The Benefits of the Dollar's Decline: Maintaining an Overvalued Dollar Means Missed Opportunity for U.S. Economy and Manufacturing
Publication Date: July 2003
Publisher(s): Economic Policy Institute
Author(s): Josh Bivens
The value of the U.S. dollar as of July 1, 2003 had fallen by 9.1% since its peak in February 2002. The benefits of the falling dollar vastly outweigh the costs for the U.S. economy. The primary costs of the falling dollar are higher prices for imported goods and for American tourists traveling abroad. The primary benefit is increased price competitiveness of U.S. products, both for exports abroad as well as in the domestic market.
The United States currently has an enormous trade deficit (importing more than it exports), which represents a significant drag on efforts to spur economic growth and create jobs, and has led to an accumulation of foreign debt that will have to be repaid in the future. Given this trade deficit, the benefits of greater international competitiveness prompted by the falling dollar greatly outweigh the costs. This dollar decline has come largely in spite of the Bush Administration's stance in favor of a "strong dollar." The "strong dollar policy" (pursued by both the Clinton and Bush Administrations) has been deeply damaging to the U.S. economy, leading to significant job loss in the manufacturing sector and the accumulation of historically large trade deficits.
This overvalued dollar policy should be reversed, and a larger (although orderly) decline in the dollar should be encouraged instead. In the long term, U.S. exchange rate policy should aim to avoid large trade deficits. This could be accomplished through international policy coordination that allows exchange rates to float within a flexible band, but prevents them from getting so overvalued that they generate large trade deficits.