The dollar became the greatest currency of the 20th century because it was comparatively stable. The financial dominance of United States and its delivery system that is dollar killed the gold standard. It was happened because US came to dominate international monetary system. But as time passed the new currency euro has appeared as a potential rival to the dollar. The most important thing about euro is that it has the potentiality to change the power configuration of monetary system. International monetary arrangements make a big difference to the success or failure of the world economy. Another important matter is Globalization, which has been facilitated by the dollar just now and previously it was facilitated by pound and gold standard. But now Globalization is much less efficient because of some of its defect in International monetary system.
Considering Dollar, Pound and Gold standard we see that Gold provided a highly efficient International monetary system. So we should follow this system with latest alternative.
The Pre-Eminence of the Dollar
The International monetary system of 20th century had played a vital role in different political events and US economy and US dollar also played an important role in this action. The US economy was the star performer of the 19th and 20th centuries and had become the superpower in 1920s. But US economy lost some of its luster during post-war period. By taking the advantage of this event European economies developed outstandingly. During this time the economy of Europe and Japan was soaring but US economy began to decline. But in 1970 the International monetary system had broken down, which ended the fixed exchange rates anchored to gold. The result of this event was lax monetary and fiscal discipline all over the world. In 1979-81, the US had three years back to back two digit inflation. After a short but sharp recession, the US economy moved into a long expansion in which employment revived and inflation subsided. The US economy has been now expanding for 18 years.
The Fate of the Gold Standard
The Gold standard after World War 1 was nothing like the gold standard of earlier years. The stability of Gold now depended increasingly on the policies of a few central banks, such as Federal Reserve System, the bank of England and the bank of France. The creation of Federal Reserve System in 1913 was one of the most important events of the 20th century because it enabled the paper dollar to become the most important currency in the world. After the second year of World War 1 the dollar took over the role of important currency from pound sterling. The future of the gold standard came to depend on the policy of US with regard Gold. During World War 1 the value of Gold had fallen in half as the US dollar, which is not the actual Gold standard. So the Federal Reserve shifted to a policy of stabilizing the price level. Gradually other countries got rid of Gold from their monetary systems. Because of dollar now the status of Gold became just a question of US economic policy.
Currency Areas and Currency Unions
The growing importance of the dollar was a little-noticed event at the start of the 20th century. When the euro was created gradually it become the second most important currency in the world. Judging by its monetary mass euro is more important than yen but less important than dollar. The euro area and the dollar area are getting bigger. The euro area has eleven countries now. In ten years there could be as many as 28 member countries in the European Union. The euro area could easily contain as many 50 countries with a population exceeding 500 million. There is another currency area based on yen but the European model of single currency would not fit at the present time in Asia. The single currency project is possible in Europe because it became a security area. An Asian currency area would be possible in the future by correcting the political disequilibrium. The dollar area will also expand over next ten years. It might even possible to establish some kind of currency unions for all Americans, a kind of Latin Dollar. There are many models for currency areas. The tightest form is a single currency monetary union. Dollarization represents a hegemonic approach to a single currency monetary union. The less tight form is multiple currency monetary union, which success depends on credibility. There are many ways to buy credibility for the exchange rate commitments and one of them is to build reserves. Another way to achieve credibility is through a bilateral approach.
The Importance of Monetary Rules
There is a difference in between “pegged” and “fixed” rates, which lies in the adjustment system. A fixed exchange rate is the monetary rule that contains an equilibrating mechanism of the balance of payments. The gold standard was a good example of fixed rates. Countries defined their currencies in terms of weights of gold and exchange rates represented the ratios of the weights. This system got into trouble very rarely, as during war, countries turned to finance deficit etc. Success of gold depends on fiscal prudence. A country fixes the exchange rate between its currency and an important foreign currency. A currency board works automatically to preserve equilibrium in the balance of payments. Some writers now speak of a “currency board” in order to describe a fixed exchange rate system because there is a common confusion between pegged and fixed exchange rate. A fixed exchange rate is a monetary rule that gives the country the monetary policy of the partner country. On the other hand pegged rate is an arrangement whereby the central bank intervenes in the exchange market to peg the exchange rate but still keeps an independent monetary policy. A flexible exchange rate is consistent with any monetary policy at all hyperinflation. Some countries don’t have the option of fixing the exchange rate because some countries are too small but one of the countries is too large to fix, such as United States. This is because there is no currency to fix the US dollar. In this case the only choice is inflation targeting or monetary targeting, which depends on inflation rate. Stability of the inflation rate is an important policy and low inflation rate produce more stable inflation rate. It is very important that monetary aggregates contain important information about the economy. So from all of these discussion we see that how monetary rules affect the economy and its importance in fixing the exchange rate.
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