Inbu 4200 international financial management
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INBU 4200 INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT. Lecture 3: History of the International Monetary System (With Focus on Exchange Rate Regimes). The Euro-Zone. Recall from Lecture 2 the Definition of an Exchange Rate Regime.

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Inbu 4200 international financial management


Lecture 3:

History of the International Monetary System (With Focus on Exchange Rate Regimes).

The Euro-Zone.

Recall from lecture 2 the definition of an exchange rate regime

Recall from Lecture 2 the Definition of an Exchange Rate Regime

  • Defined: The arrangement by which the price of the country’s currency is determined within foreign exchange markets.

  • Arrangements ranging from:

    • Floating Rate

    • Managed Rate (“Dirty Float”)

    • Pegged Rate

  • Arrangement is determining by governments.

History of exchange rate regimes

History of Exchange Rate Regimes

  • Over the past 200 years, the world has gone though major changes its global exchange rate environment.

  • Starting with the gold standard in the latter part of the 19th century to today’s “mixed system” there are 3 distinct periods:

    • Gold Standard: 1816 - 1914

    • Bretton Woods: 1945 - 1973

    • Mixed System: 1973 – the present

Gold standard 1816 1914

Gold Standard: 1816 - 1914

  • During the 1800s the industrial revolution brought about a vast increase in the production of goods and widened the basis of world trade.

  • At the time, trading countries believed that a necessary condition to facilitate world trade was a stable exchange rate system.

    • Stable exchange rates were seen as necessary for encouraging and settling commercial transactions across borders (both by companies and by governments).

    • By the second half of the 19th century, most countries had adopted the gold standard exchange rate regime.

Basics of the gold standard

Basics of the Gold Standard

  • The gold standard required that national money be defined as a specific weight of gold.

  • During this period:

    • The U.S. dollar had been defined as 0.0483% of an ounce of pure gold.

    • The British pound as .23506%

    • Thus, the dollar pound parity (exchange rate) was about $4.8665 per pound sterling

      • (= .23506/.0483)

Examples of some countries joining the gold standard

Examples of Some Countries Joining the Gold Standard

  • CountryDate










The industrial revolution and the british empire

The Industrial Revolution and the British Empire

  • The Industrial Revolution began in the 1760s.

    • Centered in Northwest England, it quickly transformed the Britain from an agricultural economy to one based on the application of power-driven machinery to manufacturing.

      • Resulted in the rise of factory production.

    • As a result of Britain’s advantage in production, the amount of British products available for export (especially textiles) increased.

The industrial revolution and the british empire1

The Industrial Revolution and the British Empire

  • The search for overseas markets for British goods was the incentive for colonization and the creation of the 2nd British Empire in the 1800s.

    • During its Industrial Revolution, Britain focused on markets in Asia and Africa.

      • Trading posts were established in these colonies.

    • Empire reached its apex by the end of World War I at which time it controlled a quarter of the world’s population

    • 47% of the world’s holdings of international reserves was in the form of British pounds (1913)

British empire early 20 th century

British Empire: Early 20th Century

Wwi 1914 1919

WWI (1914 – 1919)

  • World War I (August 1914) marks the beginning of the end of the Gold Standard.

    • During the war, countries suspended the convertibility of their currencies into gold.

    • After the war, many countries suffered hyperinflation and economic recessions.

      • As one policy solution, many countries turned to competitive devaluations in an attempt to stimulate their export sectors and gain advantages in world export markets.

      • In reality, however, one country’s competitive devaluation was followed by another country currency devaluation (as an offset).

Interwar period 1919 1939

Interwar Period: 1919 -1939

  • After WW I, various attempts were made to revive the “classical” gold standard.

    • 1919: United States returns to a gold standard.

    • 1925: Great Britain joins, followed by France and Switzerland.

  • These attempts were all unsuccessful.

    • At the time, countries were more concerned with their national economies than exchange rate stability.

      • Especially true during the Great Depression (1929 - )

      • Countries abandoned the interwar gold standard during this period.

        • Britain and Japan dropped it in 1931, the U.S. in 1933.

      • Countries also erected high tariff walls to “protect” their domestic economy.

