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Definition of Currency

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Related Terms:

Asian currency units (ACUs)

Dollar deposits held in Singapore or other Asian centers.

Blocked currency

A currency that is not freely convertible to other currencies due to exchange controls.

Currency arbitrage

Taking advantage of divergences in exchange rates in different money markets by
buying a currency in one market and selling it in another market.

Currency basket

The value of a portfolio of specific amounts of individual currencies, used as the basis for
setting the market value of another currency. It is also referred to as a currency cocktail.

Currency future

A financial future contract for the delivery of a specified foreign currency.

Currency option

An option to buy or sell a foreign currency.

Currency risk

Related: Exchange rate risk

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Currency risk sharing

An agreement by the parties to a transaction to share the currency risk associated with
the transaction. The arrangement involves a customized hedge contract embedded in the underlying

Currency selection

Asset allocation in which the investor chooses among investments denominated in
different currencies.

Currency swap

An agreement to swap a series of specified payment obligations denominated in one currency
for a series of specified payment obligations denominated in a different currency.

Devaluation A decrease in the spot price of the currency

Dual-currency issues

Eurobonds that pay coupon interest in one currency but pay the principal in a different

Eurocurrency deposit

A short-term fixed rate time deposit denominated in a currency other than the local
currency (i.e. US$ deposited in a London bank).

Eurocurrency market

The money market for borrowing and lending currencies that are held in the form of
deposits in banks located outside the countries of the currencies issued as legal tender.

European Currency Unit (ECU)

An index of foreign exchange consisting of about 10 European currencies,
originally devised in 1979.

Foreign currency

Foreign money.

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Foreign currency option

An option that conveys the right to buy or sell a specified amount of foreign
currency at a specified price within a specified time period.

Foreign currency translation

The process of restating foreign currency accounts of subsidiaries into the
reporting currency of the parent company in order to prepare consolidated financial statements.

Hard currency

A freely convertible currency that is not expected to depreciate in value in the foreseeable future.

Multicurrency clause

Such a clause on a Euro loan permits the borrower to switch from one currency to
another currency on a rollover date.

Multicurrency loans

Give the borrower the possibility of drawing a loan in different currencies.

Reporting currency

The currency in which the parent firm prepares its own financial statements; that is, U.S.
dollars for a U.S. company.

Reserve currency

A foreign currency held by a central bank or monetary authority for the purposes of
exchange intervention and the settlement of inter-governmental claims.

Reserve Currency

A currency, frequently the U.S. dollar, that is used by other countries to denominate the assets they hold as international reserves.

Soft currency

A currency that is expected to drop in value relative to other currencies.

Virtual currency option

A new option contract introduced by the PHLX in 1994 that is settled in US$ rather
than in the underlying currency. These options are also called 3-Ds (dollar denominated delivery).

Accounting exposure

The change in the value of a firm's foreign currency denominated accounts due to a
change in exchange rates.

Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income

Cumulative gains or losses reported in shareholders'
equity that arise from changes in the fair value of available-for-sale securities, from the
effects of changes in foreign-currency exchange rates on consolidated foreign-currency financial
statements, certain gains and losses on financial derivatives, and from adjustments for underfunded
pension plans.

American Depositary Receipts (ADRs)

Certificates issued by a U.S. depositary bank, representing foreign
shares held by the bank, usually by a branch or correspondent in the country of issue. One ADR may
represent a portion of a foreign share, one share or a bundle of shares of a foreign corporation. If the ADR's
are "sponsored," the corporation provides financial information and other assistance to the bank and may
subsidize the administration of the ADRs. "Unsponsored" ADRs do not receive such assistance. ADRs carry
the same currency, political and economic risks as the underlying foreign share; the prices of the two, adjusted for the SDR/ordinary ratio, are kept essentially identical by arbitrage. American depositary shares(ADSs) are
a similar form of certification.


Increase in the value of a currency.


The purchase of securities on one market for immediate resale on
another market in order to profit from a price or currency discrepancy.

Back-to-back loan

A loan in which two companies in separate countries borrow each other's currency for a
specific time period and repay the other's currency at an agreed upon maturity.

Balance of Payments

The difference between the demand for and supply of a country's currency on the foreign exchange market.

Basket options

Packages that involve the exchange of more than two currencies against a base currency at
expiration. The basket option buyer purchases the right, but not the obligation, to receive designated
currencies in exchange for a base currency, either at the prevailing spot market rate or at a prearranged rate of
exchange. A basket option is generally used by multinational corporations with multicurrency cash flows
since it is generally cheaper to buy an option on a basket of currencies than to buy individual options on each
of the currencies that make up the basket.

Beggar-thy-neighbor devaluation

A devaluation that is designed to cheapen a nation's currency and thereby
increase its exports at other countries' expense and reduce imports. Such devaluations often lead to trade wars.

