The U.S. dollar plays a central role in the global economy. In addition to being the most widely used currency in foreign exchange transactions, it represents the largest share in official reserves, international debt securities and loans, cross-border payments, and trade invoicing. The ubiquity of the U.S. dollar in global transactions reflects several key factors, including the depth and liquidity of U.S. capital markets, the size of the U.S. economy, the relatively low cost of converting dollars into other currencies, and an enduring confidence in the U.S. legal system and its institutions.
Foreign exchange derivatives (FXD) are a key tool for firms to hedge FX risk and are particularly important for exporting or importing firms in emerging markets. This is because FX volatility can be quite high—up to 120 percent per annum for some emerging market currencies during stress episodes—yet the vast majority of international trades, almost 90 percent, are invoiced in U.S. dollars (USD) or euros (EUR). When such hedging instruments are in short supply, what happens to firms’ real economic activities? In this post, based on my related Staff Report, I use hand-collected FXD contract-level data and exploit a quasi-natural experiment in South Korea to measure the real effects of hedging using FXD.
The importance of the U.S. dollar in the context of the international monetary system has been examined and studied extensively. In this post, we argue that the dollar is not only the dominant global currency but also a key variable affecting global economic conditions. We describe the mechanism through which the dollar acts as a procyclical force, generating what we dub the “Dollar’s Imperial Circle,” where swings in the dollar govern global macro developments.
Foreign banking organizations (FBOs) in the United States play an important role in setting the price of short-term dollar liquidity. In this post, based on remarks given at the 2022 Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium, we highlight FBOs’ activities in money markets and discuss how the availability of reserve balances affects these activities. Understanding the dynamics of FBOs’ business models and their balance sheet constraints helps us monitor the evolution of liquidity conditions during quantitative easing (QE) and tightening (QT) cycles.
Currency values are important both for the real economy and the financial sector. When faced with currency market pressures, some central banks and finance ministries turn to foreign exchange intervention (FXI) in an effort to reduce realized currency depreciation, thus diminishing its economic and financial consequences. This post provides insights into how effective these interventions might be in limiting currency depreciation.
Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) have garnered growing interest in recent years and are making inroads into traditional finance. One purported benefit of DLTs is their ability to bring about “atomic” settlement. Indeed, several recent private sector projects (SDX, Fnality, HQLAx) aim to do just that. But what exactly is atomic settlement? In this post, we explain that atomic settlement, as it is often defined, combines two distinct properties: instant settlement and simultaneous settlement, which should be kept separate.
There are around 180 currencies in the world, but only a very small number of them play an outsized role in international trade, finance, and central bank foreign exchange reserves. In the modern era, the U.S. dollar has a dominant international presence, followed to a lesser extent by the euro and a handful of other currencies. Although the use of specific currencies is remarkably stable over time, with the status of dominant currencies remaining unchanged over decades, there have been decisive shifts in the international monetary system over long horizons. For example, the British pound only lost its dominant currency status in the 1930s, well after Britain stopped being the leading world economy. In a new study, we show that the currency that is used in international trade transactions is an active firm-level decision rather than something that is just fixed. This finding raises the question of what factors could augment or reduce the U.S. dollar’s dominance in world trade.
In the past year, a number of central banks have stepped up work on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs – see map). For central banks, are CBDCs just a defensive reaction to private-sector innovations in money, or are they an opportunity for the monetary system? In this post, we consider several long-standing goals of central banks in their support and provision of retail payments, why and how central banks tackle these issues, and where CBDCs fit into the array of potential solutions.
The question of how U.S. monetary policy affects foreign economies has received renewed interest in recent years. The bulk of the empirical evidence points to sizable effects, especially on emerging market economies (EMEs). A key theme in the literature is that these spillovers operate largely through financial channels—that is, the effects of a U.S. policy tightening manifest themselves abroad via declines in international risky asset prices, tighter financial conditions, and capital outflows. This so-called Global Financial Cycle has been shown to affect EMEs more forcefully than advanced economies. It is because higher U.S. policy rates have a disproportionately larger impact on rates in EMEs. In our recent research, we develop a model with cross-border financial linkages that provides theoretical foundations for these empirical findings. In this Liberty Street Economics post, we use the model to illustrate the spillovers from a tightening of U.S. monetary policy on credit spreads and on the uncovered interest rate parity (UIP) premium in EMEs with dollar-denominated debt.
In prior research, we documented evidence suggesting that digital payment adoptions have accelerated as a result of the pandemic. While digitalization of payment activity improves data utilization by firms, it can also infringe upon consumers’ right to privacy. Drawing from a recent paper, this blog post explains how payment data acquired by firms impacts market structure and consumer welfare. Then, we discuss the implications of introducing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) that offers consumers a low-cost, privacy-preserving electronic means of payment—essentially, digital cash.