Investors – Investment firms who manage large portfolios for their clients use the Fx market to facilitate transactions in foreign securities. For example, an investment manager controlling an international equity portfolio needs to use the Forex market to purchase and sell several currency pairs in order to pay for foreign securities they want to purchase.
Flights to quality: Unsettling international events can lead to a "flight-to-quality", a type of capital flight whereby investors move their assets to a perceived "safe haven". There will be a greater demand, thus a higher price, for currencies perceived as stronger over their relatively weaker counterparts. The US dollar, Swiss franc and gold have been traditional safe havens during times of political or economic uncertainty.
In forex, currencies are quoted in pairs. Let’s take the most popular currency pair as an example, EUR/USD. The first currency (Euro in this case) is called the base currency and the second (USD) is called the quote currency. When you trade a pair you are speculating on whether the base currency (EUR) will strengthen or weaken against the quote currency (USD).
The value of a country's currency depends on whether it is a "free float" or "fixed float". Free floating currencies are those whose relative value is determined by free market forces, such as supply / demand relationships. A fixed float is where a country's governing body sets its currency's relative value to other currencies, often by pegging it to some standard. Free floating currencies include the U.S. Dollar, Japanese Yen and British Pound, while examples of fixed floating currencies include the Chinese Yuan and the Indian Rupee.
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.