In the News

Brazil and Argentina start talks on a common currency

Geoff Riley

23rd January 2023

This is likely a fair way off but what a story to start the economics week! Brazil and Argentina are set to announce that they are starting preparatory work on a common currency, in a move which could eventually create the world’s second-largest currency bloc behind the Euro Zone.

What are the conditionsfor an optimal currency zone to work? Will they learn some ofthe lessons from the problems encountered in the EU?

What is a common currency?

A common currency, also known as a single currency, is a type of monetary system in which a single currency is used by multiple countries or regions. This means that the countries or regions that adopt a common currency no longer have their own separate currencies and instead use a single currency for all transactions.

Adopting a common currency can bring several benefits, such as:

  • Facilitating trade and investment by eliminating currency exchange costs and reducing uncertainty about exchange rates.
  • Encouraging price stability and controlling inflation by allowing central banks to implement monetary policy more effectively.
  • Improving economic coordination and fostering greater economic integration among participating countries.

However, a common currency also comes with some challenges, such as loss of monetary policy autonomy, increased risk of contagion in case of economic imbalances and lack of flexibility in the face of economic shocks.

Summary of examples of monetary unions in the World Economy

There are several examples of monetary unions in the world economy, including:

  • Eurozone: The Eurozone is a monetary union consisting of 20 of the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) that have adopted the Euro as their official currency. It was established in 1999 and comprises Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
  • East Caribbean Currency Union: This is a monetary union consisting of eight countries in the Caribbean that use the East Caribbean dollar as their official currency. The countries include: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla and Montserrat.
  • West African Monetary Union: This is a monetary union consisting of eight countries in West Africa that use the West African CFA franc as their official currency. The countries include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
  • Central African Monetary Union: This is a monetary union consisting of six countries in Central Africa that use the Central African CFA franc as their official currency. The countries include: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.
  • Arab Monetary Union: This is a monetary union consisting of several Arab countries that have agreed to adopt a single currency, however it is not yet established. The countries include: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

These are some examples of monetary unions in the world economy, however, there are also other monetary unions that have been established in different regions of the world.

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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