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means of payment in foreign exchange, used in international clearing operations.
In the period of premonopolistic capitalism, foreign exchange was predominantly in the form of bills of exchange (drafts) drawn by the exporter on the importer. With the expansion of world trade and of correspondent connections between banks, devisen took the form of bank payment media: bills of exchange, checks, letters of credit, and drafts, primarily in the form of cable remittances, as well as mutual intergovernmental short-term credits (swaps). In the international balance of payments, devisen also include bank notes and foreign securities. At the time of the international gold standard, devisen served as security for the issue of bank notes and as an exchange fund. As international payment media, devisen are not uniform; also, their value depends on their exchange rate for gold or other devisen, especially for devisen of countries playing a major role in world trade and the balance of payments. The devisen of these major countries represent reserve or relatively stable convertible devisen included in the liquid resources of central banks, treasuries, and government bodies. The share of these devisen in the official gold foreign-exchange resources of capitalist countries is increasing: it amounted to 8 percent in 1938, to 28 percent in 1948, and to 44.9 percent in 1969. The value of devisen in terms of national currency depends on the rate of exchange.
L. N. KRASAVINA