The U.S. dollar, which is sometimes called the greenback, is first and foremost in the world of forex trading, as it is easily the most traded currency on the planet.2 The U.S. dollar can be found in a currency pair with all of the other major currencies and often acts as the intermediary in triangular currency transactions. This is because the greenback acts as the unofficial global reserve currency, held by nearly every central bank and institutional investment entity in the world.3
In addition, due to the U.S. dollar’s global acceptance, it is used by some countries as an official currency, in lieu of a local currency, a practice known as dollarization.4 The U.S. dollar also may be widely accepted in other nations, acting as an informal alternative form of payment, while those nations maintain their official local currency.
The U.S. dollar is also an important factor in the foreign exchange rate market for other currencies, where it may act as a benchmark or target rate for countries that choose to fix or peg their currencies to the dollar’s value. China, for instance, has long had its currency, the yuan or renminbi, pegged to the dollar, much to the disagreement of many economists and central bankers.5 Quite often, countries will fix their currencies to the U.S. dollar to stabilize their exchange rates rather than allowing the free (forex) markets to drive the currency’s relative value.
One other feature of the U.S. dollar is that it is used as the standard currency for most commodities, such as crude oil and precious metals. Thus, these commodities are subject not only to fluctuations in value due to the basic economic principles of supply and demand but also to the relative value of the U.S. dollar, with prices highly sensitive to inflation and U.S. interest rates, which can affect the dollar’s value