An analysis of real exchange rate disequilibrium in developing countries, with an empirical focus on South Africa.
Since the early 1970s, exchange rate fluctuations have characterised the behaviour of the external value of many currencies in both high- and low-income countries. Up-and-down movements in real exchange rates have been observed under fixed as well as flexible arrangements. This is in spite of the fact that many less developing countries (until the 1980s), unlike the major industrialised countries, opted to retain relatively rigid exchange rate systems after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system. Exchange rate volatility has been a subject of much concern in government, business and academic circles because it has been associated with negative effects on the performance of developing economies. Consequences of these large swings in exchange rates have included uncertainty and delays in business decisions, resource misallocation, interest rate volatility and real exchange rate misalignments. For the period, from 1970 to 1996, this study investigates the phenomenon of real exchange rate disequilibrium in developing countries, with an empirical and econometric examination of South African data. Using the ordinary least squares and the EngleGranger cointegration techniques, this investigation found that government consumption of nontradables, the price of gold in rand, the overall terms of trade and the rate of depreciation are important determinants of the short-run behaviour of the real effective exchange rate in South Africa. With regard to the long-run the permanent componen1ts ofthe fundamentals - namely, technological or productivity improvement, trade policy, governm1ent consumption of nontradables, disposable income, capital flows, the terms of trade excluding gold and the rand price of gold, were found to be significantly related to the equilibrium conduct of the real effective exchange rate. Instances of real exchange rate misalignment were found in both periods of fixed and flexible exchange rate management.