Home » Currency Devaluation

Currency Devaluation

« Back to Glossary Index

Currency devaluation is a monetary policy tool used by governments to deliberately reduce the value of a country’s currency to another currency, group of currencies, or standard. Usually, it is a deliberate downward adjustment of the value of a country’s currency against another currency.

Understanding Currency Devaluation?

Currency devaluation means purposefully making a country’s money worth less compared to another country’s money, a group of different countries’ money, or a set standard. Governments and central banks do this to try to change economic factors and make conditions better for trading within the country and competing internationally.

A devaluation is a tool used by monetary authorities to improve the country’s trade balance by boosting exports at moments when the trade deficit may become a problem for the economy. After devaluations, the same amount of foreign currency buys greater quantities of the country’s currency than before the devaluation.

This means that the country’s products and services are likely to be sold at lower prices in foreign markets, making them more competitive.

Governments can use this when their country has a fixed exchange rate or a semi-fixed exchange rate. Governments devalue their currencies to improve their trading position in the world.

The Purpose of Currency Devaluation

The primary objective behind currency devaluation is to bolster a nation’s trade balance by amplifying the competitiveness of its exports. By lowering the value of its currency, a country aims to make its goods and services more attractive in international markets, thereby stimulating export-oriented industries and narrowing trade deficits.

Mechanisms of Currency Devaluation

Currency devaluation is typically executed through policy interventions by central banks or monetary authorities. These interventions may involve altering exchange rate mechanisms, adjusting interest rates, or implementing monetary supply controls to influence the currency’s value to others.

Effects of Currency Devaluation

Following a devaluation, the purchasing power of foreign currencies increases relative to the devalued currency. Consequently, foreign buyers can acquire greater quantities of goods and services from the devaluing country at reduced prices, enhancing the competitiveness of its exports on the global stage.

Reasons Behind Currency Devaluation

Currency devaluation happens when a government intentionally lowers the value of its currency to other currencies or standards. Here are some reasons why countries might devalue their currency:

  1. Boosting Exports: By making its currency weaker, a country can make its goods and services cheaper for international buyers. This can help increase exports and make local industries more competitive in the global market.
  2. Correcting Trade Imbalances: Countries with high import levels and low export levels may devalue their currency to encourage more domestic production and discourage imports. This can help reduce trade deficits and balance the flow of goods and money.
  3. Encouraging Tourism: A weaker currency can make a country more attractive to tourists because their money will go further. This can boost the tourism industry and bring in more revenue from foreign visitors.
  4. Debt Management: Countries with high levels of debt denominated in their currency may devalue to reduce the real value of their debt burden. However, this can also lead to inflation and other economic challenges.
  5. Stimulating Economic Growth: Devaluation can sometimes be used as a tool to stimulate economic growth by making exports more competitive and encouraging domestic consumption.

These are some of the common reasons why governments might choose to devalue their currency, but it’s important to note that devaluation can also have negative consequences, such as inflation and reduced purchasing power for citizens. Therefore, it’s often a carefully considered decision made by policymakers.

Case Study

A notable example of currency devaluation unfolded in 2015 when the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) implemented measures to devalue the yuan against the U.S. dollar. This strategic maneuver aimed to bolster Chinese exports by making them more price-competitive in global markets. However, such actions can trigger concerns of currency wars and provoke retaliatory measures from trading partners.

Currency Devaluation vs. Currency Depreciation

Currency devaluation and currency depreciation are two related but distinct concepts in the realm of international finance and economics:

Currency Devaluation:

  • Currency devaluation is a deliberate downward adjustment in the official exchange rate of a country’s currency relative to other currencies.
  • Governments or central banks typically devalue their currencies to achieve various economic objectives such as boosting exports, reducing trade deficits, or stimulating economic growth.
  • Devaluation can be achieved through direct intervention in the foreign exchange market by the central bank or through changes in monetary policy.

Currency Depreciation:

  • Currency depreciation, on the other hand, refers to a decrease in the value of a currency in the foreign exchange market relative to other currencies.
  • Depreciation can occur due to various factors such as changes in supply and demand for the currency, economic fundamentals, market sentiment, geopolitical events, or changes in interest rates.
  • Unlike currency devaluation, currency depreciation may not necessarily be a deliberate policy choice by the government or central bank.

In summary, while both currency devaluation and currency depreciation involve a decline in the value of a currency, devaluation specifically refers to a deliberate policy action undertaken by authorities, whereas depreciation can occur due to a variety of market forces and factors beyond direct government control.

Conclusion

Currency devaluation emerges as a pivotal monetary policy tool wielded by governments to navigate the intricacies of global trade and economic dynamics. By strategically adjusting currency values, nations seek to optimize trade balances, enhance export competitiveness, and fortify economic resilience in an increasingly interconnected world. However, the ramifications of currency devaluation extend beyond economic realms, often sparking debates and geopolitical tensions on the global stage.

In summary, understanding the nuances of currency devaluation empowers stakeholders to decipher its implications, anticipate market trends, and adapt to the evolving landscape of international finance.

Trade on the Go. Anywhere, Anytime

One of the world's largest forex brokers is ready for you. Enjoy competitive fees and dedicated customer support while trading securely. You'll also have access to their tools that make it easier than ever to view your trade history, copy trades, manage investments from other traders, view price charts, and make conversions with zero fees. Make an account for free and join millions of traders and investors on the global forex market.