Currencies control and production

In most cases, each private central bank has monopoly control over the supply and production of its own currency. To facilitate trade between these currency zones, there are different exchange rates, which are the prices at which currencies (and the goods and services of individual currency zones) can be exchanged against each other. Currencies can be classified as either floating currencies or fixed currencies based on their exchange rate regime.

In cases where a country does have control of its own currency, that control is exercised either by a central bank or by a Ministry of Finance. In either case, the institution that has control of monetary policy is referred to as the monetary authority. Monetary authorities have varying degrees of autonomy from the governments that create them. In the United States, the Federal Reserve System operates without direct oversight by the legislative or executive branches. A monetary authority is created and supported by its sponsoring government, so independence can be reduced by the legislative or executive authority that creates it. (Revocation of authority is unlikely in Western countries, where there has been a trend towards central bank independence.)

Several countries can use the same name for their own distinct currencies (for example,, dollar in Canada and the United States). By contrast, several countries can also use the same currency (for example,, the euro), or one country can declare the currency of another country to be legal tender. For example, Panama and El Salvador have declared U.S. currency to be legal tender, and from 1791–1857, Spanish silver coins were legal tender in the United States. At various times countries have either re-stamped foreign coins, or used currency board issuing one note of currency for each note of a foreign government held, as Ecuador currently does.

Each currency typically has a main currency unit (the U.S. dollar, for example, or the euro) and a fractional currency, often valued at 1/100 of the main currency: 100 cents = 1 dollar, 100 centimes = 1 franc, 100 pence = 1 pound, although units of 1/10 or 1/1000 are also common. Some currencies do not have any smaller units at all, such as the Icelandic króna.

Mauritania and Madagascar are the only remaining countries that do not use the decimal system; instead, the Mauritanian ouguiya is divided into 5 khoums, while the Malagasy ariary is divided into 5 iraimbilanja. In these countries, words like dollar or pound "were simply names for given weights of gold."[7] Due to inflation khoums and iraimbilanja have in practice fallen into disuse. (See non-decimal currencies for other historic currencies with non-decimal divisions).