Bretton woods july 1944

Bretton Woods: July 1944

  • As World War II drew to a close, all 44 allied countries meet in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire (Mount Washington Hotel),

    to consider a new

    international monetary


    • The Bretton Woods System was agreed upon at these meetings. During this time,

      • U.S. economy is the world’s strongest, so

      • U.S. dollar becomes the world’s key currency.

Bretton woods agreements

Bretton Woods Agreements

  • Fixed exchange rates were deemed desirable for “restarting” world trade and investment.

    • U.S. dollar pegged to gold at $35 per ounce.

      • Dollar is the only currency which is convertible into gold.

    • All other countries peg their currencies to the U.S. dollar.

      • Par values are set in relation to the U.S. dollar

    • Countries agree to “support” their exchange rates within + or – 1% of these par values.

      • To be done through the buying or selling of foreign exchange when market forces needed to be offset.

Design of the bretton woods system

Design of the Bretton Woods System

  • Foreign currencies are linked to the U.S. Dollar which in turn is linked to gold



Par Value




Par Value




Par Value




Par Value




$35 an ounce

Bretton woods agreements1

Bretton Woods Agreements

  • Countries agreed not to devalue their currencies for trade gaining purposes (competitive devaluations are prohibited)

    • But devaluation is allowed in response to “fundamental disequilibrium.”

      • Chronic balance of payments deficit.

    • U.S. dollar, however, is the one currency which is not permitted to change its value.

  • Bretton Woods meetings also create:

    • International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    • World Bank.

International monetary fund

International Monetary Fund

  • Created to “watch over” the international monetary system to ensure the maintenance of fixed-exchange rates.

    • IMF agrees to lend country’s hard currency when needed to defend their central rate.

  • Goal of the IMF: “To promote international monetary cooperation and facilitate the growth of international trade.”

    • Stable exchange rates are seen as critical to this IMF goal.

World bank

World Bank

  • Also part of Bretton Woods Agreement

    • Initial goal of World Bank was to rebuild Europe and Asia’s war-torn economies through financial aid.

      • Channels “Marshall” aid funds to Europe and Asia.

  • Eventually, the World Bank turns to ‘development’ issues.

    • Lending money to developing countries.

      • Agriculture

      • Education

      • Population control

      • Urban development

Assessment of bretton woods 1944 1960s

Assessment of Bretton Woods: 1944- 1960s

  • During its first two decades, the Bretton Woods system is a “success.”

    • Exchange rates are relatively stable and world trade grows.

    • Some countries do devalue their currencies.

      • This causes the U.S. dollar to effectively appreciate.

Stable yen during bretton woods

Stable Yen During Bretton Woods

Seeds of bretton woods demise

Seeds of Bretton Woods’ Demise

  • In the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson tries to finance both his “Great Society” programs at home and the American war in Vietnam.

    • Produces a large Federal budget deficit, which, coupled with easy monetary policy, results in:

      • High inflation in the United States and

      • An increase in U.S. spending for cheaper imports

  • As a result, the United States balance of payments moves into a deficit.

    • Dollar is seen by the market as “overvalued.”

    • Foreigners concerned about holding dollars at a rate of $35 an ounce.

      • Price of one ounce of gold was $35

U s balance of payments 1965

U.S. balance of payments measures move into deficit by mid-1960s.

But, U.S. dollar still pegged at $35 per ounce.

U.S. Balance of Payments: 1965 -

1970 and 1971 bretton woods begins to unravel

1970 and 1971: Bretton Woods Begins to Unravel

  • By 1970, markets are unwilling to hold the overvalued dollar.

    • Dollars are sold on foreign exchange markets

    • Central banks engage in massive intervention in an attempt to hold their Bretton Woods par values.

      • They buy U.S. dollars as they are sold in markets.

  • Foreign holdings of dollars exceed U.S. holdings of gold (by 1971, gold coverage had dropped to 22%).

    • Dollar convertibility into gold is suspended in August 1971

      • Dollar trades lower in response (foreign currencies appreciate)

    • U.S. expresses an interested in forging a fixed exchange rate system, but without “gold.”

