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Abstract

Government exchange rate regime choice is constrained by both political and economic factors. One political factor is the role of special interests: the larger the tradable sectors exposed to international competition, the less likely is the maintenance of a fixed exchange rate regime. Another political factor is electoral: as an election approaches, the probability of the maintenance of a fixed exchange rate increases. We test these arguments with hazard models to analyze the duration dependence of Latin American exchange rate arrangements from 1960 to 1999. We find substantial empirical evidence for these propositions. Results are robust to the inclusion of a variety of other economic and political variables, to different time and country samples, and to different definitions of regime arrangement. Controlling for economic factors, a one percentage point increase in the size of the manufacturing sector is associated with a reduction of six months in the longevity of a country’s currency peg. An impending election increases the conditional likelihood of staying on a peg by about 8 percent, while the aftershock of an election conversely increases the conditional probability of going off a peg by 4 percent.

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