The Forex (FOReign EXchange) market appeared at the end of the 1970s after many countries decided to unpeg their currency value from that of the US dollar or gold. This led to the formation of an international market on which currency could be exchanged and traded freely. Today, Forex is the largest financial market in the world. It doesn’t matter where you live or even where you are right now; as long as you have access to the Internet, a trading terminal (a special program for trading Forex), and an account with a Forex broker, all the instruments and opportunities of Forex are available to you.
The international governance regime is a complex and multilayered bricolage of institutions, with private institutions playing an important role; witness the large role for private institutions, such as credit rating agencies, in guiding the markets. Also, banks remain the major players in the market and are supervised by the national monetary authorities. These national monetary authorities follow the international guidelines promulgated by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, which is part of the BIS. Capital adequacy requirements are to protect principals against credit risk, market risk, and settlement risk. Crucially, the risk management, certainly within the leading international banks, has become to a large extent a matter for internal setting and monitoring.
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How much each pip is worth is called the "pip value." For any pair where the USD is listed second in the currency pair, the above-mentioned pip values apply. If the USD is listed first, the pip value may be slightly different. To find the pip value of the USD/CHF for example, divide the normal pip value (mentioned above) by the current USD/CHF exchange rate. For example, a micro lot is worth $0.10/0.9435 = $0.1060, where 0.9435 is the current price of the pair and subject to change. For JPY pairs (USD/JPY), go through this same process, but then multiply by 100. For a more detailed explanation, see Calculating Pip Value for Different Forex Pairs and Account Currencies.
Hedge funds – Somewhere around 70 to 90% of all foreign exchange transactions are speculative in nature. This means, the person or institutions that bought or sold the currency has no plan of actually taking delivery of the currency; instead, the transaction was executed with sole intention of speculating on the price movement of that particular currency. Retail speculators (you and I) are small cheese compared to the big hedge funds that control and speculate with billions of dollars of equity each day in the currency markets.
Retail Forex traders – Finally, we come to retail Forex traders (you and I). The retail Forex trading industry is growing everyday with the advent of Forex trading platforms and their ease of accessibility on the internet. Retail Forex traders access the market indirectly either through a broker or a bank. There are two main types of retail Forex brokers that provide us with the ability to speculate on the currency market: brokers and dealers. Brokers work as an agent for the trader by trying to find the best price in the market and executing on behalf of the customer. For this, they charge a commission on top of the price obtained in the market. Dealers are also called market makers because they ‘make the market’ for the trader and act as the counter-party to their transactions, they quote a price they are willing to deal at and are compensated through the spread, which is the difference between the buy and sell price (more on this later).
Trading foreign exchange on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. The high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you. Before deciding to trade foreign exchange you should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience and risk appetite. The possibility exists that you could sustain a loss of some or all of your initial investment and therefore you should not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. You should be aware of all the risks associated with foreign exchange trading and seek advice from an independent financial advisor if you have any doubts.
Leverage simply means borrowing money needed to make a trade, and in Forex terms, this money is borrowed from the broker. This is one huge advantage of the Forex market, whereby brokers allow you to trade up to 2% of the overall contract size (50:1) compared to stock market (2:1). You can use the small account to trade large sizes where wins can be quite large and you only need a small capital to obtain it.
In July 1944, representatives from the Allied nations brought forward the importance of a monetary system which would fill the gap left behind the gold standard. They arranged a meeting at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to set up a system that would be called the Bretton Woods system of international monetary management. The creation of Bretton Woods System led to the formation of fixed exchange rates as the United States defined the value of US dollar in terms of gold equal to $ 35 for one ounce and other countries pegged their currencies to the dollar. The US dollar became the main reserve currency and the only currency that was backed by gold. However, in 1970 the U.S. gold reserves were so depleted that it was impossible for the U.S. treasury to cover all the reserves held by foreign central banks.
Unlike trading on an exchange where the contract sizes are predetermined, when trading forex online, you get to decide the size of your positions. This allows traders to start with the capital they feel comfortable with. At ThinkMarkets, you can start participating in the fascinating currency markets with no minimum deposit requirement for a Standard account and only $500 minimum deposit for a ThinkZero account.
U.S. President Richard Nixon’s nullification of the Bretton Woods Accord in 1971 effectively ended the fixed price peg of the US Dollar — and by extension many other world currencies — to gold. The US Dollar officially became a floating fiat currency and was adopted as a reserve currency by many foreign nations, who continue to use it as a reserve currency today.
Many currency pairs will move about 50 to 100 pips (sometimes more or less depending on overall market conditions) a day. A pip (an acronym for Point in Percentage) is the name used to indicate the fourth decimal place in a currency pair, or the second decimal place when JPY is in the pair. When the price of the EUR/USD moves from 1.3600 to 1.3650, that's a 50 pip move; if you bought the pair at 1.3600 and sold it at 1.3650 you'd make a 50-pip profit.
The foreign exchange market assists international trade and investments by enabling currency conversion. For example, it permits a business in the United States to import goods from European Union member states, especially Eurozone members, and pay Euros, even though its income is in United States dollars. It also supports direct speculation and evaluation relative to the value of currencies and the carry trade speculation, based on the differential interest rate between two currencies.
The Forex pairs are divided into three main groups – majors, minors and exotic pairs. The main difference between the pairs is their liquidity which is a result of the trading volume of these pair. E.g., the major currency pairs are the most traded pairs and each include the USD and another currency, while the most traded minor pairs include one of the three major non-USD currencies (The Euro, the UK Pound and the Japanese Yen).
More specifically, the spot market is where currencies are bought and sold according to the current price. That price, determined by supply and demand, is a reflection of many things, including current interest rates, economic performance, sentiment towards ongoing political situations (both locally and internationally), as well as the perception of the future performance of one currency against another. When a deal is finalized, this is known as a "spot deal". It is a bilateral transaction by which one party delivers an agreed-upon currency amount to the counter party and receives a specified amount of another currency at the agreed-upon exchange rate value. After a position is closed, the settlement is in cash. Although the spot market is commonly known as one that deals with transactions in the present (rather than the future), these trades actually take two days for settlement.