Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The FAQs of Currency Trading

Exchange Money Conversion to Foreign Currency
Exchange Money Conversion to Foreign Currency (Photo credit: epSos.de)
Trading currency in the foreign exchange market is literally a trillion dollar business. And it used to be only large financial institutions and very wealthy people could take part in the trade. Now, with the advent of the internet, the average person can trade on the market with the click of a button. If you’re interested in getting started in trading currency, here are some frequently asked questions that might help you get going.

What is the Forex?

“Forex” is a moniker for the foreign exchange market. You may also see FX.

What is a liquid market?

You will often hear the Forex referred to as the most liquid market in the world. A liquid market is one filled with liquid assets, or assets that can be sold instantly with almost no loss in value. You car, for example, is not a very liquid asset. Although you could probably sell it very quickly, you would have to lower the price. In order to find a suitable buyer willing to pay a suitable price, you’d likely have to wait a while.

In the Forex, because currency is such a massive asset, it can be traded almost instantly. The sheer size of the Forex (it’s a worldwide market) also means that no key players or institutions, no matter how large, can control the price of currency. This makes the Forex the most stable market in the world.

Who trades in the foreign exchange market?

Like I said, it used to be mostly large financial institutions, central banks, hedge funds, international corporations, and massively wealthy people who traded on the Forex. Now more and more individual people are able to take part. 

How is money traded on the market? Is physical money traded?

No. Most often money is simply traded virtually. In fact, there is no centralized market in the Forex. Trades take place between traders all over the world through the internet. The Forex is open 24 hours a day, five days a week (closed on the weekends), across all time zones. This means that as the market closes in the U.S., it’s opening somewhere else in the world, so the market is active at every point in the day.

How do you make money in the Forex?

Currencies are usually traded in pairs on the Forex. To make money, you basically have to correctly predict which currencies will gain and lose value. For instance, one popular pair of currencies is the U.S. dollar and the euro. Currently, the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro is .73 dollars to one euro. That means it takes about 1.3 dollars to equal one euro. In order to make money in the Forex, you would have to predict when the dollar would reevaluate or when the euro would devaluate, and buy currency accordingly.

What currencies are traded on the market?

Although some retail traders deal in less-known currencies, the most popular currency pairs are:

  • EUR/USD (euro/dollar)
  • USD/JPY (dollar/Japanese yen)
  • GBP/USD (British pound/dollar)
  • USD/CHF (dollar/Swiss franc)
As well as the three “commodity pairs.” The commodity pairs are so called because they are from countries that include a large amount of commodities. That means these pairs are highly correlated to changes in commodity prices. They are:
  • AUD/USD (Australian dollar/U.S. dollar
  • USD/CAD (U.S. dollar/Canadian dollar)
  • NZD/USD (New Zealand dollar/U.S. dollar)

What is “leverage” in the Forex?

Leverage is using borrowed capital to get a higher return on your investment. Let me unpack that phrase for you. Basically, leverage is borrowing money in order to trade more than you have. If you have a mortgage on your home, you are already leveraged.

In the Forex, there are often many high leverage opportunities, sometimes up to a 100:1 ratio. That means if you had a dollar in the Forex, you’d be able to leverage that dollar to trade one hundred dollars. If you have a thousand dollars, that amount goes up to one hundred thousand. This high leveraging makes it easier to trade large amounts of currency and keep the market moving.

What is carry trading?

To understand carry trading, you have to understand that each central bank determines the interest rate on currencies. Carry trading is all about funding the purchase of a currency with a high interest rate with a currency with a low interest rate.

For example, in 2005, many people bought New Zealand dollars (whose interest rate was 7.25%) with the Japanese yen (whose interest rate was 0%). In this interaction, because there was such a huge difference in the interest rates between the two currencies, carry traders were making money in the trade alone, without having to wait for the money to gain value. 

What does “long” and “short” mean in foreign exchange?

Because currencies are traded in pairs in the Forex, you are often “long” one currency and “short” another. For instance, if a person traded 100,000 dollars for yen, she would be “short” the dollars she just traded, but “long” the yen she received.

This is just the beginning of the Forex! It’s a very complex, but exciting market. If you’re interested in learning more about the trade, I’d visit Investopedia, as they have a lot of great resources about the fundamentals of the Forex.

Mary Kremer writes content for Dinar Daddy, the number one source of information for trading the Iraqi dinar.


  1. Wow - it's cool to see the most popular pairings together. Interesting article!

  2. I have always been interested in Forex. Though, I guess I have still a lot of things to learn before I start with this.


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