This article is about the U.S Dollar Currency. You may also be looking for ETF ProShares Ultra Semiconductors (USD).
The U.S. dollar (USD) (also known as the Greenback or Buck) is the official currency used in the United States of America. 85% of all currency transactions across the world involve the US dollar. It is the world's primary reserve currency and 25 different currencies are pegged to the US dollar.
The dollar's value refers to the purchasing power of the dollar versus other currencies, or the exchange rate between the two currencies. When the dollar is strong, foreign goods are relatively less expensive. This can benefit businesses that import raw materials or manufactured goods into the United states, such as Wal-Mart Stores (WMT). A weakening dollar benefits companies with foreign competitors, such as US Steel (X), as their competitors' goods become more expensive. A weakening dollar can also lead to rising interest rates, as investors require higher rates to compensate for the added currency risk. Higher interest rates, in turn, have significant consequences for the housing market and business investment in general. A strong dollar means lower oil prices, as the US purchase much of its oil abroad. As the dollar weakens oil producers charge more to protect their margins.
The chart at left shows the exchange rate between the US Dollar and the Euro (EUR) - specifically, this chart is the number of Dollars per 1 Euro.
Trade deficits lead to a net outflow of a country's currency. Countries on the other side of the transaction will typically sell the importing country's currency on the open market. As supply of the country's currency increases in the global market the currency depreciates. As a net importer, the US has seen its trade deficit grow rapidly. This trade deficit weakens the US dollar relative to other currencies since forein goods are denominated in foreign currency, thus demand for foreign goods increases the demand for foreign currency and decreases the demand for US dollars. This causes the US dollar to depreciate.
When a country's government spends more than it earns from taxes or other sources of revenues, it is forced to borrow from its citizens and/or from foreign entities. As a country's debt load increases, the value of its currency may decrease as result of fears within the international community over its ability to repay the debt. In addition, by borrowing money from foreign countries, the US increases the demand for foreign currency in exchange for US Bonds. This lowers the relative value of the dollar.
Countries like Japan and China are large purchasers of US debt. China in particular has exhibited a voracious appetite for US debt. Its rapidly growing economy is heavily dependent on exports, and the US is one of its largest trading partners. In any given year, the US imports much more from China than it exports to China. As a result there is a net flow of dollars to China. Normally, one might expect China to sell these dollars on the global market, causing the dollar to weaken. Instead China reinvests its dollars in US debt. In doing so, China strengthens the US dollar and limits the appreciation of its own currency. As a result Chinese exports remain cheap to American consumers.
However, due to large deficits many countries, China, Russia and India in particular, have begun to reconsider diversifying their reserves to protect themselves from a devaluation of the US Dollar. The decision of these large countries to shift increasingly towards Gold as a reserve currency greatly decreases the demand for US Dollars and weakens the USD.
The level of technology and production which a country has relative to other countries alters the exchange rates. Countries which are able to produce relatively well and/or have high levels of technology increase the demand for domestic investment and domestic goods. This rise in demand for both capital and goods strengthens the currency and the exchange rate. Thus, when the US is seen as a technological and production leader, high investment and purchasing rates keeps the US dollar relatively strong.
The most active USD trading hours are from London's opening market hours (2:00AM ET / 6:00 GMT) due to London's strength in international markets and the typical time of release for U.S. Economic news (8:30AM ET/ 12:30 GMT).
Because the US Dollar is used more extensively in the United States, the US economy has a particular effect on the dollar. The demand and breakdown of goods in the United States effects the demand for the dollar and so its relative value.
The market and the US Dollar are particularly effected by each of the following economic activities to varying degrees:
The U.S. Federal Reserve is the U.S. central bank responsible for determining what is arguably the most important variable defining forex trends and currency values: the main interest rate. Established in 1907 in response to a particularly severe banking crisis with bankruns and many failures, the institution was further strengthened with successive legislations, and made independent in 1913, and as such, its decisions do not need the approval of the Congress, the President, or any other authority. After the U.S. abandoned the gold standard in 1971, it acquired even greater influence and power under the successive administrations of Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan.
The Federal Reserve sets its main rate during meeting of the FOMC which are always anticipated with great excitement by market participants and the news media.
As part of the fractional reserve system, banks are required by law to hold a percentage amount as a deposit with the Federal Reserve to ensure liquidity in the system, and as an implicit sign that they are solvent. The Fed’s main rate, the Fed Funds Rate, is the interest rate at which banks are expected to trade these deposits among themselves. This is also the main rate which markets devote great attention to, since it is the cheapest money in the economy in terms of interest rates. The lower it is, the easier it is to pay loans, and the greater risk tolerance of borrowers.
The reserve requirement is another way of controlling the amount of credit available to the private sector. It is a somewhat more blunt tool in comparison to open-market operations, since it influences many financial institutions at the same time. As such it is used less often than the main tool and when used it is for purposes other than the management of liquidity.