Learning ObjectivesBy the end of this section, you will be able to do the following:
- Explain supply and demand for exchange rates
- Define arbitrage
- Explain purchasing power parity's importance when comparing countries.
The foreign exchange market involves firms, households, and investors who demand and supply currencies coming together through their banks and the key foreign exchange dealers. Figure 15.5 (a) presents an example for the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Mexican peso. The vertical axis shows the exchange rate for U.S. dollars, which in this case is measured in pesos. The horizontal axis shows the quantity of U.S. dollars being traded in the foreign exchange market each day. The demand curve (D) for U.S. dollars intersects with the supply curve (S) of U.S. dollars at the equilibrium point (E), which is an exchange rate of 10 pesos per dollar and a total volume of $8.5 billion.
Figure 15.5 (b) presents the same demand and supply information from the perspective of the Mexican peso. The vertical axis shows the exchange rate for Mexican pesos, which is measured in U.S. dollars. The horizontal axis shows the quantity of Mexican pesos traded in the foreign exchange market. The demand curve (D) for Mexican pesos intersects with the supply curve (S) of Mexican pesos at the equilibrium point (E), which is an exchange rate of 10 cents in U.S. currency for each Mexican peso and a total volume of 85 billion pesos. Note that the two exchange rates are inverses: 10 pesos per dollar is the same as 10 cents per peso, or $0.10 per peso. In the actual foreign exchange market, almost all the trading for Mexican pesos is done for U.S. dollars. What factors would cause the demand or supply to shift, thus leading to a change in the equilibrium exchange rate? The answer to this question is discussed in the following section.