Doug Irwin on exchange rates and trade policy

Doug Irwin provides a nice account of the historical links between exchange rate and trade policy here.

3 replies on “Doug Irwin on exchange rates and trade policy”

It’s an interesting article. I thought this, on the final page, was a bit muddled:

… the WTO has an enforcement mechanism—trade retaliation—that comes out of its dispute settlement system. This has led countries to probe the texts of various WTO agreements in search of support for action against others on the basis of exchange rate disputes. Yet the provisions of these agreements offer little hope to countries seeking to take action against the exchange rate policies of others. Although Article XV of the GATT states that countries “shall not, by exchange action, frustrate the intent of the provisions” of the agreement, that is likely a reference to exchange controls, not exchange rate policy.

Exchange controls are a tool of exchange rate policy, so Irwin seems to be drawing a distinction without a difference here. For example, China can only hold the renmimbi down because there are tight restrictions on FX deals.

An interesting historical percspective.

Why would France have accumulated gold through a trade surplus in the late 1920s/early 1930s. That surprises me. France was devastated as a result of a loss of almost 1 million dead in WW1. Yet running a large trade surplus by late 1920? Was it reparations gold from Germany?

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