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The Political Economy of Sectoral Exchange Rate Preferences and Lobbying: Germany from 1960-2008, and Beyond

Daniel Kinderman
Review of International Political Economy
Vol. 15, No. 5 (Dec., 2008), pp. 851-880
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25262001
Page Count: 30
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The Political Economy of Sectoral Exchange Rate Preferences and Lobbying: Germany from 1960-2008, and Beyond
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Abstract

Do the observable preferences and behavior of economic actors correspond to microeconomic models? I address this question by examining the microfoundations of firms' exchange rate preferences and lobbying activity between 1960 and 2008 in Germany, one of the most internationally exposed and export-oriented economies. The phenomena to be explained are twofold. First, lobbying activity appears to have declined over time. Archival sources provide evidence of strong preference articulation and exchange rate lobbying during the 1960s and 1970s. In recent years, by contrast, the intensity of firms' lobbying activity has gone down, despite greater exchange rate fluctuations and currency appreciations, which are costly and potentially ruinous for producers of tradable goods. Second, there is substantial variation in the propensity of tradables producers to lobby over exchange rate levels. I argue that the extent of firms' internationalization is key for explaining both of these observations and the political economy of exchange rate preferences and lobbying more generally. Firms and sectors with a low degree of 'operational hedging' or diversification across different currency areas are much more likely to have preferences for a low exchange rate and to lobby over exchange rate levels than their more diversified counterparts. As globalization proceeds apace, we may be moving towards a world in which 'no preference' is the stable equilibrium.

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