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On the Rand: Determinants of the South African Exchange Rate

Jeffrey Frankel

NBER Working Paper No. 13050
Issued in April 2007
NBER Program(s):IFM

This paper is an econometric investigation of the determinants of the real value of the South African rand over the period 1984-2006. The results show a relatively good fit. As so often with exchange rate equations, there is substantial weight on the lagged exchange rate, which can be attributed to a momentum component. Nevertheless, economic fundamentals are significant and important. This is especially true of an index of the real prices of South African mineral commodities, which even drives out real income as a significant determinant of the rand’s value. An implication is that the 2003-2006 real appreciation can be attributed to the Dutch Disease. In other respects, the rand behaves like currencies of industrialized countries with well-developed financial markets. In particular, high South African interest rates raise international demand for the rand and lead to real appreciation, controlling for a forward-looking measure of expected inflation and a measure of default risk or country risk. It is in the latter respects, in particular, that the paper hopes to have improved on earlier studies of the rand.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13050

Published: Jeffrey Frankel, 2007. “On The Rand: Determinants Of The South African Exchange Rate,” South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(3), pages 425-441, 09. citation courtesy of