Capital Account

That part of the balance of payments accounts that records demands for and supplies of a currency arising from purchases or sales of assets.


Amounts held in currency and coin (commonly referred to as petty cash) and amounts on deposit in financial institutions.
Cash disbursement journal
A journal used to record the transactions that result in a credit to cash.


currency, coin, and funds on deposit that are available for immediate withdrawal without
restriction. Money orders, certified checks, cashier's checks, personal checks, and bank drafts
are also considered cash.

Circus swap

A fixed rate currency swap against floating U.S. dollar LIBOR payments.


The degree of freedom to exchange a currency without government restrictions or controls.

Covered interest arbitrage

A portfolio manager invests dollars in an instrument denominated in a foreign
currency and hedges his resulting foreign exchange risk by selling the proceeds of the investment forward for

Cross rates

The exchange rate between two currencies expressed as the ratio of two foreign exchange rates
that are both expressed in terms of a third currency.

Current Account

That part of the balance of payments accounts that records demands for and supplies of a currency arising from activities that affect current income, namely imports, exports, investment income payments such as interest and dividends, and transfers such as gifts, pensions, and foreign aid.

Current maturity

Current time to maturity on an outstanding debt instrument.
Current / noncurrent method
Under this currency translation method, all of a foreign subsidiary's current
assets and liabilities are translated into home currency at the current exchange rate while noncurrent assets
and liabilities are translated at the historical exchange rate, that is, the rate in effect at the time the asset was
acquired or the liability incurred.

Current rate method

Under this currency translation method, all foreign currency balance-sheet and income
statement items are translated at the current exchange rate.

Debt swap

A set of transactions (also called a debt-equity swap) in which a firm buys a country's dollar bank
debt at a discount and swaps this debt with the central bank for local currency that it can use to acquire local


a) Of capital stock: decline in the value of capital due to its wearing out or becoming obsolete.
b) Of currency: decline in the exchange rate.

Differential swap

Swap between two LIBO rates of interest, e.g. yen LIBOR for dollar LIBOR. Payments are
in one currency.

Direct quote

For foreign exchange, the number of U.S. dollars needed to buy one unit of a foreign currency.

Dirty float

A system of floating exchange rates in which the government occasionally intervenes to change
the direction of the value of the country's currency.


The percentage amount at which bonds sell below their par value. Also the percentage amount at which a currency sells on the forward market below its current rate on the spot market.


Short- to medium-term debt instrument sold in the Eurocurrency market.


A bank that regularly accepts foreign currency denominated deposits and makes foreign currency loans.

European Union (EU)

An economic association of European countries founded by the Treaty of Rome in
1957 as a common market for six nations. It was known as the European Community before 1993 and is
comprised of 15 European countries. Its goals are a single market for goods and services without any
economic barriers and a common currency with one monetary authority. The EU was known as the European
Community until January 1, 1994.

Exchange controls

Governmental restrictions on the purchase of foreign currencies by domestic citizens or
on the purchase of the local domestic currency by foreigners.

Exchange rate

The price of one country's currency expressed in another country's currency.

exchange rate

Amount of one currency needed to purchase one unit of another.

Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM)

The methodology by which members of the EMS maintain their
currency exchange rates within an agreed upon range with respect to other member countries.

Exchange Rate, Nominal

The price of one currency in terms of another, in this book defined as number of units of foreign currency per dollar.

Exchange rate risk

Also called currency risk, the risk of an investment's value changing because of currency
exchange rates.

Exchange risk

The variability of a firm's value that results from unexpected exchange rate changes or the
extent to which the present value of a firm is expected to change as a result of a given currency's appreciation
or depreciation.

Exposure netting

Offsetting exposures in one currency with exposures in the same or another currency,
where exchange rates are expected to move in such a way that losses or gains on the first exposed position
should be offset by gains or losses on the second currency exposure.

FASB No. 52

The U.S. accounting standard which was replaced by FASB No. 8. U.S. companies are required
to translate foreign accounts by the current rate and report the changes from currency fluctuations in a
cumulative translation adjustment account in the equity section of the balance sheet.

FASB No. 8

U.S. accounting standard that requires U.S. firms to translate their foreign affiliates' accounts by
the temporal method. Gains and losses from currency fluctuations were reported in current income. It was in
effect between 1975 and 1981 and became the most controversial accounting standard in the U.S. It was
replaced by FASB No. 52 in 1981.

Fiat Money

Fiat Money is paper currency made legal tender by law or fiat. It is not backed by gold or silver and is not necessarily redeemable in coin. This practice has had widespread use for about the last 70 years. If governments produce too much of it, there is a loss of confidence. Even so, governments print it routinely when they need it. The value of fiat money is dependent upon the performance of the economy of the country which issued it. Canada's currency falls into this category.

