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Currencies and Exchange Rates

Sources for current and historical exchange rate data

Current Information

Historical Exchange Rates -- Electronic Sources

Historical Exchange Rates -- Print Sources

  • Banking and Monetary Statistics Regenstein Reading Room 1, call number HG2493.A5
    Covers the U.S., 1914-1940. Monthly observations in most cases.
  • Banking and Monetary Statistics : 1941-1970 Regenstein Reading Room 1, call number HG2493.A5 1976
    Covers the U.S., 1941-1970. Monthly observations.
  • Annual Statistical Digest Regenstein Stacks, call number HG2493.A2
    Covers the U.S., 1970 to the present on a monthly basis. 1970-79 and 1980-1989 are collected in single volumes.
  • Pick's Currency Yearbook later became World Currency Yearbook Regenstein Stacks, call number HG201.P6
    Annual compendium on currencies worldwide. Includes information on the economic status of countries and black market exchange rates. The title changed in 1980 but all volumes are located under the same call number. The last edition was issued in 1996 and is located in the First Floor Reading Room.
  • Whitaker's Almanac Regenstein Stacks, call number AY754.A4
    Annual publication from Britain. It gives average rates against the pound for a period of one year, although not necessarily a calendar year. Most useful for older periods as this publication began including exchange rates in 1874. Look for "Money, foreign value of" in the index.

You can find information on other countries in books and articles.
Find books in the library catalog . Use the subject browse to look for "Banks and banking your country name Statistics" or "Finance your country name Statistics". This will find current as well as historical statistics

Find articles in databases. EconLit is the best starting point as it includes many empirical studies on currency and foreign exchange. Use the descriptors field in the advanced search to look for foreign exchange or exchange rates. Narrow these results with keywords for countries of interest.

Nominal vs Real

Virtually all of the sources here present nominal exchange rates, meaning they only the rate at which currencies exchange, ie 1$ = .75£. Real exchange rates are adjusted for inflation and other differences in prices. More information can be found in this article from the International Monetary Fund (121k PDF)

The IMF is the only online source available  at the University of Chicago for time series data on real exchange rates.