Currency Peg: What It Is, How It Works, and Fixed Exchange Rates


Discover the intricacies of currency pegging as a pivotal economic policy. A currency peg involves setting a stable exchange rate between a national currency and a foreign currency, bolstering trade and promoting economic stability. Explore the benefits, drawbacks, and real-world examples of currency pegs, and understand the reasons behind countries adopting this strategy.

What is a currency peg?

A currency peg represents a crucial economic policy wherein a national government or central bank establishes a fixed exchange rate between its currency and a foreign currency or a basket of currencies. This mechanism aims to stabilize the exchange rate between countries and create a predictable environment for businesses. While some currencies fluctuate freely based on market dynamics, others are firmly pegged to ensure consistency and stability in cross-border trade.

How does a currency peg work?

Currency pegs are strategically designed to minimize foreign exchange risk and facilitate international trade. They typically involve a stronger or more developed economy setting a fixed rate against another currency, allowing domestic companies to engage in global markets with reduced risk. The longevity of currency pegs, such as the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the U.S. dollar since 1983, underscores their ability to foster stability and collaboration between trading partners.

Understanding currency pegging

Currency pegs are established with the intention of encouraging trade by mitigating exchange rate volatility. Partnerships between economies with varying strengths, often pegged to the U.S. dollar, euro, or gold, foster stability that spans decades. However, sustainable economic benefits arise only from realistic pegs that curtail excessive volatility, as artificial highs or lows lead to imbalances that harm all involved countries.

Advantages of a currency peg

Pegged currencies fuel trade expansion and elevate real incomes, especially during periods of stable exchange rates. This strategy unlocks the potential for specialization and exchange, benefiting individuals, businesses, and nations. The resulting certainty facilitates long-term investments across borders, as fluctuating exchange rates no longer disrupt supply chains and investments’ value.

Disadvantages of a currency peg

Maintaining a currency peg necessitates vigilant monitoring of cash flow and foreign exchange reserves to counteract abrupt surges in supply and demand. In cases of excessively low pegs, domestic purchasing power diminishes, hurting consumers and causing trade imbalances. Conversely, an overly high peg may strain a nation’s ability to defend it, leading to trade deficits, inflation, and potential economic turmoil.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Expands trade and boosts real incomes
  • Makes long-term investments realistic
  • Reduces disruptions to supply chains
  • Minimizes changes to the value of investments
  • Affects forex trading by artificially stemming volatility
  • Erodes purchasing power when pegged too low
  • Creates trade deficits when pegged too high
  • Increases inflation when pegged too high

Real-world example: Saudi riyal peg

A notable illustration of currency pegging is the Saudi riyal’s peg to the USD since 1986. This peg, established after the Arab oil embargo of 1973, aimed to stabilize the Saudi economy amidst global events. The riyal’s journey involved utilization of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) and strategic peg adjustments to combat inflation and restore economic stability.

Frequently asked questions

Why would a country peg their currency?

Countries adopt currency pegs to bolster trade, mitigate risks when expanding into broader markets, and maintain economic stability. This policy offers a predictable environment for businesses, encouraging cross-border cooperation and investment.

Which countries peg their currencies to the USD?

As of 2022, fourteen countries, including Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong SAR, and Qatar, peg their currencies to the USD. This strategy aims to secure trade partnerships and promote stability among these economies.

How many currencies are pegged to the Euro?

Eleven currencies, including the Croatian kuna and Moroccan dirham, are pegged to the Euro (EUR), promoting economic cohesion and cross-border collaboration.

What is a soft peg?

A soft peg involves allowing market forces to influence exchange rates while maintaining the option for central bank intervention. This approach strikes a balance between stability and flexibility in the currency exchange realm.

Why do countries adopt currency pegs?

Countries adopt currency pegs to encourage trade, minimize risks in broader markets, and maintain economic stability.

How does currency pegging impact trade?

Currency pegging reduces uncertainty and fosters stable trade relationships, enabling businesses to plan more effectively.

What are the disadvantages of an overly low currency peg?

An excessively low currency peg can erode purchasing power, create trade imbalances, and lead to decreased foreign demand.

What challenges can arise from an overly high currency peg?

An overly high currency peg can result in chronic trade deficits, increased inflation, and potential economic instability.

Key takeaways

  • Currency pegs establish fixed exchange rates to promote trade and stability.
  • Realistic pegs fuel trade expansion and facilitate long-term investments.
  • Maintaining a peg requires vigilant monitoring to avoid disruptive imbalances.
  • Currency pegging impacts forex trading, purchasing power, and inflation.
  • Examples include the Saudi riyal peg and various USD and EUR pegs.
View article sources
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  2. The Return to Soft Dollar Pegging in East Asia: Mitigating Conflicted Virtue – Stanford University
  3. Complications associated with pegging hydroxyapatite orbital implants – PubMed
  4. Glossary of Lending Terms – SuperMoney
  5. USDT (cryptocurrency) – SuperMoney