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Currency wars

Debasing a national currency in an attempt to improve exports and economic activity is not a new economic lever, but it might be about to take place on a scale not seen for over 80 years, says Claire Bennison

23 January 2015

Earlier in 2014 the slightly bombastic term, 'currency war' hit the newspaper headlines as the Japanese yen fell sharply in value against other major currencies. At the time, some European finance leaders voiced their concerns over the Japanese currencies free-fall and its potential impact on European exporters, and cited it as part of a currency war. For various reasons, we believe that we may well be hearing more about currency wars over the course of the year.

So what is a currency war and why is it important?

It is a term used to describe when countries, often as a last resort, use debasement of their currency to try to gain a competitive export advantage over each other. The most significant currency war was in the 1930's between Great Britain, France and the US. Another description for the practice, or more accurately its effect, is 'beggar thy neighbour'. As country after ...

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