $0.0312, (1.5790 - 1.5478) per euro bought forward. This is a semiannual return of 2.02% (0.0312/1.5478). Whether this profit materializes depends on the accuracy of the advisory service's forecast.
b. How would you use money market instruments (borrowing and lending) to profit?
Answer. By borrowing dollars at 6% (3% semiannually), converting them to euros in the spot market, investing the euros at 3% (1.5% semiannually), selling the euro proceeds at an expected price of $1.5790/ Є, and repaying the dollar loan, you will earn an expected semiannual return of 1.30%:
Return per dollar borrowed = (1/1.55) x 1.015 x 1.5790 - 1.03 = 0.40%
c. Which alternatives (forward contracts or money market instruments) would you prefer? Why?
Answer. The return per dollar in the forward market is substantially higher than the return using the money market speculation. Other things being equal, therefore, the forward market speculation would be preferred.
ADDITIONAL CHAPTER 4 PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
1. In February 1985, Bolivian inflation reached a monthly peak of 182%. What was the annualized rate of inflation in Bolivia for that month?
Answer. The annualized rate of inflation is found as the solution to (1 + i)12 - 1, where i is the monthly inflation rate. Hence, the annualized Bolivian inflation rate, in percentage terms, was (2.82)12 -1 = 25,292,257%.
2. The inflation rate in Great Britain is expected to be 4% per year, and the inflation rate in France is expected to be 6% per year. If the current spot rate is £1 = FF 12.50, what is the expected spot rate in two years?
Answer. Based on PPP, the expected value of the pound in two years is 12.5 x (1.06/1.04)2 = FF12.99.
3. If the $:¥ spot rate is $1 = ¥218 and interest rates in Tokyo and New York are 6% and 12%, respectively, what is the expected $:¥ exchange rate one year hence?
Answer. According to the international Fisher effect, the dollar spot rate in one year should equal 218(1.06/1.12) = ¥206.32.
4. Suppose that on January 1, the cost of borrowing French francs for the year is 18%. During the year, U.S. inflation is 5%, and French inflation is 9%. At the same time, the exchange rate changes from FF 1 = $0.15 on January 1 to FF 1 = $0.10 on December 31. What was the real U.S. dollar cost of borrowing francs for the year?
Answer. During the year, the franc devalued by (.15 - .10)/.15 = 33.33%. The nominal dollar cost of borrowing French francs, therefore, was .18(1 - .3333) - .3333 = -21.33% (see Chapter 12). For each dollar's worth of francs borrowed on January 1, it cost only $0.7867 to repay the principal plus interest. With U.S. inflation of 5% during the year, the real dollar cost of repaying the principal and interest is $0.7867/1.05 = $0.7492. Subtracting the original $1 borrowed, we see that the real dollar cost of repaying the franc loan is -$0.2508 or a real dollar interest rate of -25.08%.
SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS TO CHAPTER 11 PROBLEMS
1. Hilton International is considering investing in a new Swiss hotel. The required initial investment is $1.5 million (or SFr 2.38 million at the current exchange rate of $0.63 = SFr 1). Profits for the first ten years will be reinvested, at which time Hilton will sell out to its partner. Based on projected earnings, Hilton's share of this hotel will be worth SFr 3.88 million in ten years.
a. What factors are relevant in evaluating this investment?
Answer. Hilton should focus on the real dollar value of future cash flows, or
where e10 is the nominal dollar value of the Swiss franc in ten years, ius is the average annual rate of U.S. inflation over the next ten years, and k is Hilton's real required return for this project. That is, the SFr 3.88 million expected to be received in ten years should first be converted to nominal dollars, then into real dollars, and finally discounted at the real required return. This present value figure should then be compared to $1.5 million, the current cost of the investment (2,380,000 x .63).
b. How will fluctuations in the value of the Swiss franc affect this investment?
Answer. Only fluctuations in the real value of the Swiss franc matter; fluctuations in the nominal value of the Swiss franc that are fully offset by higher U.S. inflation should not affect the investment. If the real value of the Swiss franc rises, the real dollar price of the hotel services being sold by Hilton will also rise. If demand for these services is elastic, which it seems to be given the Swiss hotel industry's heavy dependence on tourists, real dollar revenues will decline. Inelastic demand will cause an increase in real dollar revenues. The hotel's real dollar cost of Swiss labor and services will rise. Thus, if PPP holds, nominal currency changes shouldn't affect Hilton's Swiss investment; if PPP does not hold, an increase in the real exchange rate is likely to reduce the real value of Hilton's investment.
c. How would you forecast the $:SFr exchange rate ten years ahead?
