Foreign currency borrowing and knowledge about exchange rate risk

Beckmann, Elisabeth; Stix, Helmut
March 2014
Working Papers (Oesterreichische Nationalbank);Mar2014, Issue 188, preceding p1
Academic Journal
Foreign currency borrowing is widespread in many regions of the world. This raises the question whether unhedged borrowers do not understand the exchange rate risk emanating from such loans. Employing household level micro-data from eight Central and Eastern European countries we study how agents' knowledge about exchange rate risk affects the currency denomination of loans. Results show, first, that a majority of respondents is aware that depreciations increase loan installments. Second, we find that knowledge about the exchange rate risk lowers the demand for foreign currency borrowing. To assess the causal effect of literacy on loan demand we utilize information on agents' exchange rate expectations. Overall, results suggest that financial literacy exerts a strong impact on the choice of the loan currency. However, from an aggregate perspective, a misunderstanding of the underlying risks is not the main cause of foreign currency borrowing.


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