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Vehicle Currency

  • Michael B. Devereux
  • Shouyong Shi

While in principle, international payments could be carried out using any currency or set of currencies, in practice, the US dollar is predominant in international trade and financial flows. The dollar acts as a `vehicle currency' in the sense that agents in non-dollar economies will generally engage in currency trade indirectly using the US dollar rather than using direct bilateral trade among their own currencies. Indirect trade is desirable when there are transactions costs of exchange. This paper constructs a dynamic general equilibrium model of a vehicle currency. We explore the nature of the efficiency gains arising from a vehicle currency, and show how this depends on the total number of currencies in existence, the size of the vehicle currency economy, and the monetary policy followed by the vehicle currency's government. We find that there can be very large welfare gains to a vehicle currency in a system of many independent currencies. But these gains are asymmetrically weighted towards the residents of the vehicle currency country. The survival of a vehicle currency places natural limits on the monetary policy of the vehicle country.

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 54 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (02)
Pages: 97-133

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Handle: RePEc:wly:iecrev:v:54:y:2013:i:1:p:97-133
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  1. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Vehicle Currencies and the Structure of International Exchange," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(3), pages 513-26, August.
  2. Rey, Helene, 2001. "International Trade and Currency Exchange," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 443-64, April.
  3. Ronald McKinnon & Gunther Schnabl, 2004. "The East Asian Dollar Standard, Fear of Floating, and Original Sin," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(3), pages 331-360, 08.
  4. Aliber, Robert Z. & Chowdhry, Bhagwan & Yan, Shu, 2000. "Transactions Costs in the Foreign Exchange Market," University of California at Los Angeles, Anderson Graduate School of Management qt4qw3p6rp, Anderson Graduate School of Management, UCLA.
  5. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521046930 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Huang, Roger D & Stoll, Hans R, 1997. "The Components of the Bid-Ask Spread: A General Approach," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(4), pages 995-1034.
  7. Linda S. Goldberg & Cedric Tille, 2005. "Vehicle currency use in international trade," Staff Reports 200, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  8. Allen Head & Shouyong Shi, 2000. "A Fundamental Theory of Exchange Rates and Direct Currency Trades," Working Papers 993, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  9. Shapley, Lloyd S & Shubik, Martin, 1977. "Trade Using One Commodity as a Means of Payment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(5), pages 937-68, October.
  10. Peter Howitt, 2005. "Beyond Search: Fiat Money In Organized Exchange," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(2), pages 405-429, 05.
  11. Ross M. Starr, 2003. "Why is there money? Endogenous derivation of `money' as the most liquid asset: a class of examples," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 455-474, 03.
  12. Glassman, Debra, 1987. "Exchange rate risk and transactions costs: Evidence from bid-ask spreads," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 479-490, December.
  13. Wright Randall & Trejos Alberto, 2001. "International Currency," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-17, April.
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