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Jeffrey A. Frankel
James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth
phone: (617)496-3834
fax: (617)496-5747
HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Frankel, Jeffrey A. "How to Cope with Volatile Commodity Export Prices: Four Proposals." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP17-033, August 2017.
Countries that specialize in commodities have in recent years been hit by high volatility in world prices for their exports. This paper suggests four ways that commodity-exporters can make themselves less vulnerable. (1) They can use option contracts to hedge against short-term declines in the commodity price without giving up the upside, as Mexico has shown. (2) Commodity-linked bonds can hedge longer-term risk, and often have a natural ultimate counter-party in multinational corporations that depend on the commodity as an input. (3) The well-documented pro-cyclicality of fiscal policy among commodity exporters can be reduced by insulating official forecasters against optimism bias, as Chile has shown. (4) Monetary policy can be made automatically more counter-cyclical, judged by the criterion of currency appreciation in reaction to positive terms-of-trade shocks, under either of two regimes: Peggers can add the export commodity to a currency basket (CCB, for “Currency-plus-Commodity Basket”) and others can target Nominal Income instead of the CPI.




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