DP12943 The Real Exchange Rate, Innovation and Productivity: Heterogeneity, Asymmetries and Hysteresis

Author(s): Laura Alfaro, Alejandro Cuñat, Harald Fadinger, Yanping Liu
Publication Date: May 2018
Date Revised: October 2019
Keyword(s): exporting, Financial constraints, Firm-Level Data, importing, Innovation, productivity, real exchange rate
JEL(s): F12, F14, F31, F41, F43, F47, F63, L16, L52, O14, O24, O33
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization, International Trade and Regional Economics, Development Economics, International Macroeconomics and Finance, Macroeconomics and Growth
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12943

We evaluate manufacturing firms' responses to changes in the real exchange rate (RER) using detailed firm-level data for a large set of countries for the period 2001-2010. We uncover the following stylized facts: In export-oriented emerging Asia, real depreciations are associated with higher firm-level probabilities to engage in R\&D, faster growth of firm-level productivity and cash-flow and higher export entry rates. We find negative effects for firms in other emerging economies, which are relatively more import dependent, and no significant effects for firms in industrialized economies. Motivated by these facts, we build a dynamic model in which real depreciations raise the cost of importing intermediates, affect export demand, borrowing-constraints and the profitability of engaging in innovation (R&D). We decompose the effects of RER changes on firm-level productivity growth across regions into these channels. We estimate the model and quantitatively evaluate the different mechanisms by providing counterfactual simulations of temporary RER movements and conduct several robustness analyses. Effects on physical TFP growth, while different across regions, are non-linear and asymmetric.