This paper describes research comparing the response of inflation to changes in exchange rate
competitiveness in various regions of the world. The paper first presents evidence that an empirical
relationship between the rate of inflation and the level of the real exchange rate, which was documented for Mexico in previous research by the author, holds for a large set of other countries as well. This result may pose a dilemma for policy-makers, since it implies that it may not be possible to achieve low inflation and a high export competitiveness simultaneously. The paper then demonstrates that the responsiveness of inflation to the real exchange rate has been much higher in Latin America than in Asian or industrialised countries. This difference in inflationary responsiveness is not fully explained either by the prior history of inflation or by the extent of openness to foreign trade. It is possible that the lower responsiveness of inflation to the real exchange rate in Asia than in Latin America is what has allowed the Asian countries to remain more consistently focused on maintaining competitiveness and export growth.
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Last update: July 19, 2001