What Are Foreign Exchange Markets And What Do They Do?
The foreign exchange markets are situated all around the world. Currency trading is a global activity. Every country in the world uses money and needs to change that money into other currencies in order to trade or interact with other nations.
Without any doubt, the world of currencies is tightly connected to energy markets and oil in particular. Most governments are forced to keep large reserves of other nations money - American dollars more than others - to ensure that if they need to make emergency oil purchases, they have the monetary reserves available.
Currency exchange happens at every level of society. As an individual, you may have changed money when traveling on business or on vacation. Or maybe you have sold something on eBay to somebody in another country. Their payment comes in to your account in their own currency, and the bank or other payment processor such as PayPal changes it for you. That is currency exchange at the root level.
Foreign exchange or forex trading has a different purpose, however. When you are trading on the foreign exchange markets you are not buying another currency because you need it. You are buying it in the hope that it will rise in value, so you can change it back and end up with more money than you started out with.
Of course, it is risky. The price movement could go against you and then you would end up with less money instead of more when converted back to your own currency. For this reason, currency trading is not something that should be done without some knowledge of markets, economics and finance, and ideally, some specialised computer tools to help with the analysis.
The main forex marketplaces are the big financial centers of the world. London sees the highest activity with New York second and Tokyo third. Other major players are Sydney, Zurich and Frankfurt.
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Originally you had to be in one of those places to trade money, or at least have a telephone connection with a broker who was there. It was very difficult for somebody who was not on the spot to act fast enough to react to the sudden fluctuations in price that can happen in the foreign exchange markets.
Modern advances in technology have changed all of that. Since the rise of the internet it has been possible to trade on your own account from anywhere. This means that it has become easier and easier for the little guy to get a piece of the action.
There are some other issues and markets that a currency trader should consider gaining an understanding in. Firstly, it would help to get a firm understanding of government debt as it is this that can influence markets quickly. The levels of asset backing to a currency (gold, silver and other investment commodities) are important. As is the PPP or Purchasing Power Parity - a measure used to compare the costs of goods and services between countries and currencies.
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