Fixed-exchange rate

A country's decision to tie the value of its currency to another country's currency, gold
(or another commodity), or a basket of currencies.

Floating exchange rate

A country's decision to allow its currency value to freely change. The currency is not
constrained by central bank intervention and does not have to maintain its relationship with another currency
in a narrow band. The currency value is determined by trading in the foreign exchange market.

Foreign exchange

currency from another country.

Foreign Exchange

The currency of a foreign country.

Foreign exchange controls

Various forms of controls imposed by a government on the purchase/sale of
foreign currencies by residents or on the purchase/sale of local currency by nonresidents.

Foreign Exchange Market

A worldwide market in which one country's currency is bought or sold in exchange for another country's currency.

Foreign Exchange Reserves

A fund containing the central bank's holdings of foreign currency or claims thereon.

Foreign exchange risk

The risk that a long or short position in a foreign currency might have to be closed out
at a loss due to an adverse movement in the currency rates.

Foreign exchange swap

An agreement to exchange stipulated amounts of one currency for another currency
at one or more future dates.

Forward cover

Purchase or sale of forward foreign currency in order to offset a known future cash flow.

Forward discount

A currency trades at a forward discount when its forward price is lower than its spot price.

Forward exchange rate

Exchange rate fixed today for exchanging currency at some future date.

Forward premium

A currency trades at a forward premium when its forward price is higher than its spot price.

Fully modified pass-throughs

Agency pass-throughs that guarantee the timely payment of both interest and
principal. Related: modified pass-throughs
Functional currency As defined by FASB No. 52, an affiliate's functional currency is the currency of the
primary economic environment in which the affiliate generates and expends cash.

Garmen-Kohlhagen option pricing model

A widely used model for pricing foreign currency options.

Gold Standard

A fixed exchange rate system in which a currency is directly convertible into gold.

Group of five (G5/G-5)

The five leading countries (France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, and the U.S.) that
meet periodically to achieve some cooperative effort on international economic issues. When currency issues
are discussed, the monetary authorities of these nations hold the meeting.


Reducing one's exposure to risk by buying and selling contracts for future delivery (of foreign currency, for example) at a price that is determined now.

Indirect quote

For foreign exchange, the number of units of a foreign currency needed to buy one U.S.$.

International Banking Facility (IBF)

International Banking Facility. A branch that an American bank
establishes in the United States to do Eurocurrency business.

International Monetary Fund

An organization founded in 1944 to oversee exchange arrangements of
member countries and to lend foreign currency reserves to members with short-term balance of payment


Theory that says a country's trade deficit will initially worsen after its currency depreciates because
higher prices on foreign imports will more than offset the reduced volume of imports in the short-run.

law of one price

Theory that prices of goods in all countries should be equal when translated to a common currency.

Managed float

Also known as "dirty" float, this is a system of floating exchange rates with central bank
intervention to reduce currency fluctuations.

Money base

Composed of currency and coins outside the banking system plus liabilities to the deposit money banks.

Money market hedge

The use of borrowing and lending transactions in foreign currencies to lock in the
home currency value of a foreign currency transaction.

Money supply

M1-A: currency plus demand deposits
M1-B: M1-A plus other checkable deposits.
M2: M1-B plus overnight repos, money market funds, savings, and small (less than $100M) time deposits.
M3: M-2 plus large time deposits and term repos.
L: M-3 plus other liquid assets.

Note issuance facility (NIF)

An agreement by which a syndicate of banks indicates a willingness to accept
short-term notes from borrowers and resell these notes in the Eurocurrency markets.

Other capital

In the balance of payments, other capital is a residual category that groups all the capital
transactions that have not been included in direct investment, portfolio investment, and reserves categories. It
is divided into long-term capital and short-term capital and, because of its residual status, can differ from
country to country. Generally speaking, other long-term capital includes most non-negotiable instruments of a
year or more like bank loans and mortgages. Other short-term capital includes financial assets of less than a
year such as currency, deposits, and bills.

Outright rate

Actual forward rate expressed in dollars per currency unit, or vice versa.
he practice of purchasing a significant percentage of intermediate components from outside suppliers.

Parallel loan

A process whereby two companies in different countries borrow each other's currency for a
specific period of time, and repay the other's currency at an agreed maturity for the purpose of reducing
foreign exchange risk. Also referred to as back-to-back loans.

Petty cash

The amount of currency and coin that a company keeps on hand to pay for small purchases and expenses.

Philadelphia Stock Exchange (PHLX)

A securities exchange where American and European foreign
currency options on spot exchange rates are traded.

PIBOR (Paris Interbank Offer Rate)

The deposit rate on interbank transactions in the Eurocurrency market
quoted in Paris.







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