Persistent interest rate differentials account for much of the currency carry trade profitability. “Commodity currencies” offer high interest rates on average, while countries that export finished goods tend to have low interest rates. We develop a general equilibrium model of international trade and currency pricing where countries have an advantage in producing either basic inputs or final goods. In the model, domestic production insulates commodity-producing countries from global productivity shocks, forcing final-good producers to absorb them. Commodity-currency exchange rates and risk premia increase with productivity differentials and trade frictions. These predictions are strongly supported in the data.
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