Smithsonian agreements 1971

In December 1971, major counties meet in Washington, D.C.

Leads to the Smithsonian Agreements.

Countries agree to revalue their currencies (yen 17%, mark 13.5%, pound and franc 9%)

In return, the U.S. agrees to raise the dollar price of gold from $35 to $38 an ounce.

Combined, this was equivalent to a “effective” dollar devaluation of 8.57%.

However, this dollar devaluation had no significance because the dollar remained inconvertible

Currencies now allowed to fluctuate + or – 2.25%.

Smithsonian Agreements, 1971

Renewed attacks on the dollar 1973

13 months after the Smithsonian Agreements, the dollar comes under renewed attack.

February 1973, markets sell off dollars.

Central banks again intervene and buy dollars.

In February 1973 the dollar is devalued further to $42

Foreign exchange markets closed until March 1973.

Renewed Attacks on the Dollar, 1973

The collapse of bretton woods

In March 1973, foreign exchange markets reopen and countries are “allowed” to “float” their currencies:

In March 1973, Japan and most of Western Europe let their currencies float against the dollar.

Bretton Woods effectively ends.

The Collapse of Bretton Woods

Early post bretton woods

During the years immediately after the collapse of Bretton Woods, the dollar fluctuates, but no discernable trend is seen at first.

Early Post Bretton Woods

Early post bretton woods agreements

Early Post Bretton Woods Agreements

  • In January 1975, IMF member countries meet in Jamaica (Jamaican Agreement) and agree:

    • To accept a flexible exchange rate regime.

    • That central banks should intervene in foreign exchange markets to deal with unwarranted volatilities.

  • Mid 1970s until 1980: the U.S. dollar weakens.

  • Then from 1980 to February 1985: the dollar appreciates.

    • Relatively high U.S. interest rates attracted capital inflows and offset the trade deficit.

    • In April 1981, the U.S. government announces that they will no longer intervene in foreign exchange markets.

Roller coaster decade of the 1980s

Roller Coaster Decade of the 1980s

Strong Dollar


1980 - 1985

1985 plaza accord

1985: Plaza Accord

  • In September 1985, G7 countries meeting at the Plaza Hotel in New York (Plaza Accord)

    • Agree to coordinated intervention in foreign exchange markets to deal with the US trade deficit.

      • They agree to sell U.S. dollars (increase supply) and lower its value.

    • The dollar had strengthened from 1980 to 1985.

      • G7 felt a weak dollar was needed to offset U.S. trade deficit.

  • Dollar weakens in response to central bank intervention.

  • Longer term it continues to weaken in response to a worsening U.S. trade deficit.

    • The dollar embarks on about a 10 year period of weakness.

Roller coaster decade of the 1980s1

Roller Coaster Decade of the 1980s



1987 louvre accord

1987: Louvre Accord

  • In February 1987, G7 meet in Paris, France (Louvre Accord):

    • Countries agree to cooperate to achieve greater exchange rate stability, and

    • To consult and coordinate their macroeconomic policies.

  • Dollar continues to be weak until the mid-1990s.

Mid 1990s to present time

Mid 1990s to Present Time

  • From 1996 through 2001 the dollar strengthens.

    • Strong U.S. economic performance attracts capital inflows.

      • Economic performance offsets trade deficit concerns.

  • From 2002 on it weakens again.

    • U.S. deficits become a concern again.

Where are we today

Where are we Today?

  • “Mixed” International Monetary System consisting of:

    • Floating exchange rate regimes:

      • Market forces determine the relative value of a currency.

    • Managed (dirty float) rate regimes:

      • Government manages its currency’s value with regard to a reference currency.

      • Market moves currency, but governments are managing the process and intervening when necessary.

    • Pegged exchange rate regimes:

      • Government fixes (links) the value of its currency relative to a reference currency.

Post bretton woods summary

Post Bretton Woods Summary

  • Since March 1973, major currencies of the world operate under a floating exchange rate system.

    • Market forces drive currency values!

    • Post Bretton Woods has resulted exchange rates become much more volatile and less predictable then they were during fixed exchange rate eras.

    • This volatility complicates the management of global companies.

