World currency

World currency

In the foreign exchange market and international finance, a world currency or global currency refers to a currency in which the vast majority of international transactions take place and which serves as the world's primary reserve currency.

A world currency is at one extreme of a conceptual spectrum that has local currency at the other extreme.

Currencies have many forms depending on several properties: type of issuance, type of issuer and type of backing. The particular configuration of those properties leads to different types of money. The pros and cons of a currency are strongly influenced by the type proposed. Consider, for example, the properties of a Complementary Currency.

The euro and the United States dollar

:] Since the mid-20th century, the "de facto" world currency has been the United States dollar. According to Robert Gilpin in "Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order" (2001): "Somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of international financial transactions are denominated in dollars. For decades the dollar has also been the world's principal reserve currency; in 1996, the dollar accounted for approximately two-thirds of the world's foreign exchange reserves" (255).

Many of the world's currencies are pegged against the dollar. Some countries, such as Ecuador, El Salvador, and Panama, have gone even further and eliminated their own currency (see dollarization) in favor of the United States dollar. The dollar continues to dominate global currency reserves, with 63.9% held in dollars, as compared to 26.5% held in euros (see Reserve Currency).

Since 1999, the dollar's dominance has begun to be eroded by the euro, which represents a larger size economy, and has the prospect of more countries adopting the euro as their national currency. The euro inherited the status of a major reserve currency from the German Mark (DM), and since then its contribution to official reserves has risen as banks seek to diversify their reserves and trade in the eurozone continues to expand. []

As with the dollar, quite a few of the world's currencies are pegged against the euro. They are usually Eastern European currencies like the Estonian kroon and the Bulgarian lev, plus several west African currencies like the Cape Verdean escudo and the CFA franc. Other European countries, while not being EU members, have adopted the euro due to currency unions with member states, or by unilaterally superseding their own currencies: Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, and Vatican City.

As of December 2006, the euro surpassed the dollar in the combined value of cash in circulation. The value of euro notes in circulation has risen to more than €610 billion, equivalent to US$800 billion at the exchange rates at the time (today equivalent to circa US$968 billion). [ [ / MARKETS / Currencies - Euro notes cash in to overtake dollar ] ]


panish dollar: 17th-19th centuries

In the 17th and 18th century, the use of silver Spanish dollars or "pieces of eight" spread from the Spanish territories in the Americas eastwards to Asia and westwards to Europe forming the first ever Fact|date=June 2007 worldwide currency. Spain's political supremacy on the world stage, the importance of Spanish commercial routes across the Atlantic and the Pacific, and the coin's quality and purity of silver helped it become internationally accepted for over two centuries. It was legal tender in Spain's Pacific territories of the Philippines, Micronesia, Guam and the Caroline Islands and later in China and other Southeast Asian countries until the mid 19th century. In the Americas it was legal tender in all of South and Central America (except Brazil) as well as in the U.S.fact|date=July 2008 and Canada until the mid-19th century. In Europe the Spanish dollar was legal tender in the Iberian Peninsula, in most of Italy including: Milan, the Kingdom of Naples, Sicily and Sardinia, as well as in the Franche-Comté (France), and in the Spanish Netherlands. It was also used in other European states including the Austrian Habsburg territories.

19th - 20th centuries

Prior to and during most of the 1800s, international trade was denominated in terms of currencies that represented weights of gold. Most national currencies at the time were in essence merely different ways of measuring gold weights (much as the yard and the metre both measure length and are related by a constant conversion factor). Hence some assert that gold was the world's first global currency. The emerging collapse of the international gold standard around the time of World War I had significant implications for global trade.

In the period following the Bretton Woods Conference of 1944, exchange rates around the world were pegged against the United States dollar, which could be exchanged for a fixed amount of gold. This reinforced the dominance of the US dollar as a global currency.

Since the collapse of the fixed exchange rate regime and the gold standard and the institution of floating exchange rates following the Smithsonian Agreement in 1971, most currencies around the world have no longer been pegged against the United States dollar. However, as the United States remained the world's preeminent economic superpower, most international transactions continued to be conducted with the United States dollar, and it has remained the "de facto" world currency.

