foreign exchange

foreign exchange

foreign exchange, methods and instruments used to adjust the payment of debts between two nations that employ different currency systems. A nation's balance of payments has an important effect on the exchange rate of its currency. Bills of exchange, drafts, checks, and telegraphic orders are the principal means of payment in international transactions. The rate of exchange is the price in local currency of one unit of foreign currency and is determined by the relative supply and demand of the currencies in the foreign exchange market. Buying or selling foreign currency in order to profit from sudden changes in the rate of exchange is known as arbitrage. The chief demand for foreign exchange within a country comes from importers of foreign goods, purchasers of foreign securities, government agencies purchasing goods and services abroad, and travelers.

See P. Einzig, History of Foreign Exchange (2d ed. 1970); I. Wexler, Fundamentals of International Economics (2d ed. 1972); N. Abuaf and S. Schoess, Foreign-Exchange Exposure Management (1988).

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