Yen volatility post bretton woods

Yen Volatility Post-Bretton Woods

YearRate% ChangeYearRate% Change

1974291.531990145.00 -5.02%

1975296.69 -1.77%1991134.71 7.10%

1976296.38 0.10%1992126.78 5.89%

1977267.80 9.64%1993111.08 12.38%

1978208.42 22.17%1994102.18 8.01%

1979218.19 -4.69%1995 93.968.05%

1980226.63 -3.87%1996108.78

1981220.63 2.65%1997120.99-11.22%

1982249.06 -12.89%1998130.99 -8.27%

1983237.55 4.62%1999113.73 13.18%

1984237.45 0.04%2000107.77 5.20%

1985238.47 -0.43%2001121.53 -12.77%

1986168.35 2002 125.39 -3.18%

1987144.60 14.10%2003115.94 7.41%

1988128.17 11.35%2004108.15 6.72%

1989138.07 -7.72%Note:High Rate: 1995 Low Rate: 1975 Rates: Averages for year.



Volatility of yen 1975 2002

Volatility of Yen: 1975-2002

Volatility of pound 1975 2002

Volatility of Pound: 1975-2002

Foreign exchange regime changes

Foreign Exchange Regime Changes

  • Currently the majority of the world’s countries maintain pegged or highly managed exchange rate regimes.

  • However, a growing number of countries are adopting more flexible (e.g., floating rate) regimes.

    • Letting the markets determine the exchange rate.

    • Examples over the last 10 years: Brazil, Chile, Poland.

Exchange rate regimes 1982 2001

Exchange Rate Regimes, 1982 - 2001

The euro zone a currency union

The Euro-Zone: A Currency Union

  • Today, 12 countries within the 25 member European Union have adopted a single currency, the euro, as their legal tender.

    • As of January 2002, the national currencies of these 12 countries have been withdrawn as legal tender.

The euro time line pre euro

The Euro Time Line: Pre Euro

  • 1979: European Monetary System is created.

    • Designed to promote exchange rate stability within the European Community.

    • Currencies tied into one another, but essentially into the German mark.

    • Series of crises within the EMS, but it survives

  • 1991: Maastricht Treaty signed

    • Called for the adoption of a “single” currency in Europe by 1999

    • Countries needed to meet specified economic and financial criteria and could elect not to join (U.K. ops out).

The euro time line introducing the euro

The Euro Time Line: Introducing the Euro

  • January 1, 1999. The European Monetary Union (EMU) is created.

    • Eleven countries irrevocably lock their national currencies to the euro.

      • For Example: 1,936.27 Italian lira = 1 euro; 1.95583 German marks = 1 euro, etc.

      • These rates based on exchange rates between national currencies on January 1, 1999.

  • January 1, 2002. euro notes and coins are introduced into circulation, all national money is withdrawn.

    • Greece joins the Euro zone on January 1, 2002

    • The U.K., Denmark, and Sweden remain out.

Countries in the euro zone today

Countries in the Euro-Zone Today

  • In Euro-zone (12):

    • Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain.

  • Out of Euro Zone (But in the EU):

    • The U.K., Denmark, Sweden and the 10 countries that joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

      • Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia,  Slovenia

      • Bulgaria and Romania hope to join the EU by 2007.

The european central bank

The European Central Bank

  • As part of the European Monetary Union, the European Central Bank is created.

    • Headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany

      • Modeled after the German Bundesbank.

      • Thus, highly independent.

    • Primary objective to maintain price stability within the euro-zone.

      • Defined at less then 2%

      • Achieved through interest rate policies.

    • Many see the ECB as operating within too narrow a mandate.

The euro zone

The Euro-Zone

  • In essence, the single currency has removed exchange rate issues for transactions within the euro-zone.

    • However, the euro itself is a floating currency against the other currencies of the world.

    • Thus, exchange rate issues exist for foreign companies (e.g., American) doing business in the euro-zone and euro-zone countries doing business outside of the singe currency area.

Performance of the euro jan 1 1999

Performance of the Euro: Jan 1, 1999 -

  • Note: Exchange rate on first trading day: $1.18/EUR

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