A floating exchange rate was adopted in 1985 as part of the economic restructuring started the previous year. Before that time, the exchange rate was controlled in relation to a basket of currencies, and in 1984 it appeared that the New Zealand dollar was overvalued, since it was held at a value higher than was justified in terms of the country's trade and investment transactions. Through the 1990s the exchange rate has fluctuated, but from 1996 it has been steadily devalued against the American dollar, a process accelerated during 2000. The impact on the rate of inflation in the late 1990s was not as great as might be expected. One reason was that there was still a downward trend in the price of many manufactures, and many of these originated in countries whose currencies were also declining against the American dollar. Even for products originating in the United States, such as computer software, companies often kept prices down to remain competitive.
The New Zealand Stock Exchange is the only one in the country. At the beginning of 1999 there were 146 New Zealand companies and 83 overseas companies listed with the exchange. There are 3 types of stocks bought and sold on this exchange: company shares, bonds, and debentures and other loans, although the bulk of the trading is in the first of these.