Answer. There are several ways to forecast the nominal Swiss exchange rate ten years out: (1) Rely on the international Fisher effect, using nominal interest differentials between U.S. and Swiss bonds with maturities of ten years; (2) project relative price levels changes in Switzerland and the U.S. over the next ten years and then use PPP to forecast the rate change; and (3) use the forward rate if a ten year swap can be found. But what really matters is what happens to the real exchange rate. The best forecast of the real rate ten years out is the current spot rate. Over the long run, PPP tends to hold, leading to a relatively constant real exchange rate.
2. A proposed foreign investment involves a plant whose entire output of 1 million units per annum is to be exported. With a selling price of $10 per unit, the yearly revenue from this investment equals $10 million. At the present rate of exchange, dollar costs of local production equal $6 per unit. A ten percent devaluation is expected to lower unit costs by $0.30, while a fifteen percent devaluation will reduce these costs by an additional $0.15. Suppose a devaluation of either 10 percent or 15 percent is likely, with respective probabilities of .4 and .2 (the probability of no currency change is .4). Depreciation at the current exchange rate equals $1 million annually, while the local tax rate is 40 percent.
a. What will annual dollar cash flows be if no devaluation occurs?
Answer. The cash flows associated with each exchange rate scenario are:
Cash Flow Statement
(in millions of dollars)
Tax @ 40%
With no devaluation, the annual cash flow will equal $2.8 million.
b. Given the currency scenario described above, what is the expected value of annual after tax dollar cash flows assuming no repatriation of profits to the United States?
Answer. The expected dollar cash flow will equal the sum of the cash flows under each possible devaluation percentage
multiplied by the probability of that devaluation occurring or 2.8(.4) + 2.94(.4) + 3.01(.2) = $2.9 million. Thus expected
dollar cash flows actually increase by $100,000. If the impact of the expected devaluation of 7% (.1 x .4 + .15 x .2)
were calculated by reducing expected cash flows by 7%, the expected (and incorrect) result would be a loss of $196,000
(2.8 x .07).
3. Mucho Macho is the leading beer in Patagonia, with a 65 percent share of the market. Because of trade barriers, it faces essentially no import competition. Exports account for less than 2 percent of sales. Although some of its raw material is bought overseas, the large majority of the value added is provided by locally supplied goods and services. Over the past five years, Patagonian prices have risen by 300 percent, and U.S. prices have risen by about 10 percent. During this time period, the value of the Patagonian peso has dropped from P 1 = $1.00 to P 1 = $0.50.
a. What has happened to the real value of the peso over the past five years? Has it gone up or down? A little or a lot?
Answer. The real value of the Patagonian peso, relative to its value five years ago, is now $0.50 x 4/1.1 = $1.82. Thus, the real value of the peso has risen by 82 percent. As discussed in the chapter, an increase in the real value of the local currency should boost dollar profits for those firms selling locally and not subject to import competition.
b. What has the high inflation over the past five years likely done to Mucho Macho's peso profits? Has it moved profits up or down? A lot or a little? Explain.
Answer. A reasonable assumption is that both Mucho Macho's sales and costs have risen at least at the rate of Patagonian inflation. This means that its peso profits, which equal the difference between the two, have risen at least 300% over the past five years. In fact, sales have probably risen by more than the rate of inflation, while costs have risen at less than the rate of inflation because some of the inputs are bought overseas.
c. Based on your answer to part a, what has been the likely effect of the change in the peso's real value on Mucho Macho's peso profits converted into dollars? Have dollar equivalent profits gone up or down? A lot or a little? Explain.
Answer. Given the answers to items a and b, each peso of profits five years ago should now have grown to at least four pesos. Converting these profits into dollars at the lower exchange rate ($.50 vs. $1) yields at least two dollars of profit today for every dollar of profit five years ago.
d. Mucho Macho has applied for a dollar loan to finance its expansion. Were you to look solely at its past financial statements in judging its creditworthiness, what would be your likely response to Mucho Macho's dollar loan request?
Answer. The real appreciation of the Patagonian peso should have boosted Mucho Macho's dollar profits dramatically. Thus, any analysis of creditworthiness based solely on its financial statements would show a very profitable and successful company and one deserving of a loan.
e. What foreign exchange risk would such a dollar loan face? Explain.
Answer. The profitability of Mucho Macho is an artifact of the real peso appreciation. Thus it is artificial and not sustainable. The odds are that the government will be unable to maintain such an overvalued exchange rate for long. Once the peso devalues, the dollar value of Mucho Macho's peso cash flow will plummet and so will its ability to repay its dollar loan.
