Foreign exchange risk and the flow of international portfolio capital: evidence from Africa's capital markets

Kodongo, Christopher Odongo
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This dissertation addresses two major issues. First, it investigates whether currency risk commands a significant premium in representative equity markets in Africa. The International Arbitrage Pricing Theory and the Stochastic Discount Factor model respectively provide the analytical frameworks for the unconditional and the conditional asset pricing models used to investigate currency risk pricing. Empirical data analysis uses the Generalized Method of Moments estimation technique. Second, it examines the nexus between real foreign exchange rates and net international portfolio flows in representative capital markets in Africa. Time series and panel data techniques are employed to this end. The study covers seven major African countries: Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa over the period January 1997 through December 2009. Foreign exchange risk is found to be non-priced unconditionally when returns are measured in the US dollar; weakly priced unconditionally when returns are measured in the euro; and priced with time-varying risk premia in the conditional sense. Africa’s equity markets are found to be partially integrated with the rest of the world. Monthly international portfolio flows to Africa are found to be low, non-persistent and relatively volatile. Using monthly data, Granger causality tests and innovation accounting from vector autoregressions (VARs), the study shows that the dynamic relationship between the real exchange rates and net portfolio flows is both country-dependent and time-varying. The findings are robust to alternative VAR specifications. However, annual data exhibit strong causality moving from real exchange rates to net portfolio flows, suggesting that fluctuations in real exchange rates inform the investment decisions of foreign investors in Africa’s capital markets. Among the key policy implications, it is recommended that, in addition to the US dollar and precious metals, Africa’s monetary authorities should regard the euro as an important reserve currency; that policies be put in place to expedite the development of private fixed income securities and derivatives markets; that sound monetary policies be instituted to ensure that interest rate changes are market-determined and inflationary pressures are well-managed; and that regional markets integration and financial sector development policies be pursued more meticulously by governments in Africa.
Capital markets, Africa, Foreign exchange market, Risk, Equity markets