Foreign Exchange

An international marketer needs to transact financial transfers across nation lines in order to close deals. The financial transfers from one country to another are made through the medium of foreign exchange.

Foreign exchange is the monetary mechanism by which transactions involving two or more currencies take place. Transacting foreign exchange deals presents two problems. First, each country has its own methods and procedures for effecting foreign exchanges—usually developed by its central bank. The transactions themselves take place through the banking system. Thus, both the methods and procedures of the central bank and commercial banking constraints must be thoroughly understood and followed to compete a foreign exchange transaction.

The second problem involves the fluctuation of  the rates of exchange. Fluctuations in exchange rates are based on the supply and demand of different currencies. The rate of exchange between two countries can fluctuate from day to day. This produces a great deal of uncertainty since a business person cannot know the exact value of foreign obligations and claims.

To appreciate fully the complexities of foreign exchange, a few terms must be understood. Their understanding also will provide a historical perspective on the making of payments across national boundaries. The terms are gold standard, gold exchange standard, gold bullion standard, inconvertible currencies, and hard and soft currencies.

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