This exercise points out that an analysis of credit risk based solely on financial statements is valid only if one assumes that the conditions that gave rise to the numbers reflected on these statements will persist into the future. Under a controlled exchange rate system in an inflationary environment, the real exchange rate is subject to dramatic changes. These changes in turn will give rise to dramatic changes in the business environment, making past financial statements irrelevant in forecasting future cash flows.
Although the numbers have been changed, this problem is based on an actual situation. In the late 1970s, some major American banks lent a great deal of money to one of the largest Chilean brewers. This brewer faced essentially no competition and so was highly profitable in both peso and dollar terms prior to devaluation of the peso. Although its credit looked impeccable, the brewer's loans are now in default. The bankers forgot to assess the conditions that led to the brewer's high profits and the likelihood that these conditions would persist.
When government intervention causes nominal exchange rate changes to lag inflation, the real value of the currency will rise. The more rapid the inflation and the greater the lag, the greater the real exchange rate change. The increasing real value of the local currency in turn will cause pressures to build up that must ultimately be released through an LC devaluation. Thus, in assessing credit risk for foreign borrowers operating in a controlled rate system, it is necessary to assess their creditworthiness both before and after the inevitable devaluation.
4. In 1990, General Electric acquired Tungsram Ltd., a Hungarian light bulb manufacturer. Hungary's inflation rate was 28 percent in 1990 and 35 percent in 1991, while the forint (Hungary's currency) was devalued 5 percent and 15 percent, respectively, during those years. Corresponding inflation for the U.S. was 6.1 percent in 1990 and 3.1 percent in 1991.
a. What has happened to the competitiveness of GE's Hungarian operations during 1990 and 1991? Explain.
Answer. Since forint devaluations haven't kept pace with Hungary's roaring inflation, we know that the forint's real exchange rate has risen. Specifically, if the nominal exchange rate (dollar value of the forint) at the start of 1990 was e0, the forint's real value at the end of 1991 was:
0.95 x 0.85e0 x (1.28)(1.35)/[(1.061)(1.031)] = 1.276e0
This equation reflects the fact that if the nominal exchange rate (dollar value of the forint) at the start of 1990 was e0, then the 5% devaluation during 1990 left it at 0.95e0 by the end of 1990. A further 15% devaluation during 1991 would have left the nominal rate equal to 0.95 x 0.85e0 by the end of 1991.
Based on this equation, we can see that the real exchange rate increased by 27.6% during this two-year period. The sharp appreciation in the real value of the forint reduced the cost competitiveness of GE's Hungarian operations.
b. In early 1992, GE announced that it would cut back its capital investment in Tungsram. What might have been the purpose of GE's publicly announced cutback?
Answer. GE was trying to put pressure on the Hungarian government to devalue further the forint and thereby improve the cost competitiveness of its Tungsram manufacturing facilities. In effect, GE was telling the Hungarian government that it was in business to make a profit and that if it couldn't make a profit in Hungary because of the high forint and the resulting sharp jump in its costs, it was not going to invest there in the future.
5. In 1985, Japan Airlines (JAL) bought $3 billion of foreign exchange contracts at ¥180/$1 over 11 years to hedge its purchases of U.S. aircraft. By 1994, with the yen at about ¥100/$1, JAL had incurred over $1 billion in cumulative foreign exchange losses on that deal.
a. What was the economic rationale behind JAL's hedges?
Answer. Most likely, JAL had signed contracts to take delivery of planes in the future and was using forward contracts to protect itself against a rise in the value of the dollar that would increase the yen cost of buying the planes. Alternatively, the forward contracts could have been used to hedge purchases of U.S. planes financed by borrowing dollars.
b. Did JAL's forward contracts constitute an economic hedge? That is, is it likely that JAL's losses on its forward contracts were offset by currency gains on its operations?
Answer. The answer to this question depends on whether JAL's yen operating profits are negatively correlated with the yen's value. If a stronger yen means lower yen operating profits, then these forward contracts would constitute an economic hedge. Some factors to consider in deciding whether this is likely to be the case are as follows. First, a good part of JAL's costs are for Japanese flight crews, whose pay is denominated and determined in yen. To the extent that fares are determined in dollars (in part because JAL is competing with U.S. airlines, JAL's yen profits will vary inversely with the yen's value). At the same time, a stronger yen will induce more Japanese to travel to the U.S. but fewer Americans to visit Japan, increasing outbound volume but reducing inbound volume. Where the balance lies is an empirical question. It turns out that JAL has been hurt by yen appreciation and is now looking to cut costs, primarily by reducing its Japanese work force through job buyouts and hiring foreigners. It has also focused more on serving leisure travelers since the yen's strength has led unprecedented numbers of Japanese tourists to travel abroad.
