Currency and exchange were important elements of trade in the ancient world, enabling people to buy and sell items like food, pottery, and raw materials.[9] If a Greek coin held more gold than an Egyptian coin due to its size or content, then a merchant could barter fewer Greek gold coins for more Egyptian ones, or for more material goods. This is why, at some point in their history, most world currencies in circulation today had a value fixed to a specific quantity of a recognized standard like silver and gold.
Each currency pair can be thought of a single unit consisting of a “base currency” (the first currency) and a “counter (or quoted) currency” (the second currency) which can be bought or sold. It shows how much of the counter currency is needed to buy one unit of the base currency. So, in the EUR/USD currency pair EUR is the base currency and USD is the counter currency. If you expect the price of Euro to increase against the price of the U.S. dollar you can buy the EUR/USD currency pair. While buying a currency pair (going long) the base currency (EUR) is being bought, whereas the counter currency (USD) is being sold. Thus, you buy the EUR/USD currency pair at a lower price to later sell it at a higher price and as a result make a profit. If you expect the opposite situation, you can sell the currency pair (go short), meaning sell Euro and buy the U.S. dollar.

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Unlike a stock market, the foreign exchange market is divided into levels of access. At the top is the interbank foreign exchange market, which is made up of the largest commercial banks and securities dealers. Within the interbank market, spreads, which are the difference between the bid and ask prices, are razor sharp and not known to players outside the inner circle. The difference between the bid and ask prices widens (for example from 0 to 1 pip to 1–2 pips for currencies such as the EUR) as you go down the levels of access. This is due to volume. If a trader can guarantee large numbers of transactions for large amounts, they can demand a smaller difference between the bid and ask price, which is referred to as a better spread. The levels of access that make up the foreign exchange market are determined by the size of the "line" (the amount of money with which they are trading). The top-tier interbank market accounts for 51% of all transactions.[63] From there, smaller banks, followed by large multi-national corporations (which need to hedge risk and pay employees in different countries), large hedge funds, and even some of the retail market makers. According to Galati and Melvin, “Pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, and other institutional investors have played an increasingly important role in financial markets in general, and in FX markets in particular, since the early 2000s.” (2004) In addition, he notes, “Hedge funds have grown markedly over the 2001–2004 period in terms of both number and overall size”.[64] Central banks also participate in the foreign exchange market to align currencies to their economic needs.
For instance, the EUR/USD trading pair is the most traded currency pair in the world. Listed as EUR/USD makes the EUR the ‘base’ currency and USD the ‘counter.’ The price in the spot market next to this pair indicates the price of one Euro in USD. There will be a buy and a sell price, and the difference between the two is commonly referred to as the ‘spread.’
The Foreign Exchange market, also called FOREX or FX, is the global market for currency trading. With a daily volume of more than $5.3 trillion, it is the biggest and most exciting financial market in the world. Whether you sell EUR 100 to buy US dollars at the airport or a bank exchanges 100 million US dollars for Japanese yen with another bank, both are FOREX deals. The players on the FOREX market range from huge financial organizations, managing billions, to individuals trading a few hundred dollars.

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Up until World War I, currencies were pegged to precious metals, such as gold and silver. But the system collapsed and was replaced by the Bretton Woods agreement after the second world war. That agreement resulted in the creation of three international organizations to facilitate economic activity across the globe. They were the International Monetary Fund (IMF), General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The new system also replaced gold with the US dollar as peg for international currencies. The US government promised to back up dollar supplies with equivalent gold reserves.

The main trading centers are London and New York City, though Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore are all important centers as well. Banks throughout the world participate. Currency trading happens continuously throughout the day; as the Asian trading session ends, the European session begins, followed by the North American session and then back to the Asian session.
Currency carry trade refers to the act of borrowing one currency that has a low interest rate in order to purchase another with a higher interest rate. A large difference in rates can be highly profitable for the trader, especially if high leverage is used. However, with all levered investments this is a double edged sword, and large exchange rate price fluctuations can suddenly swing trades into huge losses.
Currency carry trade refers to the act of borrowing one currency that has a low interest rate in order to purchase another with a higher interest rate. A large difference in rates can be highly profitable for the trader, especially if high leverage is used. However, with all levered investments this is a double edged sword, and large exchange rate price fluctuations can suddenly swing trades into huge losses.

Big news comes in and then the market starts to spike or plummets rapidly. At this point it may be tempting to jump on the easy-money train, however, doing so without a disciplined trading plan behind you can be just as damaging as gambling before the news comes out. This is because illiquidity and sharp price movements mean a trade can quickly translate into significant losses as large swings take place or ‘whipsaw’.
The Tokyo session follows shortly after. This session is also called the Asian session, because right after Tokyo large economic hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong start waking up. The Asian session starts around 00:00 GMT time, when most of Europe is in a deep sleep. This is why you often hear European traders talking about waking up at 3am to trade the Asian session before going back to bed.
Just like stocks, you can trade currency based on what you think its value is (or where it's headed). But the big difference with forex is that you can trade up or down just as easily. If you think a currency will increase in value, you can buy it. If you think it will decrease, you can sell it. With a market this large, finding a buyer when you're selling and a seller when you're buying is much easier than in in other markets. Maybe you hear on the news that China is devaluing its currency to draw more foreign business into its country. If you think that trend will continue, you could make a forex trade by selling the Chinese currency against another currency, say, the US dollar. The more the Chinese currency devalues against the US dollar, the higher your profits. If the Chinese currency increases in value while you have your sell position open, then your losses increase and you want to get out of the trade.