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Date Presented:Oct 19, 2007
Analyses of the political economy of exchange-rate policy posit that firms and individuals in different sectors of the economy have distinct policy attitudes toward the level and the stability of the exchange rate. Most such approaches hypothesize that internationally exposed firms prefer more stable currencies, and that tradables producers prefer a relatively depreciated real exchange rate. Sensible as such expectations may be, there are few direct empirical tests of them. We offer micro-level, cross-national evidence on sectoral attitudes over the exchange rate. Using firm-level data from the World Bank’s World Business Environment Survey (WBES), we find systematic patterns linking sector of economic activity to exchange-rate policy positions. Owners and managers of firms producing tradable goods prefer greater stability of the exchange rate: in countries with a floating currency, manufacturers are more likely to report that the exchange rate causes problems for their business. With respect to the level of the exchange rate, we find that tradables producers—in particular manufacturers and export producers—are more likely to be unhappy following an appreciation of the real exchange rate than are firms in non-tradables sectors (services and construction). These findings confirm theoretical expectations about the relationship between economic position and currency policy preferences.