What Is International Finance?

International finance, sometimes known as international macroeconomics, is the study of monetary interactions between two or more countries, focusing on areas such as foreign direct investment and currency exchange rates.

Key Takeaways

  • International finance is the study of monetary interactions that transpire between two or more countries.
  • International finance focuses on areas such as foreign direct investment and currency exchange rates.
  • Increased globalization has magnified the importance of international finance.
  • An initiative known as the Bretton Woods system emerged from a 1944 conference attended by 40 nations and aims to standardize international monetary exchanges and policies in a broader effort to nurture post World War II economic stability.

Understanding International Finance

International finance deals with the economic interactions between multiple countries, rather than narrowly focusing on individual markets. International finance research is conducted by large institutions such as the International Finance Corp. (IFC), and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Furthermore, the U.S. Federal Reserve has a division dedicated to analyzing policies germane to U.S. capital flow, external trade, and the development of global markets.

International finance analyzes the following specific areas of study:

  • The Mundell-Fleming Model, which studies the interaction between the goods market and the money market, is based on the assumption that price levels of said goods are fixed.
  • International Fisher Effect is an international finance theory that assumes nominal interest rates mirror fluctuations in the spot exchange rate between nations.
  • The optimum currency area theory states that certain geographical regions would maximize economic efficiency if the entire area adopted a single currency.
  • Purchasing power parity is the measurement of prices in different areas using a specific good or a specific set of goods to compare the absolute purchasing power between different currencies.
  • Interest rate parity describes an equilibrium state in which investors are indifferent to interest rates attached to bank deposits in two separate countries.

Example of International Institutions of International Finance

The Bretton Woods System

The Bretton Woods system was created at the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, where the 40 participating countries agreed to establish a fixed exchange rate system. The collective goal of this initiative was to standardize international monetary exchanges and policies in a broader effort to create post World War II stability.

The Bretton Woods conference catalyzed the development of international institutions that play a foundational role in the global economy. These include the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a consortium of 189 countries dedicated to creating global monetary cooperation, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which later became known as the World Bank.

Special Considerations

International trade is arguably the most important influencer of global prosperity and growth. But there are worries related to the fact the United States has shifted from being the largest international creditor, to becoming the world's largest international debtor, absorbing excess amounts of funding from organizations and countries on a global basis. This may affect international finance in unforeseen ways.

International finance involves measuring the political and foreign exchange risk associated with managing multinational corporations.