Exchange Rate Index Update for Austria Shows Lower Effective Appreciation than Previously Measured

This article reports on the most recent update of Austria's effective exchange rate indices, which serve to aggregate data on bilateral exchange rates and relative prices or costs into indicators of Austria's short- to medium-term international competitive position. As before, the weighting scheme builds on bilateral trade data for Austria's 56 most important trading partners and a three-year averaging period, which we were able to move forward to the period 2013-2015. Upon recalculation of existing observations from January 2013 onward, we find confirmation for the medium-term worsening of Austria's competitive position, but in a less pronounced form than suggested by the previous weighting scheme. On the tail end of the curve, the COVID-19 crisis in general and short-time work subsidies in particular have distorted several indicators in 2020 and 2021. With regard to the geographical focus of Austria's international trade relations, we observe a shift away from the large EU economies towards the USA and China, plus a weaker shift from Northeastern Europe towards Eastern Europe and Turkey. Given the economic relevance of tourism for Austria, we newly created a real effective exchange rate for the tourism industry. In this segment of the economy, we see a more pronounced appreciation than in the service sector as a whole from 2015 onward, which would normally imply a decline in tourism services output. That Austria's tourism industry clearly continued to thrive indicates that the appreciation coincided with an upward shift of prices and supply toward higher quality segments.