The gold standard or gold exchange standard of fixed exchange rates prevailed from about 1870 to 1914, before which many countries followed bimetallism. The earliest establishment of a gold standard was in the United Kingdom in 1821 followed by Australia in 1852 and Canada in 1853. Under this system, the external value of all currencies was denominated in terms of gold with central banks ready to buy and sell unlimited quantities of gold at the fixed price. Each central bank maintained gold reserves as their official reserve asset. Due to concerns about America’s rapidly deteriorating payments situation and massive flight of liquid capital from the U. President Richard Nixon suspended the convertibility of the dollar into gold on 15 August 1971.
Since March 1973, the floating exchange rate has been followed and formally recognized by the Jamaica accord of 1978. Typically, a government wanting to maintain a fixed exchange rate does so by either buying or selling its own currency on the open market. This is one reason governments maintain reserves of foreign currencies. If the exchange rate drifts too far below the desired rate, the government buys its own currency in the market by selling its reserves.
This places greater demand on the market and causes the local currency to become stronger, hopefully back to its intended value. The reserves they sell may be the currency it is pegged to, in which case the value of that currency will fall. Another, less used means of maintaining a fixed exchange rate is by simply making it illegal to trade currency at any other rate. This is difficult to enforce and often leads to a black market in foreign currency. Nonetheless, some countries are highly successful at using this method due to government monopolies over all money conversion. Under this system, the central bank first announces a fixed exchange-rate for the currency and then agrees to buy and sell the domestic currency at this value.