Ten years have passed since the euro was launched as a common European currency by 12 members of the European Union based on the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. The euro was initially used only for interbank trading and other electronic transactions, but the debut of euro notes and coins on Jan. 1, 2002, put an end to the national currencies of the participating countries, including the German mark, which rose to prominence after Germany raced with Japan to rebuild from the ashes of World War II.
The currency regime set up by the International Monetary Fund was an adjustable system of fixed exchange rates based on gold and the U.S. dollar as standards. It shifted to floating exchange rates in 1973. The floating rate regime — occasionally called a system without a system — is the one we use today and is one of the reasons why the world still lacks a global currency to replace the U.S. dollar. Even though the euro zone countries have a combined gross domestic product larger than the GDP of the United States, the euro remains unready to perform as a global currency for several reasons.