Only two serious challengers to the status of the United States dollar as a world currency have arisen. During the 1980s, the Japanese yen became increasingly used as an international currencyfact|date=July 2008, but that usage diminished with the Japanese recession in the 1990s. More recently, the euro has increasingly competed with the United States dollar in usage in international finance.

Hypothetical single "true" global currency

An alternative definition of a world or global currency refers to a hypothetical single global currency, as the proposed Terra, produced and supported by a central bank which is used for "all" transactions around the world, regardless of the nationality of the entities (individuals, corporations, governments, or other organisations) involved in the transaction. No such official currency currently exists.

There are many different variations of the idea, including a possibility that it would be administered by a global central bank or that it would be on the gold standard. [ [ A Single Global Currency ] ] Supporters often point to the euro as an example of a supranational currency successfully implemented by a union of nations with disparate languages, cultures, and economies. Alternatively, digital gold currency can be viewed as an example of how global currency can be implemented without achieving national government consensus.

A limited alternative would be a world reserve currency issued by the International Monetary Fund, as an evolution of the existing Special Drawing Rights and used as reserve assets by all national and regional central banks.

Arguments for a global currency

Some of the benefits cited by advocates of a global currency are that it would eliminate several types of currency speculation, eliminate many direct and indirect transaction costs of currency trading, eliminate the risk of complete currency failure, and eliminate the misalignment of currencies.

Arguments against a single global currency

Some economistsWho|date=October 2007 argue that a single global currency is unworkable given the vastly different national political and economic systems in existence.

Loss of national monetary policy

With one currency, there can only be one interest rate.fact|date=July 2008 This results in rendering each present currency area unable to choose the interest rate which suits its economy best. If, for example, the European Union were to have an economic boom while the United States slumped into a depression, this period would be easedfact|date=July 2008 if each could choose (whether by market forces or by fiat) the interest rate which best fitted its needs — in this case, a relatively high interest rate in the former, and a relatively low one in the latter.

Political difficulties

In the present world, nations are not able to work together closely enough to be able to produce and support a common currency. There has to be a high level of trust between different countries before a true world currency could be created. A world currency might even undermine national sovereignty of smaller states.

Most modern currencies have an interest rate, while one of the largest religions in the world, Islam, is against the idea of paying interest for loans. This might prove to be an unsolvable problem for a world currency, if religious views concerning interest do not moderate. This is not necessarily a fatal flaw, however, as a large number of religious adherents who oppose the paying of interest are still currently able to take advantage of banking facilities in their countries which are able to cater to this. An example of this might be Islamic banking, which operates well enough in nations where the central bank sets interest rates for most other transactions.

Economic difficulties

Some economists argue that a single world currency is unnecessary, because the U.S. dollar already provides many of the benefits of a world currency while avoiding some of the costs. []

If the world does not form an optimum currency area, then it would be economically inefficient for the world to share one currency.

A further argument is most easily conveyed by an analogy. Water carried in a biscuit baking pan will rapidly flow from high points to the lowest point, causing a sudden uncontrollable imbalance that forces the high points higher and the low point lower. The same quantity of water in cups on the biscuit pan will have no such inherent instability. Hegemonic currencies, free of regional limitations, flow rapidly away from high risk areas exacerbating their problems disproportionately to original causesfact|date=July 2008. Such events are very damaging to the prosperity of the affected area. See for example the events leading up to, and subsequence consequences of, the Corralito in Argentina. For those with the power to do so, predicting, or even causing, such capital flights can lead to immensely profitable speculations; so profitable indeed that their likelihood of occurrence increases in proportion with the scale of the currency involved.

ee also

* Digital gold currency
* Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)
* Dollar hegemony
* World Currency Unit
* Monetary hegemony


External links

* [ Global Imbalances and Developing Countries: Remedies for a Failing International Financial System, Jan Joost Teunissen and Age Akkerman (eds.), 2007, downloadable pdf book]
* [ Single Global Currency Association] .
* [ A Single Global Currency? Sure, why not. But, only if it's Gold and Silver Bullion!] .
* [ Malaysia Mahathir Proposes Single Global Currency] .
* [ Illustrated map "Money of the states of the world"]

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