DP527 | A Note on the Real Exchange Rate Effect of German Unification

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Publication Date

01/03/1991

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Abstract

It is often believed that the German Economic and Monetary Unification will result in an appreciation of the DM. This conclusion is reached when attention is exclusively directed to the short-run demand side. In this note, it is shown that supply-side and long-term considerations suggest instead that the DM will depreciate in the long term. The reason is that the absorption into the new DM-zone of an area with initially scant productive assets amounts to a permanent fall in per capita wealth of the new Germany relative to the old one. An alternative interpretation is that the real depreciation is required to compensate a worsened net asset position (as Germany borrows abroad to finance capital accumulation). While the short-run effect is ambiguous, a real depreciation is shown to be possible, and the conditions for it to happen are spelled out.