Surprise, Surprise: What Drives the Rand / U.S. Dollar Exchange Rate Volatility?


Nasha Maveé ; Roberto Perrelli ; Axel Schimmelpfennig

Publication Date:

October 17, 2016

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate


This paper investigates possible drivers of volatility in the South African rand since the onset of the global financial crisis. We assess the role played by local and international economic surprises, commodity price volatility, global market risk perceptions, and local political uncertainty. As a measure of rand volatility, the study uses a market-based implied volatility indicator for the rand / U.S. dollar exchange rate. Economic surprises—the difference between market expectations and data prints—are captured by Citi’s Economic Surprise Index which is available for South Africa and its main economic partners. The results suggest that rand volatility is mainly driven by commodity price volatility, and global market volatility, as well as domestic political uncertainty. In addition, economic surprises originating in the United States matter, but not those originating from South Africa, Europe, or China.


Working Paper No. 2016/205



Publication Date:

October 17, 2016



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