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Sat. May 25, 2024
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Currency Dominance: Dollar is the economy
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Economic indicators, such as the dollar's exchange rate, give us a sense of the state of the economy. There are few things in this world that can steer the economy as powerfully and influentially as the dollar. It holds the status of being the most powerful reserve currency on Earth, which makes its value an indicator of international trade, investment, and financial markets. Moreover, the strength of the dollar is a litmus test for the US economy’s strength. In this essay, we will examine how various factors affect the dollar’s value and subsequently how it impacts overall economic conditions in a country.

In fact, while being the currency of the United States, the dollar also performs the function of a global reserve currency. In particular, as part of their foreign exchange reserves, it is held in significant amounts by governments and institutions across different countries. The position of the dollar as the global reserve currency can mostly be attributed to the U.S. economy’s soundness and stability, together with the large size and high liquidity of dollar-denominated markets. Being a king in terms of global trade and finance, the dollar thus becomes an instrument of choice for making international payments and settling obligations.

At the same time, in the international monetary sphere, the dollar serves as a currency of the global reserve system. It enables the United States to exercise considerable influence over other countries and to finance its budget deficits at a low cost; however, it also has its downfalls, since the world reserve currency status can generate currency imbalances and provoke unpredicted fluctuations in foreign exchange markets.

International trade is impacted by the control of the dollar in many ways, making it highly significant and widespread. An outcome of using the US dollar as an international primary reserve currency has a huge impact on the global trade structure. One advantage that stems from this is that it gives the United States a competitive edge when it comes to participating in foreign business dealings as they can conveniently carry out these transactions using their own currency and not be subjected to any exchange rate risk. Consequently, America has been able to assert itself as one of the leading players in the world economy and wield substantial authority over the global monetary system.

But the disadvantage of such power is that other countries, in many cases, have to keep large sums of dollars in their foreign reserves to facilitate trade. Thus, they can be exposed to currency fluctuations or economic difficulties. Furthermore, the criticism of using the dollar as a global currency is based on the fact that it deepens the unfairness in international trade by creating trade imbalances and increasing economic disparities between developed and developing nations.

Developing economies can be influenced by the dollar as it is considered to be the major international reserve currency. Foreign exchange reserves in many developing countries comprise huge sums of US dollars, which help to stabilize their currencies and facilitate worldwide business relations. On the other hand, relying on the dollar may have risks for developing nations. For instance, sudden shifts in value of a dollar have significant effects on exchange rates in countries holding large dollar assets. The alternative is that this makes these countries’ exports more volatile when changes take place with respect to the competitiveness of goods and services as affected by variations in a dollar’s worth thereby causing economic instability in those export-oriented developing economies. Overall, there are numerous ways through which the influence of the dollar is felt in developing economies such as trade and decisions pertaining monetary policy.

A major challenge, and criticism, of dollar hegemony is that it places a significant burden on the United States itself in terms of maintaining global economic stability. It is the issuer of the main reserve currency, the U.S. dollar, and must therefore ensure the strength and stability of the behemoth of its currency in order to maintain confidence in the global economic system. Such has been the weight of this burden that questions have been raised as to whether the Fed’s U.S. monetary policy decisions are influenced more by international rather than strictly domestic considerations.

However, frustrated with being marginalized in this way, and at the whim of often unjust economic structures that are inherently skewed towards continued U.S. dominance, other countries have been moving independently away from the dollar in a search for a more equitable and sustainable global economic order. Critics argue that a multipolar reserve currency system would be more equitable and stable in the long run, allowing for greater diversity and resilience in the face of economic shocks.

In conclusion, the dollar is a crucial actor in the global economy. As the reserve currency of the world, it underpins the stability and credibility of international trade and investment. At the same time, its dispositions send ripple effects through economies the world over. And the dollar's dominant position is viewed with alarm in some quarters, as it has been likened to an "exorbitant privilege". The privilege may be "exorbitant" enough, and the dollar sufficiently frayed as an international standard, that the issue is worth broader attention.

We are a long way from the dangerous past, when the world's central banks could be driven to the wall by a speculative attack on a currency thought to be under siege. International finance needs no longer operate as it did then, and in truth it often doesn't. Still, given the global economy's potential for disorder, and the stark inequalities the dollar global economy leaves in its wake, it's high time to engage in an international dialogue about the dollar, the alternatives and the steps required to work toward a more equitable, sustainable and efficient financial architecture.

Tayyaba Rehan is a student of National Defence University, Islamabad, Pakistan. currently pursuing her degree in Defence and strategic studies.

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