What are the factors that cause disparity between currencies?

economy : What-are-the-factors-that-cause-disparity-between-currencies?

Answer by Jai Parimi:

₹ 1 in 1947 is not same as ₹ 1 today,

                both in appearance and purchasing power.


The value of a country's currency is linked with its economic conditions and policies.

  • The value of a currency depends on factors that affect the economy such as imports and exports, inflation, employment, interest rates, growth rate, trade deficit, performance of equity markets, foreign exchange reserves, macroeconomic policies, foreign investment inflows, banking capital, commodity prices and geopolitical conditions.
  • Income levels influence currencies through consumer spending. When incomes increase, people spend more. Higher demand for imported goods increases demand for foreign currencies and, thus, weakens the local currency.
  • Balance of payments, which comprises trade balance (net inflow/ outflow of money) and flow of capital, also affects the value of a country's currency.

A country that sells more goods and services in overseas markets than it buys from them has a trade surplus. This means more foreign currency comes into the country than what is paid for imports. This strengthens the local currency.

Another factor is the difference in interest rates between countries.

  • Let us consider the recent RBI move to deregulate interest rates on savings deposits and fixed deposits held by non-resident Indians (NRIs). The move was part of a series of steps to stem the fall in the rupee. By allowing banks to increase rates on NRI rupee accounts and bring them on a par with domestic term deposit rates, the RBI expects fund inflows from NRIs, triggering a rise in demand for rupees and an increase in the value of the local currency.

The RBI manages the value of the rupee with several tools, which involve controlling its supply in the market and, thus, making it cheap or expensive.

  • Some ways through which the RBI controls the movement of the rupee are changes in interest rates, relaxation or tightening of rules for fund flows, tweaking the cash reserve ratio (the proportion of money banks have to keep with the central bank) and selling or buying dollars in the open market.
  • The RBI also fixes the statutory liquidity ratio, that is, the proportion of money banks have to invest in government bonds, and the repo rate, at which it lends to banks.
  • While an increase in interest rates makes a currency expensive, changes in cash reserve and statutory liquidity ratios increase or decrease the quantity of money available, impacting its value.

Source: Rupee – What leads to the change in the currency's value?


Prices shoot up when goods and services are scarce or money is in excess supply. If prices increase, it means the value of the currency has eroded and its purchasing power has fallen.

  • Let us say the central bank of a country increases money flow in the economy by 4 per cent while economic growth is 3 per cent. The difference causes inflation.
  • If the growth in money supply is 10 per cent, inflation will surge because of the mismatch between economic growth and money supply.
  • In such a scenario, loan repayments will be a lesser burden if interest rates are fixed, as you will pay the same amount but with a lower valuation.
  • A fall in purchasing power due to inflation reduces consumption, hurting industries. Imports also become costlier. Exporters, of course, earn more in terms of local currency.

However, if the increase in money supply lags economic growth, the economy will face deflation, or negative inflation. The purchasing power of money will increase when the economy enters the deflationary state.

  • If you think deflation will help you consume more and enjoy life more, you are wrong. Unless the fall in prices of goods is because of improved production efficiencies, you will have less money to spend.
  • If you have a fixed-interest loan to repay, your debt will have a higher valuation. Yields from fixed-income investments made before deflation set in will, of course, increase in value.

Source: Rupee – What leads to the change in the currency's value?


A fantasy world where trees have banknotes and bear coins instead of fruits might sound like a dream come true. Economists will be the devil's messenger in that world when they break the news that your money is as good as dry leaves.

  • If you are looking for a machine that can print money, just meet someone who actually owns one-the government. Money is printed by governments, but they cannot print all the money they need.
  • When a government prints money to meet its needs without the economy growing at the same pace, the result can be catastrophic. Zimbabwe is a recent example.
  • After the 1990s land reforms in free Zimbabwe, farm production as well as manufacturing declined drastically. However, the government continued to print money for its expenses. Zimbabweans started losing faith in the local currency.
  • As inflation surged dramatically, the Zimbabwean dollars were printed in denominations as high as 100 trillion. After the currency lost its value, people started using US dollars. In April 2009, the country put its currency on hold and switched to US dollars.

In the past, governments used to back their currencies with gold reserves or a foreign currency such as the US dollar that could be converted into gold on demand.

  • The gold standard currency system was abandoned as there was not enough gold to issue money and currency valuations fluctuated with the supply and demand of gold.
  • In the modern economy, governments print money based on their assessment of future economic growth and demand.
  • The purchasing power of the currency remains constant if the increase in money supply is equal to the rise in gross domestic product and other factors influencing the currency remain unchanged.


Though international trade and movement of people is increasing rapidly, there is no currency that is acceptable across the globe.

  • The foreign exchange rate for conversion of currencies depends on the market scenario and the exchange rate being followed by the countries.
  • Floating exchange rates, or flexible exchange rates, are determined by market forces without active intervention of central governments. For instance, due to heavy imports, the supply of the rupee may go up and its value fall.
  • In contrast, when exports increase and dollar inflows are high, the rupee strengthens.

Earlier, most countries had fixed exchange rates which has been abandoned by most countries due to risk of devaluation of currencies owing to active government intervention.

  • Most countries now adopt a mixed system of exchange rates where central banks intervene in the market to buy or sell the different currencies to control the movement of their own currencies.
  • Not everyone loses in a weak currency scenario. Exporters across the 17-country eurozone, for instance, are benefiting from a weak local currency.
  • Sometimes countries use various ways to keep their currencies undervalued to promote exports. Chinese Renminbi is one such currency that several economists say is undervalued.

Reproduced: Rupee – What leads to the change in the currency's value?

Why isn't the U.S. Dollar worth more than the British Pound or Why Japanese Yen much less compared to others?

  • Since all the external and internal factors stated above are not same for any two countries, the values are bound to differ.
  • It is the inherent value (read purchasing power) of the currency that is important. Not the physical appearance. 🙂

Thanks for the A2A Priysha Sinha.

What are the factors that cause disparity between currencies?


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