Fixed and Flexible exchange rate

22/01/2021 1 By indiafreenotes

Functions of Foreign Exchange Market

  1. Transfer Function: Foreign exchange market transfers purchasing power between the countries involved in the transaction.

This function is performed through credit instruments like bills of foreign exchange, bank drafts and telephonic transfers.

  1. Credit Function: Foreign exchange market provides credit for foreign trade.

Bills of exchange, with maturity period of three months, are generally used for international payments.

Thus, credit is required for this period to enable the importer to take possession of goods, sell them and obtain money to pay off the bill.

  1. Hedging Functions: Hedging in an important function of foreign exchange market.

When exporter and importers enter into an agreement to sell and buy gods on some future date at the current prices and exchange rate, it is called hedging.

Fixed exchange rate system:

The system in which the foreign exchange rate is officially fixed by the government/monetary authority and not determined by markets forces.

Under fixed exchange rate system: Each country keeps the value of its currency fixed in terms of some external standard.

This external standard can be gold, silver, other precious metal, another country’s currency, or even some internationally agreed unit of account.

In earlier times, exchange rates of all major countries were fixed according to the Gold Standard.

A fixed exchange rate, sometimes called a pegged exchange rate, is a type of exchange rate regime in which a currency’s value is fixed or pegged by a monetary authority against the value of another currency, a basket of other currencies, or another measure of value, such as gold.

There are benefits and risks to using a fixed exchange rate system. A fixed exchange rate is typically used to stabilize the exchange rate of a currency by directly fixing its value in a predetermined ratio to a different, more stable, or more internationally prevalent currency (or currencies) to which the currency is pegged. In doing so, the exchange rate between the currency and its peg does not change based on market conditions, unlike in a floating (flexible) exchange regime. This makes trade and investments between the two currency areas easier and more predictable and is especially useful for small economies that borrow primarily in foreign currency and in which external trade forms a large part of their GDP.


(i) It ensures stability in exchange rate which encourages foreign trade.

(ii) It contributes to the coordination of macro policies of countries in an interdependent world economy.

(iii) Fixed exchange rates prevents capital outflow.

(iv) It prevents speculation in foreign exchange market.

(v) Fixed exchange rates are more conductive to expansion of world trade because it prevents risk and uncertainty in transactions.


(i) There is a fear of devaluation in situation of excess demand.

Central Bank uses its reserves to maintain fixed exchange rate.

But when reserves are exhausted and excess demand still persists, government is compelled to devalue domestic currency.

If speculators believe the exchange rate cannot be held for log, they buy foreign exchange in massive amount causing deficit in BOP. This may lead to larger devaluation.

This is the main flaw of fixed exchange rate system.

(ii) Benefits of free markets are deprived.

(iii) There is always possibility of undervaluation or overvaluation.

Disadvantages of Fixed Exchange Rate

Developing economies commonly use a fixed rate structure to curb inflation and provide a stable system. A secure environment enables importers, exporters, and investors to plan without having to worry about currency movements.

A fixed-rate structure, however, limits the ability of a central bank to change interest rates as required for boosting economic growth. Often, a fixed rate system prevents market fluctuations when a currency is over or undervalued. Effective management of a fixed-rate system also needs a large pool of reserves, when it is under pressure, to support the currency.

An unsustainable official exchange rate can also trigger a parallel, unofficial, or dual exchange rate to grow. A large gap between official and unofficial rates will draw hard currency away from the central bank, which can result in shortages of forex and periodic devaluations. These can be more detrimental for an economy than the daily adjustment of a floating currency regime.

Flexible (fixating) Exchange Rate:

Flexible exchange rate is the rate which is determined by forces of supply and demand in the foreign exchange market. There is no official (govt.) Intervention. Here the value of a currency is left completely free to be determined by market forces of demand and supply of foreign exchange.

In macroeconomics and economic policy, a floating exchange rate (also known as a fluctuating or flexible exchange rate) is a type of exchange rate regime in which a currency’s value is allowed to fluctuate in response to foreign exchange market events. A currency that uses a floating exchange rate is known as a floating currency, in contrast to a fixed currency, the value of which is instead specified in terms of material goods, another currency, or a set of currencies (the idea of the last being to reduce currency fluctuations).

In the modern world, most of the world’s currencies are floating, and include the most widely traded currencies: the United States dollar, the euro, the Swiss franc, the Indian rupee, the pound sterling, the Japanese yen, and the Australian dollar. However, even with floating currencies, central banks often participate in markets to attempt to influence the value of floating exchange rates. The Canadian dollar most closely resembles a pure floating currency because the Canadian national bank has not interfered with its price since it officially stopped doing so during 1998. The US dollar is a close second, with very little change of its foreign reserves. By contrast, Japan and the UK intervene to a greater extent, and India has medium-range intervention by its national bank, the Reserve Bank of India


(i) Deficit or surplus in BOP is automatically corrected.

(ii) There is no need for government to hold any foreign reserve.

(iii) It helps in optimum resource allocation.

(iv) It frees the government from problem of balance of payment.

(v) Flexible exchange rate increases the efficiency in the economy by achieving best allocation of resources.


(i) It encourages speculation leading to fluctuation in exchange rate.

(ii) Wide fluctuations in exchange rate can hamper foreign trade and capital movement between countries.

(iii) It generates inflationary pressure when prices of imports go up due to depreciation of the  currency caused by deficit in BOP.

(iv) It discourages investment and international trade.

Determination of Exchange Rate (Flexible Exchange Rate System)

Rate of exchange is determined by the interaction of then force of demand and supply.

let us understand the various sources of demand and supply of foreign exchange.

Demand for Foreign Exchange Demand (outflow) for foreign exchange arises due to the following reasons

  1. Import of Goods and Services: foreign exchange is demanded to make the payment for imports of goods and services.
  2. Tourism: When Indian tourists go abroad, they need to have foreign currency with them to meet their expenditure abroad. So, foreign exchange is needed to undertake foreign tour.
  1. Unilateral Transfers sent abroad: Foreign exchange is required for making unilateral transfers like sending gifts to other countries.
  2. Purchase of Assets in Foreign Countries: Foreign exchange in needed to make payment for the purchase of assets (like land, building, share, bonds etc.) in foreign countries.
  3. Speculation: Demand for foreign exchange arises when people want to make gains from appreciation of the currency.