Price of a currency How do currency values rise and fall? Why would a country want to manipulate the value of its own currency? The value of money is determined by how much (or how little) of it is in circulation. But who makes that decision, and how does their choice affect the economy at large? Doug Levinson takes a trip into the United States Federal Reserve, examining how the people who work there aim to balance the value of the dollar to prevent inflation or deflation. Before 1974, U.S. dollars were backed by gold. This meant that the federal government could not print more money than it could redeem for gold. While this constrained the federal government, it also provided citizens with a relatively stable purchasing power for goods and services. Today's paper currency has no intrinsic value. It is not based on the value of gold or anything else. Under a gold standard, inflation was really limited.