It’s unlikely that you haven’t heard about forex trading. Forex trading has been booming exponentially over the past decade or two. Today, you’re likely to find advertisements for forex trading applications, courses, and similar things all over the internet. But that wasn’t always the case. Governments, banks, and financial institutions have been trading foreign currencies for a long time. However, forex trading wasn’t accessible for non-institutional traders for the longest time. But technological advancements and the internet have changed that.
The foreign exchange market is the most valuable and liquid financial market worldwide, dwarfing other financial markets like stocks, commodities, metals, etc. According to BIS, forex markets had a daily turnover of over $6.6 trillion in 2019.
Considering how valuable the forex market is, it’s no surprise that many people gravitate towards forex trading. However, before delving into forex trading, consider learning more about how forex trading works to ensure you don’t incur avoidable losses.
What is Forex Trading?
Forex is a portmanteau of foreign currency and exchange. Forex trading refers to buying, selling, and exchanging one currency for another. People often need foreign currencies for different reasons, including tourism, business, etc. Let’s assume you’re a US citizen vacationing in Greece. You’ll likely need Euros to buy goods and services while touring Greece. Likewise, if you’re dealing with a Chinese corporation, you might need to purchase Chinese Yuan to pay for their goods and services. Hence, exchanging foreign currencies is crucial for most individuals and businesses.
How Does Forex Trading Work?
Forex traders exchange foreign currencies to profit from price fluctuations or interest rate differentials. Typically, forex trading works through currency pairs. Forex traders buy and sell currency pairs to generate returns. So, what are currency pairs?
Currency pairs measure one currency’s value against another. Currencies have exchange rates that determine their terms and position against another currency. For instance, the Euro to US Dollar is currently trading at $1.12. That means if you wanted to purchase the 1 Euro on the forex market, you would need to pay $1.12 for it.
You’ll be interested to know over 170 currencies exist on the forex market. However, statistics show the seven most popular currency pairs account for approximately 68 percent of forex trading volume. Typically, the most popular currency pairs include the US dollar because of its ubiquity and global acceptance; and the Euro because of its collective strength stemming from the EU and EEA.
Forex has some distinct features that make it unique compared to other asset classes like stocks, indices, and commodities. Traders can profit from forex trading in two ways, including through exchange rate changes and interest rate differentials. Traders profiting from exchange rate differentials will purchase a currency with a higher exchange rate and short the currency with a lower exchange rate. A notable example of traders benefitting from exchange rate differentials is when they would short the Japanese Yen for the British Pound Sterling before the 2008 financial crisis. Currency exchange rates primarily vary based on the market forces of supply and demand.
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