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A hard peg exchange rate policy will not allow short-term fluctuations in the exchange rate. If the government first announces a hard peg and then later changes its mind—perhaps the government becomes unwilling to keep interest rates high or to hold high levels of foreign exchange reserves—then the result of abandoning a hard peg could be a dramatic shift in the exchange rate.

In the mid-2000s, about one-third of the countries in the world used a soft peg approach and about one-quarter used a hard peg approach. The general trend in the 1990s was to shift away from a soft peg approach in favor of either floating rates or a hard peg. The concern is that a successful soft peg policy may, for a time, lead to very little variation in exchange rates, so that firms and banks in the economy begin to act as if a hard peg exists. When the exchange rate does move, the effects are especially painful because firms and banks have not planned and hedged against a possible change. Thus, the argument went, it is better either to be clear that the exchange rate is always flexible, or that it is fixed, but choosing an in-between soft peg option may end up being worst of all.

A merged currency

A final approach to exchange rate policy is for a nation to choose a common currency shared with one or more nations is also called a merged currency    . A merged currency approach eliminates foreign exchange risk altogether. Just as no one worries about exchange rate movements when buying and selling between New York and California, Europeans know that the value of the euro will be the same in Germany and France and other European nations that have adopted the euro.

However, a merged currency also poses problems. Like a hard peg, a merged currency means that a nation has given up altogether on domestic monetary policy, and instead has put its interest rate policies in other hands. When Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, it has no voice in whether the Federal Reserve raises or lowers interest rates. The European Central Bank that determines monetary policy for the euro has representatives from all the euro nations. However, from the standpoint of, say, Portugal, there will be times when the decisions of the European Central Bank about monetary policy do not match the decisions that would have been made by a Portuguese central bank.

The lines between these four different exchange rate policies can blend into each other. For example, a soft peg exchange rate policy in which the government almost never acts to intervene in the exchange rate market will look a great deal like a floating exchange rate. Conversely, a soft peg policy in which the government intervenes often to keep the exchange rate near a specific level will look a lot like a hard peg. A decision to merge currencies with another country is, in effect, a decision to have a permanently fixed exchange rate with those countries, which is like a very hard exchange rate peg. The range of exchange rates policy choices, with their advantages and disadvantages, are summarized in [link] .

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Economics is a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
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Source:  OpenStax, University of houston downtown: macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. May 28, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11653/1.3
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