History of foreign exchange
Between 1876 and the World War I, the Gold Exchange Standard prevailed and dominated the international economic system. Under the gold exchange, currencies gained a new phase of stability as they were backed by the price of gold. It abolished the age-old practice used by kings and rulers of arbitrarily debasing money and triggering inflation. But the gold exchange standard boom-bust patterns prevailed throughout the gold standard until the outbreak of World War I interrupted trade flows and the free movement of gold.
In 1944 the Bretton Woods Agreement was founded, where participating countries agreed to try and maintain the value of their currency with a narrow margin against the dollar and a corresponding rate of gold as needed. Countries were prohibited from devaluing their currencies to their trade advantage and were only allowed to do so for devaluations of less than 10%. Into the 1950s, the ever-expanding volume of international trade led to massive movements of capital generated by post-war construction. That destabilized foreign exchange rates as setup in Bretton Woods. The Agreement was finally abandoned in 1971, and the US dollar would no longer be convertible into gold. By 1973, currencies of major industrialized nations became more freely floating, controlled mainly by the forces of supply and demand which acted in the foreign exchange market. Prices were floated daily, with volumes, speed and price volatility all increasing throughout the 1970s, giving rise to new financial instruments, market deregulation and trade liberalization.
In the 1980s, cross-border capital movements accelerated with the advent of computers and technology, extending market continuum through Asian, European and American time zones. Transactions in foreign exchange rocketed from about $70 billion a day in the 1980s, to more than $1.5 trillion a day by the year 2000, and expected to reach $7 trillion by 2007.