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Currency devaluations, aggregate demand, and debt dynamics in economies with foreign currency liabilities

Karsten Kohler ()

Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, 2017, vol. 40, issue 4, 487-511

Abstract: The article uses a post Kaleckian model to analyze how currency devaluations affect aggregate demand and capital accumulation in an economy with foreign currency liabilities in the short-run. In benchmark post Kaleckian open economy models, currency devaluations have two effects. First, they change international price competitiveness and thus affect net exports. Second, devaluations change income distribution and thereby affect consumption and investment demand. The overall effect on aggregate demand and investment is ambiguous and depends on parameter values. Existing models, however, disregard balance sheet effects that arise from foreign currency-denominated external debt. The article develops a novel post Kaleckian open economy model that introduces foreign currency-denominated external debt and balance sheet effects to examine the demand-effects of devaluations. Furthermore, the article models the dynamics of external and domestic corporate debt. It discusses how an economy may end up in a vicious cycle of foreign-currency indebtedness and derives the conditions under which indebtedness becomes stable or unstable. It shows that the existence of foreign currency-denominated debt means that contractionary devaluations are more likely, and that foreign interest rate hikes, and high illiquidity and risk premia compromise debt sustainability. Devaluations only stabilize debt ratios if they succeed in boosting domestic capital accumulation.

Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1080/01603477.2017.1368027

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