DP17250 Endogenous Product Adjustment and Exchange Rate Pass-Through
We document how product quality responds to exchange rate movements and quantify the extent to which these quality changes affect the aggregate pass-through into export prices. We analyze the substantial sudden appreciation of the Swiss franc post removal of the 1.20-CHF-per-euro lower bound in 2015 using export data representing a large share of the universe of goods exports from Switzerland. We find that firms upgrade the quality of their products after the appreciation. Furthermore, they disproportionately remove lower-quality products from their product ranges. This quality upgrading and quality sorting effect accounts for a substantial share of the total pass-through one year after the appreciation. We cross-check our results with the microdata underlying the Swiss export price index, which includes an adjustment factor for quality based on firms' reported product replacements, and obtain similar results.