6. Nissan produces a car that sells in Japan for ¥1.8 million. On September 1, the beginning of the model year, the exchange rate is ¥150:$1. Consequently, Nissan sets the U.S. sticker price at $12,000. By October 1, the exchange rate has dropped to ¥125:$1. Nissan is upset because it now receives only $12,000 x 125 = ¥1.5 million per sale.
a. What scenarios are consistent with the U.S. dollar's depreciation?
Answer. Any model of exchange rate determination may be applied here. In a monetary model this would include a relative increase in the U.S. money supply (or velocity), a relative decrease in U.S. income, or the expectation of these events in future periods. In an open economy Keynesian model, yen appreciation could arise from an increase in U.S. imports from Japan (due to an increase in U.S. income). If PPP holds, then relative prices levels should also have changed by 10%. Alternatively, the exchange rate change could be due to government intervention to push down the dollar's value, or it could be due to the cessation of government intervention that was previously maintaining an overvalued dollar.
b. What alternatives are open to Nissan to improve its situation?
Answer. The alternatives open to Nissan are:
(1) Raise prices in the U.S. market.
(2) Do nothing for the short run. Incur some losses and hope that the exchange rate will return to ¥200. In addition, hold U.S. sales receipts in dollars and do not repatriate funds until the exchange rate is more favorable. The second part of this strategy is probably useless since it requires that any exchange rates changes not be offset by the differing interest rates between Japan and the United States.
(3) Invest in the U.S. and build the cars there. (In 1993, 45% of the cars Toyota sold in the U.S. were U.S. made.)
(4) Try to reduce production costs in Japan, including buying more parts overseas. (How have production costs in Japan changed because of the exchange rate change? For example, consider the cost of domestic labor and the costs of imported iron ore and oil.) Many Japanese firms have also found that they could cut costs by simplifying their product line as well as by reducing the variety of parts used in their products. For example, Nissan offers 437 different kinds of dashboard meters, 110 types of radiators, and over 300 varieties of ashtrays. In 1993, Nissan ordered its designers to slash the number of unique parts in its vehicles by 40%. Model variations, which had ballooned to more than 2,200, will be rolled back 35%. Another strategy being used by Japanese automakers is have designers work closely with suppliers, marketing, and manufacturing people--thus avoiding expensive mistakes later on and reducing product development times and costs. Japanese companies are also, for the first time, closing factories and cutting jobs.
(5) Recognize that your comparative advantage is permanently lost and exit the U.S. market.
(6) Switch production to higher quality, less price elastic and more income elastic cars.
c. How should Nissan respond in this situation?
Answer. The appropriate response by Nissan depends on its interpretation of the nature of the economic disturbance that caused the exchange rate change. If it believes that the shock is temporary, Nissan must calculate how long it will take for the exchange rate to return to its original level. If the shock is nominal (PPP holds), then the real terms of trade between Japan and the U.S. are unaffected. In this case, U.S. prices in general should have been rising and Nissan can pass along all of the exchange rate change to his U.S. customers. (This is an important point: Is PPP a "leading" or a "lagging" relationship? How quickly can exchange rate changes be incorporated into domestic prices?) In the present circumstance, it is virtually certain that the 10% drop in the value of the dollar is not just a manifestation of purchasing power parity; that is, the dollar depreciation is not due to a 10% jump in the U.S. price level relative to the Japanese price level in the space of one month (a 314% annual rate of U.S. inflation).
If the exchange rate change is real, which it almost surely is, then the yen appreciation is not associated with offsetting changes in domestic prices. In this case, Nissan must make some real changes in response to stay competitive with U.S. automakers. These changes depend on whether the increase in the real exchange rate is expected to be temporary or permanent. If the increase is due to intervention by the U.S. or Japanese central banks, the change is likely to be temporary because it is a movement away from equilibrium. Alternatively, a real exchange rate change that is due to market forces or to the cessation of intervention by the Japanese or U.S. central banks can be assumed permanent. Permanent in this context means that the best predictor of tomorrow's real exchange rate is today's rate. It doesn't mean that the real rate tomorrow will be the same as the real rate today; rather, the real rate follows a random walk.
If the real exchange rate increase is expected to be temporary, it may not pay Nissan to raise dollar prices and lose market share in the United States. The reason is that when the real exchange rate readjusts, enabling Nissan to be price competitive again, it will be expensive to buy back market share. But if the real exchange rate increase is expected to be permanent, then Nissan should consider raising its prices (the extent depends on the price elasticity of demand) and making more basic changes in production and marketing strategy. Most Japanese firms have followed a strategy of cutting costs at home and keeping dollar prices constant as long as possible so as to hang onto U.S. market share.
d. Suppose that on November 1, the U.S. Federal Reserve intervenes to rescue the dollar, and the exchange rate adjusts to ¥220:$1 by the following July. What problems and/or opportunities does this situation present for Nissan and for General Motors?
