In our last lesson we had a review of the basics of fundamental analysis which we have learned up to this point with a 10 question quiz on monetary policy, trade and capital flows, and the US Economy. In today's lesson we are going to begin our discussion on the fundamentals of the main currencies of the world, starting with an overview of the US Dollar.
As we discussed briefly in our lesson on the main currencies of the world in module 1 of this course, although there is lots of news lately about the US Dollar losing some of its status, as of this lesson there is no doubt that the US Dollar is still the king of the currency world. There are several primary reasons for this which we will cover in today’s lesson, and which are behind the fact that no matter what currency a trader trades, pretty much everyone in the forex market follows the US Dollar.
The first reason why the US Dollar is the king of the currency world is the fact that it is a part of each of the world’s most actively traded currency pairs. According to the Bank of International Settlements and as outlined here, these currency pairs account for 67% of the daily turnover in the forex market. When you add the US Dollar Swidish Krona currency pair and all of the currencies categorized as “other” traded against the US Dollar, that total rises to 89%
A second reason why the US Dollar is still the king of the currency world is because it is the world’s primary reserve currency, accounting for over 63% of the world’s currency reserves. A reserve currency is a currency held by the governments/central banks of other countries in large quantities. Countries do this so they can purchase goods which are priced in the reserve currency at a cheaper rate than if they had to convert, and to borrow money at a cheaper rate, since lenders will be more likely to lend knowing they hold large quantities of what is considered a more credible currency.
Perhaps most importantly for traders, many countries and especially countries in Asia (the most talked about example being china) maintain large reserves of US Dollars so they can either peg the value of their currency to the US Dollar, or maintain a loose peg. The goal here is to either stabilize their own currencies and therefore their economies and/or to hold the value of their currencies artificially low in order to make their goods more competitive overseas, something which we will examine further in our next lesson.
Thirdly, many private businesses and individuals located outside the United States hold US Dollars for trade reasons, because they consider the currency more stable than their home country’s currency, or for a multitude of other reasons. This, combined with what we just covered on the US Dollar being the world’s primary reserve currency, means that over 2/3rds of all US Dollars in circulation are held outside of the United States.
The last major reason why the US Dollar is still king of the currency world is because many major commodities such as oil, gold, and silver are priced in US Dollars, making access to US Dollars essential for anyone in the world who wants to purchase these products.
More than simple interesting facts, these factors can have huge affects on the value of the US Dollar, and are therefore extremely important to us as traders. Exactly how these things affect the US Dollar, and therefore exactly what we should watch out for as traders will be the topic of our next lesson so I hope to see you then.
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