The US Dollar (USD)


A Brief History of the US Dollar

The very first dollar coins released in the United States came about after the introduction of the United States Mint which was founded in 1792. At the time, there were Spanish dollars, US silver dollars, Mexican silver pesos and various English coins all circulating throughout the US. Interestingly, the Spanish dollar and Mexican Peso remained legal tender in America until 1857.

In 1861, the very first $10 bills went out into circulation (featuring Abraham Lincoln). In 1862, due to the Civil War, paper money continued to be issued but without the backing of precious metals. This lasted until 1878 when the link between paper money and silver and gold coins was reinstated. In 1914, the first $10 Federal Reserve (the Fed) notes were issued.

After WWII, the US Dollar became the lynchpin of fixed exchange rates and the value of the US dollar was fixed to the price of gold at $35 per troy ounce. As the US held most of the world's gold, many other countries simply pegged the value of their currency to the value of the US Dollar. 

This led to an extended period of relatively stable exchange rates. Nonetheless, rising US government spending and trade deficits caused speculation that the United States would not be able to maintain the Gold Standard, and led to the unilateral termination of the U.S. Dollar’s convertibility into gold by then-President Richard Nixon in 1971. The result of this termination...? The modern era of floating exchange rates.

The U.S. Dollar in the Global Foreign Exchange Market

The US Dollar is the most actively traded currency in the world, accounting for 84-85% of daily FX market trading volumes. It is also one of the world's most dominant reserve currencies, held by nearly every central bank in the world.

The US Dollar trades mostly trades against the Euro as the counter in the EUR/USD currency pair. In the FX market, this pair is known as Euro Dollar.  The US Dollar also trades actively against the Japanese Yen, the British Pound and the Swiss Franc, as well as against the Aussie, Canadian and New Zealand Dollars.

A popular nickname for a US Dollar is a Buck, although the slang term Greenback is also used by as the reverse of US Dollar bills are printed in green. Within the United States, the local currency has various other nicknames, such as dough, bread, clams, green, smackers.. etc!

Fact Table:

Currency Name: The United States Dollar
Currency Code: USD
Currency Symbol: $ or US$
Central Bank: The Federal Reserve Bank
Countries Used In: The United States, El Salvador, Panama and Ecuador
Major Unit: One U.S. Dollar
Minor Unit: One Penny or Cent = 1/100 of one U.S. Dollar
Note Denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100
Coin Denominations: 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢ and $1

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