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Exchange rate uncertainty and firm investment plans evidence from Swiss survey data

Garret Binding and Andreas Dibiasi

Journal of Macroeconomics, 2017, vol. 51, issue C, 1-27

Abstract: A sudden change in monetary policy happened in Switzerland on January 15th, 2015. The Swiss National Bank removed the lower exchange rate bound vis-à-vis the Euro. We believe that uncertainty concerning a vital economic indicator as the exchange rate should influence economic activities. We argue that the unexpected removal of the lower bound induced a temporary uncertainty about future prices in foreign markets and believe that this influenced firm investment in the short term. We exploit the unexpected change in monetary policy as a natural experiment and use the continuous nature of business tendency surveys to determine the role of uncertainty in the immediate aftermath of the event. Changes in firm-level expectations are measured by specially designed survey questions. We use this information to disentangle first and second moment effects. We find that uncertainty negatively affects investment in equipment and machinery through real-option effects and believe that uncertainty positively influences expenditures in research and development through growth-option effects. Finally, we argue that focusing on aggregate gross fixed capital formation masks important insights and suggest the use of disaggregated investment data in future research on the relationship between uncertainty and investment.

Keywords: Investment; Uncertainty; Irreversibility; Switzerland (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D81 D84 E22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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