Currency is a medium of exchange for goods and services. In short, it's money, in the form of paper or coins, usually issued by a government and generally accepted at its face value as a method of payment.
Currency is the primary medium of exchange in the modern world, having long ago replaced bartering as a means of trading goods and services.
Currency is a generally accepted form of payment, usually issued by a government and circulated within its jurisdiction.
The value of any currency fluctuates constantly in relation to other currencies. The currency exchange market exists as a means of profiting from those fluctuations.
Many countries accept the U.S. dollar for payment, while others peg their currency value directly to the U.S. dollar.
Far-Reaching Currency Impacts
Many people do not pay attention to exchange rates because rarely do they need to. The typical person's daily life is conducted in their domestic currency. Exchange rates only come into focus for occasional transactions, such as foreign travel, import payments or overseas remittances.
An international traveler might harbor for a strong domestic currency because that would make travel to Europe inexpensive. But the downside is a strong currency can exert significant drag on the economy over the long term, as entire industries are rendered noncompetitive and thousands of jobs are lost. While some might prefer a strong currency, a weak currency can result in more economic benefits.
The value of the domestic currency in the foreign exchange market is a key consideration for central banks when they set monetary policy. Directly or indirectly, currency levels may play a role in the interest rate you pay on your mortgage, the returns on your investment portfolio, the price of groceries at your local supermarket, and even your job prospects.
Currency Impact on the Economy
A currency's level directly impacts the economy in the following ways:
This refers to a nation's imports and exports. In general, a weaker currency makes imports more expensive, while stimulating exports by making them cheaper for overseas customers to buy. A weak or strong currency can contribute to a nation's trade deficit or trade surplus over time.
Foreign capital tends to flow into countries that have strong governments, dynamic economies, and stable currencies. A nation needs a relatively stable currency to attract capital from foreign investors. Otherwise, the prospect of exchange-rate losses inflicted by currency depreciation may deter overseas investors.
A devalued currency can result in "imported" inflation for countries that are substantial importers. A sudden 20% decline in the domestic currency could result in imports costing 25% more, as a 20% decline means a 25% increase is needed to get back to the original price point.
As mentioned earlier, exchange rates are a key consideration for most central banks when setting monetary policy. In September 2012, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said the bank took the persistent strength of the Canadian dollar into account when setting monetary policy. Carney said the Canadian dollar's strength was one reason why his country's monetary policy had been "exceptionally accommodative" for so long.