Currency Choice and 
Exchange Rate Pass-through

“Currency Choice and Exchange Rate Pass-through" with Gita Gopinath and Oleg Itskhoki

A central assumption of open economy macro models with nominal rigidities relates to the currency in which goods are priced, whether there is so-called producer currency pricing or local currency pricing. This has important implications for exchange rate pass-through and optimal exchange rate policy. We show, using novel transaction level information on currency and prices for U.S. imports, that even conditional on a price change, there is a large difference in the pass-through of the average good priced in dollars (25%) versus non-dollars (95%). This finding is contrary to the assumption in a large class of models that the currency of pricing is exogenous and is evidence of an important selection effect that results from endogenous currency choice. We describe a model of optimal currency choice in an environment of staggered price setting and show that the empirical evidence strongly supports the model's predictions of the relation between currency choice and pass-through. We further document evidence of significant real rigidities, with the pass-through of dollar pricers increasing above 50% in the long- run. Lastly, we numerically illustrate the currency choice decision in both Calvo and menu-cost models with variable mark-ups and imported intermediate inputs; we also evaluate the ability of these models to match pass-through patterns documented in the data.

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