In this paper we model the Gaussian errors in the standard Gaussian linear state space model as stochastic volatility processes. We show that conventional MCMC algorithms for this class of models are ineffective, but that the problem can be alleviated by reparameterizing the model. Instead of sampling the unobserved variance series directly, we sample in the space of the disturbances, which proves to lower correlation in the sampler and thus increases the quality of the Markov chain. Using our reparameterized MCMC sampler, it is possible to estimate an unobserved factor model for exchange rates between a group of n countries. The underlying n + 1 country-specific currency strength factors and the n + 1 currency volatility factors can be extracted using the new methodology. With the factors, a more detailed image of the events around the 1992 EMS crisis is obtained. We assess the fit of competitive models on the panels of exchange rates with an effective particle filter and find that indeed the factor model is strongly preferred by the data. Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.