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January 1986, 
Vol. 68, No. 1
Posted 1986-01-01

Estimating Exchange Rate Effects on Exports: A Cautionary Note

by Michael T. Belongia

Michael T. Belongia shows that alternative measures of the dollar’s value offer quite different pictures of its behavior in recent years. Since 1980, for example, the real value of the dollar rose anywhere between 32 percent and 57 percent, depending on the exchange rate measure used. Belongia goes on to demonstrate that qualitative judgments about the effects of exchange rates on exports or the effects of interest rates and other variables on the exchange rate vary substantially, depending on the particular measure of the dollar’s value used in the analysis. Moreover, because there is no generally accepted way to determine which exchange rate measure is “best,” the author warns that conclusions based on analysis of only one exchange rate index must be viewed as tentative.