Answer. Here, the tables are reversed from part c. Nissan is "enjoying" an increase of 10% in its yen receipts from U.S. auto sales. Whether its "enjoyment" is real depends again on the nature of the economic disturbance associated with the exchange rate change. If Japanese production costs are rising because of inflation (associated with the yen devaluation) Nissan need not be better off in real terms. Its opportunities still depend on the "real/nominal" and "permanent/ temporary" nature of the shock.
It is interesting to think about the possibilities here for domestic wage and price controls, foreign exchange controls, or foreign exchange market intervention that might be associated with these sharp exchange rate changes. Even if Nissan can determine an optimal response to the exchange rate change, its response may be foreclosed by government regulations. In this case, Nissan must consider second best strategies.
7. Chemex, a U.S. maker of specialty chemicals, exports 40 percent of its $600 million in annual sales: 5 percent goes to Canada and 7 percent each to Japan, Britain, Germany, France, and Italy. It incurs all its costs in U.S. dollars, while most of its export sales are priced in the local currency.
a. How is Chemex affected by exchange rate changes?
Answer. As an exporter, Chemex is helped by dollar depreciation and hurt by dollar appreciation. If the dollar appreciates, the firm's costs will appreciate in terms of the foreign currencies in which it sells. If it raises its foreign currency prices, it risks losing sales, and with them profits and worse, permanent market standing. If it does not raise prices in the foreign currencies, its dollar profit margins shrink, and with them its profits. Yet, Chemex may not be affected as much by currency changes as a commodity chemical maker would be since its products are differentiated (it makes specialty chemicals). To the extent that its major competitors are other American companies, who share a common cost structure, its exchange risk will be lower still.
b. Distinguish between Chemex's transaction exposure and its operating exposure.
Answer. Chemex's transaction exposure stems from the fact that most of its export sales are priced in the local currency of the countries to which it exports. Its operating exposure arises because the dollar equivalent prices that it can charge in foreign markets and its foreign sales volume at a given dollar price are affected by currency changes. In other words, currency changes will affect the profits that Chemex can earn abroad. To the extent that Chemex faces competition in the U.S. from foreign firms, its domestic profits will also depend on exchange rates.
c. How can Chemex protect itself against transaction exposure?
Answer. Chemex can hedge its transaction exposure by selling its foreign currency receipts forward for dollars.
d. What financial, marketing, and production techniques can Chemex use to protect itself against operating exposure?
Answer. Chemex can finance its assets with foreign currency-denominated debt in proportion to its sales in each country. In Chemex's case, this would involve raising 40% of its financing in foreign currencies, in the following proportions: 5% in Canadian dollars and 7% each in Japanese yen, British pounds, DM, French francs, and Italian lira. Although only a rough guide, this approach would help align its cost structure with its market structure.
On the marketing side, Chemex's position in the specialty chemical business already provides a hedge against currency risk since it reduces the price elasticity of demand. Chemex should continue to fund research and development to ensure a continuing stream of products with lower price elasticity of demand and work on bringing these new products to market quickly. In addition, Chemex should try to add more value to its products by providing more service to customers. This technique also lowers the price elasticity of demand, which is the basic marketing strategy for coping with currency risk. Chemex must also decide whether to price for market share or profit margin. This decision, which depends on both the price elasticity of demand and the marginal cost of production, will determine by how much it adjusts its dollar price when exchange rates change.
On the production side, Chemex could try for a policy of global sourcing to shift suppliers in line with changing relative production costs in different countries. This strategy, however, is unlikely to pay big dividends because the raw materials that Chemex uses are commodity chemicals whose prices are pretty similar worldwide. Chemex might also consider setting production facilities in its major markets. But this strategy may not permit Chemex to take full advantage of production economies of scale. Chemex can also embark on a program of institutionalized cost cutting. The latter is just good business practice and will be beneficial regardless of currency movements.
e. Can Chemex eliminate its operating exposure by hedging its position every time it makes a foreign sale or by pricing all foreign sales in dollars? Why or why not?
Answer. Either approach will allow Chemex to eliminate its transaction exposure. But neither will protect Chemex's margins on future sales. This can only be done by hedging the present value of future sales, which is what financing assets with foreign currency debt in proportion to foreign sales effectively does.